Sunday afternoons have always been a treat for Korean TV viewers. “Running Man,” “Inkigayo,” “1 Night, 2 Days,” there is no day of the week better suited to gluing yourself to the sofa in front of the goggle box.
For music fans, the last few months have been a boon, in the form of “King of Mask Singer.” Actors have surprised us, idol stars have confounded us, and comedians have perplexed us. Weekdays have become little else but a long, dull prelude to Sundays, with every day spent counting down the hours until the next episode kicks off.
Are you on the edge of your seat, wait for your next fix of the show? Are you experiencing “King of Mask Singer” withdrawal symptoms? If so, never fear, dear readers – Soompi’s here, with a list of some of the most surprising and outstanding candidates to grace the “Mask Singer” stage to date.
Who has been your favorite contestant so far? Read our list, vote in the poll and tell us what you think in the comments!
I am guessing that even BTOB fans were a little taken aback when the Tired Bumblebee took off his mask for the first time – there were certainly lots of gasps in the MBC studio.
However, BTOB is certainly an act for the fans who prefer artists who can switch easily from upbeat to smooth. Remember that the BTOB boys can do dance tracks like the best of them, with this being perhaps the most outstanding example to date:
They can also do more chilled numbers like this:
And they can even mix it up within the framework of a single song, with tracks such as “Irresistible Lips.”
We all got a taste of what Sungjae was capable of with his sections in “Father,” one of the better boyband ballads of recent years, but perhaps nothing truly prepared the music world for the Tired Bumblebee.
He pounded his way all the way through two grueling episodes, dispensing of former After School leader Kahi, a serious and experienced vocal talent, and also CAN member Lee Jong Won.
It has been a busy few months for Sungjae, what with “King of Mask Singer,” BTOB’s recent comeback and his appearances in KBS drama “Who Are You – School 2015,” and he probably has not yet had time to take stock of what a great job he did on the show.
But hopefully, when he gets the chance, he will be able to sit back and take in the fact that he has proved to one and all that his vocal skills truly are in the K-pop upper tier.
After Jo Kwon’s appearance in the “King of Mask Singer” pilot, surely it would be too much to hope for to expect a second 2AM member to make an appearance on the show? But the program’s producers thought otherwise, and pulled a surprise on us when they unleashed The Namsan Pine Tree on unsuspecting viewers.
Changmin did a pretty decent job of disguising his voice, confounding many fans and non-fans alike. And this really is the point of the program, after all – the stars are not supposed to let on who they are. So, in this regard, Changmin really succeeded where many others have failed.
Although he only performed two songs on the show before being knocked out, it is worth remembering that in the process he managed to outshine Lee Hong Ki, the lead vocalist of FTISLAND. Now that is no mean feat. And this was pretty funky, too.
Even his second-round attempt of Wheesung’s notoriously tricky “Can’t I?” was memorable. All in all, Changmin’s performances made many think that as much as we all enjoy full-group 2AM material, a solo release might not be a bad idea should JYP Entertainment ever feel tempted.
Perhaps a surprising pick for this list considering he did not survive the first round, but I think Taeil took a lot of people by surprise with his solo song, a perfectly polished version of Lee Ji Hoon and Shin Hye Sung’s duet, “Doll.” And you also need to take into consideration the fact that he was not up against just anyone. He was pitted against Ailee – who is famously equipped with one of the most powerful set of lungs in K-pop.
His performance was so good it made Hong Jin Young – panelist for the day – visibly wince with delight.
Taeil comes across as something of a tough cookie. Being a member of Block B, that sort of goes with the territory, so crooning ballady numbers really is not something he will get to do in public much. But this performance has opened a lot of people’s eyes to the fact that Block B’s members are more than just a bunch of hip-hop types – they have multifaceted skills to boot.
Oh, and there was also his outfit. One of the best yet, in my book.
Just like probably everybody else who watches this show regularly, I could listen to Cleopatra sing names out of a phone book – his voice really is that good.
Although the Internet has been throbbing with rumors that hiding behind the Cleopatra mask may be relatively little-known but veteran singer and vocal coach Kim Yeon Woo, I almost don’t want to find out.
Because the only way we are really going to find out for sure is if Cleo gets knocked out or the show comes to an end. Take a listen and see if you think the rumors have any base:
Whoever he is, Cleo can sing, and is totally fearless about doing so. I mean, this is a heck of song to try to attempt a cover version of:
But I cannot be alone in thinking that Cleo’s take on it even eclipses the Im Jae Beum original.
(Full audio here, in case you can’t get enough of the track)
Every week, a hopeful comes up against Cleo, but he has dispensed with the lot. And we are not talking vocal small fry here – the likes of Ailee, Jinju (JYP’s first ever musical artist) and A Pink’s Eunji have all be eclipsed with aplomb.
He even recently dispatched of one of the show’s best performers yet – Spica’s Boa…
…who herself managed to get past two exceptional vocal talents on her way to her Cleo showdown – Jungin and Lyn.
Realistically, unless the show’s makers get someone like ALi onto the show to perform covers like this, Cleo might remain atop his throne for a good while yet.
f(x) fans will probably say that they knew she had talent all along, but most people were genuinely impressed by Luna’s “First Generation”-winning performance on this show.
From her emotive acoustic-guitar backed take on Ra.D’s “Mom” to her really pretty special version of Kim Bo Kyung’s “Don’t Think You’re Alone,” she knocked every song she attempted out of the park.
A tense finale saw her pitted against B1A4’s Sandeul. Now if there is one thing you have to say about B1A4, whether you are a fan or not, it is that those five boys can sing – and arguably better than most boy bands out there.
For those used to seeing Luna performing upbeat pop-dance numbers with f(x), the idea that one of their number has the kind of vocal power that the Used Two Buckets of Gold Paint exhibited is almost unthinkable.
But even versus Sandeul’s silky smooth voice, Luna was unfazed and pulled off another coup by claiming the top prize with an unexpected Lena Park cover.
Unlike some other contestants, she did not floor listeners with raw power, but rather displayed an extremely high level of technical prowess. And boy can she hold a note.
I watched this episode with Mrs timmydee, who instantly started leaping about in front of the TV screen shouting, “That’s Eunji from A Pink! That’s Eunji from A Pink!”
I told her to calm down and forget about this crazy notion. No way is there a singer that good in A Pink, said I.
However, unlike myself, Mrs. timmydee was a regular viewer of the drama “Trot Lovers” last year, so I had to sit through a good 30 minutes of her I-told-you-so routine when the mask came off.
As anyone who saw the “Trot Lovers” will attest, Eunji is no slouch in the singing department, and no style of music seems to faze her.
Dance, Trot, ballads, she seems to be able to do it all.
Eunji really got into the spirit of her character, and looked like she had a lot of fun on the show.
A Cube Entertainment, are you reading?
Because methinks it is time for a certain someone to make a solo debut.
If you thinking about outstanding female K-pop vocalists, you are probably not thinking about Girl’s Day, if we are being brutally honest. And if you are, you are almost certainly thinking about Minah. It is Minah who gets all the tricky bits in the Girl’s Day tracks. And as the latest release “Ring My Bell” goes to prove, there really are not many tricky bits to go around in the first place.
Girl’s Day is not about complex ballads, though. The girls specialize in fantastic dance hits such as:
But as close followers of all things Girl’s Day will tell you, there is more than one talented vocalist in this group. Observe:
Although she may not have made it past the first round, Sojin stumped the panel and viewers alike when her identity was finally revealed.
Her solo take on Tashannie’s “Caution (Don’t Bother Me),” originally a two-woman duet, surprisingly exhibited her not-too-shabby rap skills, too.
If nothing else, “King of Mask Singer” has proved that Sojin is more than just a pretty face.
Is it time for me to start gushing about Solji yet? Oh, good.
In many ways, it is a pity that Solji’s appearance on the show came so early – before MBC had commissioned the show as a regular program.
But, as the kids say, Solji slayed on the pilot.
Although Shin Bora is mainly known as a comedienne, she is also an accomplished singer in her own right, with a string of hits to her name. Not least of which is the quite sublime “Mismatch,” featuring VASCO, possibly the best collaboration of the year so far.
But when she teamed up with Solji for a duet/duel version of Ailee’s “Don’t Touch Me,” it was like a brave poodle trying to fight a bulldog. Solji just blew Shin Bora away. In boxing, they call that kind of thing a no-contest.
In fact Solji sings “Don’t Touch Me” so well, she’d give Ailee a run for her money.
She may have recently failed to hit the right notes in her tongue-in-cheek cover of IU’s “Good Day”…
…but as EXID fans will attest, when it comes to singing, there really is very little that Solji cannot do. The note she hits at around 3:17 in the video below is guaranteed to stop you in your tracks, whatever you are doing.
Still need convincing? Here she is doing a Donna Summer cover pre-EXID debut.
To paraphrase the meme, one does not simply cover Donna Summer. Especially not “Hot Stuff.”
If it is pure vocal power you are after, Solji has it covered. Here’s hoping MBC suddenly decide to make a special that pits the four winners so far against each other – a clash of champions that would pit Luna, Jinju, Cleo, and Solji against each other. My money’s on the EXID girl.
Most people out there will not be so sure about who exactly Jinju is, she really is not the most well-known singer out there. But hats off to her for even attempting to sing Lee So Ra’s nigh-on impossible “The Wind Is Blowing.”
Few singers out there have almost operatic range that it takes to cover a song like that. Jinju made quite a decent stab at it, too.
Well, that’s it for our list, Soompiers, now it’s your turn! Vote in the poll, tell us your thoughts on our selections and let us know who your favorite “King of Mask Singer” performer is.
timmydee is a music geek with a penchant for pop, an enthusiasm for electronica and a hankering for hip-hop. When he isn’t writing for Soompi, he is remixing your favorite K-Pop tracks – with sometimes astounding (but often catastrophic) results.
*The views expressed in this article solely reflect those of the author and do not represent Soompi as a whole.