I Am A Singer 2: Singer of August

Here on the Korean Indie main site we don’t usually post on weekends, but with just one episode to go before being in phase for our I Am A Singer 2 commentary series we’re making an exception. We’ve already shared our thoughts on the A and B episodes, and since the producers decided to change the order of the elimination and Super December qualification episodes today we’re talking about who became  Singer of the Month for August and who didn’t. 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.




Byun Jin Sub Focus

Anna: Byun Jin Sub says he made a good decision getting on I Am A Singer 2. I concur.

Dahee: ME TOO. It’s so good to see him again!


Announcement from PD

Fabien: This week is a bit weird, as the production suddenly decided to change the schedule. In this episode the singer for August will be selected by the audience, and next week… well, I don’t really know what will be broadcasted. Another surprising thing is the absence of Kim Gun Mo, without any explanation given during this episode. What happened to him ?

Anna: The PD says they had to change recording schedule because of the other singers, and because of performing in the rain the day before Kim Gun Mo is currently in a bad condition so can’t participate. Apparently because of this he opted to leave the show. Even if primarily for nostalgic reasons he was my current favorite on I Am A Singer so I’m not at all happy about this.

Dahee: Yeah, Kim Gun Mo’s out of the show for health reasons. It makes me sad, but health always comes first, so. At the same time, I wonder whether he just wanted to leave the show anyway, and realized that this health issue was a good chance…


Artists at Home & in the Studio

Anna: I really like that they’ve brought back this part of the show from the first season. It’s like you get to know the stars better than during the studio interviews. Byun Jin Sub is planning to sing Kim Bum Soo’s “보고싶다”, so Park Myung Soo calls Kim Bum Soo that gives Byun Jin Sub the tip to be himself while doing it.

Dahee: Which isn’t much of a tip, really, as Park Myung Soo points out, lol.


Artists Arrive & Rehearse

Fabien: This TV anchor will always amaze me with her improbable outfit, hinting about the guests being marines. If you still haven’t got it by now, MBC is inviting every week a bunch of people who have nothing to do with music to ask their opinion about the singers.

Anna: Yang Dong Geun with So Hyang? This could be interesting!  Lee Young Hyun is so cute, getting star struck when she sees Lee Deok Hwa.

Dahee: Yeah, that anchor annoys the crap out of me. I seriously burst out laughing when I saw her atrocious outfit. It was good to see Yang Dong Geun for a second, though.


Backstage Shots

Fabien: So, as usual, So Hyang will perform last, which could be considered as a huge spoiler about the outcome of this round…

Dahee: She really has the best luck, doesn’t she?


Younha: “내 곁에서 떠나가지 말아요” (Light & Salt cover)

Fabien: The choice of song does not suit me at all. It is very well done, Younha shows once again that she fully controls her voice but there is just nothing for me to cling to. This is far too ordinary to hope to emerge victorious from the competition, especially when performing first. I really hope she will not stay with the same style of songs over and over again.

Anna: The marines all seem to love her already when she’s just entering the stage. It’s another pretty performance from Younha, and the arrangement seems very well thought through. It’s a pity she had to open with a still number like this. It’d been better suited as the final song on one of her concerts, just before coming back with a more energetic encore number.

Dahee: Hmm…This was very pretty, and I like that she didn’t overdo it with her singing. Not quite as much emotion as I hoped for, though. Still, I liked it. But it’s not particularly memorable or innovative, and I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s in the bottom three today.


Lee Young Hyun: “기억속의 먼 그대에게” (Park Mi Kyung cover)

Fabien: This is not really better than the previous performance. It is much too boring for me, I dropped out after a minute to check my e-mails and make me some tea. Is it me or is she almost singing the same song every week ? The arrangement was not very interesting, but it went along well with her voice.

Anna: I on the contrary find this quite beautiful, reminiscing the arrangements from the first season. Although it’s not quite there in terms of power, it’s a decent enough attempt at least considering the overall low quality of this season. And her own voice isn’t as strong as usual either, I think. She should’ve kept that saxophone out of it though. In one blow it’s all cheesy 90’s daily soap opera and it doesn’t really recover.

Dahee: Lee Young Hyun’s always fun to watch, but she’s started doing the same thing every week, and I wonder whether people are tired of it. Even the wind blowing thing…enough of that, please. Still, I thought she sang extremely well, and the arrangement was good, too. It was entertaining, but she needs more creativity.


Byun Jin Sub: “보고싶다” (Kim Bum Soo cover)

Fabien: At least if you want to ballads, please put some emotion as Byun Jin Sub did here! Pretty good performance, including some acapella parts. But I’m starting to lose all hope for this episode: once again, they abandon completely the idea of reinterpreting songs. I Am a Singer is not a karaoke show, I want to discover these songs anew.

Anna: I agree, it’s a very straightforward cover. But he does sing very well and there’s a fair bit of emotion in there. I particularly like how he grabs the microphone stand with boh hands as if he was praying, singing on the side of the mic rather than straigt into it For some reason this part is very moving to me and I can no longer recall all the more negative things I was about to write. Very, very, very nice.

Dahee: Yay, Byun Jin Sub!! What awesome, awesome vocals. Seriously, his experience is his major strength, and it shows once again this week. The lyrics are perfect for him, and while this song strikes me as one that’s really difficult to arrange (and there were some moments in the arrangement that made me go “Huh?”), he did it well, and I loved that moment of singing acapella. Awesome!


Park Sang Min: “이 밤이 지나면” (Yim Jae Bum cover)

Fabien: Park Sang Min at least tried something more punchy. The chorus quickly becomes repetitive due to the lack of vocal variation, and he does not force his voice too much either except at the very end. It’s still nice, but it’s JUST nice.

Anna: I don’t like the arrangement much and his styling disturbs me a bit – I like a lot of it piece by piece but together it doesn’t look very well thought through. I also don’t quite like his vocals this time as I find them a bit rougher than usual. A tribute to Yim Jae Bum, perhaps? It’s not all bad, but even so I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s nice.

Dahee: The arrangement was good, and Park Sang Min’s vocals are always impressive. But I found myself feeling rather bored, and my mind kept wandering. He keeps doing the same thing every week, and it’s getting tiring. I actually thought that if he’d gone that extra mile with this song, he could indeed have become Singer of August, but there’s that 2% missing. What a shame.


So Hyang: “Never Ending Story” (Boohwal cover)

Fabien: There is still not many risks taken into a new interpretation of this song, but it remains a very strong performance. It never wowed me even when she did her usual powerful climax, but it was quite moving. Maybe it’s just because it’s a Boohwal’s song.

Anna: This song is so fantastic. I’m a bit worried in the beginning when she goes at quite pretty, but as she reaches the bridge I have more faith. I’m not so sure about the first refrain either, but I’m hoping she will bring out more power and not hold back so much in the end. Although nothing extraordinary, it is kind of brave to have this arrangement with strings and a piano — I keep waiting to hear that guitar I like so much. When she finally does bring the power I start to realize that perhaps that what’s really bothering me about this is that I’m missing a strong male voice. I’m not nearly as moved as I usually am by this song, and by the end of it I’m still missing that guitar.

Dahee: *clears throat* Make way for the fanatic Boohwal fan…First of all: MAJOR PET PEEVE: So Hyang says “Lee Seung Chul‘s ‘Never Ending Story'”. It’s BOOHWAL’S “Never Ending Story”! Lee Seung Chul sang it WITH BOOHWAL. GAH! Kim Bum Soo made the same mistake when he remade this song (rather horribly) in the first season. GET IT RIGHT, PEOPLE. Shouldn’t singers like, be more sensitive to this kind of thing? At least the text at the bottom introduces it as Boohwal’s song. The staff are more sensitive to this than her, go figure. Anyway. I admit I was immensely skeptical about this. Boohwal’s songs are legendary for being extremely hard to remake, and I wasn’t sure So Hyang could pull it off. And while she’s going for the Disney thing again, at least it suits the song, and it’s one of the better arrangements for it that I’ve heard. The song suits her voice, too, and I approve of the very gradual climax. There was danger of it becoming too repetitive, but she sidestepped that nicely. I still think she didn’t really grasp the true emotions of the song, and I’m annoyed that she completely ignored the rock aspects of it, but still, I think this is my favourite of her performances so far. Which…isn’t saying much.


Lee Eun Mi – “너는 아름답다”

Anna: I like her so much more when she sings her own songs than when she offered covers on this show. It’s a beautiful ballad perfectly suited for her, and for once I can even enjoy her peculiar stage gestures. Something like this is what I’d like to see from her for Super December.

Dahee: It’s the episode of ballads. Lee Eun Mi was lovely, although I’m not very fond of the song. I also hope she’ll wow us for Super December.


Personal Picks

Fabien: 1) Byun Jin Sub 2) So Hyang 3) Park Sang Min 4) Younha 5) Lee Young Hyun

This episode was exceptionally boring. As if everyone was already expecting So Hyang to win, no one really tried to give her or his best. But I still need to make a personal selection, so I decided to favor Byun Jin Sub, So Hyang and Park Sang Min who were the less uninteresting. Byun Jin Sub took again an easy but simple way, and did good. So Hyang did what everybody was expecting from her, but she still gave the strongest performance on the vocal level.


Anna: 1) Byun Jin Sub, 2) Younha, 3) Lee Young Hyun, 4) So Hyang, 5) Park Sang Min

Not super boring, but just the average I Am A Singer 2 standard I’d say. Byun Jin Sub was the only one to really move me so putting him first was an easy choice. Younha and Lee Young Hyun were equally good this time, but that saxophone in Lee Young Hyun’s arrangement worked to her disadvantage. So Hyang probably did well, but to me that song didn’t work for her. That leaves Park Sang Min, who was clearly in the bottom for me.


Dahee: 1) Byun Jin Sub 2) Younha 3) So Hyang 4) Lee Young Hyun 5) Park Sang Min

Yes, Byun is very obviously first. I can feel my fangirly past coming back to haunt me. I wasn’t a big fan of any of the other performances, so consider the other four to be on pretty much the same level. Younha was kind of boring, but had a lovely arrangement, and I like that she didn’t go over the top. So Hyang gets third on this list simply because I didn’t completely hate her performance, which is saying something considering how crazy I am about Boohwal. Lee Young Hyun was at least entertaining, but I was bored stiff by Park Sang Min, so he gets last.


The Results

The Marines’ Top 3 : So Hyang, Lee Young Hyun, Younha

Fabien: It’s surprising to see Lee Young Hyun and Younha make it into their top 3 while they were the first to perform… Or is it because they’re girls ?

Dahee: Let’s be real here. It’s because they’re girls.

5th: Younha

Anna: Really? She deserved better than this.

Dahee: She did deserve better, but I can’t say I’m surprised.

Singer of August: So Hyang

Fabien: Good for her, but it’s even better for us as she will stop for a while to dominate the competition, leaving no chance to the other singers.

Anna: I’ll have to agree. I’m sort of annoyed with myself for wanting good singers to win not for outstanding performances but just so I won’t have to listen to them again…

Dahee: Goodbye Disney! I ain’t gonna miss her.

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