I Am A Singer 나는 가수다 27 November 2011

나는 가수다

And we return yet again to cover a new round of “I Am a Singer”, featuring a new singer to take the spot of Jang Hyejin, who we saw cut from the show in the previous round, just short of graduating. In our commentary panel for this episode are The Korean and Widhi with Anna dropping in briefly.

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 27일 방송” to find the performances discussed below.

The New Singer

The show immediately reveals Juckwoo as the new singer to join its roster for the tenth round after Jang Hyejin’s departure last episode. She receives Kim Sook as her manager.

rd: I have to admit, I have no idea who Juckwoo is, but she debuted in 2004, so she’s only had a comparatively short career so far, and even she notes that no one might know she is. She’s quite thankful for the opportunity to perform on the show. I did a little scanning on YouTube and noticed she’s a balladeer, with a warm deeper female voice so I think she’s, musically, a reasonable recruit since Jang left the show, but she does young down the average career length of the show altogether.

Anna: An all new name to me as well, but somehow I do recognize a couple of those photos. Judging from her current look I would’ve guessed a trot singer of some sort.

Widhi: I have never heard about her before, anything. So, I have no idea how to react about her. I think I should keep my expectation just low.

TK: Who? This is a mistake. I would preferred a trot singer. (I’ve been pulling for the show to put on a trot singer for some time.) If not a trot singer, they should have done is to put on an underrated legend from the 1980s/90s — a different version of Cho Kyuchan, but maybe a bigger name. From what I know (and have learned since) about Juckwoo, she is an older version of Gummy without the backing from YG Family. What’s going on? Can the show no longer recruit huge, huge names?

The Set List

Bobby Kim to perform Love and Peace’s (사랑과 평화) “한동안 뜸했었지” (Floated for a Moment)
rd: This 80’s song is a Korean funk song if I’ve ever heard one and that is prime material for Bobby Kim to adapt into something of his own.
TK: I could immediately hear Bobby Kim’s voice singing this song.

Kim Kyungho to perform Seo Jiwon’s “내 눈물 모아” (My Tears Gather)
rd: This is a pop ballad I’ve heard before and because of it’s basic pop grounding, I think that it should be easy for Kim to give it his rocker flair.

Jaurim to perform Love and Peace’s “얘기할 수 없어요” (I Can’t Speak)
rd: What? Jaurim is *also* performing a song by Love and Peace? I think it’s going to be interesting how Jaurim and Bobby Kim take these songs in two hopefully very different directions. I think that Jaurim’s non-linear sensibilities could result in quite an interesting take on this already interesting sounding original.

Gummy to perform Kim Hyunshik’s “비처럼 음악처럼” (Like Rain Like Music)
rd: Kim Hyunshik has got a serious flavor about his music, but the songs at their core are quite accessible pop songs, so Gummy’s choice isn’t too bad itself. However, I don’t know if she has the subtlety to pull off such an adaptation. I hope she finds the song and doesn’t mangle it.
TK: I know I’m going to hate this.

Insooni to perform Kim Dongyu’s “나만의 슬픔” (My Own Sadness)
rd: Insooni returns to comfortable power ballad territory with this pick. I’m hoping for a powerful performance.

Yoon Minsoo to perform Add4’s “빗 속의 여인” (Woman in the Rain)
rd: Yoon’s going for some classic Korean rock and roll and he mentions that he’s going to try something new so I have no idea what to expect, but if he’s finally going go off of his ballad horse to be daring, I’m going to welcome it.
Anna: A most interesting song pick for Yoon.
TK: Woman in the Rain is Korea’s very first rock music, composed by none other than the legend Shin Joong-Hyeon.

Juckwoo to perform Yoon Shineh’s “열애” (Devotee)
rd: Juckwoo picks a bombastic ballad for her first performance and that’s probably a good pick for a balladeer. Since I don’t know her well, I’ll just have to wait and see what she comes up with.

Widhi: This episode looks like going to be the most difficult episode to follow for me because I have no idea about all the original songs. I think I should just keep my expectation low. I will not get to excited, I will just follow my feeling when I watch the performance. However, I am very curious about one particular song here.

Order Selection

This segment returns to it’s regular format, so it seems like last week’s was likely cut down for time.

  1. Gummy
  2. Jaurim
  3. Insooni
  4. Yoon Minsoo
  5. Bobby Kim
  6. Kim Kyungho
  7. Juckwoo

Gummy’s “비처럼 음악처럼”

rd: Well, this is definitely an improvement from last round, but I think it also proves that Gummy’s a lot like Yoon Minsoo is that she doesn’t have a lot of depth to her singing. Like Yoon, she either belts it or goes into a weak whisper-song. I did mostly like the trombone graced arrangement, which really takes the song deeper into pop territory. Overall, I think this was a modest performance, not with any critical flaws, but any fire in another performance will eclipse her quickly.

Widhi: This was a rather subtle performance to start the show. It looks like she was trying to play it safe. Now, I have to agree that she sounds more and more like Yoon Minsoo, just like rd said. What is actually annoying for me is when she tried to play with the vibration at the high note. I like her voice but when she strained it too much, it did not sound that great for me.

TK: Gummy is the captain of a secret society called “Assassins of Classic K-Pop.” She picks highly renowned songs and murders them mercilessly. She takes out her baseball bats and bludgeons the songs. Broken bones and blood are everywhere. Why? Why do you make me hate you Gummy? You can’t do this to me, I have one of your albums in my iPod!

Jaurim’s “얘기할 수 없어요”

rd: It’s a rockabilly transformation for the song, giving quite a bit of swing for the first fun and then the add of the Side-B rap duo gives it a transformation into bluesy rock. That’s a lot of fun, but the band switches it up again into burning rock song complete with an Lee Sungyu rock guitar solo. I don’t really think the rappers brought much to the performance, but damn, the three part rock genre transformations were a ton of fun and tied the music well together.

Widhi: The opening was fun! When Jaurim is playful with their music like this, I always feel so excited. I like the guitar solo but not very much a fan of the rap part. It did not blend very well with the song, in my opinion. The three layers of sounds in this song showed that Jaurim always try to bring new stuff to their performance.

TK: I liked the performance, but I don’t know exactly what to feel overall. It feels like Jaurim has learned to strictly play to the crowd, and play “Transformer Music” every time. What happened to the iconic “가시나무” performance, where a consistent theme held the entire performance together?

Insooni’s “나만의 슬픔”

rd: I love the classy lounge-orchestral opening to Insooni’s performance, but I found the tempo and dynamic swells a little abrupt–more musical foreshadowing via tension would have helped. This is perhaps the most complex musical arrangement I’ve seen on the show, which is very admirable, but I think it does restrain the most accessible elements of the original pop power ballad. However, I thought this was a highly interesting performance, so it won me over in the end.

Widhi: The rain sound at the beginning is my favorite. It relaxed me and the orchestra sound gave a very sad feeling throughout the song. Even without noticeable high notes, Insooni’s delivered a very strong performance. The feeling of the song were also conveyed well through her voice. An abundance of emotion.

TK: This did not work for me at all, and I am the biggest Insooni fanboy. Just as soon as I was about to get into the music, the tempo randomly changed from slow to fast to slow again and pushed me out of the song.

Yoon Minsoo’s “빗 속에 여인”

rd: This is the performance I was most looking forward to, because it’s such a change for Yoon. I really liked the bluesy opening, even if it was related to his own style, but the falsetto was new. And once he gets into the song, I think he handles it well. It’s peppy, engaging, and funky. I don’t think it’s quite the same degree of transformation that Kim Bumsoo brought to the show, nor the same stretch that Jo Kwanwoo took in his, but within Yoon Minsoo’s limits, I have to say that I was impressed, even if his fasletto was a touch weak at times. I think Yoon Minsoo finally earned my respect. Good job, sir.

Widhi: It was a very fun and witty performance. Yoon Minsoo really tried very hard to show another side of him. The opening was nice but I think I was not a very big fan of the falsetto. He delivered the song well, made the audience engaged with the song but his voice was not that stable for me to enjoy the song wholeheartedly. Nevertheless, with this effort, this performance gave an impact for me on the entertainment part.

TK: Here is Yoon Minsoo’s Kim Bumsoo impression, and it was good all the way to Yoon’s falsetto. I now have a renewed respect for Jo Kwanwoo, who makes his falsetto sound as resonant as his real voice. In contrast, Yoon’s falsetto was weak and strained.

Bobby Kim’s “한동안 뜸했었지”

rd: Goodness, Bobby was engaging from the moment the song started and his reggae-funk fusion in the opening was great. I think that once the song opened up, it got a little generic. Despite TST’s horn bursts, I felt that the chorus needed to be punchier, but the bridge was nice and groovy. I think the vague chorus weakens what would be a more impressive song.

Widhi: This was what Bobby Kim is really good at. He really got a grip on reggae and his voice just matched very well with this kind of genre. I wonder why he did not try to continue the reggae from the beginning until the end because when he just suddenly changed the music, it became less interesting. Well, thanks to his dance and the groove, I enjoyed the performance very much though.

TK: This song fits Bobby Kim like a glove. Thoroughly enjoyable.

Kim Kyungho’s “내 눈물 모아”

rd: Kim Kyungho’s endless nervousness is pretty cute, but I’m glad that once performing, he’s able to shed it. Despite his decent performance, I felt like this was far too straight a cover and Kim hardly used his own strengths in the performance and arrangement. I’m not saying he needs a metal wail in here, just something more than a noraebang take on a popular ballad.

Widhi: A nice piano opening always win me over. So did this performance. I think I was not really impressed when Kim Kyungho sang ballad. This kind of feeling also happened when he sang a ballad with Kim Yeon Woo. He is better when he sang rock or metal songs. Though his style is repeatable, but his energy always brings something fun to his performance. This one is just so so for me.

TK: Kim’s performance was pedestrian for me. He is a capable singer who can handle this type of song, but there was nothing particularly Kim Kyungho about it.

Juckwoo’s “열애”

rd: Well, Juckwoo’s got pipes, that’s for certain and she can match Yoon Minsoo for huskiness. It’s a dramatic song and it’s played rather straight, but Juckwoo does let herself immerse in the song, which is a plus and it shows in her performance.

Widhi: I have to admit she got a nice voice and showed a dramatic performance. However, it was rather boring for me. I did not feel that I was engaged with the performance. I hope that my interest to her will increase in the upcoming episodes.

TK: It was a solid performance, and she stuck to what she is good at. I appreciate it when singers do that.

Personal Picks

rd: 1) Jaurim, 2) Yoon Minsoo, 3) Juckwoo, 4) Bobby Kim, 5) Insooni, 6) Gummy, 7) Kim Kyungho
Admittedly, my bias towards Jaurim (and rock) probably makes them first, but it was a dynamic performance, even if I didn’t feel the rappers. Yoon Minsoo takes second for such a strong and entertaining transformation. I’ve never given Yoon this much credit before, but he’s finally shown himself capable of more than just his emotional balladry. Juckwoo impressed for her first performance, interpreting the song so well, even despite playing it straight. Bobby gives a rather strong natural performance with his, but the chorus wasn’t fully successful. Insooni should be placed in a special category for her performance as musically, it was almost stunning in its boldness in the arrangement, but perhaps too intellectual and cold, given the nature of the original song. However, it was still more interesting than both Gummy and Kim Kyungho’s ho-hum performances. Gummy, edges out Kim Kyungho because Kim’s performance seemed the most flat and least interpreted–at least Gummy gave it some kind of flavor.

Widhi: 1) Insooni, 2) Bobby Kim, 3) Jaurim, 4) Yoon Minsoo, 5) Kim Kyungho, 6) Juckwoo, 7) Gummy
The top three singers were the performances which I really enjoyed the most. The others were just okay for me. Maybe it was because I was not really familiar with the songs and I just wonder why it was loaded with ballad. I should listen more to be engaged more.

TK: 1) Jaurim, 2) Bobby Kim, 3) Yoon Minsoo, 4) Juckwoo, 5) Kim Kyungho, 6) Gummy, 7) Insooni
Top tier was Jaurim, Bobby Kim and Yoon Minsoo, mid-tier with Juckwoo and Kim Kyungho, and bottom tier with Gummy and Insooni. That Gummy placed higher than Insooni on my list says a lot about just how much Insooni’s performance did NOT work for me.

The Results

1st Place (with 22.9% of the vote)
Yoon Minsoo

rd: I’m so glad the audience rewarded Yoon for his bravery in doing something new and doing it well. I really hope this means that Yoon will continue to explore what he’s capable of doing and bringing that to the show.

Widhi: He got the audience impressed, so it was of course not so surprising.

TK: Someday, I have got to try being in that audience. Are they listening to the same thing that I am listening? The performance was fun, but when Yoon strained for his falsetto he lost the first place for me.

2nd Place

rd: A strong standing for a powerful performance and interpretation. Good job, newbie! I hope she continues to show a range of performance ability on the show.

Widhi: a combination of good vocal, overflowing emotion, and the benefit of being the last performer. Congratulations! I just hope she will be able to show something more of her.

TK: Totally a case of “singer who sings last” voting.

3rd Place

rd: Yay! Go Jaurim! A crowd pleasing performance no doubt well rewarded.

Widhi: Jaurim surely did not disappoint.

TK: Quite happy with this result, got 2 out of 3 top tier people for me in the top 3. Given my divergent taste with the audience, a solid haul.

4th Place

rd: Wha? Really? I mean she wasn’t bad so perhaps she reasonably does hold the middle ground, but I’m still a little surprised here.

Widhi: No way. It is just surprising.

TK: I’m offended. Seriously, I am.

5th Place
Kim Kyungho

rd: Again, what is going on here? Kim even messed up a little and really, this was about as flat a performance as I’d seen from Kim.

Widhi: I am half okay with this.

TK: Is Kim Kyungho going through a Park Junghyun phenomenon, where he will never fall below a certain level no matter what because of a fan base that consolidated over the show? We’ll see.

6th Place
Bobby Kim

rd: I guess Bobby’s going to have to learn that he can’t just rely on mid-to-high energy songs to power him through every round. The man has had hits with ballads before, even given that his were unique original compositions, so perhaps we’ll be able to see something more affecting. Or perhaps he’ll turn up the entertainment machine and blow up the stage next time with an explosive song.

Widhi: It looks like people get somehow bored with his performance? I hope it will not make him giving up. Hope he will deliver better performance next time.

TK: How? Why? You cannot tell me Bobby Kim was worse than Gummy or Kim Kyungho. This makes no sense.

7th Place

rd: Perhaps I had too much faith in the Korean audience after their willingness to vote for Jaurim’s more experimental approaches. That said, Insooni’s arrangement and performance was admittedly a bit avante garde and that often distances itself from mainstream audiences, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by this ranking.

Widhi: This is why I do sometimes hate the audience pick. She was great but not for all the people. Too bad and totally surprising for me.

TK: I am fine with this placement, which is exactly what I expected.

Next Time, the Sanullim Special

The second part of the tenth round will be a Sanullim special.

rd: This is very exciting for me since I’m a fan of Sanullim (and even saw Kim Changwan of Sanullim in concert). They are Korean rock legends: one of the most prominent Korean psychedelic rock bands in Korean music history and looked up to by both Korean talented indie and mainstream pop musicians. Knowing that Sanullim has a special place in a hearts of some Jaurim members makes me even more excited to see what might come of the next two episodes! I remember spying a cover of the Sand Pebbles’ “난 어떻게” (written by Kim Changwan) by a young Jaurim and thought it was pretty groovy and a number of punk-garage bands like Crying Nut and Galaxy Express have had great success covering the energetic “개구쟁이”, so I’m very curious to see what all the singers will pick or be assigned.

TK: Given how much I liked every single performance in the Cho Yongpil special, this has a potential to be something special. Can’t wait!

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