Top Band 3: Yoon Il Sang’s Group Contest

The third season of KBS2 band survival show Top Band continues and so does Indieful ROK’s Top Band 3 commentary series. How the bands got their coaches was covered in the previous commentary. Today myself, Kevin, and Xtian of Korean Indie have a look at the 4th episode, broadcast October 24th, focusing on the bands coached by Yoon Il Sang. If you want to watch the show yourself all episodes can be streamed from the official site



Busking at Jarasum International Jazz Festival

Yoon Il Sang has taken all of his bands out to Jarasum International Jazz Festival.

Anna: leeSA is getting recognized and approached by fans, how sweet! Seems Lunafly have been getting some more attention online from participating.

Kevin: Honestly, this seems like a festival that I would attend. Really nice atmosphere with people of all ages. Taking pictures with the bands would be great.


Yoon Il Sang suggests that the bands do some busking around the festival area. leeSA should form a team with Lunafly whereas Notension and Oriental Showcus form another team.

Anna: Oh! That food looks so delicious! That’s one thing that surprised me the first time I went to a Korean music festival, how it was so much more of a picnic event than the muddy drunken fests I’m used to from Sweden.

Kevin: To be fair, the only music festival I’ve attended so far was Clandestino Festival 2015 in Gothenburg where bands like Jambinai and Black String performed. Other than that, I’ve always wanted to attend Metaltown, also in Gothenburg, although it’s been cancelled for the last two years. Even so, I can say that based on this episode, the environment seems much more friendly and laid-back when compared to Metaltown.


Yoon Il Sang meddles in the preparations for leeSA and Lunafly, being unhappy with leeSA singing while Lunafly just accompanies her. He’s trying to push for Lunafly’s Sam Carter to sing as well. Notension and Oriental Showcus call their joint busking band Orientension. Sam suggests that their team is now called leeFly.

Anna: I was somewhat unaware about all the intrigues surrounding Lunafly prior to this competition and disagreed with their participation out of principle (makes no sense to have a band coached on Top Band by the guy who runs the entertainment company they are already signed with), but all the favoritism of Sam from Yoon Il Sang that I’ve heard of is really off-putting.

Kevin: Yoon Il Sang is acting like an overprotective father towards Lunafly. I understand that they have talents and deserve to show it off, but this favoritism needs to stop. Almost makes me wish they weren’t part of the competition, though I guess the ratings would drop if they were to leave.

Xtian: I love the name Orientension! Clever, unlike leeFly.


Orientension – 사랑하기 때문에 (Yoo Jae Ha cover)

Anna: This was a light and breezy version, perfect for summer. Really good job of them to put it together this well so quickly. Had it been a recorded version it seems like something that could do relatively well on the charts.

Kevin: I highly agree with what Anna said. Some mixing and mastering in a studio would make this sound even better. It would actually be pretty amusing if Orientension released their own music as a real collaboration band, if that makes sense. Since they seem to work and sound really well together.

Xtian: This is soo cute!! Such a lovely cover, their voices blend really nicely and the arrangement was ace. Completely won me over to the two bands, that they could come together and mold their styles to create this cover.


leeFly – Happy (Pharrel Williams)

Anna: I appreciate Sam’s introduction of the group in English to the foreigners present. Yoon Il Sang got his well with both leeSA and Sam singing. He sounds a bit weaker in comparison, but the audience appears to enjoy it nonetheless. The foreigners also singing along. Nothing revolutionary, but an ok enough busking performance for two bands playing together for the first time.

Kevin: Sam’s introduction was really cute. Granted, I’ve gotten somewhat sick of this particular song for various reasons, but it was still a pretty good rendition for a first-time busking collaboration. It makes sense that the foreigners enjoyed it, let’s just say that. I definitely prefer Orientension’s performance though.

Xtian: This isn’t a collaborative project. This is leeSA featuring Lunafly, which is better :) Whatever Lunafly is, it was clear here which of the two has experience creating covers relatively on the fly.


Mission: Overtake Yoon Il Sang

The first mission for the bands coached by Yoon Il Sang is to do better than Yoon Il Sang while performing songs he himself has written.

Anna: I like how Yoon Il Sang is sharing some tips ahead of the “mission”. I assume all the coaches would do the same, but it’s not something we’ve seen on screen in previous seasons of Top Band.

Kevin: Ah, when Yoon Il Sang was talking about mission, I have to say, that scenery was absolutely stunning. I saw pictures of this on the FB page, but wow, it’s a really beautiful view.

Anna: Cho Kyu Chan shows up when the bands meet to rehearse in the studio. Yes! Always so happy to see him. I like that Yoon Il Sang brings in another accomplished pop artist to provide feedback to the bands so they can learn more from somebody with less of a bias. Cho Kyu Chan and Yoon Il Sang don’t seem as impressed with leeSA’s arrangement as Sam Carter was.

Kevin: Watching this reminds me just how polite and respectful people usually are towards seniors in Korea. I wish more countries would follow that. But yeah, Yoon Il Sang should not be judging alone here, so I’m glad Cho Kyu Chan showed up.


Kim Tae Won and Cho Kyu Chan have been commissioned as special judges to support Yoon Il Sang. Together they will decide which 2 bands will move on to the next round and which 2 bands will be eliminated.

Anna: Kim Tae Won comes out as a Top Band fan! Somewhat unexpected, if I may say so. Why has he yet to be a coach, I wonder?

Kevin: Ah, I’m glad to see Kim Tae Won as a judge here. I remember back when I was getting into Korean music and he was a guest on Star Golden Bell which was a lot of fun. I think he would fit perfectly as a coach.


Lunafly – 겁이 나 (Lily M cover)

Anna: This was such an odd choice of a song to cover. Yoon Il Sang has written so many immortal songs in the past, why go with something this new and almost completely unknown? Unless it’s to somehow a strategic choice, given that covering an already classic tune is quite the challenge when it comes to balancing respect for the original with showing your own style. I like how they’ve made a modern rock arrangement out of what was originally an acoustic track. Not too bad. Kim Tae Won makes a comparison with The Eagles.

Kevin: Though I would have liked to hear them cover a COOL song or something along those lines, this was actually really enjoyable. Probably my favorite Lunafly performance on this show so far. I think if they stuck with the acoustic style, it would probably come off as weak. So it was a good idea to go with a modern rock approach instead.. Pretty good stuff, actually. Surprising, considering their earlier performances haven’t impressed me on this level.  I don’t quite agree with the Eagels comparison, however.

Xtian: Good lord, what a snooze fest. Nothing about this performance struck me as bad or good. A meh reaction is the worse of the three.


leeSA – Steal Away (Park Jiyoon cover)

Anna: The start of this was quite agreeable, but when the style becomes more dancey funk it doesn’t work for me anymore. I like watching leeSA perform, but had expected to also like the song more. It must be hard for Yoon Il Sang to hear his songs rearranged like this. Still, I feel for leeSA getting criticized like that again.

Kevin: The instruments this time around sounded more clean which I appreciate. There was also much more power in the vocals. I have mixed feelings about the dance-y part, however there’s more positive than negative.. Overall, it was good, but there’s something about leeSA that just doesn’t feel right to me. I’m not sure what it is. Though I’d say this is also my favorite leeSA performance so far. I guess they all had time to improve again.

Xtian: Aww, I liked this one! This cover was uplifting and emotional at the same time and leeSA was selling me on the lyrics. I’m rooting for her over Lunasnooze if it comes down to the two of them.


Notension – 녹턴 (Lee Eun Mi cover)

Anna: I’m loving this from the first chord! The vocals are sort of weak in the beginning, but they recover quickly enough. What’s with that posture when playing the keyboard though, I wonder? Or maybe it’s just a sign of me getting too old, getting sympathy back pains seeing him crouched like that.

Kevin: I think they had a similar case earlier in the studio – vocals felt weak at first but got better later with those higher notes. The vocals were the highlight for me here. Quite emotional, actually. The keyboard helped to set the right mood. Though there was this feeling of unbalance with the instruments, I’d say they worked out fine in the end.

Xtian: Overwhelming. When Notension gets going, the song drowns in its own arrangement. I get the fact that this is a band competition show and everyone has to show their stuff, but this cover would have hit me better if the arrangement was spare. Love his voice, though.


Oriental Showcus – 뻐꾸기 둥지 위로 날아간 새 (Kim Gun Mo cover)

Anna: Oh no! The vocalist has been feeling quite unwell ahead of the performance. Hope she can pull through anyway because I do want to see more of Oriental Showcus on this show. I started my journey as a kpop fan with Kim Gun Mo and still remember when I heard this particular song first time. Usually that would make me more critical, but I must say they’ve done a good job with this one by maintaining the energy of the original while making it fun Oriental Showcus style. I also appreciate how Yoon Il Sang brings up a saying that happens to be the name of my favorite Korean drink when cheering the band on: “Happiness comes after bitterness”.

Kevin: I felt sad for the vocalist. Can’t imagine how stressful it must have been for her to perform under such terrible condition. I respect her for going through with it nonetheless. In fact, she and all the other members did a great job. The guitars stood out to me especially for how catchy they were and of course the signature Oriental Showcus brass instruments sounded great as usual. This was a very respectful cover made with care for the original.

Xtian: No sax player dancing. I’m sad :(
Other than that, I’m a new Oriental Showcus fan, especially after their busking. This cover was fun, especially the bass breakdown and the guys singing for a second. I’m happy for these guys and gals, even though ska is not one of my go to genres.



Anna: Of course the results are saved as a cliffhanger for another time. I’m not even surprised anymore. Personally I’d like to see more of Notension and Oriental Showcus. Both offered the better performances during the mission and they’ve also done better in total during Top Band 3 so far as far as I’m concerned. Although my guess is that Lunafly and Oriental Showcus will be the 2 of Yoon Il Sang’s bands that actually advance to the top 8.

Kevin: At least this made more sense as a cliffhanger than last week. I’m interested to see the results. I got my fingers crossed for Oriental Showcus especially after today’s performance. Lunafly has a pretty good chance to advance, but I personally don’t mind that too much. They’ve shown time and time again that they’re able to improve which I think deserves them another chance. Just hoping that Yoon Il Sang doesn’t go overboard with the favoritism again. I’ve got my eyes on him. Please try to judge them as unbiased as possible in the future.

Xtian: Ugh, seriously? A cliffhanger? Such nonsense.
I REALLY hope Lunasnooze doesn’t reach the end. Their presence on the show is such a problem for me, mainly for the music they make. Lunasnooze is a pop boy band that plays instruments, not a rock band. What gets caught in my craw about them is that to me, after catching up with the show in one sitting, the show is trying to attract a larger audience that wouldn’t listen to rock music. With Rose Motel and their wide-reaching appeal, Top Band 3 is trying to capitalize on that with bands like Candi, What A Circus and 2nd Moon. Asian Chairshot is my saving grace for the show, but I fear their presence on the show is to placate long-term viewers and rock fans like me rather than their talent. I will gladly eat my words if proven wrong in the long run, but judging how this show has repeatedly disappointed me in the past, I can’t see that happening.

Results cont.

The results were finally revealed in the beginning of episode 5.

Top 8:

  • Oriental Showcus
  • Lunafly


  • leeSA
  • notension

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