DBSK's Vocal Prowess Version 2.0 - Individual Analysis

So, the individual analysis. It took time for me to write this, mainly because I spent time on the people who I needed to spend time on, but I think I did a pretty good job.

This is how it'll work. Name, what part they sing on 5-part a capella numbers in numerical form - so 5 is lowest, 1 is highest plus what I personally call that part. It gives people with little technical knowledge an idea as to where the boys' ranges are. The commentary itself + a video of what I think highlights the point of my commentary. Got it? Got it.

Wait. A note on a capella first before I start. I don't use recorded a capella versions of tracks because I have a very strong feeling that they 'cheat' on it. It's not anything bad but from what I've been listening to, I think they record the background a capella separately from the solo lines which is actually OK. The only reason why I won't use them to judge is because if one member takes a solo, you can also hear his line in the background vocals - there's no difference whether he as a solo or not. So I use their live a capella stuff to judge.

5 (lowest)

They need Yunho in the band vocally because who's gonna sing the bottom parts? He may not have the most appealing or technically proficient voice but he's the base - everyone else in the band relies on him. It's like a cheesecake - Jaejoong's the blueberries, Yoochun, Junsu and Changmin are the cheese and Yunho's the graham crackers at the bottom - you can't not have the guy in the band. (apologies for the crap analogy - it's been used in Choral music before.)

I don't like this voice, I'll say it flat out, and I think he's trying to mask the fact that he can't sing that well (anymore) with a crap attempt at a vibrato. It doesn't help one bit.

But back to my first point. A capella-wise the reason why they're so strong is partially because of Yunho. Compare him to Kian Westlife (I just HAVE to) and a capella wise he delivers much, much stronger.

1 (top)

Yes, Changmin takes the top parts of DBSK tracks. His voice may be high but I noticed that it's very shrill. There are times when his voice just sounds amazing, and I mean breath-taking but about 60% of the time he still doesn't know what he's doing.

I (obviously) write these posts in parts - whatever comes into my mind at one moment I write down. So I know that I wrote what I wrote above but I can't exactly remember which song/video/performance I was listening to that fueled me to write that. ANYWAY.

While watching the band on this Korean variety show, I noticed something with Changmin's voice. He (randomly) sang Jaejoong's part towards the end of Tonight (I believe it was the sub-middle 8) and you know what? He delivers the vocal gymnastics of that part very well. SO, I have a conclusion - Changmin sounds good when he sings in a slightly lower range. Not too low but around Jaejoong's range, which is just a step lower than his.

I personally (PERSONALLY.) don't like Changmin's voice. I don't like it because there are too many times that it's shrill and I don't necessarily like shrill voices. But the middle 8 of 12:34 that he did was pretty good, I gotta say. HOWEVER, his shrill voice sounds absolutely FANTASTIC when you process/auto-tune it. I'm serious. I'm talking both the obvious and not-obvious types.

Take Wasurenaide for example, he sounded BRILLIANT on it. But then again they all sounded brilliant on it. However Changmin's voice was a lot less shrill than usual so yay!

4 (middle low)

I wasn't that impressed with Yoochun's voice when I wrote my first commentary but after hearing a heck of a lot more, it's very good. It's very rich, old-school R&B-ish and he has an unusual timbre. It's also very different from Junsu and Jaejoong's voices in the sense that it's not necessarily made for ballads but still, the guy can sing them pretty damn well.

I still stand by the fact that he tends to let loose too much live for my taste. And in the wrong way. But not always, so he's OK.

His voice can get airy and nasal-like at times though. Not always, but there are times when he still doesn't know how to do certain things with his voice. But his is definitely the voice with the most body and dimension in the band.

2 (middle high)

Everyone goes on and on about Junsu's gorgeous voice and I think I now know why people are saying that. He has a rich, deep voice and a wide range but the one thing he's always had is technique. When you talk about technique in DBSK Junsu is the first name that comes to mind - the guy knows how to sing. He knows how to sing difficult songs like Tonight and he knows when to hold back and let go depending on the situation - he always has. From the very beginning he's been like that and now that his voice has matured he sounds like he'd be very comfortable as a ballad singer after DBSK.

Another thing I noticed about Junsu is the fact that he sounds much, MUCH better live. Junsu isn't like Mark Westlife who really murders the song live but the one flaw (I'm not sure if it's a flaw either) is that the guy tends to be the one who really lets loose live. Sometimes it can be good, sometimes it can be bad but either way he can sing.

I can't stress enough how good his technique is - consistently, Junsu is the best singer in DBSK. The guy's voice delivers on ballads and uptempos and although he isn't versatile like another member (*ahem* Jaejoong *ahem*) and his voice can't morph into whatever style he's signing, he sounds really, really, REALLY good at what he does. He may not have the best voice in my opinion but he knows how to make a good voice spectacular, he's solid proof that you don't have to have the most fantastic voice in the world (for me at least) to sound mind-blowing.

3 (Melody)

Jaejoong has the best voice, in my humble opinion, but it took some time for him to be the best singer in DBSK - I still don't think he is, actually.

To be completely honest with you, at the beginning of DBSK Jaejoong's vocals were very plain. They weren't bad or anything but the one who really brought the band in terms of vocals and made them so unique was Junsu, and maybe even Yoochun at one point. Jaejoong's voice was clean but his voice was very young and didn't have the timbre he has now and he didn't know how to use that to his advantage yet.

Like I said during my re-briefing, there's a difference between a nice voice and a good singer - Jaejoong was just a nice voice when they started but he didn't exactly know how to use it. Junsu was the one who could sing his head off at the beginning and Junsu was the one people gushed over but Jaejoong was the one with the most potential, I think. He was the one with a gorgeous voice he didn't know how to use yet - over time he's learned. It took a few years before Jaejoong learned how to be a good singer and learned how to do this and that with his voice but now that he does, I'm like WHOA. It took him some time to realize his voice was the most versatile of all five of them.

He has the smoothest voice, the cleanest one but you tell him to sing his head off and he will do it. He hits high notes like Junsu, has the versatility no one else in the band has and he's now learned how to use his voice. It's also damn gorgeous. (sorry, just HAD to say it!)

There is a reason why Jaejoong is the lead singer, there is a reason why he sings the melody in a capella parts and there is a reason why he's not necessarily the one you go to for vocal gymnastics (although he does do them). For a capella pieces you need a lead vocal/melody part strong enough to float on top of everyone but good enough to blend all the other voices together - that's where Jaejoong comes in. The reason why Westlife are so good at a capella is partly because the top and bottom parts are strong but more so because the lead vocals are outstanding - same goes for DBSK, Jaejoong carries the band vocally. You need him in DBSK for the sole purpose of making all these different voices balance out and he does it pretty damn well.

Also, you need someone like Jaejoong on lead vocals because he can sing anything and make it sound like it's the most natural thing ever. The other 4 are good, no doubt, but their voices are confined to one or a few styles - they don't have the versatility Jaejoong has. So when they chose to sing something, they can ch damn well.

And because this is my blog and I can do anything I want to on it, TWO Jaejoong videos! lol.

NOW, put these 5 together and trust me, you have magic. It took some time for it to appear but once it did, for crap's sake it blew my mind. This is the reason why they're one of the biggest bands in Asia, if not the biggest - there's magic.

Which is why once again, I will repeat - SM ENTERTAINMENT WILL NEVER, EVER, EVERRR FIND ANOTHER GROUP AS DYNAMIC AND AS GOOD AS DBSK. SHINee may all have vocal ability and they may all be very good performers but they're a different band - the magic and the chemistry is different. What DBSK have, only they do and no one else will be able to replicate it. I got into DBSK because of the music, because of the songs, because of the vocals and because they're musicians, not a bunch of random guys thrown together a month before their debut and forced to perform together. They may be manufactured and they may be split into 2 right now over a stupid lawsuit but what they've already shown us over the past few years is just brilliance.

That is all.


  1. You really hit the nail on the head with your Junsu analysis. I totally agree. In fact, Version 2.0 on DBSK is a little more clearer for me than that of 'phase 1', which wasn't bad or anything. I liked this, nicely done. :)

  2. I really love this concept of article. Kudos -- I know how much time these types of analysis take.

    We need to discuss DBSK more in depth on some kind of chat very soon (not Twitter though...too time consuming). I'm still having issues differentiating their voices, so it would help if you could pinpoint to me who sings what.

    PS - You're big into this "Tonight", huh? ::scrambles to download::

  3. I have to give SM credit in making DBSK into the group that they are now. So many idol groups out there barely have singers that match up to the DBSK boys' vocal chops. Hell, even Yunho can probably sing A LOT better than many other idol singers out there.

    And yes, Jaejoong's voice is really versatile. He can make it fit into a lot of styles like rock, trot, and RnB.

  4. OK. Hah. I have nothing left to comment. You exactly took the words right out of my thinking box. LOL.

    Way to go, girl with this article. Much analysis.
    I love how you exactly differentiated their voices.

    I'd have to agree that Changmin has much talent in him, just that he's a little bit confused on how to use it.

    And I'd reall love to quote you with this:
    "This is the reason why they're one of the biggest bands in Asia, if not the biggest - there's magic."

    Haha. Hoping to read more commentaries in the future. Keep it up, chika. :)

  5. OK. Haha. I have nothing left to comment.
    You took the exact thing from my thinking bank.

    I love how you took each of their singing abilities and differentiate their voices. Much analysis.
    Cool job.

    And I so agree that Changmin has a lot of potential, just that he needs to really learn how to handle his voice.

    I'd also love to quote you when you said, "This is the reason why they're one of the biggest bands in Asia, if not the biggest - there's magic."

    There is will be one DBSK forever. :)

    Keep it coming, girlie. Looking forward to more edgy commentaries from you. :)

  6. Like I said before, Jaejoong voice is GOLD~

    Fell in love with it when I first heard どうして君を好きになってしまったんだろう?

    Great job :)

  7. mcroth - Hahah. Yay!

    Mel - 'Tonight' is brilliant. Like, BRILLIANT.

    Camille - Yeah, it's just that they're really stupid for trying to get rid of them.

    hotspicykimchi - Hahah. I know, right?

    rcLoy - Brilliance. That's it.

  8. Great review of their vocals. And I agree with a lot of the things you wrote, especially the fact that SM will never find another group like DBSK. It's not just the talent but also the intangibles their group dynamics brings to the table.

    On the whole, I agree that Jaejoong has the best voice and Junsu is the best singer. But boy is Jaejoong really making a case for himself these days. I thought during their stint at Tokyo Dome, he was the most brilliant. He just sang so effortlessly throughout the whole thing! I think he's really grown as a singer and once he ties up a few loose ends to his craft, he will definitely be the best.

    I also agree 100% that Junsu's got the ad libs down. I can't see anyone but him singing that part in "Asu wa Kuru Kara" or making that grand entrance in "Heart, Mind and Soul".

    And this is a bit of a digression, but have you seen DBSK's performance with The Gospellers at the Soul Power concert in 2007? They sang "Towani" and I just thought it was a great collab! Granted, it's messy toward the end but I think each of the Dong Bang boys really held their own. I was especially impressed with Changmin and Jaejoong. During Changmin's solo I thought he was great! And then there's this adlib Jae does in the end where his voice is so strong and mellifluous, it just sorta soars over everyone's voices.

  9. I think jejoong is a better singer. dont think he is inferior in terms of techniques just that he doesnt get the chance to show it cause he's always doing the melodies. furthermore the emotions carried in his voice are more powerful the junsu! making him a better singer overall! but great post nonetheless! i enjoyed reading it:)

  10. love your post! I like how you broke everything down. Just one question, what is middle 8?

  11. I think this is one of the most analytically well-done posts on DBSK that i've read in a while. I'm a fan(boy) myself and what I'm most impressed with is the combination of their voices, looks, and personality (which is why I agree they cannot be replaced easily, at least not in a decade even if SM auditioned all of Korea).

    But to be back on topic, I share similar thoughts about the vocals. I'm not too avid of a fan of Changmin, but he never fails to deliver his high notes; not much of a fan of Yunho's vocals because of less exposure, BUT at times like Bolero he has some surprisingly good results singing higher notes that he rarely ever sings due to his bass position. I of course agree with Junsu and Jae being the best. Yoochun seems on-and-off, I mean he sounded amazing a long time ago in his Foxrain (?) solo in the first Korean concert, but nowadays he seems more prone to making mistakes. Still I enjoy his voice a lot - it can do things no other member can do.

  12. Quite fun-to-read breakdown of their voices but i must just say: Jaejong is much higher than Junsu as he's always singing in his mix voice. Junsu almost never uses his mix except for softer parts, adding his signature cracks. See the very end of: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xeu16x_jyj-i-have-nothing-dome-live-eng-ja_music

  13. I totally agree with your opinion...
    That's what I thought too :D
    and I wanna add a little of my opinion, I really don't like Changmin's singing in low tone, it sounds so bad :(

  14. i don;t like the analogy because as far as voice types are concerned,,,male voice types are as follows: Countertenor Tenor Baritone Bass

    Baritone is a type of male singing voice that lies between the bass and tenor voices. It is the most common male voice.Originally from the Greek(barýtonos), meaning deep (or heavy) sounding, music for this voice is typically written in the range from the second F below middle C to the F above middle C (i.e. F2–F4) in choral music, and from the second G below middle C to the G above middle C (G2 to G4) in operatic music, but can be extended at either end.

    A countertenor is a male singing voice whose vocal range is equivalent to that of a contralto, mezzo-soprano, or (less frequently) a soprano, usually through use of falsetto, or far more rarely, modal voice. A pre-pubescent male who has this ability is called a treble. This term is usually used in the context of the classical vocal tradition, although numerous popular music artists also prefer employing falsetto.

    The tenor is a type of male singing voice and is the highest male voice within the modal register. The tenor voice (in choral music) lies between C3, the C one octave below middle C, and (A4), the A above middle C. In solo work, this range extends up to (C5), or "tenor high C." The low extreme for tenors is roughly B♭2 (two B♭s below middle C). At the highest extreme, some tenors can sing up to two Fs above middle C (F5)

    A bass is a type of male singing voice and possesses the lowest vocal range of all voice types. According to The New Grove Dictionary of Opera, a bass is typically classified as having a range extending from around the second E below middle C to the E above middle C (i.e., E2–E4). Its comfortable range, is normally defined by the outermost lines of the bass clef.Cultural influence and individual variation create a wide variation in range and quality of bass singers.

    There are four parts in a capella harmony: bass, baritone, lead, and tenor (lowest to highest), with "tenor" referring to the highest part. The tenor generally sings in falsetto voice, corresponding roughly to the countertenor in classical music, and harmonizes above the lead, who sings the melody. The barbershop tenor range is B♭-below-middle C (B♭3) to D-above-high C (D5), though it is written an octave lower. The "lead" in barbershop music is equivalent to the normal tenor range.

    In bluegrass music, the melody line is called the lead. Tenor is sung an interval of a third above the lead. Baritone is the fifth of the scale that has the lead as a tonic, and may be sung below the lead, or even above the lead (and the tenor), in which case it is called "high baritone."

    Most men tend to have baritone voices and for this reason the majority of men tend to prefer singing in the bass section of a choir however, TRUE BASSES are even RARER than tenors. Some men are asked to sing tenor even if they lack the full range, and sometimes low altos are asked to sing the tenor part.

    Within choral and pop music, singers are classified into voice parts based almost solely on vocal range with little consideration for other qualities in the voice.

    You see, each voice type has its own role to make the harmony or music...

  15. Nicely done with the review and most of them i totally agree. Thank you, i enjoyed reading it a lot especially since you put some nice words for my Yoochun ^___^

  16. i found this recently, and I absolutely appreciate that someone took the time to analyze each dbsk member's voice individually and how it fits into the collective sound of the group. Very well written and articulated, a far cry from the usual answers one might find on a forum ...

  17. Absolutely love this and agree with you. Haha would it be terrible of me to ask for a version 3.0? I mean it has been a while and I personally think that the only good thing that came out of the lawsuit was that it forced the boys to try and develop their own voices more. Changmin and Yunho obviously have more parts in songs now and I personally think that they've really improved. Jae and Junsu are amazing as always. And the only recent thing I've heard Yoochun sing lately was Magic Castle for his drama and well...yeah haha. But I really did love this review!

  18. Second the request for a Version 3.0. It seems that so many years after your post and their split it still goes to show that there are fans all over the world reminiscing their amazing performances.

  19. you make me think that you are jaejoong biased (I could be wrong though, or its not that its important either) BUT you nevertheless gave your fair and balanced judgment. I have to agree with you 100% about junsu being the best in technique. and emotions. he perfectly gives out the emotion of the song which some of the other artists admire him for. thats what makes him #1 singer in South korea ( i dont know if this is official though) he has something that nobody else does. im glad jaejoong is now exploring different genres. (oh man! does he rock a rock music! jj the rockstar is love!) i admire his musicality. yoochun too. i am more into jaejoong and junsu's voice. for me they are especially different. unique. now of course they sound best if they sing as five. In perfect harmony.


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