So with the success of "Superstar K" (which I wrote about) and the ridiculous glut of Kpop bands that, as their numbers (and surgeries) increase, are becoming more and more indistinguishable (if you can explain to me how Sistar is different from Dal Shabet, such that you couldn't switch out their music, costumes, and choreography, and have pretty much the same product, I'll be impressed. Name for me all the members of Sistar, Dal Shabet, AND Rainbow, without searching, and you win a waffle iron). A few are popular enough that I can recognize them one from another, and a few have made some pretty good songs (and especially videos), and even carved out something of a personality...
But while these starlets are dominating the airwaves with dances and images that more mature and adult-oriented singers couldn't compete with if they wanted to...
You've got to wonder... what happened to the singers and vocalists who actually sing their songs, who made a living on having great voices rather than yummy bitty bits and chocolate sixpacks.
And sadly, I have your answer:
"I am a singer" or "나는 가수다"
is a program on MBC which takes some of the most successful singers of the 1990s and early 2000s, and puts them up against each other in an audience voting, elimination-style revolving door showcase, where the singer with the fewest votes each episode is eliminated from the roster of (seven?) singers, and some other former luminary replaces them in the next episode.
I have really mixed feelings about this one, folks.
On the one hand... it's nice to see their faces and hear their voices on TV again, throwbacks to a time when singers in Korea could generally carry a tune, and some even wrote their own music. Wifeoseyo remembers them well, and it's a small nostalgia kick to see them on TV...
but when these people, who have paid their dues and then some, are in some trashy fan-voting spectacle, just to compete for ratings...
it comes across as tawdry to me. And when a controversy springs up about not voting off the oldest (and male) singer, after what Wifeoseyo reported was a half-hearted performance... I wonder if the controversy was engineered to kick up ratings and help these artists cover their tabs or something. And I don't like having to have cynical thoughts like that when some of these singers are onstage.
So I don't begrudge them the paycheck, but I guess it just saddens me that these people, who should be enjoying some kind of living legend status, who should be doing duets with younger artists at music award shows, are instead doing the Korean equivalent of "Dancing With The Stars."
Lee Sora (whom I first heard about from The Korean), contributing. (the AAK link) I can't imagine what's going through these singers' heads, but I sure wish there were something better for them than this, at the ends of their long careers.
So... some good voices and stuff. Enjoy it. If you can.
For the record...
Wifeoseyo disagrees with me that this show is trotting Korea's dignified old legends out for display. She says, first of all, that the show treats its singers with respect, and secondly, that the singers themselves have shown a great deal of pride in their craft, and lived up to their status, while sometimes expanding their range. She said the singers are approaching the show as if it's their duty to reintroduce real songcraft in a landscape of manufactured plastic bands with interchangeable members, dances, and so-so singing talents overshadowed by sexydance.
(And The Korean is right in the comments: there's pretty much no chance many of Korea's living legends would put themselves through this elimination challenge: I doubt we'll be seeing demigods 이문세 [song by him, another - MAN he's good - and true proof he's a legend: a cover by Big Bang] or 신중현, who had a tribute guitar made for him by Fender [song by him] or 조용필 [song] on the show.)
Wifeoseyo also said Kim Geon Mo's performance on the latest show was really impressive, that he was nervous (for the first time in a long time I'm sure) after all the controversy about him being on the show, and you can see his hand fidgeting on the microphone: out of character for him, who's usually a very confident singer.
(more on Kim Geon Mo leaving the show from the K-gossip blogs)
Wifeoseyo also says his hand was shaking during this performance... out of character for him.
He certainly sings the lights out, though. Attaboy, Kim Gun Mo.