After what turned into a much too long season, the final episode of I Am A Singer 2 aired just a day before 2012 came to an end–and with that the end of this commentary series. I cannot say enough thanks to Dahee of Dahee’s Plastic Castle and Fabien of Kimchi Popcorn for faithfully contributing their thoughts from start till end, in spite of more lows than highs in all those episodes. 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.
I Am A Singer 2 Awards
Stage Production of The Year: Han Young Ae
Anna: Finally she’s getting some recognition on the show! I loved the end of her brief thank you speak, the way she said “go go”.
Dahee: Who came up with this incredibly silly idea? How awkward. And how self-congratulatory. The singers all look like they’re trying not to burst out laughing. Anyway, good for Han Young Ae. She deserves some pats on the back.
Fabien: This sounds like a consolation prize for not having been chosen for any of these other awards, so I’m glad for her on one hand but disappointed again on the other.
Most Moving Performance of The Year: Byeon Jin Sub
Anna: He did do a far better job with the emotions than most of the singers that made Super December. I want to hear hi
Dahee: He always moved me, that’s for sure. I’m still so sad about him leaving the show so soon.
Fabien: That’s a deserved recognition.
Instrumental Performance of The Year: Sinawe
Anna: I’d given this one to Guckkasten, no question about it, but assuming they don’t need any pity award after making it to Super December Sinawe is the best choice.
Dahee: I think it’s well-deserved. I was always rather amazed by how well they played their instruments. You could really tell the difference between them and the other artists.
Fabien: During all of their performances, I never asked to myself if the instrument was well-performed, my only worries were the singing and the interpretation, as the musicians were always amazing anyway. Of course, the only other logical choice would have been Guckkasten.
Arrangement of The Year: Jung Yup & Eco Bridge
Anna: Again, I would’ve put this award in the hands of Guckkasten, but everybody’s gotta get their share I suppose. Very nice to include Eco Bridge in this as well!
Dahee: Yeah, Guckkasten deserved this one. But I was really impressed by a couple of Eco Bridge’s arrangements, so whatever. Good for them.
Fabien: So they finally care in this show for the way the songs are arranged ? I don’t really agree with Jung Yup being celebrated for this, Guckkasten or Han Young Ae seemed to me the one who obviously deserved to be awarded in this category.
Honorary Graduates: Park Sang Min, Lee Young Hyun, Kim Yeon Woo
Anna: Ah, all of them made 14 performances on the show, so with the old format they would’ve graduated! That’s kinda sweet.
Dahee: They’re all very cute in their acceptance speeches. Kim Yeon Woo especially looks like an adorable little garden gnome.
Fabien: I put them in the same category where I had already left Yoon Min Soo last year: the ones who were neither really good neither really bad to go anywhere in this show.
Overall Achievement Award: House Band
Dahee: Nice to see the band getting recognized for something, even if I’m like “Uh, not much competition, was there…”
Sound Production Award: Kim Young Il
Dahee: Good for him? I repeat: I really don’t see the point of these awards…
Fabien: Great… Let’s give an award to MBC for the best auto-congratulatory award.
The One – “You Raise Me Up” (Secret Garden cover)
Anna: I quite enjoy this song, especially as performed by Josh Groban, but given my bias against The One it should come as no surprise that I can’t really enjoy this anyway. Although the Irish whistle and the piano, even the choir, could’ve been ok with me had it been any other singer it just feels too cliché coming from The One. His pronunciation is a bit off. And there’s one female member of the choir (or is it the chorus?) that can be heard too well. A nice touch when he switches to Korean though. This would’ve all been more suitable for So Hyang.
Dahee: As soon as he started off with that cheesy narration, I rolled my eyes and prepared to be annoyed. It feels almost like he’s cheating, to include Korean lines in an English song. It’s such a cheap ploy for tears. Despite that, it starts off pretty enough (I like the use of the lights), and I’m finding myself more open to it than I expected…and then he starts belting out those high notes and scrunching up his face, and the annoyance comes rushing back. I just can’t stand his voice, especially in high notes. And as the song moves on to the climax and becomes more and more dramatic, I’m just sighing and hoping it’ll be over soon. And then he actually goes down on his knees and I nearly die laughing over the intense DRAMA of it all. Whenever I’m watching him, I get the sense that he really, really wants me to be moved by his performance…but he himself is not actually all that moved. He’s cold. It’s like he’s overdoing the drama precisely because he himself hasn’t really felt the depths of the emotions necessary for the song, and he doesn’t want people to realize it. You’re a good singer and all, The One, but you still have a long way to go to really get across the intricacies and depths of any song. Maybe you should talk to Han Young Ae.
Fabien : Do I really still have to go through TWO songs by The One? Please kill me now! The problem is that I really like the original song, but most of time it’s ruined when it’s taken on by Korean singers and their propension to make a cheesy performance of it. This one is so cheesy that I felt I was watching a preaching on an US broadcast. This is just too much, and he is also trying too much in simulating the feelings of the song. The One is a collection of small nice effects put together to make it feel like a great performance, but it just never feels true or coherent. And also, his pronunciation of the English is a bit awkward (I heard him pronounce “tLouble”)
Lee Eun Mi – “Both Sides Now” (Joni Mitchell cover)
Anna: What a nice contrast to the previous performance! The arrangement is a bit on the pompous side, but paired with Lee Eun Mi’s vocals it really works. With her standing by that microphone stand watching her on stage is by far a more pleasant experience than I’ve found it to be lately. Strong vocals throughout. Very well done!
Dahee: This is a pretty song, and Lee Eun Mi’s singing it very well. I’m really impressed by her vocals here. You can just hear how it extends past the microphone and fills the entire room. The arrangement relies a little too heavily on the drums for my liking, and the progression is a tad too slow, but it ends on an interesting note, at least. It’s dramatic, but also knows how to hold back. I like that. Well done.
Fabien: It’s only slighty less cheesy than the precedent one, but the voice makes up for it. Actually it’s getting a bit boring when the song gets to its later part as there is no progression. But overall Lee Eun Mi conveyed much more emotions than The One.
Guckkasten – “해야” (Magma cover)
Anna: Guckkasten!!!! This is one of those songs that although it’s already been covered a million times, I still love hearing new versions of it. A Guckkasten version is such a special treat! Loving the traditional vocals opening and when Ha Hyun Woo starts singing it’s like magic. Why didn’t they bring this out when they were still in the Top 4? Ouch, when the ggwaenggwari comes out the arrangement goes in more of a funk rock orientation that I don’t like all that much. Fortunately it soon turns into more of a pure rock number, with Ha Hyun Woo offering his characteristic screams. Fantastic!!! It’d be a step down for Guckkasten, but I’d love seeing them do more covers on Immortal Song or something later.
Dahee: Guhhh, Guckkasten! How I’ve missed you. T___T I am loving the opening! The inclusion of the pansori singer was genius. The beginning is so moody and dark, I’m just lapping it up. And then it switches into faster rock, and I’m nodding and grinning like crazy. I’m less enthused with the song as it goes along, because I’m getting the sense that it was just a tad too repetitive, and the ending was kind of anticlimactic. Still, this was such a creative breath of fresh air. What a disgrace that they’re not performing this in competition!
Fabien: I am totally amazed by the atmosphere of the beginning. It sounded so different that I could barely recognize the song they were covering. The following may be less impressive musically, especially the chorus, but I really enjoyed the good fit between Ha Hyun Woo’s voice and the pansori singer’s one. Compared to other performances that used Korean traditional singers or instruments, this one sounds less gimmicky (and less like nationalist propaganda). This is the 17th and last cover of Guckkasten in I Am A Singer, and while it’s already quite a lot, this performance is teasing me to hear more of them. If only they could release a special album made of covers.
Lee Eun Mi – “나만 몰랐던 이야기” (IU cover)
Anna: This was very beautiful and emotional! I’m loving that cello, but then I usually do. The accordion lends the arrangement a nice European vibe as well. Very well sung by Lee Eun Mi all the way through. Lovely!
Dahee: Lee Eun Mi’s back to her ballads again. This is an interesting song choice, but she’s sticking very closely to the original in terms of arrangement, and seems to be going for the “Let’s make every person who broke up recently cryyyyyy” route. It’s pretty and all, but not very inspiring.
Fabien: What a strong choice. A veteran singer like her taking on a song written by one of the youngest popular singers in Korea. I’m not really engaged into this song, and the mood is a bit overly plaintive to me. But the vocals are still quite good.
The One – “그 사람” (Lee Seung Chul cover)
Anna: Another soundtrack song from The One. Who’s surprised? OK, this being his last performance of the show I’ll try to pay attention all the way through and not let my negativity get in the way. He does have a very nice ring to his vocals when he sings more carefully in the beginning of the song. He is trying to show emotion with his face while singing, but unfortunately he goes all blank while quiet. Nevertheless he sings really well, but that’s never been much of a problem for him. This is a very I Am A Singer-esque arrangement that the audience is sure to eat right up.
Dahee: Figures that he would choose a song from the worst drama ever. This song choice is not the way to my heart, sad to say. And it’s a typical The One style of arrangement (how annoying is it that he’s developed a style of arrangements just for himself? You know, boring, always the same, always cheesy…). What’s the point of bringing in that orchestra if you’re not going to do anything interesting with it? Well, it’s nice for him that he has a powerful voice, I guess. I have nothing more to say.
Fabien: What the heck? His final performance is a song that is so generic that it’s more like a prototype of the Korean ballad. And of course, they found a way to make it even cheesier than before, with this van Gogh painting in the background. This performance is just pointless, and I don’t even see how he could win some vote like this (but for the first one, I can). It’s a boring cover of an already boring song (and coming from what seems to be a boring drama). Is this how you mark your last performance on a show? Wasn’t there another, more interesting song to make it a celebration ? I think have to resign understanding these people. PS: I would like someone to please explain to me what the point is in producing so many songs if they just sound the same? You know, it’s the same progression in the tone, the same rhythm, the same structure…. and almost the same words used just in a different order. Just try watching on youtube some top 100 of the best Korean ballads of recent years and you’ll understand my pain).
Anna: 1) Lee Eun Mi, 2) The One
Lee Eun Mi performed both her songs beautifully and is no doubt the winner in my ears. The One, while a great singer, still unfortunately misses what it takes to be a great performer and with that isn’t quite as interesting.
Dahee: 1) Lee Eun Mi 2) The One
I’m not going to repeat myself here. You all know how much I can’t stand The One’s performances. And while I’m by no means a huge fan of Lee Eun Mi, she at least tried to hold on to some artistic integrity with her two performances. She totally deserves to win.
Fabien: 1) Lee Eun Mi 2) The One
Simply because Lee Eun Mi wasn’t boring and her performances were less expected. I believe if Anna, Dahee and me had tried few weeks ago to predict what The One would do for the final, we could have hit it right.
Singer King of 2012: The One
Anna. Congratulations! The win probably means more to him than it would’ve to any other contestant. Considering both the final performances and all previous achievements on the show, I’d say Lee Eun Mi was the rightful winner out of the two. However, regardless of the actual results The One is the real winner of this show – going from obscurity to being loved by the Korean public. It’s a nice transgression, but I can’t help but wish he’d risen up to the task and provided more entertainment value when given such ample opportunity.
Dahee: Congrats to him. I hope this experience will help boost him into a more successful career. And thank god that this blasted season is finally over.
Fabien: Ok, so congratulations to him. But I don’t think I would ever watch another season of I Am A Singer. Too much frustration to bare. I’m still glad that The One, So Hyang and Guckkasten took this opportunity to get much recognition from the general audience, as it’s always good when things are moving on the music scene. I guess now it will a lot more difficult to get a ticket for Guckkasten’s concerts ;)