D3 ~ G6 (3 Octaves, 2 notes and 1 semitone)
G3/G#3 ~ C5
- Strongest vocalist in current EXID
- Well developed extension in the mix voice
- Consistent pitch and well controlled voice
- Able to show resonance up to C5, even if inconsistently
- Support is existent up to C5/C#5 with enough consistency
- Able to keep a full and connected well placed sound in her lower range down to G#3/G3
- Falsetto can be well controlled and relaxed up to F#5
- Voice is somewhat agile
- Possesses a strong sense of musicianship and often makes songs her own
- Strong sense of dynamics
- Voice projects very well due to placement and natural vocal weight
- Has a very bad habit of pushing her voice
- Mistakes power for strain, creating distortions in her higher notes
- Lower range below G#3/G3 is often quiet, unstable and airy
- Falsetto is very airy and disconnected, never shows a head voice
- Mixed voice can sound pushed and tense even within her supported range
- Larynx raises above D5, where her voice becomes more strained and throaty
- Voice can often sound whiny when strained above her supported range
- Falsetto becomes pushed and tight above F#5
- Runs can often be pitchy and lack control
- Often sings in a range that’s outside of her supported range, causing vocal damage
- Lower register: This register has shown improvement over time from her debut up until now. Her tone is present as low as F#3 and F3, but the support only truly starts on G3 and more consistently on G#3.
- Mixed register: A register she has developed well in terms of muscle coordination in order to always be able to stay in a very high range, however this register is also where she shows the most pushing, strain and lack of support. Notes above C#5 are strained and below from Bb4 ~ C5 can often be pushed.
- Upper register: A very delicate register that does not carry the weight her voice shows in the rest of her voice. It lacks connection of the vocal cords and often sounds airy and does not project well, but can show a relaxed approach up until F#5, where above that the voice becomes quite tight and pushed.
Due to having a slightly thicker voice, Solji’s voice is often a bit too heavy for vocal runs and therefore presents less advantages when it comes to vocal runs. That is not to say, however, that her vocal runs are bad. When it comes to vocal agility, she has shown improvement from her debut up until now, with how she sings runs and how she separates them. If one is to put vocal agility into a scale of inability to slow, to medium tempo to fast tempo, Solji has acquired enough vocal agility and ornamentations skills to be able to sing slow to mid tempo runs with enough accuracy and precision. Back in 2008 when she was still a rookie, she would often simplify vocal runs in order to sing them more accurately, such as the vocal runs in “Listen“, and if she were to try any more extravagant vocal melismas, her runs would come out sloppy, messy and all over the place with pitch and separation of pitch, such as in “시계태엽“, “눈물이 안났어” and “뻔한여자“. More recently, however, Solji’s agility has become more accurate and her separation of pitch is more clear, where one can hear every single note in a run she would do without her sliding through the notes without a center of pitch. She’s now able to sing more slow-mid tempo quick runs that don’t require long phrases or too many gaps in pitch, showing fair control of the basic skills in vocal agility, such as in “너 나 좋아해, 나 너 좋아해” and “Maria“.
EXID’s current main vocalist and former vocal trainer, Solji is an idol who has debuted long ago and taken a long road in order to achieve fame and success. She is a vocalist with a very powerful and big voice, more due to the fact differently from most other females in K-pop, Solji’s Soprano voice possesses a more mature tone with more weight and volume which, although not certainly, indicates that Solji’s voice would more likely be classified as a Full Lyric Soprano, although true characteristics of a Full Lyric Soprano have yet to be 100% shown. For the most part she has a full sounding voice, which is reminiscent of other idol vocalists who are Full Lyric Sopranos, such as Brown Eyed Girls’ Jea, APink’s Eunji and former SeeYa main vocalist, Yeonji.
The bottom of Solji’s range is a part of her range that has shown some improvement from debut. Back in the day, she used to show a lack of support and projection in her lower chest voice, such as her F3’s and G3’s in “Listen“. Now, she’s able to more consistently keep her vocal cords connection and produce acceptable vocal tone around F3, such as in “체념” and F#3’s, such as in “잊지말아요” and “행복한 나를“, where even support may be present at times. She can then show a more consistent support in her lower range starting on G3, such as in “Lucky” and more consistently above G#3, such as in “가수가 된이유“, “안되나요” and “소주한잔“. This has shown that her consistency of pitch, control and projection in her lower range are quite full and consistent, allowing for her vocal cords to come together properly and for her voice to project with a fair amount of ease above G#3. Notes below G#3/G3 still lack consistency and generally become airy, disconnected and unstable. Her lowest extreme is an airy quiet E3, in “해줄 수 없는 일“.
The mixed voice is where the voice shows the most signs of strain but also is the most popular part of her voice. As the main vocalist of any group and a soprano, Solji is usually in charge of singing the highest notes present in songs. For that reason, she usually has to sing constantly very challenging lines that do not match up with her current skill level when it comes to vocal technique. Back in the day, Solji was able to show consistent support up to Bb4, such as in “미워서“, as well as being able to sing more relaxed and well placed C5’s, such as in “한남자“, but would still show signs of strain above C5 and would often become throaty. With time she has developed bad vocal habits that take away from the ease a soprano should have in the fifth octave. Although her support is still very consistent and present up to C5 and even on C#5’s, such as in “너 나 좋아해, 나 너 좋아해” and “아주 흔한 말“, she has a terrible tendency of pushing the sound of her voice without as much resonance and placement, but instead of an excessive use of air pressure from her diaphragm and throat tension, causing her to often sound distorted in sound and become very raspy and husky, which isn’t necessarily a natural trait of her tone. Comparing the way she used to approach her upper mix to now, it’s very easy to hear that she used to have a more clean sound than now and as she ascends in her, sometimes even as low as Bb4/B4, such as in “8282” and “잊지말아요“, pushing can be heard in her voice and an excessive added pressure from her throat muscles can be heard, which not only takes away from her resonance but also makes her voice sound less opened, less free and tighter in quality. Due to that tightness and improper use of breath support, her voice can often become fatigued and throaty when singing for an extended period of time.
This problem exists mostly within her supported range where she has been able to show resonance and good placement, as well as support. However, as she ascends higher than C#5, her voice changes in tone, becomes thinner, whinier and the larynx generally raises on D5 and above. This is very noticeable in many of EXID’s songs where Solji generally takes the higher notes, such as the F#5’s from “Ah Yeah” and “Up & Down”, where Solji’s voice becomes more pushed, less stable and generally almost yelled in quality, as well as back in 2008 where she hit a G5 in a performance of “Hot Stuff“. This strain can also be obvious early on in her range around D5, such as in “친구라도 될걸 그랬어” as well as the Eb5’s in “Maria“and the E5’s in “Goodbye“. This inconsistency of support and pushing of the throat can often be heard very clearly when she starts to sing above C5 and sings C#5’s, where her support is present but then so is the pressure and tension from her throat, such as in “끝사랑“. This kind of pushing generally happens from a psychological idea that power comes from more vocal effort, as opposed to the true power that can be achieved through a relaxed vocal technique, no tension and openness in the throat, as opposed to pressure and distortion caused by tension.
Her most underdeveloped register would be her falsetto register, where her voice is mostly used to simply switching in order to sing softer versions and passages of her songs, as well as simply adding more fragility and vulnerability. Her falsetto register can be used quite well to create the right mood and allow for more ease, such as in “I Feel Good”, but it is rather underdeveloped as Solji never shows a true connection of her vocal cords and proper support of her voice in order to create a more connected sounding head voice. For that reason, one can say she does not possess a connected head voice and uses an airy, disconnected falsetto most of the time. This falsetto can often be well switched into and relaxed, such as the F#5 from “행복한 나를“, but as she ascends above F#5, a similar bad habit happens in her falsetto register. The same kind of strain that exists in her mixed range also happens in her falsetto register, where her throat closes and her voice uses more throat tension, glottal muscle tension and excessive air pressure in order to hit higher notes with strain, such as her G#5 and B5 from “해줄 수 없는 일“. Therefore notes above F#5 are generally less controlled and seem to be mostly avoided from her vocal performances.
Musically speaking, Solji’s voice is one that’s able to carry emotion to the listener very well through the correct use of dynamics. Since she is very used to pushing her voice in order to create more power, Solji is often aware of how to properly switch her voice into a softer falsetto in order to create weakness and then use a more powerful mix in order to create power, agony or pain, even if said mixed voice is done with improper vocal technique. She has a sensitive ear to music and is able to correct use dynamics from the beginning to the end of a song in order to create the proper mood for a performance.
As a vocalist, Solji is generally regarded quite highly and could easily be compared to a vocalist like Jea of Brown Eyed Girls, who not only shares a similar tone and similar voice type to Solji, but also similar vocal habits, bad and good. Although she is regarded as EXID’s formal vocal trainer, that does not mean Solji can’t have more room for personal improvement in order to better herself as an artist, vocalist and trainer, as well as a professional musician. The most important thing that Solji should fix in her singing is her bad habit of pushing and adding too much tension to her voice in order to create power, and to be able to understand that power comes from proper voice placement in the mask and an opened throat, with a lifted soft palate, in order to create true powerful notes without any strain that would not damage her voice in the long run.
An ability that is less common amongst Korean-born vocalists, generally those who stick to Karaoke singing, in other words, singing the song exactly as it was originally sung, Solji shows a tendency to add her own vocal runs, ornamentations and melodic ideas to songs she covers at times, without always being precise but mostly being daring and accurate. Her musicianship can at times be heard when singing covers of original artists, where she not only shows accuracy in pitch but also shows that she thought through before adding the new ideas she had. Although such ideas are nice, many times they can be done by trying to sing higher into her upper mixed range, where she mostly strains which shows musicianship with damaging vocal technique, such as her F5’s in “손대지마” and her F#5 in “Maria“, as well as her pushed falsetto B5 in “해줄 수 없는 일“.
Above Average Vocalist
Vocal Range Video(s)
Videos by: Hawaiipups and kpopvocalists
Analyzed by Ahmin (Kitsunemale)