The suspense of Super December on I Am A Singer 2 increases with every episode. After the first elimination Guckkasten remain in competition and we keep hoping for the band to last till the very end. 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.
Seo Moon Tak – “하루해가 질 때 아쉬울 것 내겐 없어라” (Harlequin cover)
Anna: After keeping Harlequin’s guitarist on stage for just about all of her performances on the show, now it seems time has come for her to actually cover one of their songs – of course arranged by Pyo Geon Soo himself. I’m not familiar with this song from before, but I like how it sounds when Seo Moon Tak performs it. Strong clear vocals, a nice melody and an arrangement that doesn’t try too hard.
Dahee: Quite lovely. I’m liking this, although that may just be due to the strength of the song. It’s not blowing me away, and it’s not all that experimental, but it’s a nice performance. I worry about her, though, considering that she didn’t go for too many high notes this time, and concentrated on singing in a more low-key fashion. And we all know how the audience reacts to non-explosive performances…
Fabien: It is very standard, with little originality in interpretation, but considering her previous performance, it tends to reassure me as at least there is no populist trick. Her voice is restrained, the arrangement is quite nice, I think I can perhaps reconcile myself with her. But as a first performance tonight, I have serious doubts about her being successful.
So Hyang – “살다가” (SG WannaBe cover)
Anna: I don’t know if I’ve just gotten used to So Hyang by now or if she’s actually doing better. She sings the first few lines so beautifully! But then she suddenly stops holding back and continues that way until the very end… She has everything that it should take to make this a lovely cover even better than the original, but instead she’s belting out her guts more than ever
Dahee: I can’t say I’m a fan of SG Wannabe or this song, but I think it’s a perfect fit for So Hyang. She hasn’t done too much to it, really, just made it a bit more dramatic, but that choice is really the right one for her screaming style of singing. When she screamed in other songs, it felt out of place and unnecessary, but here it makes sense, especially considering the lyrics. So I’ll let her pass this time. Barely.
Fabien: I love the beginning and the way she holds her voice the first time she sings the chorus. But later, she returns to her exercises of vocal power which make my headphones saturate. Good performance, despite the choice of song that doesn’t speak to me at all.
The One – “그녀를 사랑해줘요” (Ha Dong Kyun cover)
Anna: The One continues to do what he’s been doing so far with another ballad and I’m nothing but bored. I’m struggling to keep my attention on the performance and completely fail to feel whatever it is that makes the faces of the audience wet.
Dahee: I honestly see no difference between this performance and all of his other performances on I Am A Singer. It’s getting very, very old. Still, I feel like he’s showing more restraint this week, and I like that he used his softer register more. Like So Hyang, he’s chosen a song that really suits his voice and his style. And the choice of having the lyrics displayed on the screen behind him was a smart touch, since this song really hinges on the lyrics. Which is probably why so many people in the audience are crying…
Fabien: And here comes The One with his umpteenth ballad, and of course it’s a love song. What can I say about him that I haven’t already said before. This is the same performance that he always does, and every time it sounds less and less inspired. Please, kick him out, I cannot stand this anymore.
Lee Eun Mi – “Born To Be Wild” (Steppen Wolf cover)
Anna: Lee Eun Mi goes out hard with a rock number supported by H2O guitarist Tommy Kim. This is one of those songs that I can never stand in a cover version and Lee Eun Mi does nothing to change that. She’s got great energy, she’s head banging, that synth is pretty cool and the guitar solo is good, but it’s still “Born To Be Wild”. Sorry. Although I appreciate the effort this just isn’t for me.
Dahee: This song always reminds me of road trips, maybe because my sister and I always used to sing this at the top of our lungs during family trips, much to my parents’ annoyance. This song can be such a cliche, and she’s…not escaping from that cliche. She barely rearranged it, if at all, and I have major problems with that. Still, her stage presence is incredible, and she’s clearly having the time of her life, so she gets some points for that. Despite her awful hair piece.
Fabien: After such a sluggish performance that The One offered us, it’s a good relief to see Lee Eun Mi coming with something different and energetic. Too sad it’s one of these too often covered songs. She does the cliché of the rock performance, and it seems to work with the audience. The arrangement is good without being original, and Lee Eun Mi is straight following the lyrics as she’s going pretty wild.
Guckkasten – “Honey” (JYP cover)
Anna: Oh the opening! Finally something I can get behind! That synth is raw awesomeness. The way they’ve built the arrangement is striking. And the moves Ha Hyun Woo does with his right arm help support what is otherwise a pretty boring song. After a while I’m getting a bit bored also with Guckkasten’s arrangement. I’d like to hear more of Guckkasten in it and I sort of feel like Ha Hyun Woo is abusing his vocal skills by not giving us all that variation he usually does.
Dahee: Hmm, this is a dangerous arrangement. Not very mainstream, is it? Still, of course I love that they’re experimenting, and I’m super impressed by Ha Hyun Woo’s vocals this week, which show more restraint and a focus on establishing the mood of the song. I can’t say I’m into this kind of atmosphere, but it’s certainly the most interesting performance of the night so far. I think I need to rewatch this to have a better understanding of how I feel about it.
Fabien: Ooooh, I love that raw riff of guitar in the guitar, it’s an impressive build-up. As for So Hyang, this song is not really my cup of tea, but Guckkasten are trying hard to make me appreciate it. The arrangement is a good experimentation that ends up quite well with an interesting and strange atmosphere.
Park Wan Kyu – “비련” (Cho Yong Pil cover)
Anna: The opening is so pretty! I’m missing a bit of drama from Park Wan Kyu’s side when he starts singing, since those first strong few lines are what I like the most about this song in the original, but with this combination of singer and song I’m willing to be patient. Not that it got me anything by the end of it. Park Wan Kyu offered pompous and forced vocals completely missing the point of the song.
Dahee: What a lovely, touching story behind his choice of song this week. Boohwal‘s former drummer Kim Sung Tae passed away very recently, much to the heartbreak of Boohwal’s fans. When Park Wan Kyu first auditioned for Boohwal, Kim Tae Won told him that he seemed to be used to singing only English songs, and was against him joining the group. But Kim Sung Tae wanted to give him another chance, and told him to practice only Korean songs from now on. So the first Korean song that Park practiced with one of those coin karaoke machines was this song. So this is yet another dedication to a soul who has left us. And this arrangement has me right from the breathtaking instrumental opening (ARGH at the editors inserting that interview in there!). It really is a beautiful arrangement, and Park Wan Kyu’s voice in the beginning is just to die for. I love how he’s always singing for others and not for himself, how it’s not about getting first, it’s about doing justice to the song. Look at his sad eyes! Guh. Unfortunately, his voice seems to be in a really bad condition today, and now I’m very, very worried for him. He seriously needs to rest his voice.
Fabien: I felt it was a very good fit between the vocals and the music, and this time I was more involved in his performance than usually, maybe thanks to Dahee’s translation of the personal story of this song. It’s not even among Park Wan Kyu’s best performances, but it’s still a solid one.
Anna: 1) Seo Moon Tak, 2) Guckkasten, 3) Park Wan Kyu, 4) Lee Eun Mi, 5) The One, 6) So Hyang
This week was extremely disappointing. Half of the songs I really disliked. Two of the songs started out fantastically but then fell flat. The one performance I did enjoy all the way through was Seo Moon Tak’s so she gets first this week. Between Guckkasten and Park Wan Kyu Guckkasten clearly offered the better performance. As for the bottom three, I’m putting Lee Eun Mi highest because at least she did something worthwhile, albeit with a song I’d rather she didn’t pick. The One was so boring the competition for bottom place is hard, but So Hyang gets it for overdoing her thing for everything but the first few seconds of her performance.
Dahee: 1) Guckkasten 2) So Hyang 3) Park Wan Kyu 4) Seo Moon Tak 5) Lee Eun Mi 6) The One
It was hard for me to choose the rankings this week, mostly because I didn’t love any of them, really. But my bias won out and I gave Guckkasten first, mostly because I just love how they’re always experimenting and I think it took great courage to come out with that arrangement. I can’t believe I’m placing So Hyang as high as second, but despite the lack of experimentation, she chose a song that’s perfect for her, and seems to understand her strengths and her limitations, and for that she deserves recognition. Park Wan Kyu gets third despite his vocal problems because he just put his all into his performance, and the arrangement was just lovely. Seo Moon Tak was clearly better than either Lee Eun Mi or The One – these last two showed zero experimentation or creativity whatsoever. But at least Lee Eun Mi got by on her stage presence, whereas The One was just plain boring. Show us something different, won’t you?
Fabien: 1) Guckkasten 2) Seo Moon Tak 3) Park Wan Kyu 4) So Hyang 5) Lee Eun Mi 6) The One
It was very very difficult this week to share out the rankings as none of these performances were good enough to deserve to come first, nor bad enough to come last. Thus I favorized those who were stronger on the points I judge to be more important for a cover and played my own littles bias to make the difference. That’s why I arrive with Guckkasten and Seo Moon Tak in the lead, as they tried the most to take their songs as their own. Park Wan Kyu was not bad on this point too. The other ones did what was expected from them, but So Hyang had the advantage of showing she can bridle her awesome vocals.
No. 1: Lee Eun Mi
Dahee: The audience really likes it when Lee Eun Mi does rock, for some reason. I think she got this thanks to her stage presence, and nothing else.
Anna: I’ll have to agree with Dahee on that.
Eliminated: Seo Moon Tak
Anna: Not all that surprising and I’m not all that disappointed either, in spite of me putting her first this week.
Dahee: OH MY GOD I WAS SO NERVOUS ABOUT THIS RESULT. Just the thought of either Guckkasten or Park Wan Kyu getting eliminated made me want to cry. They were in serious, serious danger this week. I haven’t been this nervous for an I Am A Singer elimination in a LONG time. Seriously, my hands were sweating! I feel sorry for Seo Moon Tak (especially since she definitely did not deserve to go), but when Jeong Jin Young said her name, I let out a huge sigh of relief. I think this is clearly a case of the people with more fans getting more votes because they were worried about Guckkasten and Park Wan Kyu. As a result, Seo’s vote count suffered.
Fabien: I totally agree with you Dahee, as these results are almost exactly the same as last week!! Seo Moon Tak was already on the edge of being eliminated, and she had already finished last during the Festival Opening. Guckkasten and Park Wan Kyu have reasons to worry for next week, as it’s almost certain that it’s up to one of them to leave.