Hello! We continue catching up with “I Am a Singer” with our commentary for the 20 November episode where the singers debut their performances of each others songs. Returning to comment this week are Anna, The Korean of Ask a Korean!, and Widhi. It was a momentous episode in that it was Jang Hyejin’s final performance on the show and the result would see her graduate from the show to join Kim Bumsoo and Park Junghyun or be eliminated in the final round like YB.
Click behind the jump to see what we have to say about the show and leave your thoughts and picks in the comments!
All performances can be watched from Bugs Music’s special 나는 가수다 site. Click the tab saying “11월 20일 방송” to find the performances discussed below.
A note: They cut down the time spent picking the order of performance to about a single minute, but the show is still quite long, so I think much will be made during and after the performances.
Jaurim’s “1994년 어느 늦은 밤”
rd: I was really surprised how much Jaurim they could mix into the song. After the straightforward cover (which was itself really good), the band kicked in to my surprise, playing the song like they do “Loving Memory” or other Jaurim near-ballads, pushing the song into epic rock ballad territory. There were a couple notes that Kim Yuna hit that were quite breathtaking and moving, so I have to say I really like this performance. It didn’t lose the character of the song, but did give it Jaurim’s particular flavor.
TK: I felt it was a good performance — it started strong and finished dramatically. But Jaurim is developing a habit that is increasingly annoying. Instead of finishing the song at a high energy point, they shut down the song in the middle, and finishes with a whimper.
Anna: I liked this one a lot. Much stronger than it appeared during the mid-round show. In spite of liking it then I hadn’t expected much since it’s such a simple ballad, but they managed very well with the Jaurim feeling while still honoring Jang Hyejin.
Widhi: I am quite a fan of the original song. I was curious on how Jaurim will deliver the song. It turned out that Kim Yuna’s voice just fit the song very well. I really like how she was able to bring the whole emotion out of the song since the very beginning, but the change of the song from high to low was not my favorite. Still, it was a strong performance.
Yoon Minsoo’s “기억상실”
rd: I’ll admit that Yoon Minsoo’s been my whipping boy for almost the entire length he’s been on the show, but that’s in part because he’s not good at finding nuance in songs outside of his usual ballad genre. Well, he’s firmly in genre here and while I favor Gummy’s version better, this song fit his style well and, yes, I actually liked this performance from Yoon Minsoo. I think adding Mi to help with the song wasn’t bad as it gave the song a little punch in the middle too.
TK: For the last few performances, I thought Yoon Minsoo had to go back to doing what he was good at doing. With this song, he maximized what he did well. Might have been my favorite Yoon Minsoo performance so far.
Anna: I’m far from a fan of Yoon Minsoo myself, but can admit to this being among the better things he’s done so far on the show. That doesn’t mean I particularly like it, especially with the female dancer in the yellow dress sorta disrupting the flow of the performance for me. I much preferred the humorous acting from Kim Shinyoung last week.
Widhi: Not a fan of the dancers. Yet, this performance showed that Yoon Minsoo is trying very hard to improve his performance. The opening was kind of rough but he managed to get it smoother later. He also made this song sounded different from the original which matched his style very well. Another strong performance indeed.
Bobby Kim’s “미워도 다시 한 번”
rd: Bobby Kim transforms the whole entire song from the very start to a ballad and then uses the rap built into the song to ramp up the song into an upbeat number. While the lyrics strike a little strangely with the new arrangement, it does show Bobby owning the song and truly making it his own and does it with almost effortless ease. I was worried for Bobby because his chill slower numbers don’t seem to resonate with the audience and he made up for the melancholic ballad nature of the song by playing to what the audience likes. I love the background chorus that helps lift the song up, giving it a gospel like boost.
TK: Bobby Kim had to go into the rap + fast part sooner — he nearly lost me with his impression of Yoon Minsoo, which he simply could not do. And even when he did go into his trademark beat, it felt like he was getting limited by the song.
Anna: It was nice to hear Bobby Kim ballad style again. Although I’ve come to appreciate his upbeat numbers more and more throughout the show, for me this slow start somehow works better. It was a good performance all along and I can appreciate that he also did what he had to in order to satisfy his audience.
Widhi: As time goes by, I am getting more fond of Bobby Kim’s voice. He has this very unique vibe but he is kind of stuck in a certain genre. This performance was good, but not that good enough to impress me. However, I like the arrangement of the song and how he tried to bring different feeling of the song. I am not a very big fan of the rap part.
Jang Hyejin’s “사랑.. 그 놈”
rd: Ugh, Cannon in D sneaks into the start of the song. I hate how classical music gets overused in Korean pop culture. For her last song, she plays it like a classic pop ballad, as deep into her own simple style and while her voice starts a little rocky, she manages to belt it in a way that she hasn’t in a long while on the show. She does a fine job with the song, which wasn’t deeply a Bobby Kim song to begin with and I like the simple take on it. It’s very fitting for Jang’s final song on the show.
TK: Like Yoon Minsoo, Jang Hye-Jin found the song she was good at and maximized the use of her talent. Flawless performance.
Anna: This was stunning. Indeed a very fitting final song for her.
Widhi: Almost brought me to tears. A very good performance. I like the voice, I like the song arrangement, I like all.
rd: I wasn’t impressed with Gummy’s performance at the mid-round check in, less due to the rock arrangement, but because Gummy’s voice wasn’t able to keep up with arrangement and Gummy wasn’t able to overcome her deficient voice. This is an arrangement that Kim Kyungho’s wail could have driven, but Gummy’s voice is too thin and doesn’t have enough of a back end to drive convincingly. It’s nice that she gave it as much as she could, but the performance was a touch cold and hampered by Gummy’s vocally limited match with the arrangement. Sorry, Gummy, a valiant effort, but you don’t quite have the range for this.
TK: This was a fail on so many levels. Gummy’s voice had no resonance. Her wardrobe was awful. Her energy could not match Insooni’s original performance. In the next round, she will have to do the same thing as Yoon Minsoo is doing — go back to what’s good at, and keep doing that.
Anna: Awful. Just awful. Obviously the mid-rating she received from her peers last week was not enough to convince her to rid herself of this horrible arrangement. She’s nowhere near pulling it off and I doubt anybody else would be able to either. By far the worst I’ve seen since I begun watching the show.
Widhi: Gummy really needs to work harder in this show. She looked like she is kind of lost in the game. As the youngest singer, I think she indeed felt a lot of pressure, especially when she sang this song. It was all over the place and I could not enjoy the song.
Insooni’s “금지된 사랑”
rd: I really like the acoustic arrangement of the verses, but I do find the transition into the rock ballad chorus a bit rough. Also, this is a tough song for any singer because of Kim’s range and I could hear Insooni’s voice faltering here and there and perhaps some of these points could have benefited from a softer arrangement. The incongruities of the mashing arrangements didn’t quite work for me, even as Insooni still fired the song off with her typical high charisma.
TK: Charisma carries the day for me. Ultimately, this show for me is more about putting on a show rather than presenting the most flawless singing performance. I enjoyed Insooni’s performance a great deal — so what if that enjoyment is rooted in the fact that I am enthralled by Insooni’s charisma? Like I say with all the other singers, it is always about maximizing one’s own asset. Insooni has charisma, and she can use that to overcome certain shaky bits of her performance.
Anna: The acoustic verses work out very well, but the refrain hasn’t kept anything of what makes the original such a fantastic song. It does work slightly better than it did during mid-round, but that’s still not even close to what I had hoped when she picked the song.
Widhi: I think nobody can argue about Insooni’s voice. Her voice is just great. But in this song, I only liked the 1st part of the song. Her strong voice did not go quite well with the arrangement. I even thought that her voice just covered the background music, made it less noticable. But it was great, it was totally Insooni.
Kim Kyungho’s “Hey Hey Hey”
rd: I have to say I like Kim Kyungho’s schoolboy outfit. The low key opening does a great service to Jaurim’s style. Even despite the 80’s era hair metal arrangement brought to the song, I felt that the original Jaurim song was still very much present in this arrangement, which makes sense, given the song’s strong character. Unfortunately, that makes Kim Kyungho’s performance much more of a “cover” than a strong interpretation, although that energy that he pumped out obviously held the crowd.
TK: It was a fine performance, but… the words of the song were SO incongruent with the manner in which Kim Kyung-Ho presented the song. I was just not able to get into it.
Anna: Kim Kyungho is very entertaining and with that makes me forget most of my reservations towards the song itself. The arrangement turned out well enough, I’d say.
Widhi: It was so fun to see him performing this song. Yet, it did not impress me that much when it went to the voice department. I liked the opening though and somehow the 90s feeling out of it.
rd: 1) Jaurim, 2) Bobby Kim, 3) Jang Hyejin, 4) Yoon Minsoo, 5) Kim Kyungho, 6) Insooni, 7) Gummy
In a surprising turn of events, Yoon Minsoo falls in the middle of the pack for me, simply because he did with this song what he does best and it actually worked well for this song, even if it wasn’t exceptional. Jang Hyejin, in my mind, really tied with Yoon Minsoo, but I favored her simpler, and what I sensed as a more honest, approach, giving her the nod for third. I think Jaurim’s conversion of Jang Hyejin’s song was the most complete and potent–both being able to retain the song’s character and yet flavor it in a way that radiates the band’s own uniqueness as well, while capturing and translating its emotional content effectively. Bobby Kim almost does as well with the same and the main reason he falls a little lower is because there’s a little mismatch between the lyrics and the upbeat arrangement. In the lower half, Gummy’s voice just couldn’t do the arrangement justice despite her effort and ended up being noticeably weak. Insooni herself also (and understably) faltered just a little in the voice department, but the main weakness with her performance for me was that the arrangement just didn’t flow well, especially from the verse to the chorus, and resulted in a bit of a hampered listen. Kim Kyungho didn’t really have any problems with his technical performance and arrangement, giving him the edge over the others, but I found that his adaptation of the song was perhaps just a little too Jaurim and ended up making the song actually noticeably feel like a cover, which Yoon and above were able to surpass.
TK: 1) Yoon Minsoo 2) Insooni 3) Jang Hye-Jin 4) Jaurim 5) Kim Kyung-Ho 6) Bobby Kim 7) Gummy
This time, I had the top tier of Yoon Minsoo, Insooni and Jang Hye-Jin, then mid-tier of Jaurim, Kim Kyung-Ho and Bobby Kim, then the bottom tier of Gummy, who was the only one who delivered a performance that can be simply described as “bad’.
Anna: 1) Jang Hyejin, 2) Jaurim, 3) Bobby Kim, 4) Kim Kyungho, 5) Yoon Minsoo, 6) Insooni, 7) Gummy
Perhaps I’m just getting sentimental because it’s her last show, but Jang Hyejin’s performance was definitely the most moving one for me this week. Although Jaurim did come a close second. Bobby Kim I enjoyed too, and Kim Kyungho . Although Yoon Minsoo did better than I’ve come to expect of him his style is still not convincing enough for me. Insooni I would’ve loved to Gummy was the obvious choice for last place this week.
Widhi: 1) Jang Hyejin, 2) Jaurim, 3) Yoon Minsoo, 4) Insooni, 5) Bobby Kim, 6) Kim Kyungho, 7) Gummy
My personal pick will definitely different from the results. I think as time goes by, upbeat songs or energetic performance are no longer strong enough to impress. Jang Hyejin was able to give a very good performance, complete with the emotion and a very good arrangement. It was hard to pick between Yoon Minsoo & Jaurim, but my bias is quite obvious for the band. I think the only one who messed up was Gummy in this episode.
rd: This is no surprise as the crowd gave Kim Kyungho the most positive reaction and you know that he entertained. Even that I won’t deny.
TK: This is totally the “singer who sings the last gets the most vote” type of play.
Anna: He does bring a lot of energy and has learned that pulling a few dance moves will be rewarded.
Widhi: Can’t argue much because it was somehow kind of obvious.
rd: Not a surprise for me, again, because the Korean audience loves their energetic upbeat numbers and Bobby really used his own style and talents well to deliver this song to the audience.
TK: Really? This made no sense, but then again, a lot of the rankings in this show make no sense to me.
Anna: Quite expected, and a good performance at that.
Widhi: Hmm, maybe it was all about making the audience feels happy?
rd: Still a believable placing thanks to her bombast in a bombastic song. It’s an impressive original song in terms of dynamics and Insooni being able to largely deliver it would impress an audience.
TK: I thought she gave a top-tier performance, so good to see her here.
Anna: I feel too strongly about the original song to be able to make a sound judgement so I’ll just have to trust the audience on this. Had she just made a straightforward cover I would likely have been able to justify her in first place.
Widhi: Nice rank for her who delivered a strong performance.
rd: He did what he does best on a song that fit him well. I don’t know if it was exceptional, but it was the best I’ve seen from him in a while and even at that, it was no better than fourth for me either.
TK: Strange that he did not leave a stronger impression with the voters.
Anna: There was a lot of good competition this week though. Personally I can’t ever really understand why he gets any votes.
Widhi: Ballad seems to be unpopular these days, no matter how strong it is.
rd: I’m frankly surprised that they fell this low. Their performance was strong, dynamic, and full of character, but I guess that high energy is what the audience was looking for. It puts Jaurim in danger of elimination alongside Yoon Minsoo and Jang Hyejin, so I’m concerned about the results that follow.
TK: Except for Gummy, audience voting this time is an upside-down world from mine.
Anna: A strong and dynamic performance with character, but by now the audience has showed many times that ballads don’t go over as well as something with a bit more flair.
Widhi: Surprising, but well it is ballad anyway. To compete with an upbeat rock seemed to be very difficult.
rd: I liked her performance and thought she deserved a better ranking, but I suppose that Jang rarely won by doing what’s expected of her. Still, even if she doesn’t get to graduate from the show, I’m glad she performed this song the way she did because there could be no more fitting final performance.
TK: Now, this is straight highway robbery.
Anna: I’m surprised the audience didn’t respond stronger to her sentiments with this last performance by placing her higher. She performed the song very well, and I’ve had her “사랑해 널 사랑해”, play repeatedly in my head since watching this episode.
Widhi: I am sad very sad.
rd: I’m glad that the audience recognized the weakness in her performance. It would have been upsetting if she placed anywhere besides seventh.
TK: Agreed completely with rd here.
Widhi: Agreed to all.
rd: It’s between Jaurim, Jang Hyejin and Yoon Minsoo. Of the remaining, I definitely want to see Jaurim stay, because they add the most unique element of the show. Yoon has consistently failed to impress me on the show and even Jang Hyejin’s cover of their Vibe song, I felt was stronger than Yoon’s own performance of it, so for me, I’d ideally see Yoon go and Jang graduate, since Gummy holds a similar style with Yoon and we don’t need too much more of the same. All the same, for as much as I love Jang, even at her highest points, she’s never been a stellar performer. A daring one, yes, a solid one, yes, but she just doesn’t have the firepower of some of the brighter glowing stars she sits next to during the show so it’s actually remarkable that she’s lasted as long as she did. If she were cut this time, I would not feel too badly as I think she sits a tier below Kim Bumsoo, Park Junghyun and even YB, who also lasted at least as long, in terms of how hot she glowed at her best.
rd: Jang fought hard and long and really, I think she lasted on the show far beyond anyone’s expectations, certainly mine. Her strength on the show came from her adventurousness, from her shaking her thing to Kara’s “Mister” to picking an ajusshi noraebang favorite and maybe she didn’t always win the audience, but I could never blame her from trying. And she even won with her own take on Vibe’s “술이야” in her own style, showing that she’s quite a capable interpreter when she strikes the right song. She slowly won me over during her time on the show and appreciated what she brought to the show. I think she’s grown a lot on the show and I might actually keep an eye on her musical output in the future, if she continues to be daring in her solo work. Thank you, Jang Hyejin.
TK: Jang Hyejin is one of the more underappreciated legends of K-pop, so it was nice to see her get an extended run on this show. I also believe that she was underrated on this show as well, since she managed to cover quite a bit of range. I still think her best performance was the rocking “모나리자” rather than the mellow “술이야”. At the same time, it was probably good for the show’s legitimacy that Jang was eliminated. After all, to join the hall of fame after finishing 7th that many times and not finishing 1st even once would not have looked all that great.
Anna: Although her name was virtually unknown to me prior to this show I found it surprisingly easy to taking a liking of her. I’m saddened she didn’t get a chance to graduate after coming so close, but TK has a very good point regarding the legitimacy of the show. To me her finest performance was actually this week’s “사랑.. 그 놈”.
Widhi: Goodbye, Jang Hyejin! It was so sad that she could not get even once 1st place throughout the competition. Not being able to graduate is not actually that bad. She has improved throughout the episodes. My favorite performance of her is today along with “술이야”.
Join us tomorrow for our review of the 27 November episode!