I Am A Singer 2: August Elimination

The end of August is here, and with that another month with Guckkasten on  I Am A Singer 2 has been completed. With the order of episodes having changed a bit we’ve already covered Singer of the Month so for this week’s commentary we share our thoughts on the performances put forth by the singers facing possible elimination. In addition to myself Dahee of Dahee’s Plastic Castle and Fabien of Kimchi Popcorn have contributed their opinions to this post. All performances can be streamed from the official site.



Making of Han Young Ae’s Arrangement

Anna: Han Young Ae continues to rely on Lee Byung Hoon for her arrangements, it seems. He talks about Girls’ Generations’ “Genie” whereas Han Young Ae brings up 2NE1’s “Lonely”. For a short while I was hoping we’d get to see her sing either of those, but it seems she’ll be making a Deulgukhwa cover this time.

Fabien: How couldn’t I be excited when Han Young Ae announce that she’s has chosen a song by Deulgukhwa? But given her past results, I’m getting very worried about her. I hope she’ll make something amazing again, but the audience wouldn’t like it.

Dahee: I’m also really excited that she’s chosen a Deulgukhwa song. Perfect choice for her voice. Plus, y’know, I just love Deulgukhwa! I’m sure she’ll do the song justice.


Making of Jung Yup’s Arrangement

Anna: And Eco Bridge continues to provide arrangements for Jung Yup, this week going for some rumba rhythms before trying out some samba rythms instead. I didn’t realize till just now, but Eco Bridge and Jung Yup formed the unit Honey Duo earlier this year for a soundtrack single.

Dahee: Jung Yup plays around with the lyrics of the song, singing about I Am A Singer and how stressful it is. LOL.


Making of Kai’s Arrangement

Anna: Kai is going for a classic Poet & Village Chief ballad. I imagine it could become very beautiful and classy as long as he doesn’t make a musical number of it. As long as it’s just him by the keyboard it sounds like he’s on the right path.

Fabien: And now, Kai is talking about the cover of “Thorn Tree” by Poet & Village Chief, which is already such an incredible song, but his voice could make it an even more awesome performance. Will he manage to perform a new version of this song that would overcome the one Jaurim did last year? I’m doubtful, but see me excited for this song too.

Dahee: Great song choice, although I can’t help but think that there’ll be a lot of comparisons to Jaurim’s amazing cover of the same song in season one.


Artists Arrive & Rehearse

Anna: Haha! I love how Guckkasten are testing their fame at Incheon airport before boarding the plane to Japan and Summer Sonic. Perhaps if they’d sent out Ha Hyun Woo instead of Kim Ki Bum the response would’ve been better. And they’ve gotten themselves a tap dancer for this arrangement? I can’t wait to hear it for real.

Fabien: And another cover of a Deulgukhwa’s song for Guckkasten. Yes, yes, yes, bring it on!  This episode already sounds far more interesting than last Sunday. Are you sure that it’s not the round for the Singer of August today? Too bad. Please do not disappoint me, all of you! Guckkasten were asked about their concert in Japan and the response of the Japanese women, to which Han Hyun-woo answers: “sugooooi!” Also, they tried to test their new stardom by throwing one of the members in the middle of an airport hall and waiting for a reaction…. but nothing happened! I love how they’re always bringing that bit of humor that this TV show needs.

Dahee: I have nothing more to add, only: I wub Guckkasten. So much. They’re funny AND great musicians. What more could this show want, really?


Specially Invited Audience

Anna: London Olympic medalists this week? At least the artists seem happy to meet them. Guckkasten gets a visit from Judo gold medalist Kim Jae Bum–and he’s brought his medal! Ha Hyun Woo’s attempt to steal it was cute. And then Ha Hyun Woo spreads Kim Jae Bum’s gold medal spirit to his band members so they can come first this week.

Fabien: So… they’re bringing in the lodges some South Korean athletes who came back home with gold medals from the Olympics… When will all these TV channels put an end to all these uncalled-for occasions to talk about it?

Dahee: I confess that I didn’t watch a single second of the Olympics this year, and also didn’t read one word of all the news on it, so I have no idea who any of these athletes are…I do like the camaraderie that Guckkasten is forming with Kim Jae Bum, though, even making him promise to stand up and shout their name before their performance.


Start Order Draw

Fabien: Guckkasten are already in high danger as they have to perform first, and we all know what it means…

Dahee: Kinda crazy how everyone keeps picking the number that they say that they want.


Guckkasten – “행진” (Deulgukhwa cover)

Anna: Aw, dedicating the song to Kim Jae Bum? That’s so sweet! This to me is one of the strongest Deulgukhwa songs and I’m glad to hear Guckkasten doing the song justice even if the tap dancing and the shaking egg can barely be heard at times. And while the original is clearly recognizable it’s another very Guckkasten arrangement. I’m not loving it as much as their previous performances for the show, but it does have some amazing moments and after the ramp-up towards the end of it I found my eyes strangely wet. With 40.3% of the audience preferring their song in the pre-screening I remain confident that they will not get eliminated from I Am A Singer 2.

Fabien: The adding of tap dancing is a nice touch, remembering their song “Red Field”. Too sad that the sound balancing didn’t give it more presence. It took me some time before getting into this song. I always love how each instrument has its own independence, especially the drums and the bass. The latter half is absolutely Guckkasten-style and it feels very good. 40.3% would be a huge score, but I don’t think it would be undeserved.

Dahee: Guckkasten!! Oh, how I’ve missed you in the last two weeks. I adore this particular Deulgukhwa song, so I was wondering how they would arrange it. And at first I was like, “Whut? Huh?”, but as the song progressed, I got more and more into it, until the orgasmic climax when I wanted to jump up and down and scream my love for them. It’s not my favourite performance of theirs, but it’s still pretty damn awesome.


Seo Moon Tak – “기억 속으로” (Lee Eun Mi cover)

Anna: For the first half it’s a quite plain, yet beautiful cover. I anticipated the change mid-way, but because of Seo Moon Tak’s background had expected it to turn into more of a rock ballad. And then there’s a key change! Always a mood enhancer for me. And Lee Eun Mi singing along backstage – that’s just so lovely. Towards the end there’s finally that guitar line I had been waiting for. It was a very nice performance.

Fabien: I admit that it’s a stronger ballad performance than most of those that we had to listen last week. Not really original (she’s coming right after Guckkasten), and some dull moments, but she put the emotions needed.

Dahee: BO-RING. Why is Seo Moon Tak insisting on ignoring her rock image in favour of this boring ballad one? It’s annoying. And the arrangement is so predictable, with just a couple of higher notes at the end to please the audience. Sure, she sang very well, despite her cold, but I’m not impressed. Does she not understand what being on this show entails…?


Han Young Ae – “사랑한 후에” (Deulgukhwa cover)

Anna: A very effectful opening focused around Han Young Ae’s voice. Not just Lee Byun Hoon shares the stage with her, but Han Sang Won is there to play the guitar as well. And when she screams outside of what the mic can pick up! Just wow! I hope this time the audience will be able to appreciate her performance more than usual. She does feel more accessible than usual, doesn’t she? And on a side note I’m also loving those two rings that form a butterfly–I need a pair of those for myself!

Fabien: This song gave me goosebumps right from the start, her voice fits amazingly well the song. The presence of a skilled guitar player also helped a lot, and it’s always a pleasure for me. The arrangement is perfect, keeping the old rock sound with a more contemporary package. And when she screams along the guitar solo, it becomes a certitude that she won’t get eliminated this week. You’re right, Anna, it sounded more accessible, while keeping her own exigency as matters of voice. If the audience doesn’t get THIS performance, there wouldn’t be any hope left for her.

Dahee: EXQUISITE!! I also got goosebumps as soon as she started singing, and then when that amazing guitar kicked in I went, “YES!!”. She did this kickass Deulgukhwa song complete and utter justice, just as I knew she would. Her voice, the screaming, that guitar! It was all perfect. I love her!!


Kai – “가시나무” (Poet & Village Chief cover)

Anna: A very solemn arrangement, far from the over-the-top musical arrangement of his first week on I Am A Singer. He holds back a lot and it definitely works in his favor. Violinist Sue Son of Britain’s Got Talent fame plays her instrument beautifully before Kai brings out a deeper, more powerful voice. And while he’s still holding back a bit this voice of his unconditionally adds a more dramatic flair to it all.

Fabien: I had the feeling that this solemn arrangement precisely was still too much for this song, especially when it tries to many layers of strings, choir and sound effects as in the beginning. As he holds back his voice, the same would have been better for the arrangement. They tried too much to bring a wow-effect. But I was won over when the violinist started her solo, only accompanied by the piano. The last minute went epic with the loud percussions.

Dahee: The main thought that crossed my mind when this was over was: “This would have been such an amazing performance if it had been done by another, more emotional, singer.” The arrangement is great (I especially love that violin), and I like that it never really overdoes it. But Kai failed to get across the emotions, and he went through the lyrics so quickly that there was no time for me to really digest them and think them over. The tempo would have benefited from slowing down a tad to really let the lyrics shine – because it is the lyrics that are the highlight of this gorgeous song, really. And I guess it doesn’t help that I kept comparing it to Jaurim’s rendition of this song in the first season. Still, I like that he took a risk, and I love the arrangement. He’s combined his classical roots with a more mainstream sound very nicely.


Jung Yup – “제주도의 푸른 밤” (Choi Seong Won cover)

Anna: I’m not really familiar with either Choi Seong Won or this song since before, but I’m liking what Jung Yup and Eco Bridge have done. There’s a light summery feel to it that really speaks to me, even though summer is pretty much over already where I am.

Fabien: Absolutely, it makes me want to go on vacation right now (still haven’t had one this summer). Of course, I could complain a little bit about his voice, but I won’t today because his song brings a very nice atmosphere, and the arrangement was very well done, suiting Jung Yup’s voice.

Dahee: This was a nice upbeat song after all the slow ones this episode. And the arrangement is good, and fun, and I giggled at Jung Yup’s shades. But wanna know something? I found myself starting to french braid my hair after the first few lines, and ended up only half paying attention. Sorry, Jung Yup, but that’s the sad truth.


Kim Yeon Woo – “사랑일 뿐야” (Kim Min Woo cover)

Anna: Kim Se Hwang plays the guitar on stage while arranger Don Spike watches from the side. It feels like an arrangement that would’ve been a good suit in the first season of I Am A Singer, which I suppose makes sense considering how many of those Don Spike was responsible for. Kim Yeon Woo sings very well and it is another beautiful performance this evening.

Fabien: What happened to all of these singers, seriously? They’re all pretty good, and here is another example of a ballad song that is moving, interesting and well performed. In this case, the arrangement is very heavy, with it serves this song right. And even a very nice track from the electric guitar. The final chorus has a lot of climax. This is the kind of interpretation that even me, who is not really sensible to ballads, can enjoy.

Dahee: Awww. Kim Yeon Woo’s doing his usual thing, but upgraded a bit? The arrangement is very nice, and watching Kim Se Hwang on guitar was really entertaining. The guitar is really the only thing that really struck me about this arrangement. It was fun and well-sung, although I still want to see some more creativity from Kim.


Personal Picks

Anna: 1) Han Young Ae, 2) Guckkasten, 3) Jung Yup, 4) Seo Moon Tak, 5) Kim Yeon Woo, 6) Kai

I found this to be an unusually strong episode, free from the bland performances that have been seen so frequently on I Am A Singer 2. Han Young Ae and Guckkasten were slightly ahead of the others, and even though I ended up really enjoying Guckkasten’s performance Han Young Ae was flawless throughout so she gets first. Ranking the other four is super difficult. Jung Yup made me look forward to next summer, so he’ll get next. I’m putting Kai in the bottom since I still need to warm up a bit to his vocals. And between Seo Moon Tak and Kim Yeon Woo, I felt like Kim Yeon woo relied more on the arrangement so I’m letting Seo Moon Tak get ahead of him.
Fabien: 1) Han Young Ae 2) Guckkasten 3) Kim Yeon Woo 4) Jung Yup 5) Kai 6) Seo Moon Tak

I had such a hard time figuring out this pick. None of them would deserve to be kicked out of the competition after what they showed today. If I had a way to make my voice heard by the producers of this TV show, I would eliminate many of the singers who made last week’s episode so boring and keep all the six who sang today. Han Young Ae was clearly in another class level than the other ones, but Guckkasten were not so far behind. I just didn’t find their performance as enjoyable as the ones they did before. Kim Yeon Woo and Jung Yup were also very close to each other and I have no real reason for picking one in third instead of the other one, sorry. As for the sixth, Seo Moon Tak had a strong performance, but ultimately didn’t hit my mind as much as the other five singers.
Dahee: 1) Han Young Ae 2) Guckkasten 3) Kai 4) Kim Yeon Woo 5) Jung Yup 6) Seo Moon Tak

Han Young Ae is clearly first this week. I loved everything about her performance. Guckkasten was great too, but was kind of back to falling into the tried and true formula of their other performances on this show, and the tap dancing felt a tad unnecessary (even if it did kind of suit the lyrics). While Kai failed to really get the emotions of the song across, his arrangement was good, and he was at least more interesting than the other three. Out of them, Kim Yeon Woo’s performance was the most entertaining. And Jung Yup’s arrangement was at least fun and upbeat, while Seo Moon Tak’s was just plain boring. Overall, though, I agree that this was a strong week, and am now worried over who will get eliminated.


The Results

The Olympic Athletes’ Rating

1. Guckkasten (36.4%)
2. Kim Yeon Woo, Seo Moon Tak, Jung Yup (18.2%)
5. Han Young Ae (9%)
6. Kai (0%)

Anna: Suddenly I feel bad for Kai.

Dahee: Me too. Zero votes?? Ouch.

No. 1: Han Young Ae

Anna: Finally!!! I was a bit worried when only one of the athletes favored her, but provoking all those wet eyes among the audience members payed off.

Fabien: Wonderful ! She must feel so good now that the audience finally accept her !

Dahee: Oh my god, I am SO HAPPY that Han Young Ae got first!! FINALLY!! Seriously, I was so happy that I actually got a little choked up about it. Finally, she gets rewarded for her efforts! SQUEE!!

Eliminated: Kai

Anna: To be honest it was kind of expected, but I was still hoping to be able to see more of him. It’s such a shame when good singers are eliminated after just a month.

Fabien: I’m also a little bit disappointed by this result. It was expected anyway as this round was very strong, but I cannot but have the impression that the audience didn’t want to give him a chance anyway. We’ve already seen worse singers in this TV show who managed to stay on the tracks, but as for Kai, it seems like nobody wanted to keep him.

Dahee: Oh no! Poor Kai. After just two performances?? He doesn’t deserve to go. This makes me sad. :( And here I was hoping that Seo Moon Tak would leave instead…

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