G2 ~ B5 (3 Octaves and 2 notes)
Eb3 ~ D4/Eb4
- Placement is more opened when belting
- Lower range is connected and shows support down to Eb3
- Tends to keep tone even below his supported range
- Vibrato is healthy and steady
- Chest voice shows support up to D4/Eb4
- Pitch is mostly on point during vocal performances
- Larynx raises above D4/Eb4
- Support is somewhat shallow and causes tone to be thin
- Lacks depth in tone and roundness
- Tends to place his voice in his nose
- Lacks support below Eb3
- Falsetto is less controlled, issues with pitch
- Vocal runs are often sloppy and pitchy
- Mixed is underdeveloped in range
- Mixed voice is too chest-dominant
- True resonance is never produced
- Lower register: Has shown improvement not only in tone production for this register, but also overall support. Tone is present below his supported range but generally has issues with keeping true support below D3.
- Mixed register: Mixed voice is extremely underdeveloped in both range and extension. He mixes with too much chest-dominance and has weak support, causing his mix to lose support very early on around D4/Eb4.
- Upper register: His falsetto register is generally underused and like most of the rest of his range, he generally relies heavily on his throat rather than true support when singing in this register. The tone is generally weak, airy and shallow.
Not being a vocalist who relies heavily on gimmicks on complicated vocal articulations to make his message come across, Sungmin is not very influenced by R&B music. As such, he has not shown that he’s worked on being able to produce vocal runs with proper technique at this point in time. Having said that, he is not one to want to add many vocal runs, but when he does, it is clear that he lacks the ability to fully anticipate each single note with centered pitch in his runs, resulting in often pitchy and sloppy runs with a lack of good rhythmic flow and precision in pitch. When it comes to slower runs, he is able to slowly sing through the notes with more clarity in tone, such as in “가로수 그늘아래서면” and “봉숙아“, but they still lack correct rhythmic flow and sound laggy in terms of delivery due to the lack of breath support used to approach these runs. He tends to sound considerably messier and pitchy as runs get slightly faster, such as in “그게 아니고“, or more musically complex, such as in “Baby Baby“.
Debuting in Super Junior ’05 as a member in 2005 and later becoming known as an official lead vocalist of the group with fellow member Donghae, Sungmin is a vocalist who’s had very little highlight in Super Junior songs over the years but nonetheless was always able to stand out on his own for his numerous talents. For years he’s been able to show not only his ability to play musical instruments and compose, but also his acting abilities in his roles in many musicals as well. With a very boyish, youthful voice that lies somewhat low in tessitura, Sungmin’s voice would most likely be classified as a light lyric tenor with a very sweet and light tone overall.
The lower part of his chest voice is one that seems to have shown some improvement in tone production over the years than the other parts of his voice. In the past, he used to show issues with keeping his vocal cords connected below his supported range, such as the C#3’s in “사랑합니다“, where his voice would seem rather uncomfortable and out of place. Compared to more recent performances, Sungmin is now able to keep a forward chest placed sound in his lower range, such as the C3’s in “가로수 그늘아래서면“. Although the connection of his vocal cords has become better and tone is present below his supported range, true support is only present around the Eb3 and E3 range and above, such as the Eb3’s in “가로수 그늘아래서면“, and E3’s in “내 눈물 모아“, and below that he tends to show a more misplaced sound that isn’t true to the tone of his voice due to the lack of proper breath support employed to produce the lower part of the third octave, such as the D3’s in his “Three Musketeers Musical “, C3’s in “지금 만나러 가요“, Bb2’s in “Way Back Into Love“, A2’s in “Falling Slowly“, G2’s in his “홍길동 Musical“.
The biggest issue present in Sungmin’s singing lies on his inability to truly apply correct mixing technique when it comes to his higher range. He has the tendency to pull too much chest voice up in his mix and rely almost solely on his throat for his higher notes. This issue is not truly present in his chest voice as he has shown many times that he is able to sing a more or less relaxed tone in the range from E3 ~ D4, where his voice is soft and tension is very little or not present, as heard in the D4’s in “Falling Slowly“, “무조건 직진“, “무조건” and “I’m Yours“. Occasionally some support is carried over up to Eb4, but generally his mixed voice is produced with a lot of tension from his throat. Sungmin’s breath support is very underdeveloped which causes him to produce tone almost exclusively through his throat. As such, he’s unable to use proper support to produce a more balanced tone with the use of both chest and head voice in order to blend his mixed voice properly. This causes his tone to over sound pushed out, thin and shallow, shown in many occasions, such as the Eb4’s in “지금처럼” and “明日のために（For Tomorrow)” E4’s in “그게 아니고“, F4’s in “물들어“, F#4’s in “잠들고 싶어 (In My Dream)“, G4’s in “요리왕“, “My Love“, “가로수 그늘아래서면“, G#4 in “Story” and A4’s “기적” and “욕심쟁이“. As a tenor, his mixed voice is generally underdeveloped and lacks in terms of extension as he’s only shown to be able to mix as high as Bb4.
His upper register is never truly produced with enough connection, not allowing him to blend all of his registers together. His support is generally shallow, which causes him to produce a shallow tone. He is unable to produce a connected head voice since his vocal cords never truly come together with enough contact to maintain a good tone production up in his falsetto range. Not only that, his placement in his falsetto generally is quite inward and causes his voice to sound whiny and not project very well. His vocal cords mostly become disconnected, causing his falsetto to be somewhat unstable, pitch to not be centered, air to come through his cords, and for his tone to be overall weak. Transitions also seem to be more of an issue and pitch isn’t always precise in this part of his voice for such reasons, as heard in “Just When I Needed You Most“, “Nothing Better“, “Story“, “Super Junior High Note Challenge“, “Baby Baby” and “그게 아니고“.
Apart from his transitions and his runs, Sungmin’s pitch and his overall ability to control his voice well in terms of volume considering how weak his support is, works in his advantage. He may not be a powerhouse vocalist, but he never tries to be one, and he has a natural gift for music that allows him to be sensitive enough to musical choices regarding harmonies, dynamics and even musical compositions. Other issues present in his voice limit how much he’s able to deliver the musical message of a song in his vocal performances, such as the placement of his voice being heavily in his nose, often causing his tone to be thin and whiny and easily overpowered by vocalists who are able to understand mask placement and true resonance better than him.
Musically, Sungmin shows that he is able to captivate his audience by using a mellower and softer approach to his singing than truly promoting himself as a power vocalist. When given the choice to perform solo, he is not one to show off complicated vocal runs or impossibly high notes. Instead he usually focuses on showing his musicality and ability to perform well with others as a duet partner or instrumentalist. Although it is true that Sungmin’s singing technique is very underdeveloped, his current skill level is enough for him to go on with his career under the style of singing he seems most interested in, such as soft acoustic songs. If he were to further pursue a career as a vocalist and go for more vocally challenging songs, it’d be advised that he’d undertake vocal lessons in order to avoid damaging his vocal cords and voice overtime due to the generally damaging technique he uses in his singing.
One of the highlights of Sungmin’s musical abilities lies not on the fact that he’s a very skilled vocalist or a vocalist who tries many risky things when singing musical covers. Instead he takes the time to properly learn songs with good care for the pitch and overall musical delivery. He is able to perform his own vocal performances with his own skill of being able to play guitar and the piano as well. Not only does that show his artistry, but also where his strengths lie, such as songwriting. He is able to hold his ground well when it comes to vocal harmonies and has done so in many occasions such as in “봉숙아” and “How Am I Supposed To Live Without You“.
Best Vocal Performance(s)
Analyzed by Ahmin (Kitsunemale)