Artist of the week – Lee Soo Young
Real name: Lee Ji-Yeoun
Date of Birth: April 12, 1979
Physique: 165cm, 43kg
Education: Boondang Joong-Ang High school, Kyung-Won University
Hobbies: Watching movies
Favorite musician: Aretha Franklin
Debut: ‘I believe’ 1999.11
Our featured artiste this week is the queen of ballads, Lee Soo Young. With hit after hit and consistently high album sales, she is one of the most successful female singers in k-pop over the last 10 years.
Lee Soo Young first came onto the music scene back in 1999 with "I Believe", when ‘ballad singers’ weren’t attracting too much attention from the people due to the massive success of boy-bands such as H.O.T, Sechs Kies and Shinhwa. Armed with top composers like Joo Young-Hoon and MGR, the hit-makers of the period, she had the right formula to become a star but received moderate reviews at that time. However, backed by her natural singing talent and appealing voice, she didn’t need too much time to be recognized as the new diva.
Two years on, her 2nd album entitled "Never Again" (which is the song that really got me deep into k-pop) gained her a place within the K-pop scene as the "Queen of Ballads", the nickname which she is known to this day, made a massive impression on the fans. In addition, her music video for the song "Never Again" which featured actors Shin Hyun Jun and Han Go Eun was an instant hit with the viewers of cable music channels and helped cement her place in the music scene. Lee followed her success with yet another album entitled "Made in Winter" later that year, which had the fans and critics alike deeply moved and assimilated to her voice, earning her yet another nickname, "Angel of Ballads".
Lee Soo Young kept on making headlines and topping the charts continuously ever since her debut with her large-scale videos and spared no costs for the production of her albums. And her collaboration with produce/composer MGR proved to be the winning formula for Lee’s mega success. In addition, due to such efforts her albums boast the highest possible accomplishment in quality as the singer believes in giving something back to her fans who fork out their hard-earned cash to buy her albums. This is one of the few qualities that makes Lee Soo Young, the "Queen of Ballads" more popular and possibly one of the best female singers today.
The climax of Lee Soo Young’s career was in her 5th and 6th album. Her 5th album "This Time" produced the No. 1 song "It Is Lonesome". That year, she won the MBC Gayo DaeSang for the first time. The following year she released her 6th album, "The colors of my life" which featured the song ‘Whi-li-li’. The song made it to the top of the charts again, which garnered her another couple of big awards at the end of the year: the winner of the Gold Disk Award and the repeated winner of MBC Gayo DaeSang as that year’s top singer. Besides, "Whi-li-li" also introduced songwriter Cho Young Soo to the k-pop scene. That was one of the first major hits that Cho has written. Now he is the top songwriter in Korea.
After almost a one-and-a-half-year layoff, Lee Soo Young was back in early 2006 with her 7th album "Grace", showcasing a more feminine side of her. This album’s style is very different from her previous works, where critics said her music is kind of repetitive. While still doing ballads, "Grace" has a lot more variety to offer fans. Again, the title song "Grace" reached No. 1 on the charts, and the album still sold over 200,000 copies and was one of the top sellers in 2006.
Another one-and-a-half years later, Lee Soo Young released her 8th album "Set It Down" in September 2007. This album is similar to "Grace" with a lot of variety to offer to listeners. The title song "Bob Hair Cut" may just be the best song she has released so far. Despite the album not doing as well compared to her glory days, the songs on this album are of very high quality.
We can see that Lee Soo Young’s music has matured over the years. Early in her career, she primarily relied on mega-production MVs. Then came the string of No. 1 songs and all the year-end awards. Now it seems that Lee Soo Young is putting her focus on producing more good music rather than to win awards. Regardless of where her songs stand on the chart, they are always delightful to listen to as she has proved over the years that she produces quality music.
I Believe (1st album, 1999) : I believe, Goodbye My Love
Never again (2nd album, 2001) : Never again, Kiss
Live Concert album (2001)
Made in Winter (3rd album, 2001) : I Still Love You, I’d Rather, Made in winter, Farewell blues
My stay in Sendai (4th album, 2002.9) : Lalala, Phantom of love, Debt
Best Hit Special Album (4.5 album, 2003) : Goodbye, hits from first 4 albums
This time (5th album, 2003) : Irish Whistle Blow, It is lonesome, Bring me love
Classics (remake album, 2004) : Love Song of Kwang Hwa Moon, In Dreams, Between Love and Friendship
The colors of my life (6th album, 2004) : Andante, Whi-li-li
2005 Special – As Time Goes By (Best Hit album, 2005)
An Autumn Day (Another Best Hit Album, 2005)
Grace (7th album, 2006) : Grace, Secret
Set It Down (8th album, 2007) : Bob Hair Cut
Credits to: KBS World, edward1849, Jukeon