G2 ~ G5 (3 octaves)
E3/F3 ~ D4/Eb4
- Strongest vocalist in SS301
- Sings in pitch for the most part of his range
- Falsetto transitions are often done with enough precision
- Lower range retains some support and tone down to F3
- Chest voice is relaxed to an extent up to D4/Eb4
- Mixed voice is bright so he’s able to handle higher passages for a longer period of time
- Even below E3, tone is mostly present in his lower range despite lack of support
- Occasional support may be present in his mixed
- Sings with a raised larynx for most of his range
- Lower range is airy and underdeveloped
- Mixed voice tends to be produced with pure throat tension
- Larynx raises early on in his range
- Sings with a whiny placement often
- Throat is closed throughout most of his range
- His falsetto is underdeveloped and pushed
- Very pushed and tense vibrato produced
- Tends to let go of air support too soon, causing pitch to go flat
- Lower register: The lower portion of his chest voice is generally produced with tone even below where support is present in his voice. Due to the lack of strength in his diaphragmatic support, notes below E3 become less full and present even if tone may be present.
- Mixed register: The mixed voice is mostly on the head-dominant side. He tends to push the sound of his throat even as low as E4 and his larynx remains raised throughout his whole mixed voice.
- Upper register: Possibly the least explored part of his voice. Airiness overrules the tone in his voice and thus the control of his pitch and the volume of his voice change greatly in his falsetto, since he’s unable to produce a head voice.
Youngsaeng’s style of singing is a lot more influenced by older Korean singers and pop-ballad singers. As such, he shows little to no true R&B/Soul influence in the way he sings most of his original and cover performances. Thus it is possible to hear a certain lack of development of certain aspects of singing mostly linked with even a tint of R&B-flavor in them, such as vocal runs. When it comes to songs that require him to sing even short and simple vocal runs, which are usually part of the main melody of the song, he has issues with obtaining the flow of the run in the song. It is possible to hear a lack of effort in developing the proper muscle memory to create both the rhythmic flow from one note to another, as well as the pitch accuracy to sing through quicker melismatic passages with flexibility. This results in generally sloppy and pitchy runs that end up sounding more like slides, as opposed to real vocal runs such as in “When I Was Your Man“, “Lost Stars” and “사랑인거죠“.
Debuting in 2005 as the main vocalist of SS501, Youngsaeng is currently amongst the longest running idol groups active in the industry. Since his debut he was always praised for his singing ability and how he was able to sing in a very high range for a male. With a very bright, light and youthful voice, his voice mostly falls within the natural tenor fach. Much like many other main vocalist tenors in K-pop, Youngsaeng has the tendency to take on the most challenging and highest notes in his group’s repertoire for that reason.
The lower part of his range is actually noticeably more present than many other tenors despite the lack of support in his voice. Generally Youngsaeng’s chest voice keeps a certain degree of breath support present down to E3/F3, where he’s able to project his voice with a relaxed tone and a somewhat shallow support, as heard in “Find” and “Snow Prince“. Below E3 his voice quickly becomes quieter and airier in tone, with inconsistencies in tone production but he is still able to produce tone even as low as B2 without too much issue. There’s a tendency for him to push his larynx down the lower he gets in order to create more tone but it’s not to a degree of creating a completely artificial tone in his voice. This can heard in the Eb3’s in “마법의 성“, B2’s in “내머리가 나빠서“, A2’s in “Rainy Heart” and G2’s in “Snow Prince“.
His mixed voice is most likely his most used and most acclaimed register. Most of SS501 songs tend to highlight this part of his range, where he mostly sings in a range from C4 ~ C5. As far as support goes, Youngsaeng shows only some support within his chest voice and as soon as he approaches his first passaggio into his mixed voice around Eb4/E4, he starts to sing with a high larynx. This causes his voice to sound much higher and lighter than his natural speaking voice and the lower portion of his range, creating a lack of balance of tone throughout his range. Below Eb4 however moments of shallow support can be heard with some frequency such as the D4’s in “Maria“. Above Eb4, he is able to sing with a relaxed tone if he doesn’t push volume out of his voice, such as the F4 in “아버지“.
However as soon as he adds just a bit more volume to his voice, he tends to push his sound out with a throaty approach causing him to sound more glottal and tense. The sound then becomes whiny, pushed and the higher he goes, the more yell-like the quality of his voice becomes. This can be heard in the E4’s in “Crying“, F4’s in “Find“, F#4’s in “축복“, “Rainy Heart” and “뭐야 이건“, G4’s in “넌 나의 천국“, G#4’s in “U R Man“, A4’s in “Let It Go“, Bb4’s in “All My Love” and “PAIN“, B4’s in “Snow Prince“, and C#5’s in “Find“. This tendency to push his sound out so early in his range causes him to be unable to sing a truly supported and relaxed tone anywhere in his mixed voice, creating a lot of tension and causing a lot of damage to his vocal cords. Despite the strain in his voice, the fact that his mixed voice lies on a more head-dominant approach allows him to sing through strain with less fatigue than someone who uses a more pushed chest-dominant approach.
His falsetto may possibly the least developed part of his range. When singing in his upper register, Youngsaeng’s voice often becomes light and airy as he’s unable to fully connect his vocal cords in order to produce what one could call a head voice. The result is then a more soft sound and a falsetto register, which shows a contrast in volume and tone from his mixed voice as soon as he transitions. Pitch wise, he’s able to transition into his falsetto without too much trouble as heard in “Maria“. On the other hand, if he’s to sing for a longer period of time in his falsetto, he tends to start losing the control of his pitch and to sound quite tight, as heard in the E5’s in “Lost Stars” and in “Rainy Heart“. When singing with more volume to create more power in his falsetto, he tends to harshly constrict his throat and vocal cords together to yell out higher falsetto notes to overcompensate for the lack of proper breath support used, such as the F#5’s in “널 붙잡을 노래 (Love Song)” and “When I Was Your Man“, and the G5 in “She’s Gone“.
Musically Youngsaeng has enough control of his voice to attempt certain musical ideas an experienced vocalist would be able to perform with better technique. He has the sensibility to be able to create dynamics throughout songs, but he tends to favor airiness in tone and pushing volume out with tension instead of truly working with diaphragmatic support throughout his range. The fact that his voice sounds like 3 different voices as he travels through his range creates a discrepancy in tone throughout. He also tends to sing with a closed diction, tight jaw and closed throat. His placement is a lot more nasal than necessary and thus he’s unable to produce healthy resonance at all in his voice, as well as being unable to produce a healthy vibrato. Instead he tends to force out an artificial laryngeal vibrato. The lack of support also causes him to occasionally have issues with falling flat in pitch during his vocal performances.
For the overall sense of development of his voice, one can say that Youngsaeng has yet to truly develop the full potential of his voice. Although he’s been blessed with a naturally extensive range, his lack of development in breath support cause him sing with mostly damaging technique throughout his range and for him to be unable to fully unlock a lot more sounds and possibilities for him as a vocalist. Despite his weaknesses, the way he sings fits quite well with the repertoire he’s used to singing and he’s able to perform well within that repertoire for his target audience. If he’s to be taken seriously as a professional vocalist and to be further his career as a soloist, taking lessons from a vocal instructor who can unlock his true sound and allow him to use a fuller tone, as well as a more relaxed and support approach throughout his range would be quite beneficial for him. For the future, learning true diaphragmatic breathing and support would be the first step for him.
As a vocalist with a lack of true development of proper technique throughout his range, stylistically Youngsaeng is mostly known for his naturally high range. This high range is what allows him to usually impress people with his singing and as such, it’s what he usually goes for in order to create a reaction from the audience. Despite the lack of support in his voice, he has enough vocal creativity to know when to add a higher note in a cover or live performance of a song, giving the song his own touch even if by simply changing one note such as the added falsetto F#5’s in “When I Was Your Man” and “널 붙잡을 노래 (Love Song)“. Although potential is heard in his musical ear, the lack of technique and tension in his voice cause him to not end perfoming as well as what the musical idea was originally planned for.
Best Vocal Performance(s)
Analyzed by Ahmin (Kitsunemale)