The December 4th episode of “I Am a Singer” is especially dear to me because it’s the first episode of the Sanullim special. Sanullim is a classic Korean rock band that originated in the 1970’s, with psychedelic and folk rock elements. As this commentary was written in haste, I’ll be the only one commenting on it.
Click behind the jump to see what I 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 “12월 4일 방송” to find the performances discussed below.
It’s time for the Sanullim special! One of the heroes of Korean rock is featured on a special for the show! As a growing fan on the classic Korean rock band, I’m psyched for this! Sanullim’s impact on Korean music is noticeably large, considering how frequently the band’s music gets covered by other popular and even influential Korean musicians, so it won’t be the first covers of their music.
The available songs include both Sanullim’s original songs as well as songs written by Sanullim’s Kim brothers and given to other artists to perform, which includes a number of surprising revelations. As with the Jong Yongpil special, the artists get to choose their desired song, starting with the last place to the first.
Insooni selects “청춘” (Youth)
Insooni selects a great classic Sanullim folk rock song. I’m really interested in hearing Insooni’s interpretation since she is a contemporary of Sanullim and I imagine that she might be able to draw an interesting and powerful performance from it, as she reflects upon her youth.
Bobby Kim selects “회상”
This is one of my favorites, a slow paced folk rock song. It’s a tough pick for Bobby since he has not been successful with slow songs in the past, because I don’t think mainstream Korean audiences really go for his funky chilled out sound. Still, I know that Bobby easily is able to flavor music he covers via his unique vocals alone, so I’m more curious about how he will adapt the arrangement.
Kim Kyungho selects “찻잔”
Another slower folk-rock choice and with Kim’s grounding as a rock musician, I believe he should be able to make something of the song, although I’m curious as to whether he’s going to try to metal it up or try something different which this slower song.
Gummy selects “개구장이”
This is an incredibly popular song as of late, especially favorite by rock bands with punk or garage influences thanks to its high energy and explosive vocal composition. And I think it’s a TERRIBLE fit for Gummy, who bombed out with her cover of Insooni’s “또…” I don’t think her R&B voice has what it takes to push the higher energy volumes out. Now, if she’s able to pull a really unique arrangement out that changes the tone of the song w/o clashing with the lyrics, perhaps, but I think that’s putting too much faith into so young a performer.
Jaurim selects “내 마음에 주단을 깔고”
A bit more of a psychedlic rock song with a funk groove to it. If there’s any performer on the show that I’m going to put hope in to cover Sanullim well, it’s going to Jaurim, whose own music has a bit of psychedlia in it and whose members include Sanullim fanboys.
Juckwoo selects “나 홀로 뜰 앞에서”
Okay, I admit I’m not familiar with this song, but it’s a dance pop song written by Sanullim’s Kim Changhoon for singer Kim Wansun. Okay, I admit I don’t know much about Juckwoo, but from what I can find, she’s a balladeer without a hit fast song, so it’s very brave (possibly stupid) of her to choose a dance pop song, especially this early on in the game. Given Kim Bumsoo, Jo Kwanwoo and Yoon Minsoo’s transformations on the show, it might be possible to pull this off, but it’s pretty wild for her to do it so early into her run on the show. Perhaps it’s because she got second and is fairly safe from elimination?
Yoon Minsoo selects “나 어떻게”
Another favorite of mine, introduced when I watched Peppermint Candy so many years ago, it’s a slower paced psychedelic rock song. I’m a bit worried that Yoon will fail the subtlety of the song, but he does have a quieter range that he might be able to explore and with last week’s performance, I have renewed hope that he’s not a one-trick pony. Now I hope he’s got three tricks to his horse.
A unique change for this round is that the managers will have to sing songs for this challenge and their rankings will have an impact on their singers’ place in the show’s set list the following episode as well as their performance order in the current one.
I don’t know how I feel about this, because some managers are actually musically gifted while others aren’t and it doesn’t seem like an even pull for me.
Kim Changwan, the bandleader, frontman and lead songwriter of Sanullim, joins the studio to rank the managers’ performances.
Song Eunee & Kim Sook’s “꼬마야”
Song Eunee and Kim Sook team up together for their simple, folksy performance, complete with a monologue and gag in the center.
Kim Shinyoung’s “어머니와 고등어”
Kim Shinyoung might not be much of a singer, but her electronic dance arrangement gives plenty of space for silly dance moves and goofing around.
Jung Sungho’s “얘쁜 맘 얘쁜 꿈”
Jung plays the whole song in a group of impressions, including JK Kim Dongwook, Bobby Kim, Yoon Minsoo. It was admittedly fun.
Kim Taehyun’s “너의 의미”
Kim, like Song Eunee plays the song straight before forgetting some lyrics. A nervous performance, but cute because of his nervousness.
Park Myungsoo’s “산할아버지”
A brutally out of tune acoustic performance.
Kim Changwan awards Kim Shinyoung with the first place award and for it, her team is given a free pass in the following episode to select a different ball in the order picking stage if the one they pick is not to their liking.
It seems as though I missed Park Huisoon’s performance in the stream I was watching. This was not the trainwreck that I thought it might be as only Kim Taehyun played it straight and it seems like it wasn’t taken to be serious. Finally, the reward for top performance doesn’t have too great an impact, so I thought it was a decent way to fill time.
I think the song really adapted well to the bluesy arrangement, especially given the lyrics and Insooni’s delivery was pretty awesome for a mid-round surprise.
Jaurim’s “내 마음에 주단을 깔고”
This arrangement sounds so totally Jaurim, like something off their second or B-sides album, I would’ve believed it to be their own and the music pushes the psychedelic edge of Sanullim into a heavier rock extreme. This was lots of fun.
This was not as bad as I was fearing. It was a cute start, but there’s something just a little flat in her voice then. As for when it got fast, it was a little child-like, which works for the child-oriented song, but I felt Gummy’s voice wasn’t quite up to the song (completely missing the signature scream) and the ad-libbing didn’t win me over. This was better than her take on “또…” though. I hope she can amp up the performance and get her voice into shape for the titular call.
Bobby Kim’s “회상”
This is Bobby the balladeer that I like so much. A simple, but expressive performance. I love how Bobby’s unique singing style blended with the very strong melody and together kept pace with the reflective lyrics well, drawing out the emotion in them.
Yoon Minsoo’s “나 어떻게”
The psychedelic sound was taken out in exchange for a simple keyboard arrangement. As for Yoon, he’s right back to his usual vocal tricks and he is exploring his quieter end more, complete with a spoken word part. But I’m worried that I’m not going to like the result and it’s going to end up like his take on Kim Chooja’s “님이 먼곳에”. It was still all right, but perhaps less impressive simply because we don’t see what he’s going to do later.
Juckwoo’s “나 홀로 뜰 앞에서”
Oh, this doesn’t work at all. Juckwoo probably has no practice with singing this kind of song and it shows. She’s off-pitch at times, straining to hit the notes and failing to push into the energetic arrangement. Sorry, Juckwoo, I hardly know you, but I know music enough to know this was weak.
Kim Kyungho’s “찻잔”
Kim sings it spot at the top with a simpler rock arrangement, but it’s already better than last week’s performance with its rock style and slight rock vibrato used. I’m not sure it’s quite at a point of impressing, but it’s certainly a decent take. I think he’ll be able to handle this song fine in the next episode.
1) Bobby Kim, 2) Jaurim, 3) Insooni, 4) Kim Kyungho, 5) Yoon Minsoo, 6) Gummy, 7) Juckwoo
Juckwoo is easily last for a weak performance and a hardly arranged song. Gummy was also a bit on the loose side, but not quite as noticeably weak as the newbie. Yoon Minsoo’s was serviceable, but that’s not enough for me–granted, we didn’t see what he’s going to do, but I don’t feel well about it, since he seems to be drifting right back into his usual mode of adapting music outside of his usual style. Up top, Bobby Kim won me over with his amazing capture of emotions in his song choice and I even feel that he might win over the audience with a slow song for once this time. Jaurim is right at home with their song and they do one of the things they do best with it–it might not be testing them much, but it’s nice to hear them performing so comfortably after constantly trying to reinvent songs to fit their style. Insooni’s bluesy take was different enough to make me instantly take notice and also gives her a lot more vocal room than the original folk arrangement would while not losing the song. This leaves Kim Kyungho right in the middle with a decent performance that promises something more.
- Bobby Kim
- Yoon Minsoo
- Kim Kyungho
Again, these results hardly matter since we really don’t get into what the performers will be fully doing, but I am a little surprised at some of the results, placing Gummy higher and Jaurim lower, a tie with Kim Kyungho at fifth, nonetheless.
Next time will be our final catch-up commentary with the final performances of the Sanullim special!