Having the final pick has proved quick difficult as Widhi, The Korean and Anna all selected all but one of the singers I’d originally planned picking and wanting to add some diversity of choices, I’m going to highlight a few alternatives. I generally picked my singers by what I thought they would provide to the show in terms of interesting or powerful vocal performances.
Pick #1: Baik Hyunjin (백현진)
UhUhBoo Project’s wily frontman is no stranger to the show, having previously performed a duet with Jaurim on the show to audience applause. His vocal style is particularly unique and powerful, capable of performing manic fast paced angular indie rock as well as handling slow songs with immense power, and at times can come across as what a drunken Tom Waits might sound like. He will no doubt impress the audience with his prowess and will challenge them with his atypical vocal and musical style.
Pick #2: Huckleberry Finn
Huckleberry Finn has been rocking the Korean indie club circuit for over a decade and is one of Korea’s finest harder edged alternative rock units around. Part of this is due to the ferocity of lead singer Lee Soyoung’s vocals, whose husky rock howl matches pound-for-pound ever other rock singer in the scene. And while Huckleberry Finn won’t have the broadness of Jaurim’s appeal, being quite tied to their specific alternative rock sound, Lee Soyoung will provide the kind of powerhouse female rock vocals that will rattle the audience, especially when tied up with the band’s potent arrangements.
Pick #3: Han Heejung (한희정)
If all you know Han Heejung by is her current folk-pop solo career sound, you don’t know the breadth of vocal performance that Han Heejung is capable of, having previously sang for dream pop/indie folk duo, Bluedawn and even before that, for the long-running modern rockers, The The Band. Her more low-key style as of late is unlikely to electrify any audience, but, especially during her time in Bluedawn, she was able to pull out some moving vocal performances and so with careful song choices, her range should alternatively delight and move audiences. And to show she’s got chops for pop covers, click here to see her take on 2NE1’s “아파”.
Pick #4: Jungin (정인)
Jungin might best be known for being the woman that sings the catchy chorus on a number of popular Leessang songs, but what’s immediately striking about her vocal style is that, especially early on, she had a deep neo-soul style of singing, clearly influenced by Erykah Badu and Macy Gray. But Jungin was able to put her chops to use not only in hip hop choruses, but in R&B, funk, and soul as the vocalist for the short lived band, G.Fla and should prove a good female counterpoint for Bobby Kim. While she mostly trades in more traditional pop ballads as of late, she should be capable of reaching into her past as well as her present to deliver some audience moving performances. She may face some similar challenges as Bobby, her style tending towards coolness, which doesn’t seem to work well with the Korean audience, but her capacity for straighter pop ballads should help buoy her.
Pick #5: Bang Joonsuk (방준석)
Bang Joonsuk is one of the biggest reasons why I developed an interest in Korean indie music and not just because had a hand in crafting two major Korean indie filled soundtracks, but because of his own original songs he wrote for them (under the moniker Blue in Green). While he might be quite busy with his soundtrack work, he’s not so busy that he doesn’t perform with his many musician friends, either on guitar or handling vocal duties and while he might have never released a solo album and doesn’t quite have the name recognition of his U&Me Blue partner, Yi Sung Yol, he’s still a strong rock singer himself and a shot on “I Am a Singer” might be what he needs to perhaps produce a solo album. Incidentally, he has already been on the “I Am a Singer” stage before, assisting Park Junghyun on guitar.
As previously mentioned by Widhi and Anna, I think 3rd Line Butterfly/Nam Sangah would be a stunning add to the show because Nam Sangah’s a fantastic singer and will provide some out of the box melodic style. I also have to say that Yoon Mirae would be a powerful add to the show because she’s a heavily talented rapper and R&B singer and would provide a different element to the show with her confident rapping style. And I’m most on the same wavelength as Anna because I think itta’s vocal creativity would be an asset, Youjeen of Cherry Filter would provide the pop end of enormous range badass rock vocals, and Kim Banjang, well, he’d bring a rich palette of funk, soul, and reggae that’s gone missing post-Bobby Kim.
Ineligible But Interesting
They haven’t been around long enough, but Ha Hyunwoo’s vocals are simply awesome to behold and would likely bring a strong dramatic presence to the show.
This one is a bit of a wild suggestion, since Janggoon is a pansori singer (traditional Korean music), but she’s been involved at the forefront of fusing it with modern music like dub with I&I Djangdan and electronica with Ninano Nanda and I’m kind of curious to see how her traditional style will work in a pop music setting and especially curious as to how the audience will react. Another choice in the same vein would Gogooryuh Band and their mix of traditional singing and rock.
Agree with a pick? Feel like we’re missing somebody? Leave a comment on our Reader’s Choice page with your top three indie choices for “I Am a Singer”!