After seeing Guckkasten and Sinawe battle it out on the I Am A Singer 2 stage during the first Sunday of October, the episode for second Sunday of October showed which singers the two bands will compete with for the title of October’s Singer of the Month. 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 and if you live in the right country chances are you can watch some of them on YouTube too.
New Singer: Lee Jung
Anna: I have vague memories of listening to Lee Jung for his first couple of albums, but I’d completely forgotten about him since. A fresh face on the show is always nice, but I can’t help but wonder where all the singers that should be on the show have gone off to.
Dahee: I’m not really familiar with his music. I know him mainly from all his variety show appearances and his few acting roles. But it looks like he’s got an R&B, dance vibe to him. I’m confused as to why they decided to go with him, but maybe they’re having trouble recruiting more renowned singers…
Fabien: Don’t know him.
Byun Jin Sub – “사랑합니다” (Tim cover)
Anna: This song is so nice and Byun Jin Sub sings it so well. When he reaches the refrain first time I’m amazed. Very, very beautiful. He’s gaining extra sympathies from me from looking like very similar, albeit a bit older, to one of my friends. But after the pre-screening only 65% thought he did well enough to be in the top 3 this round? This must be one of the best episodes yet!
Dahee: I must’ve heard this song a million times back when it was playing all over Korean programs, but for some reason I never knew that Kang Eun Kyung had written the lyrics and Yoon Sang had composed it. Good to know. Anyway, Byun Jin Sub always seems to put a smile on my face. Sure, he’s doing the same thing again here, but it works, so why not? At least for now. The song suits him so well, and that moment when he sang with just that piano in the background, the mic held far from his mouth, was just lovely. I want to hug him.
Fabien: I may be a bit less enthusiastic than you about this performance, but it’s still solid. Byun Jin-sub always has a capital of sympathy with me, because he has managed so far to always put a bit of himself into the songs he covers. This song is charming and certainly sufficiently interesting to be remembered by the end of the episode.
Lee Jung – “말리꽃” (Lee Seung Chul cover)
Anna: He sings well although there’s nothing about it that’d make me want to listen to this over Lee Seung Chul. Still it sounds very nice, but that little funk break in the middle was completely unnecessary. Though I appreciate the effort to make this something different than a straight ballad, it was just so out of place it threw me off rather than making me intrigued..
Dahee: This was fun! He was so nervous, and I was so nervous for him! Because of his nervousness he overdid the singing a bit, but he still did well. At first I thought it was just going to be another boring I Am A Singer ballad, but then that shift into a funkier rhythm totally made things more interesting. Now this is the Lee Jung that I know. Good first performance!
Fabien: Too boring for me. It’s like fast food, once eaten, digested already. I listened to this song, I went back to the comments page and I asked to myself: “what did I just listen to again?” It was tasteless, without personality, and the change of arrangement in mid-term seemed to have been decided only because it has become almost required in any performance on I Am A Singer. Ok, let’s say I give him the benefit of the newcomer, he needs a few tries to take its marks.
Younha – “I Don’t Care” (2NE1 cover)
Anna: I find this song choice highly questionable considering how many times it’s been covered. She’ll have to do something really different to make it worthwhile. And she does! I thought for sure she’d take the acoustic route, but this is some sort of hybrid with a lot of rock. I’m sort of hating it though. The arrangement sounds horrible and Younha isn’t bringing the attitude required to pull the sentiment of the song off. Neukopsani and Zito of Soul Dive are there to rap for her and sadly I like their part more than any part where Younha is singing. Turns out she’s also got classical pianist Ben Kim playing the piano for her. I’m sorry, Younha. I really want to like you but you are so much better than this.
Dahee: Hmm…Younha’s adorable and all, but as soon as this went into that shift into rock, I thought, “This is messy.” I get why she would decide to change the rhythm of the song, but I don’t think it really worked here. There were too many different sounds clashing together. If she had just taken out one or two elements, this would have sounded a lot cleaner. Still, I like that she’s trying something different, and she did sing well.
Fabien: Here, Younha finally offers us her rock side! This is a song that was often covered, but this is just because it remains as one of the best song that the mainstream industry has ever been able to give. I greatly appreciate her attempt to make a complete rock version of this song (without the use of a break), and even the vocal melody and the rhythm have been changed. But all seems too messy and raw. Vocals are perfect, but they do not go along with the music, and there is a big problem in the chorus. She drops a beat when she sings “care”, which gives the disturbing impression that only during the chorus she changes for a tempo of three beats. But thanks for daring something different.
Seo Moon Tak – “마주치지 말자” (Jang Hye Jin cover)
Anna: Going for a bit of tango this week, she says. Not bad, but I imagine it’d be more effective had she done a full fledged, strictly cadenced Finnish tango number out of it. It’s admirable the way the arrangement puts her vocals first and she makes good use of the opportunity throughout. Even so I can’t help but think she could’ve done more with this.
Dahee: This was fun! Why didn’t she do this kind of thing earlier?? It’s a ballad but with a more upbeat tempo. Love the tango influences and her flamboyant movements which are so perfect for this arrangement. It’s certainly not “rock,” but it’s more experimental than she’s shown so far on this show, and that climax is pitch perfect. Bravo!
Fabien: There is progress on her part. Again, I appreciate that ALL of the song has this tango color, rather than a pièce montée of styles. She is much more talented with this, than with the ballads she’s made so far, and she herself also seems more interested in what she does. This arrangement really enhances her voice.
So Chan Whee – “성인식” (Park Ji Yoon cover)
Anna: What is this travesty? Horrible arrangement, studded singing, ugly outfit, over exaggerating dancers. The chorus is doing a better job than So Chan Whee. But strangely enough the audience seems to enjoy it? No, I just don’t get it.
Dahee: Another fun performance! What is up with these singers this week?? (Or is it just me?) True, the arrangement’s nothing special and she’s really not experimenting or anything, but at least it’s not a ballad, and the dance moves are kind of perfect. This is the So Chan Whee that everyone loved in the 90’s.
Fabien: Ouch my ears. Ok, I concede that it was still more fun than what she usually offers. But apart from that, there is nothing to save. The arrangement is too simple and annoying, the vocals seem too forced. I had only one wish, to move on.
Park Sang Min – “사랑..그 놈” (Bobby Kim cover)
Anna: Jang Hye Jin singing this song is one of my favorite I Am A Singer performances ever. I feel like another disappointment is coming up. The song is good enough to immediately get me on my better side though. And there’s Kwon Byung Ho playing the flute, as he did for Achtung on Top Band some weeks back. Can’t say there’s anything extraordinary about Park Sang Min’s performance though. It is the song more than anything else that makes me enjoy, but at least the arrangement didn’t do anything to ruin it.
Dahee: Park Sang Min seems to have realized that he fits very well with the sensibility needed for Bobby Kim‘s songs. I love and adore this song, but it’s already been sung on the show at least twice before this. Still, I like the inclusion of the Irish flute, and the arrangement is very different from Jang Hye Jin’s in the first season. He sings very well, too, with great emotion. This is one of his better performances. Too bad it’s pretty much in the same style that he always sings in.
Fabien: Park Sang Min uses the same old recipe as usual, but this time it goes through well, especially in contrast with So Chan Whee. Sometimes consistency is a good thing. He is so glued to the image of Bobby Kim that he once again takes one of his songs. A bit boring, but good.
Anna: 1) Byun Jin Sub, 2) Seo Moon Tak, 3) Lee Jung, 4) Park Sang Min, 5) Younha, 6) So Chan Whee
Byun Jin Sub gets first this week since it was the only performance I really like. I’m putting Seo Moon Tak second since I felt like she did something new and managed well even with the lost potential. I hesitated for a while between Lee Jung and Park Sang Min, but in the end decided to put Lee Jung higher since he’s new to the show and his only mistake was trying something that didn’t really work. After Younha’s performance I thought for sure she’d end up in the bottom of my ranking, alas So Chan Whee came out with one of the worst performances in the history of the show and promptly placed herself last.
Dahee: 1) Seo Moon Tak 2) Byun Jin Sub 3) Lee Jung 4) So Chan Whee 5) Park Sang Min 6) Younha
Seo Moon Tak was clearly first for me this week, because she finally started to show some experimentation and I was very impressed with her singing. Byun Jin Sub comes second just because I love him and his performances always give me warm fuzzies. And Lee Jung was clearly better than the bottom three. Out of them, I thought So Chan Whee’s performance was at least entertaining, whereas Park Sang Min’s was boring and Younha’s was just a mess.
Fabien: 1) Seo Moon Tak 2) Byun Jin Sub 3) Park Sang Min 4) Younha 5) Lee Jung 6) So Chan Whee
So in this episode there were two clear trends. Those who try to renew themselves and fail to give a satisfying performance, and those who stick to their bases. Perhaps this is due to the former that the latter seemed so good to me. One exception could be found in Seo Moon Tak, who made something slightly new and made it well. Then I put the two others who held it straight with their basics, and Younha still comes 4th as she dared competing with roch while the competition was supposed to be only between Seo Moon Tak and So Chan Whee.
Top 3: Younha, Seo Moon Tak, Lee Jung
Anna: Oh no, my poor Byun Jin Sub! And Younha? Really?
Dahee: Younha?? Were there a lot of guys in the audience or something?
Fabien: Because of her skills, I’m glad Younha made it, but I would have preferred it to happen with a different performance. Lee Jung’s promotion is a steal.
No. 1: Seo Moon Tak
Anna: Well done! She definitely deserved this one after that performance.
Dahee: The only reasonable choice out of those three. Congrats!
Fabien: The honour is safe, Seo Moon Tak is on the right tracks. All the conditions are now ripe for an orgy of rock in two weeks!