KOREAN MUSIC: Son Seungyeon of Mnet’s “The Voice of Korea” (4)

보이스코리아: 손승연(Son Seungyeon, or Sohn Seungyeon)




Son Seungyeon received the third standing ovation from the studio audience and the judges tonight. She performed Kim Taehwa’s canon, Annyeong (안녕, “Goodbye,” 1980), written by the legendary Korean singer-song writer, Lee Janghee.  This song’s been one of my long time favorites from the 80’s and I felt like I was getting special favors two weeks in a row:  Last Friday, she sang Boohwal’s Biwa Dangsine Iyagi (비와 당신의 이야기, “The Story of (Dearest) You and the Rain,” 1986).  But I know I have to thank Shin Seunghoon for choosing all these songs for her to sing.


Son Seungyeon: Mnet's "The Voice of Korea"
Annyeong (Goodbye) (Aired on 05/04/2012)


This time Seungyeon originally wanted to sing a song that uses rhythmic grooves.  She’d like it to be popular among the Korean listeners to reach their heart and get their votes.  Contrary to her expressed wishes, Shin said even he knew she’s really versatile, she’d rather go for yet another sentimental number (as in last round).  When he asked her if she knew Kim Taehwa’s Annyeong, she went like, “Kim Who? And his what?” She never heard of the song and didn’t even know he ever existed.  BTW, she knew who Jeong Hoonhee is. (Jeong is a legendary Korean pop diva and Kim’s wife of 32 years.)  Seungyeon, I know you’re still young and green, but it broke my heart when you said that.  Kim is one of the founding fathers of Korea's rock/rock ballad.

Shin said he used to sing this song strumming on a folk guitar.  “I might have given her homework too hard to do as it was really hard even for me to sing,” added he.  Seungyeon described her state of mind as Menbung (멘붕), a slang term that originated as  the acronym of the compound noun (English and Korean), Mental Bunggoe (멘탈붕괴) which translates to “Mental Crash.”  She said she had no idea how to sing the song and Shin advised her to sing from the bottom of her heart.

In this round, Seungyeon had to go head to head with Lee Sojeong, who has emerged as a dark horse in this competition thanks to her ardent Korean soldier supporters – yes, she’s got a pretty face as well as an attractive voice.  Lee said in her pre-competition fluff that she didn’t expect Seungyeon to hit the jackpot three weeks in a row, which turned out to be merely her wishful thinking.  Seungyeon said also in her fluff that she would definitely continue the winning streak and move up to the final round.  “This is a chance too good to miss,” added she.

On stage, Seungyeon proved again that she is Da Dominator of this competition.  It’s not easy to find a good singer like her who has a perfect trinity of (i) a powerhouse voice that has a good mix of breath and sound and penetrating solidity, (ii) a rich emotional sensitivity – she always sings as if she means it, and (iii) rock-solid consistency – as I commented last week, her singing is always in tune and on pitch, high or low, forte or piano.  

So, Seungyeon hit the third jackpot as the studio audience and the judges were on their feet three weeks in a row.  Kangta, wowed by her singing, kept saying, “She is like a singing machine.  Her singing is always consistent.  Her choice of music is always challenging but she never fails to nail it, just like a machine.  I’m really tempted to analyze her vocal cords in detail.  Her performance was the best!”  Shin Seunghoon, her coach, quickly responded half-jokingly, “Mr. Kangta, not without my permission.”  He added, “I always feel sorry for Seungyeon ‘cause I always make her sing a song she’s never heard.  I also am thankful to her for always following my guidance.  I’m so sure that she will later realize that she was teamed up with a good coach, though.”

Just like last Friday, however, I still love the song’s original rendition better – frankly, no one is ever going to beat Kim Taehwa singing this song. Never.



ORIGINAL VERSION: Kim Taehwa (1980)
Annyeong (Goodbye)
Written by Lee Janghee