Top Band 3: Semi-Final

We’re almost at the end of Indieful ROK’s Top Band 3 commentary series. Today myself and Kevin have a look at episode 10, broadcast December 4. If you want to watch the show yourself all episodes can be streamed from the official site

The Top 4 bands meet in the semi-final to battle for a spot in the final. There is the “undisputed leader of pleasantness” What A Circus, “Korea’s rockabilly” Streetguns, “Top Band dark horse” Lunafly, and “Chosun rock sound” Asian Chairshot.

Anna: Lunafly as the dark horse… Lunafly came into this competition as the most band with biggest name recognition among Korean music fans in the history of the competition and have the CEO of their company as coach. I’m not sure “dark horse” is the right expression.

For the semi-final the format has changed somewhat, the program being broadcast live on a Friday evening instead of pre-recorded on a Saturday. While watching, TV viewers may vote for the band of their choosing at 100won/vote. The mission is “Friday Night”. The total score is calculated as follows:

Total score from judges (max 300p) + 700 * number of viewer votes for the band / total number of viewer votes


What A Circus – 연예인 (Psy cover)

Anna: The beginning was rather dull and not at all what I’ve come to expect of What A Circus, but  before long the arrangement picks up. Considerably more rock to this than what we’ve seen of them previously, but I like it. Cute dance breaks, too. This may be my favorite What A Circus performance yet.

Kevin: Quite a fitting choice of song, considering both PSY and What A Circus have fun “novelty” songs. However, the energetic intro quickly goes away in favor of a more laid-back approach, which makes it feel all the more out-of-place. It was obviously implemented to hype up the crowd, so it’s a shame the rest of the song doesn’t hold up in that regard, though it still sounds good. The backing vocals weren’t that good, but the saxophone solo was spectacular. I loved the little pauses during that part.


Yoon Il Sang: 92
Shin Dae Chul: 92
Rose Motel: 95


Streetguns – Everybody Needs Rock’N Roll

Anna: How nice of Tiger to provide some rockabilly history to the viewers! Unfortunately I found the clips before the performance to be much more entertaining than the performance itself. We’ve seen them do so much better before. Or maybe it’s just that I don’t particularly care for this song? A pity, anyway, because even though I would like to see Streetguns in the final I actually liked What A Circus more this time.

Kevin: I agree, the performance itself was the usual straight-forward Streetguns affair, nothing more and nothing less, but it was really cool how they showed Kpop idols that have had retro-inspired fashion and concepts. This is definitely not their best performance, though the judges seemed to like it, which I can understand.


Yoon Il Sang: 94
Shin Dae Chul: 92
Rose Motel: 95


Lunafly – 하늘을 달리다 (Lee Juck cover)

Anna: This is a Friday song. Well picked! But something seems to be wrong with the mixing? The vocals are sort fading at times and don’t come across as strong as should be the case given what we see on-screen. And the instruments aren’t really coming together the way I would expect them to–although that might just be poor stage setup. Great song, but even though I really want to like this (it’s that kind of song) there’s just too much that isn’t working. Not necessarily the fault of the band, however. I’d like to hear a proper recording of this arrangement.

Kevin: I noticed that too – the mixing doesn’t sound right here. Which is quite a shame, really, because I was really looking forward to hearing this, especially after that incredible intro which actually gave me shivers. Very impressive atmosphere during that part – the keyboard sounded absolutely beautiful coupled with the epic drumming. But yeah, sadly it goes somewhat downhill from there, though that’s not to say the band did a bad job. Rather, it was the audio outcome messing up once again. Regardless, this would sound great as a studio recording, I’m sure of it.


Yoon Il Sang: 94
Shin Dae Chul: 92
Rose Motel: 94


Asian Chairshot – 사랑이 모여서

Anna: Wow! So Asian Chairshot wrote this song for the semi-final? That’s rather daring, I’d say. But then they did very well doing the same for Shin Dae Chul’s episode. In a way it does make sense though. They’ve already performed their strongest songs so why not make something with more mainstream appeal to advance further. I’m loving this already from the first few bars. And with vocals on top it’s just beautiful. I never knew Asian Chairshot had this arena rock anthem epicness to them, and they somehow manage do it with integrity. And then they making it even better! I don’t particularly care for the female choir, however, so will be curious to see what it sounds like if they play it next time I see them live. I came into this whole series favoring Asian Chairshot, but now I’m even more of a fan. Gorgeous. Clearly the best performance tonight.

Kevin: Very impressive of the band to write a song in preparation for the semi-final. It was fun seeing them jam along to songs by Black Sabbath and Pink Floyd – I can definitely tell that they have gotten some influence from them. This was an absolutely amazing performance, they just keep impressing me, I tell ya. I’ve been rooting for them all along, but this song goes above and beyond on so many different levels. I can’t imagine anyone else besides Asian Chairshot winning this season. They really deserve it after such a beautifully heart-wrenching effort. On another note, I didn’t actually mind the female choir, they did a pretty good job, all things considered. Doesn’t add or take away much from the song, but I liked it.


Yoon Il Sang: 97
Shin Dae Chul: 99
Rose Motel: 94


Crying Nut – 밤이 깊었네 + 말달리자

Anna: It’s always so nice to see Crying Nut on TV. In my world they’re on the same level as No Brain, yet that is clearly not the case as far as the Korean public is concerned. When Kim Insoo started running around stage, singing along during “말달리자” I was laughing out loud–so super entertaining! I’d expect him to play the accordion, but then I’ve never seen Crying Nut live properly and when I have seen Kim Insoo on stage with his accordion it has been as guest for other artists…

Kevin: Crying Nut still going strong, nice. I would also put them on the same level as No Brain, both very influential yet quirky 90’s punk rock bands. Very enjoyable performances, though I personally preferred the second one which had much more energy to it.



Coaches TV Audience Total
What A Circus 279 215 (31%) 494
Streetguns 281 158 (23%) 439
Lunafly 280 89 (13%) 369
Asian Chairshot 290 237 (34%) 527


Anna: Even though Asian Chairshot was the last to play they gathered that much support from the TV audience! I’m very, very happy. And based on tonight’s performances I’m ok with What A Circus moving on to the final in place of Streetguns. The biggest shocker was the low score for Lunafly as I’d expect them to have the bigger fanbase ready to show support

Kevin: Asian Chairshot getting far ahead in the lead, that’s how it should be, quite honestly. The other bands did a great job, especially What A Circus, but there’s no doubt for me that Asian Chairshot should win. The general public, at least the people voting here, don’t seem to care much for idol groups, so it’s not surprising to see Lunafly going last. I do still believe that being an idol group doesn’t mean they’re not “true artists”, but I think they could have done a better job overall during this season.


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