[April 24, 2011] SBS Inkigayo Highlights + Commentary

Inki was in Jeju today! Yay! However, when I found out that little bit of information yesterday, I was less than pleased - more like fearful for my ears. Why? Because one, you have a gazillion rookie groups on today Two, this is Inkigayo - the sound ALWAYS sucks. And three, this is Inkigayo somewhere other than the SBS studio - the sound people aren't used to the venue. Add the fact that they can't even get good results at the SBS studio week in and week out and you have a sonic disaster.

Well it looks like my predictions were right. Someone please fire the Inki sound guy before I go there myself and make sure he dies a slow, and painful death. I don't care if it's easter, he needs to go. NOW.

Video credits go to CrazyCarrot370. The best thing that ever happened to kpop hahah.

A Pink - "Don't Know"
You know what they remind me of? That group of girls in elementary school with budding stage parents who force them to perform during school events. Maybe some of them can sing, but the main goal of the entire performance, as dictated by their parents, is to be "discovered" and become the next Mariah or Whitney. Which you can only do by attracting attention to yourself more than the others. The vocals today were painful and the over-all performance like some kind of cute-off. Meh.

Rania -"Dr. Feel Good"
That part where the girl's miming the part another girl sings reminds me of Chun and Yunho on "The Way You Are". Anyway. Oh wow. Apart from that stupidity at the first line of the song and the 2 or 3 solo lines mimed, for rookies Rania overcame crap Inki sound pretty well. And in k-pop, doing well in Inki means you're pretty damn good. They have presence, they have vocals, they have a pretty decent song - I'm impressed, and I want more.

Dal Shabet -"Pink Rocket"
I don't even want to talk about them. Just watch the video.

Infinite - "Nothing's Over"
As much as I'd like to say Infinite did good today, like on MuBank, and as much as they've really improved, for SOME STUPID REASON like I don't know, crap sound, they sounded off today. And the verses hurt my ears. That last set of high notes wasn't half bad though, even if the guy doing it was cracking all over the place. Very tight performance, except of course for the blegh vocals.

Orange Caramel -"Bangkok City"
I don't want to talk about the song, but I will say something. I AM SO GLAD AFTER SCHOOL IS COMING BACK THIS WEEK SO I CAN BE SPARED OF THIS BLASPHEMY. Preferably by a JungAh/Gahee tag-team.

Rainbow - "To Me"
It's now a contest between the long-haired blonde girl and the girl I liked yesterday for my favorite voice in Rainbow. The fact that there's a contest means we're making progress, Rainbow! But the inki handsfree mics are doing nothing for their vocals, and you really have to listen to hear them actually singing - most of the time it's just a bunch of random sounds and the backing track laced with breaths. We're not making that much progress, Rainbow - work harder. LOL.

ZE:A - "Here I Am"
I understand that the song is floaty and whatnot, but their live vocals do not sound floaty - they sound strained, like in reality that can't sing the song. Their energy on stage is really strong, and they finally worked on that whole "being a group" thing, but their vocals are the exact opposite - some of them are lifeless, majority are strained. And as a whole just sad, I'm sorry to say. My ears hurt. It's a shame though, I kinda like the recorded version.

CN Blue -"Intuition"
JONGHYUN. SHADES. YES. Yonghwa slurring his words because he doesn't have shades but still wants to be all "gangster". NO. Just no. Yonghwa you're a very competent, consistent live singer - slurring your words only makes you sound like you don't know what you're doing. ANd if we can move the drummer a biiiiiiiit closer that would be great, SBS, thank you. We can work on plugging in their guitars later.

f(x) - "Danger"
What did I say about NOT TURNING THE BACKING TRACK UP TOO LOUD, inki sound guy? I thought we worked this out last year - you have to make their voices AUDIBLE, not drown them in pre-recorded crap. You can hardly hear ANY of them, and Krystal's vocals were like, non-existent. We're talking about Krystal here, the popular one. And you can't hear her? Are you nuts? Now because the stupid sound guy was being stupid, the performance lacked punch - obviously, I COULDN'T EVEN HEAR THEM SING. The attitude was there though, which is always good.

4Minute - "Mirror Mirror"
They're all getting used to singing the song, that's for sure - OK maybe everyone except Hyun A. Can she just stick with rapping and mock-singing please? However Jiyoon sounds epic as always. And Gayoon is consistent, but the problem is just I really just don't like her voice. The performance was fine, with the standard 4Minute attitude, and the vocals were ever so slightly better than the last time. I still prefer HuH over this though.

U-Kiss - "0330"
Oh wow. Their vocals sound a lot less strained today, and a lot richer. Of course the hand mics are a big help, but it's like they all got rest because there's no panting. And the high note was done pretty well, even if the line right after was sloppy. Strong performance - I've been waiting to say that for a U-kiss song!

SNSD - "Hoot"
Before I personally thought SNSD's live vocals were way below the standard for a band of their stature and pedigree. I mean outside of their singles a good half of them can really sing, but they could never quite pull off their singles the way a band like them should be able to. The only reason why I didn't like SNSD was because I wasn't sold on the live performances of their singles, and it annoyed me that they could sing other people's songs better than their own, but as they get older they're forced to grow - more so now that they're in Japan. Surprise of all surprises, guess what the solution to that problem was - Japan. Of course. It turned DBSK from extraordinary talents into legends - it's slowly turning SNSD from a girl group that hit the big time to a girl group with pedigree to their name, and this performance is proof of that. The good singers are getting competent, consistent, and the slightly better ones are getting stronger.

Big Bang -"Love Song"
If you want TOP to sing, and want to make it look like he isn't TOP trying desperately sing, please don't put his line before Daesung, who is undeniably the best singer in Big Bang. (if you want to argue with me I don't care - Taeyang's voice annoys me) Then if you want to make GD sound good, don't put him between Daesung and Taeyang, who have obviously been singing more lines than GD these past few years. What's more, GD couldn't even pull off singing a few "I hate this love song"'s without panting. And Seungri's first solo was weak. I know he's sick, but if he can stand on stage and dance, the vocals should be slightly stronger. Daesung sounds tired too, and his lower range sounds weak. Did someone forget to make these guys warm up or something? Do they even need to be told to warm up at this point? The only one who sounds like usual is Taeyang. I'm being tough on them because they're Big Bang, undeniably 5 of the best performers of their generation - for heaven's sake they just gave an epic performance yesterday, what the crap happened? Apart from Seungri being sick, of course.

DBSK/HoMin - "Before You Go" & "Keep Your Head Down"
Before we start, Inki, is it really necessary for the flame to be heard through HoMin's mics? It's annoying. But anyway. If you want strong Inki handsfree mic vocals - you get them with HoMin. Of course they're not as good as they are on MuBank, but of all the performers who used handsfree mics today, obviously HoMin's vocals were the strongest. And Inki sound guy only slightly messed up! Yay! The performance today was spot-on for Inki standards - if you're a good performer, you're a good performer wherever you go, and technicalities cannot, and will not change that. HoMin are seasoned, trained and outstanding performers - you see how their vocals are brilliant whether it's on major music shows like this or small TV shows with almost no equipment to accommodate vocals. Now, this is the official end of all HoMin activities for "Keep Your Head Down". I'm sad. Really sad. But like the crazy OT5 cassie I am, there's that little sliver of hope that the next time they come back, it's at 5. I know it's ridiculous, but it keeps me, and a lot of other fans, sane. The demands of the industry say otherwise, heck even my brain says otherwise, but there's a part of me that HAS to see that magic again - and hoping keeps me from going nuts, so yeah - have mercy on me just this once?


  1. I'll only comment on the groups I know/know about...

    A-Pink: Either work together or quit! With the exception of a couple of them, they wouldn't last solo, so they need to stop being Beyonces when the group consists of more than themselves!

    f(x): If you told me they mimed the entire time, I'd believe you.

    4Minute: Even without having heard the recorded version, I know that they were off at some spots. Not bad, but could have been better.

    Rania: how sad is it that despite the lacking sound system and partial miming, Rania stands out amongst the other girls today when they're rookies?

    Dal Shabet: Once again, this is the first time I'm listening to this having not heard the recorded version. *winces and shudders*

    SNSD: Can I meet the people they worked with in Japan and thank them with a 90 degree bow? And can we send some of today's acts over to them as well?

    Big Bang: What the hell happened?!?!?!??! What is this?!? Excuse me. I need to rant.

    Know what? They don't need to go to Japan. They need to go to bed, even if I have to strap them down and give them sedatives. Anytime Taeyang, the one with the least stage endurance is out singing everyone, even Daesung, something is wrong. I know that TOP and GD aren't vocalists and I don't expect them to be on par with Dae, but c'mon now!

    TOP was off.

    Ji! Out of breath on the first line? Really, Ji? Did you leave your diaphragm in the dressing room?

    Dae, are you losing your voice or at least your range? You're slipping...

    Seungri: if you're that sick, please lipsync or don't perform at all. This is coming from someone that injured their cords in high school from a dozen sinus infections and a bout of laryngitis. Don't do that to your cords.

    HoMin: Superb. Nothing else to say. If they ever become 5 again: Domination. That is all. As a Cassie and VIP, I'm feeling such a polarity at this moment.

  2. It's kind of amazing how a few small changes to Rania's song/choreo/wardrobe make me like it so much more.

  3. Rainbow's stepping up their game! So now more members are able to sing. I feel like they're still obscure because we don't get to know the individual members. The girl that you like is Jaekyung, the leader. Her and two others are the only ones whose name I know.

    Rania gets so much hate but they have potential/talent. Their song is just so monotonous. Aw, no more hot leather outfits :( :P

    A Pink is meh to me. I like their song, but there are so many comparisons of "old-school" SNSD to them so I have some stuff to say. The song may have a similar style, but I don't remember SNSD having such a lack of unity even at debut.

    I wonder if the girls were only recently put together as opposed to SNSD where some have known each other for 3+ years before debut. The average age is different as well. A Pink - There are some 15 year olds here. SNSD - The youngest was 16 while the others were all pushing 17-18.

  4. I agree with pretty much everything Nikki says, by god you have trained us to be *tough* listening critics. Although I doubt I'll ever be as tough as you. I especially agree with what you said about Rania, I'm glad you saw through the controversy and judged them for their talent. It was hard seeing TVXQ say goodbye, these boys seriously deserve more wins than they got but oh well, with the separation of JYJ and HoMin their popularity was expected to go down. Yes, OT5s ATKF, next time I hope their return will be 5, but I'll take HoMin/JYJ for now, even separated they're still unmatched.

    I'm not sure why you and some of the commenters seem to think Japan somehow "whipped" SNSD into shape. I don't think there's much of a management style difference between SME Korea and SME Japan. Could the no-name Nayutawave Records did something to them vocally? Nah. They're forced to grow up and mature regardless, even if they don't advance to Japn, their expectations in Korea are as out-sized as anybody these days. Honestly this Hoot performance wasn't even their best, it was good, but I've seen better, trust me I have all of their performances saved in .ts/.tp 1080p quality videos.

    P.S. According to Wikipedia Mr.Taxi was written by a group of Western composers. It's probably arranged by someone in-house at SM. Whoever directed the vocals deserves a big pat on the back. Can't wait to open the single to see the credits on it.

  5. @LaurenLCD: I have nothing to say LOL.

    @mycorrhizoid: they really are something, aren't they?

    @Anonymous: Regardless of their age, they should be able to do what the industry demands. It's not because of their age, because there are some young idols who have really stood out. If they can't do it, I seriously suggest them going back into training.

    @RageX: LOL. Me? Train? Since when? o.O

    It's not the management that will whip them into shape, it's not the people around them, it's the entire industry - this isn't Korea - this is Japan. The Japanese industry demands a lot of other things that the Korean industry does not (the same way Korea demands things Japan doesn't), especially in live performance and whatnot. People did not whip SNSD into shape - the change of environment, and industry did. They got more practice, exposure to different environments, and that helped them grow on their own at a much faster rate than they would've had they stayed in Korea. I agree that at this point, wherever they are, they must grow - but Japan accelerated the entire process.

  6. ZE:A - I don't know wether I like or dislike this group. I get excited when I hear they're going to release new material, hoping that this time they'll get it right. When I finally hear and see their new material I'm always as disapointed as the previous time. Not a very memorable performance.

    A Pink - I had high expectations from this group seeing that they're under Cube (well, A Cube if you're picky). I listened to their mini album on my way home from school and I think you could feel my disapointment spreading through out the whole train compartment I was in. Their voices are on the border to annoying chipmunk voices to me. Ugh...

    CN Blue - I don't hate their new song, but I'm not in love with it either. I prefer their album songs like Lie where Jonghyun has more parts. I even find myself getting irritated when I hear Yonghwa sing live, and the reason usually is him either over doing it or his failed attempts at singing in Enlish. The album songs have a lot of English lines so First is a total cringe fest even though the songs are catchy. When you pronounce heart as "hurt" you should consider getting a better English tutor or a refund.

  7. Nikki,

    Regarding Japan, I think I would only agree with you about half way. SNSD has long shown progress of improvement and competency before advancing to Japan, and their desire and effort to improve are self-motivated and not Japan-induced. They're under pressure to be better because they're the representative Korean girl group, they don't want to let their country and fans down and they're also expected to live up to the reputation of their seniors, but most importantly their desire to improve comes from within, it wouldn't matter where they advanced to because they would've done the same if they had gone to China or Europe instead. It is convenient for you to say that Japan did this to them but you should also know that correlation does not always imply causation.

    Also, I was wondering if you could specify exactly what Japan demands that are different than Korea's? Is it production style? Vocal ability? Marketing, image or perception? Ability to work with different people speaking different languages? A combination of many things? Maybe, but the fact is, regardless of borders or nationality, whenever a creative team works with an artist, it's always a collaboration, not a one way street. I don't think the SM A&R people are going to hook SNSD up with a creative team that tells them "it's my way or the highway", so it behooves the creative people in Japan to come up with something that works and fits the artist. At the end of the day, it's pop music, and Japanese people are already in love with Kpop. Kpop acts nowadays don't need to change and adapt to Japan to the same extent TVXQ & BoA did, because people already like them the way they are (thanks largely to the trailblazing efforts).

    From a business perspective, just because Japanese music industry has been around longer doesn't really mean much to Kpop acts. Japanese power brands like Sony and Toyota have been around a lot longer than Samsung and Hyundai, but they’re no longer considered superior to the Koreans. In my humble opinion, most Kpop acts don't really *need* anything from Japan besides more fans and more album sales. The notion that Japan is some kind of Shaolin Temple for musical improvement is difficult if not impossible to justify.

    In short, I agree with your view that Japan being a catalyst for SNSD's improvement, but I don't agree with your reasons behind it. All in all, I wish some times you would credit the artists a little more for their improvement versus crediting the environment or other intangible factors, even if you didn't like the artist per se. Just my two cents.


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