I Am A Singer 2: July Group A

After their first month on I Am A Singer 2 Guckkasten remain in competition and so our I Am A Singer 2 commentary series continues. In addition to myself Dahee of Dahee’s Plastic Castle and Fabien of Kimchi Popcorn have contributed their thoughts on this episode. All performances can be streamed from the official site.




JK Kim Dong Wook to Super December

Dahee: Aww, he gets all teary when he sends out a message to his mom. I kind of love that he apologized for still being a bachelor, haha.


Group Division

A (July 1)

B (July 8)

New singer 1
Lee Eun Mi
Lee Young Hyun
Jung In
Lee Soo Young
New singer 2
Kim Gun Mo
Park Sang Min
Jung Yup
Han Young Ae
Kim Yeon Woo

Anna: Apparently Jung In’s manager was not happy to see her go up against Lee Eun Mi and Lee Young Hyun. With Lee Soo Young in the same group competition for her is even worse. I’m glad to have Guckkasten and Kim Gun Mo in separate groups so I have somebody to root for both weeks.

Dahee: It’s like boys versus girls or something. Quite the division. I’m also glad my biases are split between the weeks, although I have a feeling the girls are going to kick the boys’ butts.

Fabien: Competition may become fierce, and therefore very interesting for us, with the division of gender so marked. Guckkasten is in the middle of all these women and have a certain advantage as they will naturally stand apart.


New Singer: Seo Moon Tak

Anna: I recognize that song of hers they’re playing. Didn’t she use to have some sort of rock thing going? I only recall listening to her fourth album briefly when it came out, but haven’t really paid much attention since. Another balladeer isn’t exactly what this show needs, but she should have the capability to bring some of the high class performance we got used to on a regular basis during the first run of this show.

Dahee: Finally, a female rocker on this show! (Kim Yoon Ah doesn’t really count.) I admit I’m not a big fan of her music, or that I even ever really listened to much of it, but I’ve been waiting for a female solo rock singer to come on this show for a while, and Seo Moon Tak is the perfect fit. Interesting that, like Jo Kyu Chan, she put a halt to her studies (at Berkeley) to take part in this show. Let’s hope she has better luck than he did.

Fabien: Like many other singers that have been introduced in this show, I did not know her before this episode. But I am very curious to see if she will really bring more rock in the competition.


Artists Arrive & Rehearse

Anna: Covering foreign songs this week, I see. This takes away a bit of what I’ve liked so much with I Am A Singer, the revival of old Korean gems. Well, I’ll let them have this episode and the next to try it out. Maybe if there’s not too much awkward pronunciation I will end up liking it anyway.

Dahee: I’ve wondered for a long time whether they would use this mission, and they finally have. It’s a somewhat dangerous one, though, since Korean audiences tend to focus so much on the lyrics when watching these performances. They might get bored if they don’t understand the words. And yes, one of the best parts of I Am A Singer, for me, is its revival of old Korean classics.

Fabien: Unlike Anna and Dahee, I was hoping for a long time to see an episode that would not be limited to Korean songs. Despite the interest that I have to discover or rediscover old Korean songs, this could always be a good opportunity to explore another register of songs. As seen in the previous episodes, the singers tend now to chose songs that have already been covered previously. Anyway i think i prefer when the production impose on them some conditions like this one. Now there is of course the challenge of  the production language, which is important for Korean singers. But what fascinates me in this episode is the variety of songs selected, either from different countries or style. Actually I expected much more popular titles.


Audience Check

Anna: That ajusshi supporting Guckkasten! It makes me so happy. I wonder whether the foreigners have been invited because of the musical theme or if they’ve gone through the same process as everybody else to get there.

Dahee: They’ve definitely been invited because of the musical theme. I wonder if they even checked whether all of them speak English…

Fabien: This is where there is a problem. They were probably invited by production rather than having applied for it as the rest of the public. The panel looks too diverse to be credible. I am persuaded that one could find these perfect figures of foreigners in other shows by MBC. And from seeing how the editing is  proud to show repeatedly these non-Koreans, I am sure we won’t see any more of them in two weeks.


Backstage Shots

Anna: The Guckkasten members are laughing really loud when Ha Hyun Woo introduces himself in English. “We band name is Gasten Guck”

Dahee: He is so funny. Apparently he’s terrible at English, and is thus really nervous about this theme. And Lee Eun Mi says that he called her and panicked for an hour over the fact that he has to sing an English song. So cute!


Jung In: “Calling You” (Jevetta Steele cover)

Anna: Cho Jung Chi is responsible for the arrangement. Could it be the Yoon Jong Shin connection that’s given him this opportunity? And the camera keeps zooming in on all the foreigners in the audience… It’s a difficult song, but she sings it well. Except for the “you” part of every “calling you”, she seems to handle the English pretty well, but then I’m not a native speaker myself so I may be fairly forgiving.

Dahee: Cho Jung Chi is actually Jung In’s long-time boyfriend (of ten years, I believe?). Very pretty! Probably my favourite of Jung In’s performances so far. The song suits her voice really well, and I agree that her pronunciation is pretty good. I worry that people will find it a little dull though. There’s not much of an impact, what with all the repetition.

Fabien: Excellent cover of a song that requires a lot of technique from Jung In. I’m half surprised to see her control her voice so well. I also find the pronunciation better than expected, while keeping the charm of her own intonation. There is no explosive break of the kind that appeal to the public, but as she had to go first this would have had no effect on the vote. I think she has really provided a great start to this serie of six songs.


Guckkasten: “The Saddest Thing” (Melanie Safka cover)

Guckkasten have Lee Yeh Rang playing gayageum with them. And they’re playing acoustic guitar and standing bass instead of their usual electronic instruments. I wasn’t familiar with the original beforehand, but it’s an excellent pick for Guckkasten. It’s quite toned down compared to their previous performances on the show, but it’s perfect for Ha Hyun Woo to show how evolved his vocal skills really are. Very, very nice.

Dahee: AWESOME!! It manages to hold on to Guckkasten’s signature style, but also adds some new elements, like the gayageum. How interesting that they’ve added traditional Korean music elements to an English-language song. They’ve toned things down, but in an interesting way, and Ha Hyun Woo’s vocals are wonderful. God, I love them.

Fabien: For a singer who feared for the English lyrics, he is doing pretty well. There’s mistakes, but he shows no loss of confidence. The choice is really original (I do not know anything about this song) and they are the only ones who have kept the idea of ​​adapting the song to their own style, even if it seems to be a unique side of the band that has been shown.


Lee Soo Young: “Donde Voy” (Tish Hinohosa cover)

Anna: I found this very bland. Nothing exciting at all. And the song didn’t really suit her voice either. I’m sorry Lee Soo Young, but you really are too limited to be a part of this show.

Dahee: Another pretty performance, although I wanted more of a climax. I think it’s unfortunate that these first three songs were lumped together like this, what with their fairly similar styles. And I think the song actually suits her voice quite well. I find it a little odd that she’s the only one who chose to go with a Spanish song.

Fabien: I do not like this singer, but she is doing well. And besides the pronunciation of Spanish sounds excellent! But beyond that I do not feel more involved in this song.


Seo Moon Tak: “Black Dog” (Led Zeppelin cover)

Anna: As happy as I am to have a female singer being serious about rock on the show, this song pick makes it very difficult for me to enjoy the performance. Black Dog in Top Band 2 have sorta ruined what little I once could enjoy of Led Zeppelin… But she’s out in the audience singing! That’s a first! At least of what I’ve seen. Great showmanship, and great vocals too. Hopefully next time she’ll sing something better.

Dahee: A nice rock song to give us a breather from all the sad slow songs. I’m not impressed by the arrangement, which sticks a bit too close to the original, but at the same time, I can understand that changing that song too much would feel like blasphemy (yeah, Led Zeppelin fan here). Seo Moon Tak shows great energy, and what a voice! I don’t really like that she ran into the audience like that, though. Don’t ask me why.

Fabien: I have not been impressed by this song. Again, this is a strict cover of a song without interpretation. But it wins points with the atmosphere she installs by running into the public. Again this is an opportunity for MBC to show foreigners that have finally gained permission to be in the audience.


Lee Eun Mi: “Love Hurts” (The Everly Brothers cover)

Anna: This started so well, but there’s something about it that’s not all there. The arrangement doesn’t really offer anything new and I feel like she’s taking short cuts with the pronunciation that takes away from the overall impression. Her vocals are fantastic, but I’ve had to realize that I like her better when I’m not actually watching.

Dahee: Lee Eun Mi rules! She clearly came today intent on getting to the top. What a voice! And a fairly nice arrangement (although it also sticks closely to the original). I actually think her pronunciation is one of the better ones this episode.

Fabien: Very good vocal performance, but I have some doubts about her English pronunciation. But most importantly I support less and less her grimaces. Those of Jung In allow her to have a wider range of voice. But in Lee Eun Mi they look more like a fake attitude of an arrogant singer.


Lee Young Hyun: “I Will Always Love You” (Dolly Parton cover)

Anna: I feel like with the exception of Guckkasten, nobody’s being as creative with the arrangements as they could’ve been. And stop it with the stupid foreigner cuts. I’m embarrassed just watching it. This is very reminiscent of Whitney Houston’s version, though Lee Young Hyun doesn’t singing it quite as well. Even so she does sing very well, and overall it’s an enjoyable performance. Lee Young Hyun and Ha Hyun Woo as Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston in The Bodyguard was a fun

Dahee: No matter which way you cut it, this song’s pretty cheesy. But it’s perfect for Lee Young Hyun, and she sings it with her characteristic power vocals and emotional delivery. I’m totally falling for it, cheese and all. Maybe I should make some nachos.

Fabien: I think she could hardly pick a more popular American song than this one. It’s a bit disappointing after so many original songs, and I believe that there is no doubt that she will get the first place.



Dahee: They all make fun of each other’s English, with Noh Hong Chul teasing Ha Hyun Woo for forgetting the title of his own cover song, and Lee Eun Mi in turn teasing Noh Hong Chul for his pronunciation of “The Saddest Thing” (= “The Thaddest Thing”). Also, I like that they’re revealing the results via text message. It gives the singers more room to show their personalities.


Personal Picks

Anna: 1) Guckkasten, 2) Jung In, 3) Lee Young Hyun, 4) Seo Moon Tak, 5) Lee Eun Mi, 6) Lee Soo Young

Guckkasten were the only ones to offer any originality today, so they’re the obvious first pick for me. Jung In and Lee Young Hyun both did well with songs that require a lot from the singer, and putting Jung In as second is only because I thought she handled her song slightly better. As for the bottom three, Seo Moon Tak did her thing really well it just wasn’t my style. Lee Eun Mi was too boring, but still better than Lee Soo Young that again had failed to find a song matching her voice.


Dahee: 1) Lee Eun Mi 2) Guckkasten 3) Lee Young Hyun 4) Seo Moon Tak 5) Lee Soo Young 6) Jung In

I struggled for a long time over Lee Eun Mi and Guckkasten, but in the end I decided that, y’know, since this show is “I Am A Singer,” that Lee Eun Mi had the better vocals and the stronger impact, and thus she gets first. Plus I’m starting to sense that I’m a little too biased when it comes to Guckkasten, so I’m trying to curb that by placing them second. (Shocking, I know.) Lee Young Hyun did nothing original with the arrangement, but there was something strangely charming about her performance anyway. Seo Moon Tak gets fourth just because it felt nice to have a high energy rock song in the mix, and I look forward to what she’ll do next. It was hard for me to choose between Lee Soo Young and Jung In, but in the end I thought Lee Soo Young’s performance had more of an emotional impact than Jung In’s.


Fabien: 1) Jung In 2) Guckkasten 3) Seo Moon Tak 4) Lee Eun Mi 5) Lee Young Hyun 6) Lee Soo Young

I also try to put aside my biased opinion about Guckkasten. Also this song did not please me as much as the other two they have made so far. Jung In has impressed me again with a flawless delivery. As for the last four positions, I made the distinction on small details. But I was disappointed by all in general. The originality was put in the choice of songs, and they forgot to put some in the interpretation.


The Results

 Top 3: Lee Young Hyun, Lee Eun Mi, Guckkasten

Anna: Lee Young Hyun was so happy to make it! For a while I thought Jung In and not Guckkasten would be the third to make it this week, and I didn’t actually mind since I think Guckkasten are far more likely to qualify to Super December than get eliminated anyway. But of course I’m very happy for them this way too. Shows them they’re doing the right thing,

Dahee: I was a little surprised Guckkasten made it into the top three, considering that they went for a more acoustic approach this week, but it looks like the audience really approved. Yay! But, uh, please don’t qualify for Super December…not yet, anyway.

Fabien: Good! There are still people who like more original song. I wonder what was the impact of the foreign audience.

No. 1:  Lee Eun Mi

Anna: I’ll happily admit she’s a good singer, but I can’t appreciate her performances like I did in May. Maybe this could be her month to go to Super December, I’d like that.

Dahee: I’m fine with this. I also would like it if she qualified for Super December this month – and that’s not just because I don’t want Guckkasten to leave yet, I promise. I…think.

Fabien: How funny it is to want singer we like the least to win this round, and to keep the better one fighting during many other months. Im okay with this!

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