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I Am A Singer 2 : Super December Semi-Final

Although we unfortunately had to see Guckkasten eliminated during the Super December Top 4 episode of  I Am A Singer 2, we’re taking the commentary series through to the very end. Although the semi-final had not lasted for long before all the members of the panel began to feel some regret. 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.


 

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Lee Eun Mi – “슬픈 인연” (Nami cover)

Anna: When I learned that Lee Eun Mi was gonna cover Nami I was looking forward to it, but this isn’t what I had hoped for. Now it’s just a ballad with too much of Lee Eun Mi’s strong vocals, so much that this time it doesn’t help that I’m not watching the performance – I still can’t get into it. The audience doesn’t seem to have any qualms like that though.

Fabien: I also stayed hermetical to this song, I had the feeling it was just a standard Lee Eun Mi’s performance, in which she relayed too much in what she usually do with her voice, and never tried to get out of her comfort zone. There is nothing really exciting in this, but also nothing bad to point out.

Dahee: I admit it: This is the first time ever that I have ever fast forwarded through an I Am A Singer episode. I have seen every single second of every episode before this one, but after Guckkasten’s elimination, I see no point in wasting my time. So I’m writing this from the point of view of only having seen the performances. Okay, first of all, this mission, of singing a song you’ve already remade in the past? STUPID. What’s the point, honestly? That being said, I’m a fan of the original song…which is why I am so annoyed with this performance. She’s singing it ALL WRONG. That’s not the way you should sing those lyrics. She’s maintaining the same level of power in her voice from beginning to end, and has entirely missed the softer, more introspective aspects of the original. Boring, boring, BORING…and insulting.

 

So Hyang – “Oh Holy Night” (Christmas song)

Anna: Oh no, why did she have to go and sing a Christmas song? Her dress looks lovely and I have no doubt she will do it really well, but I can’t help but feel it’s out of place when there’s no actual Christmas theme to this episode. And of course, since she put forth Mariah Carey’s version as one of her own favorites So Hyang does not hold back one bit when it comes to reaching some very high notes.

Fabien: I too was surprised to see a Christmas song in this episode, but after all, why not ? I was a bit afraid of the cheesy sound effects that usually invade the stages in December, but thankfully she avoided them and instead went for some gospel. Still, I didn’t find the performance really engaging, and the heavy vocals in the end don’t really help for it.

Dahee: Looks like the CCM singer is taking this chance to sneak a Christian (albeit a mainstream Christmas carol) song into the show. I am annoyed with this song choice. Although I guess that considering she is a CCM singer, she didn’t have any non-Christian remake songs to choose from. I guess I’ll let this slide, So Hyang. The beginning’s pretty, but as soon as she entered screaming stage the annoyance came rushing back. The arrangement itself isn’t bad, but I am honestly very tired of this gimmick of hers.

 

The One – “지나간다” (Kim Bum Soo cover)

Anna: This was just too boring. I can’t blame it solely on The One, but I’m really, really missing Guckkasten this episode. The acapella group wasn’t for me at all, and the small orchestra feeling the arrangement brings that’s match the song. And when he stops singing the lyrics and just make some sort of half-whining song? I’m ready to turn down the volume until the next performance, but fortunately the performance ended soon thereafter.

Fabien: That vibrato voice is just sooooo annoying. Its overuse in this song and in the Korean ballads overall make me think of it as the Instagram of the singing. Just add this layer to make it sounds like a pretty song. But it doesn’t work with me. I’m just bored of his performances. Actually I don’t even feel like he’s covering different songs each week, it sounds to me like the same song over and over again.

Dahee: The beginning with the acapella made me think, “Huh? Is he actually going to try something new?” And then he started singing and the piano came in, and I rolled my eyes and asked myself why I’d had such a ridiculous thought. During this entire performance I kept thinking, “I swear to god I’ve seen him do this performance before. I swear to god he’s covered this song on this show already. Hasn’t he??” I honestly had to google to make sure, and realized that I had completely forgotten about his performance of this song when he was competing to get onto the show. Look. I realize that the mission being what it is, you had to choose a song you remade…but did you really have to choose one that you’ve already sung ON THIS SHOW? No wonder it nearly put me to sleep. Not that he doesn’t always put me to sleep anyway.

 

Chinese I Am A Singer

Anna: Oh, this is nice! If it’s the original format I might even be curious to watch a bit of it myself. Not that I know where I could find the time…I hope they can export the format to more countries. Why they had to go change the format for the second season in Korea is beyond me, and now they’ve even canceled the plans for a third season, and here I was looking forward to finding out which of the Top Band bands had been courted to join…

Dahee: Did they really cancel the plans for a third season? I hadn’t heard of that. Anyway, the show probably needs to be put out of its misery. I hope the Chinese version has better luck. I don’t know too many Chinese singers myself, so I probably won’t be tuning in.

Anna: I think so. At first they were just saying it’d be a long hiatus with the third season starting some time around March or April, if I remember correctly, but mid-December there were news about the show being canceled altogether. Not that I mind all that much though. It’s been fun reviving the commentary series, but so many of the performances this season were just far too dull to make the show as entertaining as it used to be. I’ve missed Kim Kyung Ho

 

The One – “썸데이” (Kim Dong Hee cover)

Anna: As disengaging and boring as always. I don’t even know what else to say about it.

Fabien: Just read again my precedent comment. Yeah, I’m lazy, so is The One.

Dahee: All he’s done is change into a suit and step up on his non-creative pedestal. I see no difference between this performance and the previous one. After the first minute I didn’t even bother to watch him – I just left the episode on and went to surf the net. I honestly don’t think I missed a single thing.

 

Lee Eun Mi – “깨어나” (Kang San-eh cover)

Anna: I never really liked this song and unfortunately Lee Eun Mi opted to keep the funk elements that are the main cause for it. DJ Pumpkin doesn’t add anything as far as I’m concerned. Inviting Gganmo and Uglyduck to rap doesn’t help either. I’m actually disliking this a whole lot more than the original.

Fabien: It’s supposed to be like the thrilling song of this episode, but I don’t feel anything compelling. The original song was already not really among Kang San-eh’s best, and this interpretation doesn’t really improve it. You can see that Lee Eun Mi tried her best to make the show by adding a lot of elements that are just useless in the best cases.

Dahee: Where does Lee Eun Mi get all of these strange outfits from? Does she own a special collection? Anyway. I’m just relieved it’s not a ballad. In fact, I like this much better than her Nami cover, which just annoyed the hell out of me. But she’s not showing as much energy as she usually does, and the DJ and B-boys are unnecessary. Overall it’s just another lacklustre performance in an episode full of lacklustre performances.

 

So Hyang – “그것만이 내 세상” (Deulgukhwa cover)

Anna: Oh no! I don’t think I can stand this. I loved it when Lena Park did it on I Am A Singer before – in fact it’s one of my very favorite I Am A Singer performances. Why does So Hyang have to do it too? She does start out somewhat differently though – the first few seconds sounds more like something I would’ve expected of Han Young Ae. Unfortunately in her efforts not to sound like Lena Park she takes away from the song. I’m happy we finally get to hear So Hyang exercise her lower registers too, but no… she’d been better off just singing it straight.

Fabien: I’m so glad she finally decided to show off her lower vocals, because I find them prettier and more impressive than the usual high chords she always reaches in her previous performances. It’s a very difficult song to cover, and I think almost no one can beat Lena Park, but I really appreciate the risk taken, the fact that she covers a song from one of my favorite bands, and the many ways attempted to sound different from Lena Park’s version. It’s the most interesting performance for me today.

Dahee: I adore this song (and I adore Deulgukhwa). And I’m also glad that she finally used her lower registers and that she’s thrown off the Disney feel. I think this arrangement has potential, and I’m intrigued by this choice of hers to go in a darker direction. Nevertheless, something about this entire performance felt kind of shaky. You could tell that she’s not used to singing in this register, and she’s not used to this darker feel. Maybe if she’d been given more time to practice and tweak the arrangement, this could have become something special. As it stands, though, I think she’s betrayed how limited she really is. But, like Fabien, I do appreciate that she took the risk at all.

 

Personal Picks

Anna: 1) Lee Eun Mi, 2) So Hyang, 3) The One

Honestly I have no idea what to do with this. I’ve more or less hated every performance and I realize now it might’ve been better to just quit this commentary series as soon as Guckkasten were out. I usually watch the episodes straight, but with this one I had to take several long pauses to get through it. I’m placing Lee Eun Mi first just because she was the only one to do something different, even though I disliked her second performance the most. So Hyang gets second because she, while sticking firmly to her ballad concept, showed some more variety than usual.

 
Fabien: 1) So Hyang 2) Lee Eun Mi 3) The One

You’re right, I’m getting as much inspired than these remaining singers are with their covers. None of them seems to have fun performing in this episode, as if it was already late after the main portion of a party. So, I put So Hyang first only because I like the song she covered, but not especially the cover she made of it. The One is becoming more and more like the godwin of our commenting series and I like it this way.

 
Dahee: 1) So Hyang 2) Lee Eun Mi 3) The One

What a terrible episode. I’m awarding So Hyang first simply because she’s finally shown an attempt at real risk taking, even if it was ultimately an experiment gone wrong. Lee Eun Mi gets second because while I was kind of okay with her Kang San Eh cover, her Nami cover got on my nerves way too much. I don’t even want to talk about The One anymore.

 

The Results

No. 1: Lee Eun Mi

Anna: Good for her. At least it means we shouldn’t have to sit through just ballads during the final episode.

Fabien: Not a bad choice.

Dahee: At least it’s not The One.

 

No. 2: The One

Anna: After warming up to So Hyang since Super December started I had preferred seeing her make the finals.

Fabien: And this is like one more insult to most of the singers who couldn’t make it so far.

Dahee: One of the reasons that I Am A Singer was created at all is because of the current lack of diversity in the Korean mainstream music scene. Idols are pretty much running the joint, which leaves little room for older singers or any genre that doesn’t fall into K-pop.  Koreans, especially older Koreans, have missed these different genres and different singers. Which is one of the reasons the show made such a huge splash and inspired so much passion in its viewers in the beginning. But what has happened to it now? It has fallen into the very lack of diversity and creativity that has more or less killed the Korean mainstream music scene. The viewers themselves have become so used to repetition and music that sounds familiar, that they have slowly come to accept what has happened, and to actively seek out that familiarity. And that, more than anything, is what is so tragic about I Am A Singer’s downfall. The fact that The One, a singer who has shown zero desire to be creative and do something outside of the box, got into the finale, is just one more nail in the coffin. I’m not even angry anymore. All I can do is laugh at the irony of it all.

 

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