Saturday, May 12, 2012

KOREAN MUSIC: Son Seungyeon of Mnet’s “Voice Korea” (5)

보이스코리아: 손승연 (Son Seungyeon, or Sohn Seungyeon)

I'll let you in on a little secret of mine: I’ve been jinxed.  All through my life, whenever I watch an event live, whoever I root for loses, and more recently, whoever I root for in a singing competition ends up runner-up. And last night, one of my jinxes is over when Son Seungyeon eventually claimed the title of “The Voice of Korea.”  She sang two songs, brought the house down and the audience and the judges to their feet twice in a row, getting her fourth and fifth standing O’s in the competition.  However, it was the most meh performances I've seen from her since the Top Band.

Of course, it was just another day at the office for Seungyeon but her high notes were not pleasant to my ears for the first time as they lacked emotional depth and expressiveness. I understand she had no control over the choices of music since the first song was a new song kinda given to her and the second song was obviously chosen by her coach, Shin Seunghoon. But both of her songs were so predictable and somewhat boring.  Ironically, I didn't know that I would say this but it was Woo Hyemi who caught my eye and ear last night!  As Gil of LeeSsang, her coach, described her, she sure is a talent from outer space.  Anyway, I’m so happy for Seungyeon and hope her musical career also hits some high notes just like the way she hits the high notes!

Seungyeon’s first song, Miun Orisaeggi (미운 오리새끼, “The Ugly Duckling”), is autobiographical; it was written by Hayden Belle, Sarah Lundbäck-Bell, and Ylva Dimberg, and its lyrics were written by Seungyeon herself.  The song was obviously reflective of how her appearance had hindered her dreams of becoming a singer.  And at last, the ugly duckling has become the swan!

Son Seungyeon: Mnet's "The Voice of Korea"
Miun Orisaeggi (The Ugly Duckling) (Aired on 05/11/2012)

Seungyeon’s second song was Yoon Bokhee’s 1979 mega hit, Yeoreobun (여러분, “It’s You”), which was also covered by Yim Jaebeom on MBC’s Naneun Gasuda (나는 가수다, “I Am a Singer”) last year.  Of course, I like Yoon’s and Yim’s renditions of the song much, much better, but I will refrain myself from commenting more on this ‘cause I want you to see them with your own eyes.  FYI, the song’s narrator is a singer herself, thanking her fans for having been there for her, through thick and thin, come rain or shine; but its English lyrics convey a completely different meaning – it’s a Christian gospel song.  Yoon first sang the song (the first half in Korean and the second half in English) to become the winner at the 1979 Seoul International Song Competition.

Son Seungyeon: Mnet's "The Voice of Korea"
Yeoreobun (It's You) (Aired on 05/11/2012)

LYRICS: It's You
When you’re in pain, I’ll comfort you
When you’re in sorrow, I’ll cry for you
When you’re happy, I’ll laugh with you
When you’re walking down a bumpy road in the dark, I’ll be your light
When you’re feeling empty and lonely, I’ll be your friend
I’m your everlasting brother; I’m your friend
I’m your everlasting song; I’m your delight
But who will ever comfort me when I’m lonely? 

– (pointing to the audience) It's you

ORIGINAL VERSION: Yoon Bokhee (1979)
Yeoreobun (It's You)
Written by Yoon Bokhee

Yim Jaebeom: MBC's NAGASU ("I Am a Singer")
Yeoreobun (It's You) (Aired on 05/22/2011)

Last night's highlight for me was Han Youngae making a surprise guest appearance on the show.  At 57 (in Western age, and 58 in Korean age), she looks exactly the same as she looked 20 years ago when I saw her perform live on stage.  With the same charisma, the same bewitching voice, and the same engaging stage manner.  Thank you, God, and please let her stay exactly the same as long as possible.  This special performance consisted of Han’s two songs, Nugu Eopso (누구없소, “Is There Anyone There?”) and Joyul (조율, “Tuning”), written by Han Dol, legendary song writer of Minjung Gayo (민중가요, “Grassroots Activist Music/Songs”).  Look for yourself how these talented final four disappeared into the background in a twinkling when Han emerged onto the stage.

Final Four with Han Youngae: Mnet's "The Voice of Korea"
Nugu Eopso (Is There Anyone There) & Joyul (Tuning)
(Aired on 05/11/2012)

And last but not least, here’s Woo Hyemi whose "weirdness" I once suspected was somewhat artificial turned out to be real last night.  How could she sing with such abandon in the final round?  She was so daring, gutsy, feisty, and care-free when she was singing.  Yes, her performance had flaws here and there and it was hard to understand when she was mumbling the lyrics but I still loved it! And I think Gil of LeeSsang, her coach, is a real genius. 

Woo Hyemi: Mnet's "The Voice of Korea"
Pilseung (Victory) (Aired on 05/11/2012)


  1. Hi Onsemiro!May I know what is the song "It's You" all about? I felt moved by Yim Jaebum's version of it and to see the audience shed tears, it was really touching.

  2. Anonym at 5:17AM, Of course!

    The Korean version of the song can also be considered a gospel song but right before the song ends, the singer asks the audience "Who will comfort me when I’m lonely?" and then she points to the audience, saying "It's you." This makes a wild U-turn onto a Gayo (Korean popular music). Actually when the song first came out, nobody suspected it was actually a gospel song. People thought it was a comfort song just like S & G's 1970 song, "Bridge Over Troubled Water."

    "Yeoreobun" (It's You)

    (My Translation of its Korean Lyrics)
    When you’re in pain, I’ll comfort you
    When you’re in sorrow, I’ll cry for you
    When you’re happy, I’ll laugh with you
    When you’re walking down a bumpy road in the dark, I’ll be your light
    When you’re feeling empty and lonely, I’ll be your friend
    I’m your everlasting brother
    I’m your friend
    I’m your everlasting song
    I’m your delight
    Who will comfort me when I’m lonely? – (pointing to the audience) It's you

    (English Lyrics written by Yoon Bokhee herself)
    When you walk through the cloudy days,
    He said, “I'll be the one to be your cane.
    When you need someone to share your love,
    I'll be the one to be your love.
    So smile and look at me, I will tell you what,
    Every, every, everybody's passing through this way
    So have faith, and be tall, you can't stop now
    Now is the start, this is the way and only way.”

    We've got to march and go to a high up there.
    He is the start and he is the way and only way.

  3. Oh, wow! Thank you very much for your explanation.I'm going to rewatch JaeBum's video(now that I get a gist of the lyrics):)

  4. I've been telling myself i didn't want to see any other singing competition except Kpopstar. I purposely avoided watching anything forward to 20 minutes ago....

    I just saw a video of girl singing a song by Lee Hyori - "10 Minutes"...her name is Yoo Sung-Eun...Oh My God!...i didn't know! WOOOW!!! Im speechless @ this girls ability! Im glad your bias was able to win, Onsemiro, but MAN, it was a fight to the finish!

    What is happening to me right now? I need to stop, Korea, is destroying me right now! Im doing to much. I can't be involved with this right now, it's too much.


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