What a way to start a New Year… with Jaurim’s final episode on “I Am a Singer”, barring a special stage on the following show. It’s a dramatic episode for the singers as not only will Jaurim be leaving the show, but another singer might as well and now the new singers are introduced as well!
This is also a significant moment for this recap series on Indieful ROK as it started to cover Jaurim’s performances on the show, being a Korean indie representative. Now that Jaurim will be departing the show, this will be our final recap here at Indieful ROK, unless Jaurim performs a special stage on the next episode or a new Korean indie performer joins the program. Joining us for this final recap commentary are Anna, The Korean, and Widhi.
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 “1월 1일 방송” to find the performances discussed below.
Before the Show
The singers note that most of the songs are all ballads and that their band lineups are similar too.
Determining Performance Order
As before, all the balls that determine order are picked together.
- Bobby Kim
- Kim Kyungho
- Gummy (originally picked 3, but used Kim Shinyoung’s earned re-pick card)
- Park Wangyu
- Yoon Minsoo
New Singer: Shin Hyobum
One new singer is revealed at this point: Shin Hyobum.
rd: All I know Shin for is for being a classic Korean pop balladeer who was active at least since the early ‘90’s. As such, I feel like she’ll occupy a similar musical space as Jang Hyejin on the show and with the heavy R&B edge on the show (Yoon Minsoo, Gummy, Bobby Kim), I think it’s a good choice to add a more classic Korean pop balladeer, although it’s too bad that no one really fits that rather unique and unpredictable space that Jaurim filled on the show. I also think it’s a good decision on the part of the show to pick a veteran performer like Shin with three performers (Yoon Minsoo, Gummy, and Juckwoo) have had comparatively shorter careers and another younger performer would balance the show to the less experienced too much with the departure of the veteran band, Jaurim.
TK: I would put Shin at a “legend” level, but just barely. She was huge in mid 1990s, and she does have awesome pipes. It will be interesting to see if she has the kind of showmanship as Insooni (the previous “legend”) does. But here is the problem: is the show running out of hyper-legends (at the level of Insooni) to cast? (It would be understandable — if you are already an established musician, why risk embarrassment on the show?) If that’s the case, the show is really in trouble.
Anna: I’m somewhat ashamed to admit I have no clue who she is. Like her dimples though.
Widhi: It is too bad that I do not know who she is. I wonder, whether this addition will be good for the show or the other way around.
Juckwoo’s “처음 느낌 그대로”
A lovely flute opens the piece with orchestra as Juckwoo starts with a quiet husky voice in the voice. She opens up for the chorus with vibrato and a band backing. The orchestra takes a instrumental break and she continues with the chorus and verse through the end.
rd: I think Juckwoo manages to clean up her singing a bit from the mid-round and manages to inject her style especially noticeably in the chorus. I think it’s a lot better than I was fearing although her delivery is still just a touch muddy, although at this point, I’m thinking it’s a deliberate part of her style. Overall, a modest performance, I feel, but I really like the flute and orchestra arrangement.
TK: Juckwoo finally figured out that she should do what she is good at doing. Problem is that “not bad” is not good enough on this show. I liked the performance, but it did not stay with me. Also — this is totally unfair but I have to say it — I really hate the face she makes when she is belting her strong notes. It kills the mood. I might have to listen to her with eyes closed from now on.
Anna: Her vocals are sounding a bit forced as usual. I’m beginning to think maybe I’ve just gotten it all wrong and it’s just me that can’t appreciate her style of singing right and this being what she’s supposed to sound like. Or this could be another case of me expecting a song to sound a particular way so I can’t accept anything else, although it’s the voice rather than arrangement that bothers me. Still, that bit towards the end was very pretty.
Widhi: Even until now, I still feel that she still looked pressurized a lot. She really needed to work on her confidence while singing because so far this mood did not help her. However, her song’s choice was getting better somehow. Though I still love the original better, she could pull it off and give the song a different vibe than the Lee Sora’s version. The flute at the opening was beautiful and so was the arrangement of the song.
Bobby Kim’s “Double”
A dramatic piano is immediately joined by Bobby’s soulful vocals to open before a smokey bossa nova section starts. The arrangement switches to tango for the chorus, an orchestra and accordion joining in, before switching back to bossa nova for the verse, accented with horns. There’s another switch for an almost Buga Kingz-like Latin bridge before continuing into the chorus in the Latin style. There’s a little build up before the song closes on a hit.
rd: Bobby Kim has been the epitome of cool on the show since he showed up and this is a wonderfully mellow piece, full of style and confident performance. I really love that Bobby did what he wanted to and managed to find a solid Bobby Kim-style interpretation of the song with a great arrangment. It didn’t blow me away, but I thought it was a fine work of cool on the show. Bobby’s come a long way since his rough start on the show. Unfortunately, Bobby Kim usually does quite poorly with the audience when he’s not uptempo and exciting, so I don’t see this turning out well for him in the voting.
Anna: I actually prefer this arrangement to the original! Nonetheless it is a bit boring. After he picked this song I had been hoping for a lot more energy. The rap turned out well, but it came too late and unfortunately didn’t do enough to rescue the performance.
TK: I really like Bobby Kim’s chill side, but I really don’t know why he insists on sticking with it show after show. Give people what they want, Bobby! You made your point already! We know you are good at this! At least the rap part was a lot of fun.
Widhi: I became more and more aware of his unique voice as time goes by. Yet, I felt that this song was not that strong for him. I was not a fan of the arrangement. It was too flat for me, except the voice.
Kim Kyungho’s “사랑 안 해”
Pop sweet piano and orchestra open the track. Kim comes in with an unusually sweet almost Michael Jackson-like vocals on the verse, continuing through the chorus, hitting some really high notes and sometimes in a breathy whisper. There’s an orchestral build following the chorus and Kim returns with a march drum, opening up his vocals to rock ballad style on the second verse, complete with greater band integration and background vocalists. He closes out the song as it builds with a rock ballad wail.
rd: I really didn’t have much hope for this song and at first, it wasn’t convincing me because Kim was a bit whispery at the top of the song, but once he opened up his rock-style vocals, it became quite stronger. I’m not fully certain that he really captured the lyrics of the song however by going so hard, so I’m not really feeling this.
Anna: It’s a lovely opening. I’m surprised it took him so long to get into his usual rock style, though he did seem to struggle a bit with holding back. I like it and hope the audience does too. Even though he did bring out his rock ballad vocals towards the end it was great to see him manage so long and so well without them.
TK: I did not feel this one. Felt like a mismatched song selection for Kim Kyungho here. There was a severe disconnect between the lyrics and the singer. Although the show jokes about Kim Kyungho being girly, his rock style is anything but. But the lyrics were just. too. feminine. All I could think of was Baek Jiyoung singing this song in her wedding dress-like skirt.
Widhi: Not a fan of the whispering style opening. It was not the type of him that I like. Yet, I like the arrangement of this song. I should agree with TK that this song was a mismatched song for him. The original version was still quite too strong for me and suited Baek Jiyoung better.
Gummy’s “P.S. I Love You”
Warm piano and strings open this song as Gummy opens the verse in her usual quiet opening style, cleanly building towards pre-chorus. Her first take on the chorus stays within this style, increasing in dynamics. After an instrumental break, the band comes in and joins Gummy in opening up for the second chorus run. Once at the bridge, a background chorus helps back her as he ad-libs before going quiet for a verse refrain and then builds right back into the pre-chorus for the classic emotional spill final chorus. She closes the song again quiet.
rd: Gummy’s performance has improved since the mid-round, being stronger and cleaner. Her ability to find graduations in dynamics has improved with a gradual build towards the end. This is as straight a K-pop ballad performance as I’ve seen on the show performed as straight as you could. There were points where her performance faltered a little, but she got well absorbed into the song, so it was covered. Still, I’m actually not much of a fan of this particular style of K-ballad so it admittedly left me cold, despite the improvement in performance.
Anna: I’m glad she finally got back to the ballads, this is where she’s got her strength. There’s something about her voice that doesn’t really appeal to me, but I’d say this is the best she’s performed on the show so far.
TK: Gummy finally figured out the same advice that I gave to Juckwoo — do what you do well. She is good at this type of song, so she should stick with it. Anna is right — this was her best performance so far.
Widhi: As I mentioned last week, Gummy really needed to work hard. She finally showed some improvements here. The song pick was great, the voice was quite stable and she looked stunning. I could also feel the emotion well in this song.
Park Wangyu’s “고해”
A quiet piano leads directly into Park’s rock timbre vocals. Park confidently continues the verse as a band and orchestra hold a standard rock ballad arrangement. When the pre-chorus arrives, Park blows up and goes deep into the chorus as the band and orchestra power up to match him. A guitar solo follows the chorus with a shout and then a gospel choir starts funking up the bridge with Park playing off them before going back into the chorus. A scream leads into a chorus reprise complete with build and ad-libs before park falls on his knees for the cool down close.
rd: With Insooni gone, Park takes the space of having the most swagger on the show. Park blows up the vocals well and reminds me of listening to Boohwal in a strong performance. However, I still felt a slight lack of emotional connection with the lyrics and song, which also left me a little cold, despite the technically strong performance.
Anna: This sounds very inspired by Im Jaebum’s style of singing, which isn’t quite the point. The “oh my love Jesus” gospel part, perhaps a consequence of Jeremy’s Jo Pilsung again not only playing the guitar on stage but also having part in the arrangement, ruins the arrangement completely. If it wasn’t for Park Wangyu’s strong performance in the chorus this would’ve been a clear bottom performance for me.
TK: I thought the chorus was the best part! It was a great idea to bring to fore the religious undertones that Im Jaebum discussed with Park. A moving performance for me.
Widhi: I actually did not like it when he sang way too much like Im Jaebum. I felt that the performance was nice and the song was moving but I could not feel the emotion, as much as I got from the original. However, the chorus part was the strongest in the song. The guitar was a little bit too excessive.
A Spanish guitar by Park Joowon and horns opens up the song before claps by Kim Yuna incite the band to start up. Once the intro closes, Kim Yuna sings it out with minimal backing in a vocal intro before going into a dramatic by quiet verse, joined by accordion. She provides her characteristic vocal swells through the verse and into the chorus. The guitar returns for a solo following the chorus and then a swell and fade vocal and instrumental rise before Kim Yuna stands up and the band joins in rock style as she blasts the chorus, followed by a key change repeat. Another from Kim Yuna and the band goes back into the Spanish style arrangement, before a quieter final repeat.
rd: This also turned out a lot better than I was fearing, with the Spanish style arrangements being quite potent and exciting and Kim Yuna’s vocals exploding. The musical focus really helps give the song some bite, but I thought that it was almost too dramatic at times, distracting a little from the actual song.
Anna: Kim Bumsoo was an odd choice of artist for Jaurim, so I trust they have some grand idea to realize during this last stage of theirs. It’s interesting to see Park Joowon on the show again, especially as he was playing for Kim Bumsoo last time. Monni’s Gong Taewoo is up there playing the guitar as well! In the beginning it sounds a lot more like Kim Yuna than Jaurim, but that changes midway. And here we get to see fellow Soundholic artist Chung Heejoo sing with Jaurim again.
TK: Finally! I have been exhorting Jaurim to finish strong, and stop with the “Transformer” music for the last few shows, and they finally got back to playing a more coherent song from the beginning to the end. It’s a fantastic finish to the show.
Widhi: I was actually quite worried how Jaurim would sing this song. Yet, they blew me away with their interpretation of the song. Not to mention that they brought my favorite guitarist too. Kim Yuna said that she tried to incorporate her style as a soloist and Jaurim in this song and I agreed that it was very successful. When it came to variation and ideas, Jaurim was so good.
New Singer Teased
Another new singer (male) is hinted at before, during, and after Jaurim’s performance. This singer would also join the next round if Jaurim were to graduate.
Yoon Minsoo’s “꽃피는 봄이 오면”
A gliding piano intro with orchestra and bells leads into Yoon’s quiet opening with a noticeable oboe driving into Yoon’s louder repeat backed by a classical soprano. Yoon continues with the verse in his standard quiet style building into the chorus, which is emotionally delivered, but not fully explosive. The music quiets down before going back into the verse and building again towards the chorus and Yoon blowing up this time backed by a full classical style backing choir. Another moment of quiet into the bridge as Yoon slowly crescendos back into the chorus, backed by the sorpranos. A long note at the end of the chorus leads to an extended silence before Yoon returns with a quiet close.
rd: I think nuance really helps Yoon like it did Gummy. The gradations in dynamics over just being quiet and blowing up really improve Yoon’s overall performance and having a wonderful classically affected arrangement really boosts it too (although I felt like the oboe was a bit too loud). I might not normally appreciate Yoon’s style, but I think he really did this song justice and it fit him perfectly.
Anna: There’s a grandiose soundtrack feeling to this arrangement. It sounds over the top and with Yoon Minsoo back to his usual ballad vocal style it’s really not something I can enjoy.
TK: At least he got back to playing music instead of putting on performance art. But the sopranos were quite distracting.
Widhi: This was one of my favorite songs from BMK and to be honest I was worried about this performance. Although I was not a very big fan of his vocal in this performance but the arrangement saved this song. It was also quite emotional, so it consoled me a lot.
rd: 1) Yoon Minsoo, 2) Bobby Kim, 3) Jaurim, 4) Juckwoo, 5) Gummy, 6) Park Wangyu, 7) Kim Kyungho
I never thought I would give Yoon Minsoo the first place spot, especially for doing his ballad thing, but his cover was the most spot on in capturing the song and presenting it honestly, showing Yoon at his most nuanced on the show so far. Likewise, I felt like Bobby Kim also really found the core of his song well and presented in it the kind of way that only Bobby Kim could. The rest of the singers had differing levels of emotional disconnect from their songs, the worst of which was Kim Kyungho’s rock vocals clashing with the lyrics and emotion of the song. Likewise, I felt like Park was simply just trying too hard and forcing out his interpretation of “고해” and it wasn’t convincing, especially since his swagger kind of conflicted with the song. Jaurim had the most exciting performance on the show and while I felt they didn’t fully connect with the song, they came close and really arranged their music well around the song. Even though Juckwoo’s performance was at times a bit shaky, I do think she managed to hit the point of the song, beating Gummy simply because I’m just not fond of “P.S. I Love You” and Gummy wasn’t able to convince me otherwise, but her performance didn’t leave me as cold as the rockers did.
Anna: 1) Jaurim, 2) Gummy, 3) Kim Kyungho, 4) Park Wangyu, 5) Bobby Kim, 6) Yoon Minsoo, 7) Juckwoo
This was an unusually bad episode in terms of quality. Jaurim were clearly the best. Though I hadn’t expected it Gummy managed well to move me, but that may also have been the song which I actually kinda like. As usual Kim Kyungho did fine, this even though he held back most of the time. As for the rest, there’s not much to say. That was really a horrible arrangement for Park Wangyu, but unlike the other three at least he was convincing during some point of the song. Bobby Kim albeit nice just didn’t come through this time. And for the bottom two, I disliked them equally but in the end at least Yoon Minsoo sounds like he knows what he’s doing.
TK: 1) Park Wangyu, 2) Gummy, 3) Jaurim, 4) Bobby Kim, 5) Yoon Minsoo, 6) Kim Kyungho, 7) Juckwoo
Agreed with Anna that this was not the strongest episode — there was no true “wow” moment in this episode, and usually this show is good for at least one or two. My top tier was Park Wangyu, Gummy and Jaurim, mid-tier with Bobby Kim and Yoon Minsoo, and bottom tier with Kim Kyungho and Juckwoo.
Widhi: 1) Jaurim, 2) Park Wangyu, 3) Yoon Minsoo, 4) Gummy, 5) Bobby Kim, 6) Juckwoo, 7) Kim Kyungho
Just like TK and Anna, I have to say that this episode was not the strongest one. Now I wonder, will I continue watching after Jaurim left?
1st Place (with 20.4% of the vote)
rd: This was my prediction due to his technically powerful and charismatic performance. This was his first time getting first place in anything, so he says a word to his son. The audience loves their powered out performances.
Anna: Wow, did the audience really fall for that? Maybe without that religious outbreak it would’ve appealed to me more, but it really had no place in the song.
TK: Wah? So much hate for religious people! I thought he deserved it.
Anna: No hate intended for religious people. I’m actually something of a Jeremy fan so have been happy to see Jo Pilsung on stage, it’s just that I tend to prefer songs without overt display of any religion remaining as such ^^
Widhi: Quite expected, no surprise.
rd: What a wonderful way to finish on the show. This guarantees that the band will graduate.
Anna: Very well deserved! Both the position today and the graduation.
TK: I am very happy to see them rank high.
Widhi: I was happy they got 2nd for this performance, so good!
rd: I thought this was predictable too, based on his again powerhouse performance. The audience loves it when Yoon goes out like this on a ballad. Apparently, I can like it too.
Anna: I disagree, but have learned that as much as I hate those vocals they’re popular among the audience members.
TK: This is somewhat weird, but not as much as the next one.
Widhi: Maybe it is because he got 7th?
rd: Again, I think the powerhouse vocals convinced the audience yet again.
TK: Ugh, just ugh. Is Kim Kyungho the new Park Junghyun, being bullet-proof no matter what he does at this point?
Widhi: Why do I think that he should actually rank lower? His vocal was not that great in this episode.
Anna: Any lower than this would’ve been a complete failure on the part of the audience.
TK: This makes no sense.
Widhi: Gummy should really work harder. Yet, this is somehow not good.
rd: Despite ranking her lower myself (mostly because I don’t like the song), I actually expected a higher rank for her.
rd: As I predicted, the local audience simply does not at all respond to Bobby Kim doing anything that isn’t upbeat and energetic and so, despite what I thought was a good performance by Bobby Kim, I also believed he would come in last place again.
Widhi: So sad for him but the performance was not the strongest.
Eliminated: Bobby Kim
rd: This a real shame because the show is losing both of its most unique musical voices at the same time. Neither of the newly revealed singers are unlikely to fill that space. I thought Bobby was overappreciated when he was showboating the energetic songs and underappreciated for his nuanced ballad performances (at least once he got past his rough first couple episodes), but I thought he generally performed much better than the audience appreciated. There is pretty much no one like Bobby Kim in the Korean music industry, which was a dual edged sword for him.
Anna: It’s sad to see him leave. He did bring something unique to the show and I fear it’ll be long before somebody else with the same diversity comes along.
TK: It is a real shame. It took so long for the show to bring in a rapper, and Bobby Kim represented the hiphop community quite well. Hopefully the show will bring in another rapper, and quickly.
Widhi: Bobby should have stayed longer but his last performances were not the audience’ favorite, so it was hard for him.
rd: As with Bobby Kim, Jaurim is definitely a highly unique voice in the Korean music industry, and like Bobby Kim, they too struggled at first to find themselves on the show, but they also happen to have at least two of my favorite performances of all time on the show: “고래사냥” and “가시나무” and mostly managed to use their uniqueness as a strength in capturing the audiences attention. Rather than Bobby’s cool, Jaurim brought a touch of the outside onto the show, with the most unique and colorful arrangements and style and inasmuch as I’m disappointed with the Korean audience for simply not getting Bobby Kim, I’m also surprised and pleased that they could appreciate Jaurim’s independent streak in crafting their arrangements and so it’s with joy that I can see this indie band graduate from what is perhaps now the biggest music show in Korea, joining the ranks of now superstars Park Junghyun and Kim Bumsoo.
Anna: Anything but graduation after so many high rankings would’ve been wrong. Not only did they bring fresh and intriguing arrangements to the show, but they also gave the viewers a glimpse (admittedly a very small one, but nevertheless) of the indie scene otherwise hidden to most.
TK: Time to stand up and cheer! In some ways, Jaurim is a mirror image of Bobby Kim on this show — both are talented people who can cover a lot of different things, but Jaurim did their things in a way that did not lose the audience. The fact that Jaurim became a little too formulaic toward the later part of their stint was slightly annoying, but overall they had a great run.
Widhi: Jaurim was the only artist that made me so curious about what they would bring to the table every week. They were able to set the bar higher for each and every single performance. They never gave up to surprise the audience with their witty ideas and arrangement. So happy to watch the performance until the very end.
New Singer Revealed: Tei
As soon as it was revealed that Jaurim would graduate, the new singer, Tei, was revealed.
rd: Newcomers to Korean music might recognize Tei as the voice of the Fluxus pop band Handsome People, but Tei was a pop balladeer before he seemed to take a break from the limelight. He has a broad open voice that will put him in a close space to Yoon Minsoo (whose final round is next round) and he also happens to tie with Gummy and Juckwoo in length of career, having debuted in 2004 as well. As a result, the show is getting a bit younger, but I’m going to hope that Tei’s learned a thing or two working in the band format of Handsome People and that he brings that onto the show.
Anna: I recall being quite fond of some of Tei’s early songs, but don’t really care much for Handsome People. Perhaps they thought with the Fluxus connection he’d be a decent enough substitute for somebody with real ties to the indie scene, assuming there is an interest in diversity from the show’s producers. It’ll be nice to hear more of Tei after so many years, but I’m concerned of the show getting younger as well.
TK: I like Tei, but this is a mistake by the show. Why put in another balladeer? Why not another rapper to replace Bobby Kim? Why not a far-out indie pick like, say, Galaxy Express? Or heaven forbid, why not a trot singer?
rd: I’d have to agree, with the show now comprised of five balladeers and two rockers (who are also ballad friendly), there’s not a lot of diversity on the show. A even a trot singer would have done that. I’d advocate for a popular folk singer, but I’m afraid with how Bobby’s chill songs performed a folk singer wouldn’t last long at all.
Widhi: I am not sure about this. I have to say, I become more worried about the show. Tei is young and maybe the show wants to attract younger viewers more. Yet, no variation will be boring, otherwise he tries to give a try to experiment like Jaurim did, maybe?
rd: As this recap series was conceived to follow indie band Jaurim’s foray onto the show, I’m really pleased to have seen Jaurim perform on and graduate from the show. I think that the show is like magic for many of the singers that compete on the show and while Jaurim might be a more well known indie band, I’m still pleased to see their stock rise even more after being on the show. Furthermore, I think the show is doing great things for public awareness of Korean music outside of the idol scene, especially in emphasizing performance prowess, but also in reintroducing so many classic Korean songs to the public yet again as well as showing the possibility for resurgence of Korean rock (YB, Kim Kyungho, Park Wangyu). I think this show should sport a fairly long life and I hope that more unique talents like Jaurim and Bobby Kim and less currently popular sounds will make their way mainstream and help diversify the greater music appreciation of the Korean public. And I eagerly look forward to see if any other Korean indie heroes will show up on the show in the future.
Anna: Five months pass by so quickly! It’s been a pleasure following Jaurim on the show and like rd I think it’s doing all sorts of good for the Korean music scene. There’s a number of well established indie bands that could take there place, though few if any capable of bringing the unique variety offered by Kim Yuna and her crew.
TK: “I Am a Singer” is a historic show, and the historicity of that show is helped by the fact that Korea has an excellent tradition of pop music since the 1960s, and there are all these great pop musicians who can bring that tradition and make it shine again. We knew the tradition and those musicians existed, but not the world, and not even the mainstream Korea to some extent. But even among those musicians, Jaurim stands out because it pushed the envelope farther and more successfully than any other participant of the show. A healthy round of applause for a great run.
Widhi: After YB, I was worried that there would be no attraction for me to watch another band in the show. However, I was very much in love with the addition of Jaurim to the show and it made me know more about their performance style. It was a great run for Jaurim and they were able to motivate other artist to experiment more on their performance too, since the other artists were also curious about what they would bring on the stage every week. Kim Yuna also proved that as the frontwomen of the band, she was able to show strength and softness well at the same time.
rd: Thank you everyone for reading this recap series. I was pleased to have the opportunity and even the cause to write it. I also want to thank Anna and Indieful ROK for hosting the series, The Korean and Widhi for joining us in commenting on the episodes, MBC for creating and supporting the show, and all the performers that dared to place themselves in competition to share their talents and beloved songs with us.
Anna: Of course also a big thank you to rd for suggesting this recap series to begin with. And even more so for all the time, effort and dedication he put into it, week after week. Now I’m hoping the workload created by it hasn’t been too overwhelming so that we may all be able to bring you a recap series anew next time we find a good enough excuse in a contestant.
TK: Thank you so much for having me on here! It was tons and tons of fun.
Widhi: Props to all who have been involved in the recap. It was a joyful ride and I was so happy to share my thoughts about one of my favorite shows. This show was able to make me become more familiar with a lot of good old songs. Lots of great performances and vocals were shown throughout the show. I hope that this show in the long run will keep the quality and maybe add another name from the indie scene.