C#3 ~ Bb5 (2 octaves, 4 notes and 1 semitone)
Eb3/E3 ~ C#5/D5
Eb3/E3 ~ F5 (with head voice)
Light Lyric Soprano
- Potentially the most well developed lower range for an idol Soprano in K-pop
- Strongest vocalist in BESTie
- Lower range is her most developed register, with support down to E3
- Falsetto is generally relaxed
- Mixed voice is balanced to head-dominant and not pushed
- Support is present up to D5
- Resonance has been produced up to C5/C#5 consistently
- Able to connect well with dynamics
- Good sense of pitch
- Able to use a connected head voice up to F5
- Vocal runs are sloppy and pitchy
- Mixed voice above D5 becomes shrill with a high larynx
- Inconsistency issues happen in the D5 range
- Falsetto is mostly used, head voice is not usually connected
- Mixed voice can lack depth in tone due to the lack of chest resonance
- Above C5/C#5 she sound too bright and whiny
- Resonance can be inconsistency in the C#5/D5 range
- Can lose stamina easily
- Lower register: Most developed register by far. Possesses a clean and connected vocal approach, notes are generally hit with ease and support is present down to Eb3/E3. Below Eb3 the voice loses volume but the tone is present down to C#3.
- Mixed register: Supported and relaxed, little to no tension is present in her voice. The throat generally lacks openness and the mixing is quite heady, so the overall sound of her voice lacks a lower and rounder depth in the 5th octave. Resonance is consistent in the fourth octave. Above D5, the larynx is raised and the voice becomes thin and strained.
- Upper register: Although it may be her least explored and developed register, she still has shown improvement in this area of her voice recently with more consistency in producing a connected head voice. It’s still hard to know how much higher she may be able to take her head voice, but F5 seems to be the area where she still shows comfort.
Her vocal agility is one of her weakest areas and quite an overdone technique. Although U.ji uses a very light and bright vocal approach which enables a much more flexible instrument in her voice, she never seems to have taken the care to truly learn how to sing each separate individual note at a time and eventually speed up the tempo of her runs. Instead she completely skipped over this process and resulted in her runs being mostly sloppy and pitchy. Not only that, but U.ji also tends to over sing vocal runs and instead of avoiding them or simplifying them in her vocal performances, she tries to sing really complex vocal runs without the proper skill level to properly execute them. Examples include her performances of “기억상실“, “Best Thing I Never Had“, “If I Were A Boy“, “I Have Nothing” and “Listen“.
Debuting in 2012 as the main vocalist in EXID, then taking a break from the music industry and redebuting in 2013 as the main vocalist of BESTie, one can say U.Ji hasn’t had the best luck to showcase her vocal ability. However so, one should also never underestimate the true vocal potential of U.Ji. She has proven from time and time that she should be recognized for her vocal power and voice development over the years. Her voice is particularly bright and has a very feminine sound, light in tone and even though her lower range may be her best register, her true voice’s natural range shines more in the range of a Light Lyric Soprano.
Her lower range possesses one of the most well supported and projected sounds for idol Sopranos. Her lower range is not only her own personally most developed register, it is also arguably the most well supported lower range for a K-pop Soprano. This wasn’t always the case, as shown in older covers where her lower range lacked true depth and support and would vanish when trying to sing in the lower third octave, such as the Eb3 in “Open Arms“. Not only was her lower range less developed, it showed inconsistencies, such as her lowering her larynx in the F#3’s in performances of “Best Thing I Never Had” and at other times showing support in the same exact song or in “When You Believe“. More recently, she has shown that her support down to F#3 is pretty consistent, such as the G3’s in “Listen” and her F#3’s in “If I Were A Boy” and “기억상실“. Even more so, U.Ji has proven that she can keep that consistency in support even down to Eb3/E3, showing vast improvement in “거위의 꿈“. Even so the lower parts of her range still seem to lack full support and at times she might lower her larynx in order to stay in the lower end of the third octave, even though her tone is always kept to the bottom of her lower range, such as the C#3’s in “거위의 꿈” and “Halo“, and the D3 in “혼자만의 사랑“. The consistency of her lower range below F#3 may still be argued due to her not often venturing into that range in her repertoire.
Her mixed voice may be only somewhat behind her lower range in terms of development, as it has always been a part of her voice with ease, resonance and support. U.Ji is one of the few female idol vocalists who doesn’t try to overcompensate power by adding multiple factors that are generally related to tension in order to create a “bigger” sound to her voice, namely lowering her larynx, pushing too much chest voice in her mixed voice and tightening up her tongue and throat. Instead, U.ji’s mixed voice is generally balanced with a certain degree of head dominance and is not pushed to achieve more volume. Resonance and an open throat are very consistent within the fourth octave range, such as the Bb4’s early on in her range like “Open Arms“, or more recently in “Thank You Very Much” and “One Night Only“.
That resonance generally becomes less consistent even though support is still present, the head-dominance in her mixed makes the overall tone of her voice lack depth and bass qualities, becomes more brassy and less rounded. This generally minimizes resonance, but her support is nonetheless present even if a slight whiny quality may exist in her mixed voice, such as the C5’s in “Let It Go“, “별들에게 물어 봐“, “난 별“, “Listen“, C#5’s in “A Whole New World“, “Listen (on After School Club)“, “I’m So Into You“, “거위의 꿈” and the D5’s in “Listen (live on Radio)” and “숨소리“. However, as soon as she ascends above D5, her voice starts to become tight and her larynx raises, causing her to strain her voice acquiring a more thin and shrill sound on her voice, such as the Eb5’s in “뻐꾸기 둥지위로 날아간 새“, the E5’s in “보고 싶은 얼굴” and “Dream Girls“, the F#5 in “Whoz That Girl” and the up to her highest mix, G5 in “Excuse Me“.
Her head voice may be her least developed register, but it still is another register where she’s been able to show support and improvement over the years. Compared to her earlier years of using a more disconnected falsetto, U.Ji has come a long way and has many times recently shown that she is able to connect her vocal cords properly to produce a head voice with tone and good placement, such as the B4 in “Kissing U“, C#5 in “기억상실“, E5 in “All I Want For Christmas Is You” Eb5 ~ F5 in “숨소리“. Quite a contrast from the earlier days falsetto she used to resort to, such as the C#5 in “When You Believe“, F#5 in “Best Thing I Never Had“. The true limit of her head voice is still in question and there is a lack of material to be able to precisely pinpoint where her head voice range and support ends. Even then it is possible to assume that due to it’s lack of volume, resonance and usage, she may lack confidence and might be aware that her head voice isn’t as developed as the rest of her voice.
As a skilled vocalist, U.ji is not one to lack in terms of musicality. She is able to vocally travel through sings with the story telling ability of a veteran, easily changing her tone and volume output to fully showcase the true essence of a song’s lyrical content. Even then, there are things that could be improved in this area such as her tendency to overly use vocal runs that are often too pitchy and uncontrolled to accentuate the musicality of a song. Another stylistic approach often overused by her is her tendency to growl throughout songs a little too often. Lastly her lack of chest resonance makes her voice lack the true power and necessary punch to evoke the full potential of her volume output.
As a vocalist, it is sad to see that U.ji isn’t recognize for her vocal skill as much as she truly deserves to. She has not had enough chances to showcase the full potential of her voice, but the lack of chances didn’t change the fact that she was able to show she’s a true vocalist and professional who’s keen on improving her craft and bettering herself overtime. To fully impress her audience, creating a more opened, balanced and full sound in her mixed voice would make her truly stand out as a vocalist in the K-pop industry. One can only hope that given the right time, U.ji will have more chances to show her full potential as a vocalist, performer and artist. As of now, however, U.ji’s main priority should be to keep improving her resonance, which seems to be a very likely guess considering her already showcased improvement over the period of her career.
Unlike many other Korean vocalists, U.Ji is a little more daring and takes risks when singing covers of songs. She does not try to deviate too far from the original compositions of songs or to sing with very different arrangements of original songs. However she does try to add her own vocal changes, some melodic ideas are added to her vocal covers and apart from her vocal runs, they’re usually quite pitch accurate, such as in “숨소리“.
Vocal Range Video(s)
Video by: Hawaiipups and kpopvocalists
Video by: Viet Tien
Best Vocal Performance(s)
Analyzed by Ahmin (Kitsunemale)