KOREAN MUSIC: Lee Hayi of SBS’s “K-Pop Star” (5)

케이팝 스타이하이 (Lee Hayi, or Lee Ha Yi)

When I first learned that Hayi was going to sing JK Kim Dongwook’s Miryeonhan Sarang (미련한 사랑, “Foolish Love”), I could kinda see why:  JK Kim Dongwook has been always compared to Yim Jaebum (or Yim Jaebeom) ever since he first appeared on the Korean music scene; he was even derided as second-class Yim Jaebum wannabe.  Methinks Hayi might’ve wanted the same glory back that she had had for singing Yim’s Neorul Wihae (너를 위해, “For You”) last February.

Lee Hayi, Top Six:  JK Kim Dongwook’s “Foolish Love”
(aired on 3/25/2012)

If my guess is right, then she obviously made the wrong decision because they don't have the same vocal approaches or do the same genre of music (rock/ballad (Yim) , soul pop ballad (JK)), contrary to popular belief.  In fact, JK’s “Foolish Love” is a soul pop ballad with unhurried yet even danceable mid-tempo groove, which is a lot faster and rhythmic than Yim’s “For You.”  And to top it off, the song was featured on the soundtrack of MBC miniseries (or drama) Wigie Namja (위기의 남자, “A Man in Crisis”) that deals with the midlife-crisis affairs.  Wait a sec, how old are you, Hayi?  Come on!  You’re just fifteen and a half and there’s no way that you can express such grown-up sentiments.  And you said you haven’t even dated a boy yet.

[LIVE] JK Kim Dongwook: “Foolish Love” 
FanCam at Bonghwangdae Concert (07/01/2011)

If you’re wearing a pair of shoes that are too large to fit your feet, it will keep you not only from walking elegantly but from walking itself.  And that’s why Hayi failed to take the stage with confidence, and failed to touch the hearts of the audience, not to mention that she wasn’t able to land the big notes with ease; her singing just wasn’t great tonight. 

For the same reason, I didn’t get it when the judges were ooohing and aaahing over Jimin’s performance last Sunday. Her rendition of Ggume (꿈에, “In Dreams”) (Lena Park aka Park Jung Hyun, 박정현, 2002) was mediocre at best.  Not only couldn’t she sing this song with as much heart-wrenching, aching sorrow, but she couldn’t manage to produce exactly the right notes – many of the notes were out of tune just like Hayi’s were that night.  And that’s why I blogged that the judges had given relatively low marks to Hayi.  I just didn't specify the reason for fear of being misunderstood that I was simply bashing Jimin because I’m openly (rooting for) “Hayi.” But believe me all the contestants are so talented and adorable in my eyes.

Park Jimin, Elite Eight: Lena Park’s “In Dreams” (aired on 3/18/2012)

[LIVE] Lena Park: “In Dreams” (04/01/2009) on MBC's "La-la-la"

Unlike Hayi, Park Jimin went in the totally opposite direction by choosing the age-appropriate song, Judy Garland’s “Over the Rainbow” and won this round.  I think she deserved to win plain and simple but the judges’ overall score – 299 out of 300 – were a joke.  I'm not going to talk more about the scores here but I wonder what if she had sung a Korean song just as good as she did tonight, like Mabeobe Seong (마법의 , “The Magic Castle”), which I think is a Korean equivalent of “Over the Rainbow.”  Would they have given her the same score?  I doubt it.   Here in the US, there’s a joke people learn Latin to show off that they know what their friends don’t know.  Likewise, the judges might’ve wanted to show off that they understand what other ordinary listeners don’t understand.  Ironically, I think, in doing so, the judges counter proved that they don’t know what Papsong (팝송, American/British pop music) is. (I'll blog later about singing Papsong on "K-pop Star" or other Korean singing competition shows.)

Park Jimin, Top Six: Judy Garland’s “Over the Rainbow” (aired on 3/25/2012)

Back to Hayi, I wonder if anything’s getting the better of her lately.  Where’s her daring confidence as if she didn’t care?  Such abandon she used to sing with!  Yet, her presence on stage used to be bewitching yet innocently simple.  Hopefully she redeems herself soon.

Here’s what the judges said:

Park Jin Young (or Park Jinyeong):  Many people said Lee Hayi’s performance didn’t stand up to (their) expectations.  But I definitely see her singing improving every day.

BoA:  (While listening to Hayi’s singing tonight), my heart ached just as much as it did last time (listening to her singing “For You”).  But when she was hitting the high notes, her voice got shaky and it snapped me out of it. But I agree that her singing is absolutely improving.

Yang Hyun Suk (or Yang Hyeonseok): I’ve been to a Jjamppong (Hot and Spicy Seafood Noodle Soup) House near Hongik University, together with Park Jin Young.  Later, Park went there again, by himself that time, but he had to turn around for the restaurant was too crowded (and had no more tables available).  (Note: What Yang implied here is the restaurant is popular because it specializes in serving Jjamppong only.  Thus he emphasized the importance of specialization )  Let me say this:  Lee Hayi’s singing was way better when the live performances haven’t started yet.  Figuratively speaking, stop trying to do Jjajangmyeon or Japchaebap but just do Jjamppong instead.  She’s been trying this and that when she’s got her own specialty genre(s). (Note: He seemed to advise her to stick to her own specialty genre(s).)

The judges gave Hayi a score of 262 out of 300.