Top Band 2 Episode 1: Triple Tournament, Part 1

After a month of near daily Top Band 2 posts we’ve finally arrived at the first commentary of an actual episode. It aired on May 5th and KBS offers VOD to anyone with a KBS account (foreigners may sign up too).  Daum does not allow embeds of the videos related to this episode, but if you follow the links below you’ll get to see the full versions of the performances with the bands shown on TV as well as the performance that did not make the cut for the show.

In addition to myself the Top Band 2 commentary panel consists of Dahee of Dahee’s Plastic Castle, Lightinthemind of Korean rock is real, Ranya of K-Underground Sweden and Xtian aka drowningn00b and we all have a little something to say about this one.


After the first round of auditions through video, 99 bands were picked to be play live in front of judges on Top Band 2. This is where the first episode begins.

It all plays out as a ‘triple tournament’, with three bands at a time competing against each other to move on in the show. Each band is given five minutes total to play one original song and one cover though only one is show on TV. When all the bands have played the judges make their decision. To make things a little more exciting, a judge can pull one of his ‘top choice’ cards for bands that they feel should make it even though the panel has agreed on somebody else.


Dahee: OMG I’m cringing already at the stupid ass opening with the “future news” in a hazy 2015. What an accomplishment – foreign bands coming to play in a rock festival in KOREA! And Toxic has done a world tour! How exciting and revolutionary! Ugh. I love that they dragged the members to the airport just so they could film this fictional future. They kind of look like they want to bury their heads in the ground, lol. I feel sorry for them.

Anna: That was stupid indeed. I would’ve much rather seen clips showing what winning had actually done for Toxic so far. I wouldn’t mind seeing something on a few of the other former contestants too.

Ranya: This was just so embarrassing. If I was on the filming crew, I feel like I would just repeatedly mouth “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry”. Poor boys.

Dahee: Can we please discuss how amazing Kim Kyung Ho‘s hair looks during this one interview? The lighting is making it look super red, and it’s styled a little differently, somehow? Oh, he is pretty. Very pretty. I even took a screencap to prove my point:


Anna: Haha, this is why I love having you on the panel :) You’re right though. Very pretty. I want his hair.

Lightinthemind: I think that he dyed his hair since when he was coming out of the car the color was a bit red too. Ah, I also liked his rock-ish jacket. If speaking about the style I melted somehow seeing Kim Do Kyun and Shin Dae Chul wearing plain clothes. That is what I name true personality, not showing off what they have and who they are.

Dahee: I noticed that the cameras didn’t show the two guitarists pulling up in a fancy car, which suggests to me that either they don’t own cars, or drive really cheap and old cars that don’t suit their star statuses. (I know that Baekdoosan, for instance, doesn’t have one of those star vans for travelling.) As for Kim Kyung Ho’s jacket, I swear I’ve seen him wear a similar one in a khaki colour somewhere. OMG, is he one of those ahjusshi who buy two or three pieces of the same clothing in one go, except in different colours?

Anna: I like this whole tournament idea. I also really like that they’re supposed to play covers since that’s a good chance for bands that while talented haven’t really found their own voice yet.

Dahee: I’m annoyed by the triple tournament thing. Having a rule of two of the three bands being eliminated is stupid. What if one group is better than the others? What if all three of the bands are amazing and better than everyone else? Why not just use the point system from last year? And if they’re just going to save a bunch of bands anyway, what’s the point??

Anna: That’s always the risk, eliminating fantastic bands, but in this case with all the established bands in the mix it might be the best chance for the rookie bands to make it to the next round. I realize the concept of the show has changed, with them too talking in terms of amateur vs. pro, but as much as I’ll enjoy seeing my old favorite bands trying new things what I really want is to see more of all those talented new bands.

Lightinthemind: Rrr, they’d better cut this foolish news and show more backstage live of bands. I really like the thing when they are showing people coming to the AX stage, greeting each other, sitting or lying on benches. About the triple tournament – that’s a question of fate and chance here, since to see three bands and to make decision on the line is not easy. So for established bands and for rookies it is a game with many unknown sides.


Round 1: Super Kidd vs. Guten Birds vs. Transfixion

Super Kidd: “잘 살고 볼 일입니다

Bonus: “Heartbreaker + Good Girl, Bad Girl” (G-Dragon + miss A cover)

Anna: Very typical Super Kidd, but I’m not really a fan of this song. At least Kim Do Kyun seems to enjoy the performance. The cover that we didn’t get to see on TV was much worse than I’d expected too, though it’s cute with the dance and I like that he’s singing “Good Boy, Bad Boy” instead.

Dahee: Super Kidd is Super Annoying. It’s like they don’t know when to shut up. The performance itself is typical Super Kidd, all energy and attitude. I still don’t like them, but Kim Kyung Ho certainly seems to be getting into it. And wow, I don’t like a single thing about that cover. I like that Shin Dae Chul asked them whether they’re just about having fun and only fun, which is always my main complaint about them. Their vague response about flying and bees is less than satisfactory to me.

Lightinthemind: Really typical Super Kidd song but I wasn’t able to stop laughing while watching this performance. And this is really a good sign since the band’s aim is to bring laugh and joy. So what if they are not taking the musician part seriously? Even You Young Suk stand up applauding!

Ranya: Am I the only one who could totally get into this? Maybe living in a very grey climate has gotten to me and I find myself welcoming Super Kidd’s colourful and energetic stage. I also did find myself laughing , but not necessarily at them. The cover of “Heartbreaker” wasn’t nearly as nice sounding as the Miss A one, though.

Lightinthemind: I’m into Super Kidd’s performances totally! I like them)) please don’t misunderstand me) Laughing is a good thing for cold countries, it warms hearts)


Guten Birds: “You In The Mirror

Bonus: “섬집 아기” (children’s song)

Anna: Kim Do Kyun seems to be digging this as well, but Kim Kyung Ho is looking more confused and Shin Dae Chul is looking bored more than anything. Super Kidd are dancing along. I think they did really well with their own song, though the one that we didn’t get to see on TV was a bit boring. Can’t help but feel really bad for them though. So much potential, but facing not just one but two established bands how will they have any chance at all to make it?

Dahee: I feel so sorry for them, to go up against two big bands like this right away. This is why allowing established bands to go on the show is stupid. I think they did well with their own song too, and their choice of cover song was interesting. However, the way they reworked that children’s song was weird, and, indeed, kind of boring, which is a shame.

Lightinthemind: I feel that You Young Suk is so excited and interested in speaking with the bands while other judges are keeping that coolness. I’m glad that You Young Suk praised the ‘exotic’ vocals but of course not glad that it was such a small chance to win against Super Kidd and Transfixion

Ranya: I never really liked this song, interesting voice indeed, but I couldn’t listen to it for too long. I found myself enjoying every time the camera panned to the drummer, she was just oozing cool.


Transfixion: ?


Anna: Apparently things got a little too exciting already from the start as we don’t get to see Transfixion play right away. I wonder how much of these ‘tournaments’ has been planned and how much is just chance…

Dahee: Why aren’t they showing Transfixion’s performance right away? GAH. I hate these kinds of cheap ploys for better ratings. (Which, according to ratings results, actually didn’t work.) Just show us, dammit! I don’t even care about Transfixion!

Xtian: So, what you’re saying is that the competition doesn’t matter…? In the race for ratings, less exciting bands won’t get air time? Huh.

Lightinthemind: Keeping that secret about Transfixion is just a sort of… weird. Since they raise the feeling that Transfixion is a more established and proficient band than Super Kidd and Guten Birds. And everything is sending the message “Will Transfixion win or not? Try to guess!” kicking other bands just out of the boat immediately. So please, just show everything and that would be better.

Ranya: What is this?


Round 2: hakdong-8gate vs. Daybreak vs. IIndian

hakdong-8gate: “인디언 인형처럼” (Nami cover)

Bonus: “Hot Summer Night

Anna: They’re Daybreak fans and have to face their idols in competition, 어떻게? That was a very lovely cover, and a cute dance too. I still don’t like their own song much, but even though it didn’t make it to TV I’d say the performance was slightly better than in the audition video.

Dahee: They’re cute and all, but I still think they’re uneven and their vocal harmonizing needs a lot of work. And what is with that one girl’s idiotic attempt at stereotypical Native American hair? Cringe, cringe.

Lightinthemind: I think that they need to practice singing not a one song at once. Since the first song and cover were made with not bad syncing and their own song was noticeable harder to be hold in one line with dancing and instruments. Anyway, I agree with You Young Suk (I think he’s my favorite judge in this episode) that their music and performance are ‘refreshing’. But not sure that they will last long. Practice, practice and practice, that is the path.

Ranya: They’re incredibly charming and cute! The cover wasn’t bad at all, the male vocal sounds like he could have a really great voice with a little training. Was completely distracted at the way they constantly kept bumping into eachother in their lame attempts at choreography. Please skip that next time.


Daybreak: “Urban Life Style

Bonus: “정신차려” (Kim Soo Chul cover)

Anna: No. I still don’t like Daybreak, but at least the cover is better than their original song. The judges praise them for their proficient instrument playing skills and even though I don’t like their music I’ll have to agree they are skilled musicians.

Dahee: Ugh, they will never be for me. But yes, my head says they’re good, even if my heart is barfing. And yes, the cover is a lot more palatable than the original song. I like how at the end the vocalist shouts, “The end!”.

Lightinthemind: I appreciate their skills, their passion. But my heart is somewhere else.


IIndian: “Streets of Philadelphia” (Bruce Springsteen cover)

Bonus: “홀로” (Kim Soo Chul cover)

Anna: I’m glad they decided to pull out the synth again, but they should realize their potential and use it more. I’m surprised they opted to play two covers instead of taking the opportunity to show off their own material. I wonder if it’s because of a lack of confidence or a tactical decision since they haven’t found their own sound as a trio yet. I actually thought the Kim Soo Chul cover they didn’t show on TV was better, but they were still not as good as the other two bands.

Dahee: I feel so sorry for IIndian. I think we know that they’re better than this performance showed – I agree with Shin Dae Chul when he says they messed up in their song selection. And that vocalist was so off in the Springsteen cover. I wonder why the Top Band editors chose to show the former performance instead of the latter? I think this is all the Samson effect coming into play again – that guy chopped off his beautiful long hair and thanks to that the band has lost all its magic. Let this be a lesson to all rockers that they should NEVER CUT THEIR HAIR.

Lightinthemind: I’m disappointed with the performance, really why when they have a background that isn’t bad are they showing not their own songs but only covers? After commenting on them  I found myself digging their youtube channel and listening to all old songs which I definitely like. And after these two covers I want to cry since for me, the loss of good music is almost a tragedy.


Winner: Daybreak


Anna: Anything else would’ve been extremely embarrassing for them. I hope they’ll surprise me by trying another style next.

Dahee: No surprise here. And they deserve it in this round, at least. I also hope they’ll surprise me in the next round.

Lightinthemind: Verrry predictable choice. If not them then who?

Ranya: Well.


You Young Suk’s top choice: hakdong-8gate


Anna: You Young Suk seems impressed with how well they’re synced although they are a bit amateurish. It’ll be nice to see more of them.

Dahee: I don’t really see what’s so great about them myself, but I guess they certainly have that “fresh” feel that he’s talking about.

Lightinthemind: The power of “freshness”! This should be a great argument!


Round 3: Exit no.4 vs. Magna Fall vs. Vending Machine

Exit no.4: “Amazing Lady

Bonus: “진달래꽃” (Maya cover)

Anna: I like the rap a lot more now than in the audition video. Actually I like their own song more than their cover, even though they did the cover well too. I so want to see more of these guys!

Dahee: There is something so warm and sincere about them. Very harmonious, too. Like they just draw a person in. They’ve definitely improved since the audition video, which is so nice to see. Apparently the judges didn’t like the cover, but I enjoyed seeing this other side to them. It also helps that I love that particular Maya song. I can suddenly feel myself becoming a fan…

Lightinthemind: Agree with Dahee about the feeling of warmth and sincerity. I caught myself smiling all the way with the strong appreciation of what they are showing. When I see this will to live and to do what is not easy even for seeing people I feel proud for those guys and the whole world.

Ranya: Agree with Anna #1 about the rap being a lot better this time around. Wasn’t too fond of the cover, but the performance of their own song really keeps me interested. Really glad to see all the improvements.


Magna Fall: “House of the Rising Sun” (The Animals cover)

Bonus: “Gear Boy

Anna: You Young Suk exclaims “Wonderful” and the judges agree that the feeling is different from Korean bands. I like this cover a whole lot more than the audition video. Their own song too is better than what I saw on YouTube before, though it’s still not really my kind of music.

Dahee: Another case of where the band does well, and my mind knows they did well, but my heart just isn’t in it. Sorry, Magna Fall. It’s a matter of taste, really.

Lightinthemind: I like the cover and still don’t like their own songs. Sorry, I tried, really. But nothing is catching me to make my own decision to listen. Agree with judges that they sound different from Korean bands and judging them from this point of view is not fair. 외국 people have another basis in creating and playing since they were growing up with other musicians as idols. Anyway if to take Magna Fall out of the competition with Korean bands they are pretty good.

Ranya: I don’t know, I just have these issues with people who cover this song. Irrational issues, I know, but the damage is done.


Vending Machine: “S.P.R

Bonus: “Rise from the Ashes” (Quietdrive cover)

Anna: I hesitated about their sound before, but this is much better. I especially like the way that they’ve made the cover that wasn’t showed on TV sound a bit more depressing than the original.

Dahee: Again, that vocalist is really hot. I love her tone. This is definitely more to my taste than Magna Fall’s performance, although I can recognize that Magna Fall did better overall.

Lightinthemind: And again, I love this band and the vocalist’s color. And I feel sorry for them cause obviously they can’t beat Magna Fall.

Ranya: I thought it started off a little shaky, but by the end I was liking it. What an awesome front woman.


Winner: Magna Fall


Anna: They did better than the expat band last year. Will be interesting to see what they do next and am particularly looking forward to see how they’ll remake a Korean hit song for the next step.

Dahee: No surprise here either, although I would have preferred to see Vending Machine go on. Yeah, I’m biased.

Lightinthemind: I’m sorry for Vending Machine. I wanted them to be part of 3rd round(((

Ranya: Wasn’t overly fond of this.


Kim Kyung Ho’s top choice: Exit no.4


Anna: That guy is such a sweetheart!

Dahee: I knew it!! That look of despair and consternation on his face when Magna Fall were chosen was just precious. I love that he stresses that he didn’t choose them out of pity, but because of their harmony and the emotions that they gave off. I totally agree with him, and am so glad he decided to save them. I knew I was his fan for a reason!

Lightinthemind: Yay! Can I kiss him for this decision?

Ranya: Now this I like!


Round 4: Rose Motel vs. Nabi:mat vs. A Clock Work Orange

Rose Motel: “봉숙이

Bonus: “The Boys” (Girls’ Generation cover)

Anna: Shin Dae Chul & Kim Kyung Ho are laughing, so is my husband. I really wish I could understand all of their lyrics in real time myself. They didn’t surprise much with their own song as it was pretty much the same thing we’ve already seen and heard in the audition video, but their Girls’ Generation was an amusing surprise. Not as good as their own song, and not without flaws, but entertaining nonetheless  Also the guy with an acoustic guitar singing kinda resembles Apollo 18’s Hyunseok.

Dahee: OMG, Rose Motel is cracking me up. I hadn’t paid all that close attention to the lyrics in their song in the audition video, but reading them now, I realize just how hilarious they are. I love how when they walk in the judges are like, “Are you by any chance an erotic band?” and they’re like, “We’re just speaking the truth!”. And then they go and play a slightly erotic song, lol. I love how at the line “Let’s just go over there until I sober up/Let’s just rest there for 30 minutes,” Kim Kyung Ho makes a tsk tsk face (like a disapproving mother, OMG) and Shin Dae Chul nearly dies of laughter. And when Shin stutters while trying to tell them that they have a talent for entertaining people, one of the members is like, “Don’t be nervous.” LOL. The cover is a little messy, but also highly entertaining. I hope they last a while just for the laughs.

Lightinthemind: Omg! Omg! I want more of them! This Girls Generation cover blew my mind and if there was a possibility I’d share this video with everybody! As for their own song we already saw it but that was interesting to watch judges’ reaction. Unfortunately I’m not able to understand the lyrics since there are some expressions I don’t understand. But what I get brings fun) With those serious faces and that roses on jackets to sing such things! Have I told you that I like when a band is dressing sort of similar to establish a kind of identity?

Ranya: Reading Dahee explaining what was so funny is really helpful, thank you! I did suspect that it was something slightly dirty for the judges to have that reaction. I wonder how it would have looked if they broke out the SNSD floor drop?


Nabi:mat: “당신을 찾습니다

Bonus: “Stop Crying Your Heart Out” (Oasis cover)

Anna: In spite of my own reservations regarding Nabi:mat I had expected them to sound more convincing. What is this song of theirs they’ve picked, and even more importantly what is that black paint across the vocalist’s eyes? I liked the cover more, but it still pales compared to the original. I’m sorry, Nabi:mat. I really want a reason to like you, but this is not it.

Dahee: Ugh, this is just wrong on so many levels. I don’t think I like a single thing about this performance. The cover is a tad better, but feels unsteady. How can I learn to like them if they won’t let me?

Lightinthemind: I have the same perplexed expression on face like Shin Dae Chul. What was that? Strange laugh, strange black paint, strange back vocals… Too much to be good. And this performance supports my own thoughts about their audition video. Sorry, can’t like them.


A Clock Work Orange: “Ash

Bonus: “My Way” (Frank Sinatra cover)

Anna: Oh! This is my favorite Ash song! They’re doing it well too, much better than during the Ash days. The judges don’t look as impressed though. Moving on to the stuff outside of TV, why do I have a feeling I’ve heard that “My Way” cover before? A lot of it is sung in Korean too

Dahee: I’m finding them a lot more palatable here than they were in the audition video, although their teenager vibe still annoys me. The Sinatra cover seems rather chaotic to me, and I kept expecting those two to start kissing…

Lightinthemind: I like this Ash song, but don’t like the Frank Sinatra cover, since I like covers with a similar timbre. Anyway as for their own song, I can see them getting audience and not in a long time. But definitely not in this show.


Winner: Rose Motel


Anna: Expected considering the judges’ reaction, though because of my limited Korean skills I would’ve rather seen A Clock Work Orange move on from this round. Will probably be a lot of fun to watch Rose Motel do more covers though.

Dahee: I’m happy with this choice. I expect Rose Motel will bring us a lot more laughs in the future.

Lightinthemind: Did anybody see drummer doing that heart sign? So sweet! I think they will bring us many funny moments with their sync moves and of course with unusual songs.


Round 5: Siberian Husky vs. Yery Band vs. Frenzy

Siberian Husky: “Don Fantasy

Bonus: “처음 본 순간” (Songolmae cover)

Anna: Apparently two of their drummers passed away. Sin Dae Chul looks like he approves of their music, but this is them doing the kind of music I don’t listen to myself. Same thing with the cover that didn’t make it to TV. They’re good though. No doubt about it.

Dahee: Uh-oh, sob story time. Must they add that annoying background music? Why not just let her speak and have her words themselves move the audience? Don’t get me wrong, I’m sad their members passed away, but this moment feels exploitative to the band. Anyway, I really dig their song, and the performance. I’m not as into the cover, but I think I could come to really love this band eventually.

Lightinthemind: They are good, they are skilled and they have all it takes to be on the show. But I’m not a fan as I already said. But they could really bring some awesome covers within the contest which I’m awaiting. And despite her amazing strong voice and liking them within the show I will never listen to this band by my own choice.


Yery Band: “들리는 노래” (Sinawe cover)

Bonus: “Romeo Mannequin”

Anna: This sounds much better than I had expected! I thought I would forever dislike Yery Band, but with the Sinawe cover they’re already on my good side. Still not a fan of their own song though, even though it sounds better now than in the audition video.

Dahee: I feel so conflicted. I would totally be into their performance of the Sinawe cover if it weren’t for her voice and her singing style. I was wondering at her strange pronunciation, and then realized that she wears braces now. That’s probably the reason.

Lightinthemind: When I saw her dressing like gothic lolita I was anticipating something dark and moody. But it was the same absurd fashion decision like with the Indian war bonnet in audition video. And please, give me the reason to like them! Is there anything unique in the cover or in their own song?


Frenzy: “소멸하는 밤 Pt.2

Bonus: “거룩한 밤” (Christmas song)

Anna: Frenzy <3 But Kim Kyung Ho doesn’t look happy.. They could’ve done without most of those screams in their own song, and they really could’ve picked a better song to cover. Why didn’t anyone tell them to go with something that better shows their strengths?

Dahee: I am really sad about Frenzy’s performance, because they really didn’t show their best and I felt the vocals in the original song were unnecessary. I agree with the judges that they seemed too eager during the performance, somehow. And why on earth did they choose to cover a Christmas song? What a shame.

Lightinthemind: I didn’t like the screaming at all as well as judges. That was huge hinder to like the music and to understand what they were doing. Also the same for Christmas song. This could have be done in junior school while on the lesson. I mean the choice of course. I’m disappointed.


Winner: Yery Band


Anna: Shin Dae Chul obviously disapproves. I wonder if it’s because he dislikes how they treated his song? Yery Band did make it to Superstar K3, so I suppose they have something I just can’t see. Between Yery Band and Siberian Husky I thought Siberian Husky would’ve come out on top.

Dahee: LOL at Shin Dae Chul getting all pissy and turning his back on the other judges. And Kim Kyung Ho’s all, “Ruh-roh.” The dramatic editing is killing me.

Lightinthemind: Who’s choice it was? Kim Kyung Ho? You Young Suk? I can’t see the point to like Yery Band and to leave them in the show. Sorry, I’m now with Shin Dae Chul.


Shin Dae Chul’s top choice: Siberian Husky


Anna: This was very expected considering his look when Kim Kyung Ho was about to announce Yery Band. I feel bad for Frenzy though. They were one of my favorites, but with those song picks they probably wouldn’t have made it further even if put in any other tournament.

Dahee: I love that he saved Siberian Husky, since they would’ve been my choice over Yery Band. But yeah, I also feel really bad for Frenzy. This is so sad.

Lightinthemind: Agree. Sad for Frenzy but… I don’t like the thought that the sad story had an effect on this, but for the good memories of gone members they need to go as far as possible


Round 1 (cont.)

Transfixion: “Back On The Beat

Bonus: “Unbelievable” (EMF cover)

Anna: Looks like Devin Lee is playing with them! Their own song was just fine, but what is this cover? It was very unexpected and I can’t decide whether I like it or not. Currently leaning towards not, but it did have its charm… Shin Dae Chul exclaims ‘Rock & Roll’ when it’s time for the judges to talk.

Dahee: Okay, so we finally get to see Transfixion’s performance. They were fine, although I really am not a fan of the original song. What on earth does “I wanna sexy music” mean, anyway? I think I like the cover better, although I have my reservations about it, too.

Lightinthemind: Also very typical Transfixion, presenting everything they can. But what a cover! I like it as the original but with these guitar riffs and the voice of Hae Rang it is really a decent version. I want to exclaim “Rock’n’Roll” too)) The only thing that I want to add to their own song is more vocals than screaming and talking.


Winner: Transfixion


Anna: When they made this a cliff hanger it could’ve gone either way. Either Transfixion would somehow screw up so badly they lost because of it, or they’d do as well as they did and move on. I’m expecting Super Kidd will be somebody’s top choice in the beginning of next episode, and I really hope there’ll be one of those for Guten Birds as well.

Dahee: Oh wow, I’m surprised they eliminated Super Kidd. But I’m sure someone will save them. Probably Kim Kyung Ho? (Are the judges allowed to save more than one group?) He really seemed to like them, and based on what the judges were saying amongst themselves, it seems they were split 2:2 on which band to choose. I seem to be agreeing with Shin Dae Chul more than Kim Kyung Ho so far…This is a tad upsetting. Overall, it was a fun episode, if rather aggravating at times. Can we have more Kim Kyung Ho next episode, please?

Lightinthemind: I want both Transfixion and SuperKidd and was so sad to see faces of eliminated guys. But… rules are rules. That was really funny, distressing, relieving, sometimes I was furious for some decisions, but it was great watching this first episode. I want more!! Thought on the side: seeing Devin Lee I want Dr.Core 911 to come to life… I miss them playing together ((

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