A2 ~ A5 (3 Octaves)
C3 ~ G#4/A4
- Consistency in mixed voice and resonance is very good up until A4
- Generally sings with very good pitch
- Lower range has connection, support and control down to C3
- Nasality is almost never present in his singing
- Falsetto is generally in pitch when used
- Generally sings in a range that’s within his supported range
- Strongest vocalist in FT Island
- Musicianship is present, generally changes songs to fit his voice
- Controls and produces a healthy vibrato
- Falsetto is not often used and seems to be an under explored and under developed register
- Notes above A4 are generally strained with a throaty chesty mix
- Mixed voice is generally more on the chest-dominant side, causing more strain as he ascends in pitch
- Pitch can be flat when singing outside of his supported range due to poor support
- Notes below D3 are generally quiet and poorly supported
- Although stylistic, tension can often be too present in his singing
- Due to lack of warming up or fatigue, throaty moments can happen with his singing
- Lower register: Somewhat developed in placement but not nearly as well explored as one would desire. Hongki’s lower range is consistently supported from D3 ~ E3 and he has shown the ability to support even as low as C3. Notes below C3, however, become more airy and are hit with the help of the vocal fry register due to lack of development in his lower range.
- Mixed register: A very consistent part of his voice, where he’s able to keep resonance, good support and placement from the bottom of his mix to even as high as G4/G#4 consistently and is able to stretch that into support and resonance on A4’s. Above A4, however, the mix doesn’t lighten up causing strain in his voice.
- Upper register: His least explored register by far is his falsetto. It is safe to assume that he can transition into this register in the higher 4th octave with enough ease to keep stable pitch, but the few times he has gone up into the fifth octave were mostly with an airy falsetto in studio.
As a rock singer, Lee Hongki shows little to no interest in developing agility in his voice. Due to the heavier technique used to sing rock music, where he relies on a chestier mix and more volume, he tends to lose the flexibility existent in the outer parts of the vocal cords that help creating a lighter mix and also a more agile voice. The few times he has done any kinds of slight jumps in vocal melodies, such as in “사랑사랑사랑”, his pitch is mostly fine and his runs generally are quite slow. It is not particularly necessary for him to develop such an ability as a rock singer, but it could be something to be looked into if he has the interest to expand into more genres of music in the future.
One of Korea’s mid-generation idols and one of the first idols to break into the band music scene, FT Island’s Lee Hongki is also very well known for his unique tone and his singing skills. The tone of his voice is very light and boyish in nature, and yet possessing a husky manly quality to it as he ascends in pitch or adds intensity to his singing. The overall natural tessitura of his voice lie closer to that of a tenor, more likely falling into the Light Lyric fach.
When it comes to his lower range, FT Island’s music is often written for their specific vocal ranges and even by the members themselves. As such, most of the songs often fall in between the D3 ~ A4 range, sometimes peaking at B2 to B4, thus not allowing for much to be shown when it comes to support and development of registers. Having said that, however, Hongki has shown enough times through his more acoustic performances that he is capable of comfortably supporting his voice consistently as low as E3, such as in “I Confess“, D3 in “미치도록” and “Words I Haven’t Said“, and even more recently showing the ability to consistently produce audible, supported and well placed, comfortable C3’s, such as in his performance in the “Vampire Musical” as well as an acoustic cover of “다행이다“. giving the idea of airiness being a stylistic choice more so than lack of development, as well as indicating recent improvement in his lower range. As he descends below C3, however, the tone of his voice is usually lost to a more airy tone and his vocal cords lose the connection they have above that, as well as his support starting to become more shallow, such as in the B2’s of “미치도록” and A2’s from “빛”, where he heavily relies on a more vocal fry-like tone to let the notes come out.
As Lee Hongki ascends into his mixed range, his voice becomes more piercing and more intense, opting for a darker tone with a heavier use of chest voice in his mix. The heaviness is mostly due to the chest-dominant mix he uses, as opposed to him having that dark of a tone. His voice is generally very consistent in support in his mix, producing effortless resonance from F4 ~ A4. He has shown numerous times that he is able to sustain G4’s with resonance, such as in “내사랑 내곁에” and”사랑사랑사랑“, G#4’s, such as in “청혼“, “그대는 인형처럼 웃고 있지만” and “사랑앓이“, and A4’s such as in “말리꽃“, “모두다 사랑하리“, “고해” and “신사동 그사람“. Even though his placement is quite pleasant and so is his support, the result of a chest-dominant mix can be that at times fatigue can cause his condition to change quite easily and for his range to be affected. At times Lee Hongki might fall flat when trying to sing above A4, due to the lack of head voice in his mixed voice, such as the Bb4’s in “좋겠어” and “바래“. At other times, even in better condition, the strain in his voice becomes apparent above A4 due to the heaviness of tone, causing Hongki to rely a lot on his throat and having a high larynx on higher belts, such as the B4’s in “신사동 그사람“, “PRAY” or the C5’s in “태양을 피하는 방법” and “조조할인“. Even though, he does still show characteristics of a tenor by being able to push his voice to mix as high as Eb5, while singing “지독하게“, even with a heavy chest-muscle coordination. Another downside of his mix, as well, lies within his stylistic choice of purposely tensing up his voice with heaviness of rock singing, which can cause his voice to sound throaty and slightly tense, such as in “사랑앓이 (Different Performance)” and “고해“.
The highest register Hongki has shown is his falsetto register. As opposed to the rest of his voice, this register is not nearly as used nor as explored, which can be due to the fact that he is not as confident using this register live, as well as it not fully fitting the style of music he usually sings. In the original version of “태양을 피하는 방법“, Rain sings a full tone below Hongki’s key and switches into falsetto on a Bb4, whereas in Hongki’s cover, he chooses to belt the C5 instead of switching. The few times he’s switched live, he shows less projection and the sound of his voice becomes clearly more airy and less well placed, creating a disconnected falsetto instead of a full sounding head voice, such as the A4 in “조조할인” and the G4 in “이젠 남이야“. The few times his voice can gone above the fourth octave were the C#5’s and D5’s of “미치도록“, which he avoids live and the A5 in the studio version of “사랑사랑사랑”, where there’s a clear need for a push of air causing strain in his voice and showing a lot of tension, which can also validate the theory that his voice just isn’t as comfortable in his falsetto register as it is in the rest of his range.
Musically speaking, he has a very sensitive ear to music and is able to perform quite well within the rock-pop genre of music, using the right degree of airiness, throatiness, resonance, dynamics and knowing exactly when to be soft, quiet and whisper-like, or when to really give all his power to further emphasize the full content of the music he sings, to better deliver his vocal performances. For the most part, Hongki shows not only consistency in tone produce, a consistent column of sound, support and pitch, but also he shows many times the ability to use vibrato with a healthy natural vibrato, and the ability to control that vibrato, choosing when to add it and when not to have it in his singing. As he ascends above his supported range, however, his vibrato becomes generally unsteady, uneven and tense.
As a performer, idol, vocalist and entertainer, Lee Hongki has always shown professionalism and a passion for what he does. Not only has he consistently been able to sing better as the years passed, he always delivers good performances, knowing how to use the stage and how to act out the best he can on stage. As a vocalist, however, Lee Hongki’s main priority would be further developing the rest of his chest voice into his lower extremes, as well as learning better mixing technique to become even more versatile in his upper range, as well as exploring the rest of his falsetto range.
Although for the most part Hongki generally stays in the original melody lines of songs, he has the ear to further embellish his songs by playing around more so with the rhythmic approach of the vocal delivery, than the melodic approach. Even then, Hongki has shown a couple of times the ability to change his songs around, even if subtle in changes, he does have the sensibility to add to the music, as well as changing parts of the melody to better fit the condition of his voice in the day of the performance, examples including the acoustic versions of “사랑사랑사랑” and “미치도록“.
Vocal Range Video(s)
Best Vocal Performances
Analyzed by Ahmin (Kitsunemale)