On my personal tumblr, someone asked me a very lengthy question about SPICA, and then went on and asked me who were the best vocalist in K Pop.
Now…I didn’t want to look up the ones I didn’t care about, so I sort of gave them who I liked, as well as the best.
So this post is just for me to talk about the singers who I love.
However before I get into that…I just want to give my thoughts/opinions on the whole vocal talent and K pop thing…it’s something.
I do appreciate vocal pedagogy a lot. I love vocals, I love learning about how the voice works, how a singer can achieve what they do (be it properly, or fucked up), I love listening to great feats of voice. However I also know that K pop is not the place for that (Even though there are singers that make a space for such kinds of performances). I mean there is a reason the main, and in some cases lead, vocalist exist. They handle what is considered the hard parts, but said hard parts tend to be rather…unimpressive in comparison to other major vocal moments. Also I firmly believe that most companies give their idols some bargain brand type of vocal instructions, and will maybe leave the good stuff to the ones they will market as the main (and once again occasionally) lead vocalist.
But that does not guarantee that they will be an awe inspiring vocalist. Most are not. And that doesn’t really matter because they will be delegated to sing high notes at the end, maybe a little falsetto to show a high note…but ultimately nothing complex.
I honestly don’t believe there are *MANY* vocally complex songs in K Pop. Most K Pop songs are rather predictable in how they are structured, so you know when the “moment” is coming. But to have continuous moments is nigh impossible because it fucks with the entire dynamic of the end result. The song is not the only part of the package. Who wants to do some extra vocal shit when you have to dance the entire time, and it has to be catchy and approachable (if you are in a girl group, boygroups tend to be different)?
Especially on top of bargain brand vocal technique, performing four/five times a week…
Y’all get where I am going. It is just not a real ass requirement to be a great vocalist…or even good. You ideally have a lifespan of 5-6 years (however with the whole increase in international appeal…it has kind of expanded a lot of expiration dates). It’s nice, especially if you are forced to do the same high note over and over again, you don’t die, and you have a better chance of not overstressing your voice if you know how to achieve a high note you were forced to do because it sounded cool.
But once again, not really a requirement. The main/lead vocalists are there to look cool.
That being said, I do have some singers that I just can’t resist as singers/vocalist.
Most of them women.
So now to round this post out, I give you my favorite singers (along with a reason and a video). Reminder this is just in relation to me. How I feel about them, and the likes, yadda yadda yadda.
Likes: I love her tone. I have never been overly fond of that girly sound, but there is something extra with Hyorin. At it’s core it’s very sweet in nature, but there is something just strong about her voice. It has become more evident now. Her voice is versatile. When she wants to be cute, you can hear it. When she wants to add drama, you can hear it.
Dislikes: That airy ass falsetto. It’s annoying, it sounds uncomfortable, it is very very limiting. What’s worse is that she has shown she can use head voice (the better alternative to falsetto period), but she has such a limited skill, it just…eh. There are other technical faults I won’t really get into. As for how she communicates musically, she has improved, but she tends to be so…she doesn’t engage 100% all the time. Like her cover of Hurt…she was in it 100%. Beautiful voice, very few problems, but most importantly she was giving you the drama, and sadness. That’s what I want. I want you not only to sound great, but to make me believe you. Especially in K pop. I can’t understand a single word you are saying, sans the occasional fly bye English, but if you tremble and whine, I know you are sad, if you sing with a brighter voice, I can tell you are in a positive space. Hyorin can do all that, but sometimes she can come off a little faceless, especially with English covers (but I chalk that up to not fully understanding the lyrics).
Likes: Twangy ass voice. There is something sweet, but still snappy about her voice. I love how vibrant her voice is.As a singer, Luna gives me Barbra Streisand vibes. Versatile in theory and execution, but you can tell where her lane is. That vibrancy in hr voice most often translates to how she handles a song…MOST of the time. Her stint on Immortal Song 2 really sold me for the most part.
Dislikes: I think she can bring it, but being under SM is just eh. I have a thing against SM vocalists because I tend to find some of them bland. There is like overall three I really like, but Luna is really the only one I check for like that. However Luna can sometimes fall under the SM vibe where she isn’t allowed to really pop off like that. I want her to bring it, and I don’t think she can in her current setting (maybe if SM allowed her to shine on a solo…lol nope). f(x)’s latest album Red Light is a prime example of this. I don’t expect great vocals all the time, but please handle the delivery properly. Milk is about breaking up…why you sound like you in heat sis? Come hard, or go home. That is an issue I get with Luna.
Likes: Possibly one of my favorite voices in music period. Her voice reminds me of spring time. It’s just bright and pretty, and lovely, and all that. Like slightly warm honey or some shit like that. It is just an overall positive voice. As a singer, I love her. She is one of them Contemporary Christian music types, and she tends to sing a song down in the name of Jehovah God and his son Jesus. Like I am not religious at all, but I just love how much she puts into singing like that.
Disikes: Not the best overall, and it is noticeable. Her biggest issue really is just she is an inconsistent vocalist. She is not bad…far from it actually, but she can be messy.
Likes: One of the few R&B singers in K Pop. Love her tone, and her use of her voice within reason. Her biggest strength is her ability to know exactly where the fuck her lane is (which will end up being discussed within her negatives for me). She will adjust a song to fit her needs if she sees fit. And with that understanding she can play leader or follower (which is good since she is in a vocal duo). I also see a lot of potential in her and her ability as a performer.
Dislike: That within reason talk…the whole staying in her lane…yeah…outside of it…she is a mess. No lower register, upper extension is mostly an airy falestto. Like I said for Hyorin it can be irritating. Within reason she is perfectly fine, but that is so limiting to have to sing songs in that small window. What if you want to pop off vocally, but you giving me strain and negligence? I don’t want that. Also she gives me Faith Evans pre-2005 vibes. Very restrained, but has the potential to pop off. I’m not saying she have to take us to church every time you open her mouth. There is a time and place for everything. However it shouldn’t take her half the song to get into it.
Likes: I love heavier voices. Yubin is one of those types that just didn’t get developed as a singer. I don’t know if she wanted to be a rapper or not, but she has a very lovely, dark voice. Her voice stands out and I love it. She does my favorite parts in Dear Boy, and I got excited when she sung on Dugo Dugo on the tour. Also she was singing more in 2012 than I ever heard…
Dislikes: Once again, she was not developed as a singer, and on the occasion that she does…you can tell. A beautiful, distinctive tone in an otherwise very girly bright voiced population…but with little to no development or understanding.
*I don’t have a video of her just giving you everything. Once again she ain’t a singer like that*
Likes: Another distinctive voice. She is like a super underdeveloped version of Hyorin. A very girly, and sweet disposition voice, that immediately turns on you when she wants power. However her turn is more feral. Like there is something unGodly about her voice that I live for. And the best thing…she brings it. She knows drama. She does sadness and anger well. Takes on various forms of confidence well, and on the rare occasion can give you happy. Chaerin can get into a song, and give you what it is. The longing in I Love You…she delivered it. The sadness in pretty much all their singles…she gives it. CL is a dynamic performer (in terms of K Pop anyway), and has a distinct voice to match…but…
Dislikes: Like I said, she is an underdeveloped version of Hyorin. CL already has this very sharp tone. It’s not very pretty on a basic level, but it stands out. You have a distinct voice and have bad singing habits…and can/will be grating. I want so much for CL because I fucking love her voice and her as a performer, but…she got to change some habits. At least get to Minzy’s level.
Other voices/singers that I like include: Yeeun, Sunny, Jea and Narsha of Brown-Eyed Girls, most of SPICA, Jimin from 15& (she has what Yerin lacks, but ultimately lacks what Yerin has), Minzy, and Lee Hi.
From the male side: Chen and Kyungsoo from Exo (I dislike that group though), Onew and Jonghyun from SHINee (as I have stated several times though, don’t particularly care for the group), almost all of 2AM, Yesung from Super Junior, Daesung, and Hwanhee.
So there you have it. My favorite voices/singers. A vocalist in K pop essentially is there to show off. They sing the high notes, overall sound the best, but it is really not worth that much in my opinion. No one is giving you Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, or Patti Labelle. It’s not really necessary of even all that conducive to the end product. However it is nice to have a well prepared set of chops so you don’t look stupid on stage, or wear your voice out during the short, but packed schedule. Also I personally, just can’t help but be drawn to certain singers.