It’s another week till we get to see more of Guckkasten on I Am A Singer 2 as the July elimination episode was broadcast on July 15th. Fabien of Kimchi Popcorn, Dahee of Dahee’s Plastic Castle and myself continue to offer our comments. A special thank you also this week to Fabien for getting the commentary started while I was occupied with other things. All performances can be streamed from the official site.
Super Rookies: Guckkasten & So Hyang
Fabien: Oh, I’m glad that MBC recognizes the talents of two young artists recently selected despite very little experience. This highlight thus suggests that the production is ready to recruit more rookies to this competition. And let’s not forget also that the public may finally be more open to new faces than I thought.
Dahee: Yeah, I was glad to see this too. Although for me it’s mostly because I’ve been missing Guckkasten, heh. Also, rather than recruiting rookies or veterans who have fallen into patterns, I think it’s important for this show to recruit people who have a great musical reputation. As in, they’re not just good singers, but have that something extra that makes them a great musician. I find that with this show, it’s the mindset of the singers and how they approach the opportunities this competition offers that’s most important.
Fabien: You’re right ;)
Artists Arrive & Rehearse
Fabien: During the process of designating of the order, one of the MCs shows in the tone of humor an analysis of the influence of these orders on the final ranking, made according to the results of the last ten episodes. And now he confirms what everyone already believed here: going first or second prevents any possibility of victory. Whoever sings second has 70% chance of ending up in the bottom of the ranking, while the one who has the misfortune to go first: 100%! But that’s not all. That same artist who has to go first will take the last rank in half of the cases. This is far enough to put a lot of pressure on the six singers when they are asked to pick their order. As Jung Yup has taken the number 1, it will be possible to directly verify these statistics.
Dahee: I remember seeing on a website somewhere a chart that someone made about the influence between the order and the final placing of the singers. Fifth and seventh were highest for getting first, I believe, and third wasn’t bad at all either. It’s certainly something to consider, although I believe that if you do well enough, the order of singing shouldn’t matter. (See: Kim Bum Soo in the first season, who started off the episode with that crazy Elvis performance of his, and got first place.)
Fabien: So this time, after the incredible “invasion” of a foreign audience in the last two episodes, MBC grants us a new kind of special “guests” : an army of misses competing for the national title of the most beautiful woman, or, as I’d call it, a panel of promotional artwork for plastic surgery (the new Miss Korea just admitted to it a few days ago). By the end of the episode, many of them will appear and talk, and they even have their own opinion about who should be first.
Dahee: Ugh, it’s an army of fake noses and even faker smiles. Ladies, I realize that it may be your job, but could you please drop the cutesy act for the cameras? You’re adults, so act like it. It’s so annoying that it’s almost distracting me from the plastic lodged into their faces. Almost. Anyway, at least Park Sang Min’s kids are (actually) cute…
Jung Yup: “사랑 사랑 사랑” (Kim Hyun Sik cover)
Fabien: I’m really sorry, but I’m still not very receptive to his cute-attitude. He was honest enough to recognize that this song had already been chosen by Bobby Kim, thus he would attempt a different approach. At least he’s got the will to do something different, good point. But it is as always quite limited vocally, but he tries to create some effects. However he seems to already attract all the favors of the female audience.
Dahee: *sheepishly realizes that she is a member of the target female audience* Ahem. This was really charming! The arrangement fit Jung Yup like a glove. Perfect interpretation of this (awesome) song for him. I snorted a little at the open guitar case with the rose inside, but otherwise it was a sweet, fun, cute little performance, and definitely a more interesting arrangement than we’ve seen from him so far in season 2.
Anna. Park Ju Won is there, playing the guitar for him. I don’t particularly like the arrangement in the beginning, but it changes into something more interesting soon enough. Still not really my kind of music, but at least he’s fun to watch and it’s great he really gets room to play with his vocals like this. The audience looks ecstatic.
Kim Gun Mo: “어떤이의 꿈” (Spring Summer Fall Winter cover)
Fabien: He plays it safe with what he does the best: a crooner with a bit of funky arrangement. I find nothing to complain about, this is a enjoyable performance, with a small climax in the end, and there is no worries or flaws in the voice. I would still like although he finds something new the next time.
Anna: When did I become such a sucker for Kim Gun Mo again? I’m not really into this arrangement either, but with Kim Gun Mo’s voice on top of it somehow I like it anyway. As Fabien pointed out he does play it safe. But I like it. I like it too much.
Dahee: Hmm…This was cute, and Kim Gun Mo’s little expressions as well as the way he sang “Who am I? Kim Gun Mo!!” were very endearing…and I was pretty impressed by the arrangement overall…but there was something missing for me. Some kind of energy. He was definitely enjoying that stage, but I wanted something more explosive(?). I realize that the original song ends that way, but I was still confused by it anyway. I feel like he should have created a good ending for it, since this is I Am A Singer and all.
Seo Moon Tak: “그게 나였어” (Lee Moon Sae cover)
Fabien: A powerful voice that knows no difficulty. But which is accompanied by a very unobtrusively arranged r’n’b ballad that does nothing interesting. I expected something much more aggressive coming from her, especially since she did not convince me when she entered the competition.
Anna: For some reason I had missed that she could sing so very well. This is a true I Am A Singer class performance! For the first time since I Am A Singer 2 started I find myself with the same misty eyes just about every episode of the first season managed to produce. The arrangement may not be very interesting at its core, but Seo Moon Tak still managed to make a strong impression.
Dahee: Eh…This is not what I want from Seo Moon Tak. I understand that she wants to show that she’s not just a strong, tough rocker, but…I feel like this show needs a strong, tough rocker! Is she going to fall into the same trap that Kim Kyung Ho did, going back and forth between ballads and rock songs? I was kind of bored by this. She sang very well, though, no doubt about it, and it’s clear she moved several people in the audience. I want more than just another standard I Am A Singer type of ballad, though.
Jung In: “이별의 그늘” (Yoon Sang cover)
Fabien: Poor Jung In isn’t in a good shape. She explains that she is recovering from a cold and it’s been three months since she joined this program, but failed to win her ticket for the final in December. Once again, it’s her boyfriend who ensures the arrangement. She has a lot of pressure over her shoulders, which explains why she suddenly stops early after a mistake in the lyrics. Consternation on the set. Overdramatization by the editing. She apologizes and starts again as if nothing happened. And it’s a shame that this small error has ruined her performance, because once again she demonstrates an impressive vocal control. She also reveals what was missing in Seo Moon Tak just before: Jung In manages to convey emotion. And hats off to the candidate who has managed to secure such a result despite such a chaotic start.
Anna: I have a soft spot for this song, especially after it was covered by AshGray and Baek Sae Eun last year. This arrangement has more in common with the AshGray cover than the Yoon Sang original and that makes it even more difficult not to make comparisons. I really like the beginning of it, when she actually manages to sing through it, that is, and I’m more comfortable with her vocals now than ever. She does it very well, actually. Even so I can’t help but wish I was watching Baek Sae Eun instead.
Dahee: Oh no!! Jung In, why did you stop?? T___T Another JK Kim Dong Wook moment…Oh man, now I’m all nervous for her. The arrangement reminds me of Park Wan Kyu, and seems like something Seo Moon Tak should have done instead. It’s a pretty arrangement, though, and she sings well, but I feel this disconnect there. Instead of focusing on the song, she seems to be focusing on her own nervousness. She’s finally sung the kind of song that I’ve wanted her to sing, but it doesn’t fit her completely…I want something more feminine(?) than this, at least in the lyrics. Something women in the audience can relate to, like she did with her original song on the first episode of the second season.
Lee Soo Young: “눈의 꽃” (Park Hyo Shin cover)
Fabien: There are some inaccuracies in her voice, and again she’s singing with an arrangement that seems out of the opening of a drama (I can’t stand drama’s songs). On every song performed by Lee Soo Young, I have no way to distinguish this one from others. And I got distracted by all the movements she does with her arms.
Anna: A standard Lee Soo Young ballad, but that’s what she does best. Actually, from what she showed in the beginning of I Am A Singer 2, that seems like the only thing she can do. I quite like it, but I agree it is difficult to distinguish her songs from each other, be it her own hits or the Lee Soo Young style covers performed on this show.
Dahee: Oh, Lee Soo Young. When will you stop doing the same thing over and over? I friggin’ LOVE this song (and I loved that drama. Can’t believe it’s been eight years already!), and I feel like her voice just doesn’t suit it. This song is actually one that requires a pretty wide vocal range despite not necessarily sounding like it, and her vocal limitations kind of ruined this performance for me. She’s great at conveying emotion and all, and I don’t think it was necessarily a boring performance, but I’m really starting to get tired of this kind of thing, especially from her.
Park Sang Min: “회상” (Kim Hyun Sik cover)
Fabien: He gives a lot of effort on his voice to give it the power and color that he want. It does not touch me more than this, but overall he provides a much better performance than most of other participants, with a good balance between the vocal and the instrumentation.
Anna: He does sing well and strong, but I instead think his performance was weaker than that of most other of the participants. Not that I minded it much, just that I thought this week’s performances unusually good.
Dahee: Park Sang Min is again going for something familiar, but he’s leveled up this time, making it more emotional, more dramatic, and more palatable to me. I was very impressed by his singing, and the arrangement was really nice. I still want him to take more risks, but this was clearly one of the better performances this week.
Fabien: 1) Jung In 2) Seo Moon Tak 3) Park Sang Min 4) Kim Gun Mo 5) Jung Yup 6) Lee Soo Young
Quite disappointed by these performances overall. It was easy to stand out for Jung In, Seo Moon Tak, and to a lesser extent for Park Sang Min. It’s not so surprising that they have to feel the threat of elimination so often. As it mostly stayed in the ballads area and that arrangements were mostly generic, I favored this time the vocal talent, and I came more or less easily to this classification. But I must confess having felt particularly bored during this episode. The single interest came from the possibility of disqualification of Jung In.
Anna: 1) Seo Moon Tak, 2) Jung In, 3) Kim Gun Mo, 4) Jung Yup, 5) Park Sang Min, 6) Lee Soo Young
To me Seo Moon Tak offered the strongest performance of all this week. It might not have been the rock stuff that brought her to the show, but I find it moving enough not to make any difference to me. Jung In too offered a very good performance, although it kept reminding me of an even better one. Kim Gun Mo was just Kim Gun Mo, which is very good to me if only for nostalgic reasons. I actually liked both Park Sang Min and Lee Soo Young more than Jung Yup, but he gets plenty of bonus points for being remarkably entertaining this week. And then between Park Sang Min and Lee Soo Young, Park Sang Min no doubt put on the better performance.
Dahee: 1) Park Sang Min 2) Jung Yup 3) Jung In 4) Seo Moon Tak 5) Lee Soo Young 6) Kim Gun Mo
Once again it was hard for me to place the rankings, but mostly because I didn’t really love any performance this week. I actually had some difficulty remembering each performance. But in the end Park Sang Min’s performance was most memorable for me, followed by Jung Yup, who at least took more risks with his arrangement than the other singers this week. I gave Jung In third because I liked her arrangement and I feel like she’s starting to understand what kind of song suits her and what doesn’t. Seo Moon Tak gets fourth for her impressive vocals alone, even if the song was a snooze and didn’t touch me emotionally. Lee Soo Young gets fifth because she at least showed more emotion than Kim Gun Mo, whose performance was anti-climactic to say the least.
Disqualified: Jung In
Fabien: This decision seems much too severe to me. Especially as the rules of this competition have been frequently changed according to the desire of producers. I think they take themselves far too seriously, it is not the Olympic Games. The purpose of this show is primarily to treat ourselves to good music, and not to enforce rules.
Dahee: I understand why they did this, considering how much intense backlash they’ve gotten from netizens in the past for being lenient with singers, but it still feels harsh and unnecessary. Poor Jung In. I always felt that she had so much potential, she just never got to really show it on this show. She herself admits that she didn’t get a chance to show her true identity as a singer on I Am A Singer 2 and she’s sorry towards her fans. That just seems so sad to me. All in all, this episode left me feeling rather down…
Anna: I never knew there was a rule of not restarting performances because of own mistakes.
Top 3: Seo Moon Tak, Park Sang Min, ?
Fabien: I would have liked to know the top tier in the case of Jung In not being disqualified. I think it’s not fair to let people vote for her, and then to throw away all these votes, which could have been used to favor another singer. But I still like this result, as it fits to my pick.
Dahee: Not particularly surprising, although I still don’t see what was so great about Seo Moon Tak’s performance, apart from the powerhouse vocals…Maybe I need to rewatch it. And I’m pretty sure Jung In got in the top three this time, which is so sad because just when she does well she gets disqualified. BOO.
Anna: Even though I myself placed Park Sang Min in the bottom half I’m not at all surprised to see him here. He did sing really well, even if his performance was not all that interesting to me.
N°1: Seo Moon Tak
Fabien: Seems legit to me. I love how Park Sang Min’s daughters say that he didn’t get first because his song wasn’t moving.
Dahee: I…just don’t get it. Oh well. Park Sang Min’s daughters seem pretty amazing, haha.
Anna: Her performance really got to me so I can’t argue with this.
Eliminated: Lee Soo Young
Fabien: I won’t cry for her, of course. She has nothing to do in this kind of TV show.
Dahee: Strange…Why do I feel so sad about the elimination this week? I’m not a huge fan of what Lee Soo Young has done on this show, but to go so quickly from consistently getting good feedback from the audience straight to elimination feels…odd. I guess I’m just more used to a steadier downward spiral. I wonder if she would have been eliminated even if Jung In had been included in the results process?
Anna: Lee Soo Young felt very limited during the time we got to see her on the show. Showing no tendencies to evolve into something more interesting I’m not too sad to see her go.