The first episode of KBS band survival show Top Band 2 has aired, but in order to give our panel some time to watch and digest it there’ll be a few days before we get started with the real commentary series here. Until then, as suggested by Rose, now that we know who all the bands are we’ll dedicate some time towards introducing the judges on the show. In the first instance of this new mini series of posts I’m joined by Dahee of Dahee’s Plastic Castle as we share our love for Kim Kyung Ho and his hair.
Rock singer Kim Kyung Ho made his first appearance on Korea’s music scene in 1989 as he sang the self-composed “꿈 그리고 사랑” on an annual competition for talented youths hosted by KBS. 18 years old at the time it was not until he had reached 23, in 1994, that he made his official debut with “마지막 기도”. Producing plenty of hits since Kim Kyung Ho has been one of few rock artists to make it to no. 1 after the genre fell out of popularity. He released his ninth and latest full-length album Infinity in 2007 but has since put out numerous singles as well as a special album.
Kim Kyung Ho joined hit show I Am A Singer in September 2011 and with his long hair soon became known as Korea’s “rock unnie”. He was the fifth artist to graduate from the show, doing so in the final round before the show went on a hiatus in February 2012.
Anna: I actually didn’t know that Kim Kyung Ho had been around for so long until I looked it up right now. He was certainly a very talented young man!
Dahee: Don’t forget his stint on MBC’s University Music Festival, which he joined after he moved to Seoul for university. (He’s originally from Mokpo. Which means he speaks Jeollado dialect, which means we’re even more perfect for each other.) He got the bronze award for his self-composed song “Long Goodbye,” which was also included on his first album. Please note his ridiculous hair and dorky glasses in the video. This is proof that he should never, ever cut his hair. EVER. Also, even before that, while in high school he participated in the youth talent show Viva Youth, in which he represented his school and showed off his singing talents alongside future popular comedians like Yoo Jae Seok, Jung Sun Hee and Kim Ji Seon. He sure was busy as a teenager.
Anna: That short hair wasn’t very flattering, nor was the rest of his style but it can all be attributed to the times I suppose. His long hair is such a big part of his image. I was checking out random Kim Kyung Ho videos on YouTube a few months ago and was very surprised to find that somewhere he’d attempted a more stylish hairdo. Trying to dig those videos up again (but failing) I found that it happened sometime in 2003. For some reason I can’t take him as seriously without it. Take “Father” for example. The song is one of his best, but his expressions in this performance just doesn’t work as well without his long hair.
Dahee: The short hair is one of the reasons 2003 was such a bad year for him – would you believe that people were suuuuuper pissed off about him cutting it? This was also the time he started going on variety shows and shattered his cold, distant image in one fell swoop. This did not go well for him. He’s like Samson – you cut his hair and all his power is gone. I really, really hope he never starts balding.
Dahee: While he’d been well-known in the underground scene for several years, his rise to mainstream success really happened overnight, with his performance in 1997 on then-popular music show Lee So Ra’s Propose. After several years of popularity, things took a downturn for him in 2003 when he was diagnosed with vocal cord nodules, followed quickly by a diagnosis of osteonecrosis in what I believe was the hip bone, which required hospitalization and surgery. He was mostly forgotten by the public after that, until they were suddenly reminded of him by his duet with contestant Baek Chung Kang on the popular audition show MBC Star Audition: The Great Birth. After that, people started asking that he participate in I Am A Singer, and the rest is history.
Anna: I wasn’t aware that he’d been forgotten, but then I’ll have to admit I didn’t pay much attention myself after that initial introduction (Internet access was scarce in the 90s and I used what little of it I had to expand my knowledge on members of a few select idol groups…) and only really came across other work of his in passing. Really enjoyed his Within Temptation cover for drama New Human Market, a soundtrack which I picked up because of Lee Hyun Suk (my very favorite guitarist at the time). I also loved the song he sang on Lee Hyun Suk’s fifth album, but I realize now that was all 7-8 years ago…
Anna: I loved Kim Kyung Ho on I Am A Singer. Even with my very limited Korean there was always something he would say or do to make watching the clips between performances worthwhile. At first he did what everybody would’ve expected of him — one pretty rock ballad after the other with his characteristic voice, but then he took to dancing and charmed everyone with one highly entertaining performance after the other. One of my favorite moments from the show was when he asked Kim Yuna about dancing during Jaurim’s performance of “Abracadabra” on the same episode where he himself busted out his first dance moves on the stage.
Dahee: He was certainly the most entertaining character on I Am A Singer. I ain’t gonna lie, sometimes I rewatched his scenes just because they were so adorable and/or hilarious. The bromance between him and Park Wan Kyu also pretty much killed me, particularly because I’m a big Park Wan Kyu fan as well. No wonder he was so popular with the audience. I can’t say that I enjoyed all of his performances on the show – some of his ballads were rather boring, and that one performance of “Night Train” was just embarrassing. Still, he really knows how to entertain an audience, and his performance of “Can’t Find the Oriole” remains one of my favourite I Am A Singer performances ever.
Anna: The first I heard of Kim Kyung Ho was “금지된 사랑”. My Korean penpal had included it on a mixtape, making it one of my earliest encounters with Korean music. I remember thinking his vocals were a bit weird at first, but it grew on me and has remained my favorite Kim Kyung Ho song since. It always makes me ridiculously sentimental.
Dahee: The first Kim Kyung Ho song I heard was “The People Who Make Me Sad,” which apparently was his only song that made it to number one on the charts, and was also the song that shot him to superstardom in 1997. I watched the music video for it, and immediately liked the song, and, more importantly, thought he was the sexiest thing I had ever seen. This particular hairstyle of his remains my favourite (although I also like his current reddish mane with flippy bangs). So shiny! So flattering! I have watched that music video more times than I’m ready to admit to. Apparently he himself finds the video incredibly embarrassing, and the director actually had to get him drunk before he was willing to take off his shirt. All I can say is: Thank god for alcohol.
Anna: I had never seen the music video before, but I do like that song. It’s the song I connect the most with his drop-the-mic-and-catch-it thing. Cute story behind the video. I imagine it played no small part in making him popular.
Dahee: Still, my favourite song of his is actually “Until The Day We Love Beautifully.” I think it has a lovely melody, and really showcases his power vocals.
Anna: Never heard the song before, but it’s beautiful!
Dahee: I first learned of the song through this live performance, and I remember being overwhelmed by how amazing his voice is. Just look at the reactions of the idols in the audience. (Ah, H.O.T., your hair brings back memories…)
Ranya: Pretty amazed at how knowledgeable you guys are! I do recognize this guy’s face when looking at it, but had no idea about his career. Looking into all the links provided is a fun experience!