Artist of the week – Wheesung
Real Name: Choi Whee-Sung
Date of Birth: February 5, 1982
Family: Mother Father and younger brother.
Hobby: Reading comic books
Entertainment: Orange Shock
Education: SunMoon University and National Digital University.
Physique: 172cm 63kg
Debut: April, 2002 1st album ‘Like a movie’
Our featured artiste this week is Wheesung, whom many regard as the best male singer in Korea with his powerful voice and unlimited vocal range. When he debuted, Wheesung was just a name without a face or a voice to match but it all changed knowing that such stars like ‘Seo Tai-Ji’ and ‘Shin Sung-Hoon’ had nothing but praises for this unknown vocalist. So, in a way, Wheesung was already a star before he became a star.
He started his career in 1997 as a member of a back dancing team ING, but later discovered by a promoter to be a part a four-piece boyband ‘A4’. The band, which consisted of 4 Korean-Americans which had a hit called ‘Forgiving’ but didn’t last as the music ‘A4’ pursued was too Americanized with heavy influences of Hip-pop and Reggae, something the music fans were not accustomed to at that time. So, his run as a performer fizzled out after a short run with ‘A4’ and had to be invisible once again. But this in turn was an opportunity for him as he acknowledged his weaker side, his vocals, which led him to spend the next 2 years concentrating shaping and perfecting his vocal skills. The result was a re-vamped version of ‘Whee-Sung’ with a voice color so unique and the ability to sing very well. Moreover, as time passed on with ‘R&B’, ‘Soul’ and ‘Hip-pop’ more familiar and accepted by the fans it was just the right timing for him to have another go at the music scene with his favorite genre, R&B and Hip-pop. Eventually he joined M-Boat music, which was part of YG Entertainment at the time.
‘A performer without a face’ was the catchphrase that followed him until he made his second debut in 2002 with his album, ‘Like a movie’, which was largely to the fact that his talent had been recognized by the people in the business but not to the public and that this was his second attempt puzzled even more. However, when the waiting was over, the track ‘Why can’t it be…?’ soon swept Korea and mesmerized people with his unique voice color and its delivery of emotions was more than enough to let people wanting him more. As his idol, ‘Stevie Wonder’, his musical roots lie in ‘R&B’ and ‘Soul’ but was successful in combining with ‘Hip-pop’ but he did one better by combining different influences, ambience and emotion within the music itself that are close to our hearts.
Wheesung’s follow up, 2003’s ‘It’s real’ cemented his ability as a vocalist and gave him a place in the Korean music scene. With the tracks such as ‘Set me free’, ‘I’m missing you’ and ‘With me’ demonstrated his talent flawlessly with his ‘R&B music’ influence blended in even more, added to his ever-growing popularity amongst the music fans and critics alike. And as a member of YG/M-Boat, he shared the stage with the likes of ‘Big Mama’, ‘Seven’ and ‘Gumi’ at the ‘Soultrain’ concert which was organized by ‘M.Boat’ which went on to be a sold-out show of an attendance of 20,000+ people. To this date, a lot of people still thinks that "It’s Real" is his best album.
It’s been a busy two years for the ‘second-rookie’ but rest was not an option for him as he served up his 3rd album ‘For the moment’ mid October of 2004 and started his next outing. And for this time, camera shy Wheesung sharpened up his image and did away with the hiding from the lenses and is showing off his well-toned body and his face to his fans in support of his first single off the album ‘Incurable disease’, a funky R&B up-tempo song which is totally different from his ballads from the first two albums. That song became one of the biggest hits in 2004.
In 2005, Wheesung released his 4th album "Love..Love..?Love!" which again was very successful. The title song "Goodbye Luv" was a No. 1 song followed up two other top 10 hits "In One Year" and "Walk Towards The Sky". At that time, YG Entertainment had a dispute with SBS and YG singers did not appear on SBS Music Shows. Moreover, MBC which was the biggest supporter of YG singers, did not have a music show at that time as Music Camp had ended and Music Core not yet started at the time of Wheesung’s album release. Those 2 factors affected Wheesung’s 4th album to a certain extent, and might have costed him a shot at winning a year end Daesang award. Still, he won many awards over the course of his career, including the most recent one in 2005 he received SBS GayoDaejun Bonsang.
After four releases, Wheesung has established himself as one of the top male singer in Korea. He is certainly on a roll. His 2nd to 4th albums all sold over 100,000 copies, which is rare case in this digital age. His title songs in each album have all reached No. 1 on various music charts. He certainly is a force to be reckoned with. A multi-talented performer with a color of his own and style, this explains why all his fellow musicians and critics were busy praising for this ‘Secondhand rookie’.
Wheesung left YG Entertainment after his contract expired in March 2006. He has moved on and recently released his latest (5th) album under the Orange Shock label, working primarily with producer Park Keun Tae. Even though he has left YG, he is on good terms with the company. He also helped train some of the members Big Bang.
Apart from his own singing, he has written many popular music for popular artists such as Ivy, Younha and Lyn. He’s expected to undertake his mandatory military service on 29 November 2007. Fans will certainly miss him during his enlistment.
Like A Movie (1st album, 2002) : Please, Nightmare, You Are the Only One, Magic Eye, Feel the Night
It’s Real (2nd album, 2003) : Set Me Free, On the Day We Met Again, I am Missing You, With Me, If You’re Not Gonna Love Me, Player, Dilemma, Pretty Lady
She’s Mine (Digital Single, 2004) : She’s Mine (with Se7en)
For the Moment (3rd album, 2004) : After Loving Someone, 7 days, She’s Beautiful, Incurable Disease, Dear My Friend
Love..Love..?Love! (4th album, 2005) : Good-bye Luv, In One Year, Walk Toward the Sky, Luv Shine, Morning, Too Hot
Against All Odds (Digital Single, 2006) : Against All Odds
Fingernail Moon (Digital single, 2006) : Fingernail moon (from movie Choong Chun)
Eternal Essence of Music (5th album, 2007) : Love Is Delicious, Even If It Hurts, Love Hero, My Way
Credits: KBS World, Jukeon, ~S2~, edward1849