VIXX’s Vocal Analysis: Ken

Vocal Range

Bb2 ~ F#6 (3 octaves and 4 notes)

Supported Range

F3 ~ F4/F#4

Voice Type

Tenor

Strengths/Achievements

  • Strongest vocalist in VIXX
  • Only member of VIXX with a consistent sense of breath support
  • Support is present down to F3 with consistency
  • Mixed voice is relaxed and sung with support up to F#4
  • Improvement has been noticeable from debut until now
  • Able to use a connected head voice
  • Occasionally able to show moments of accurate musicianship

Weaknesses

  • Lower range is relatively unsupported and quiet
  • Vocal runs are generally sloppy and pitchy
  • Too much compression present in vocal cords causing tension
  • Tends to sing with a high larynx above F#4
  • Nasality can be present in his voice often
  • Support in his head voice is rarely present

Registers

  • Lower register: His chest voice is generally quite breathy and his most underdeveloped register. The voice maintains some support below F3, but the vocal cords lack strength and development as he’s unable to project below F3.
  • Mixed register: Consistent support is present up to F#4, improvement has been noticeable recently in terms of openness within his supported range. Above F#4, he generally sounds tight and sings with a high larynx.
  • Upper register: Able to use a connected head voice and transitions are often well done. Tends to lack support in his head voice and go back and forth between head voice and falsetto.

Agility

Ken’s not a vocalist who’s ever been shy to try and take risks vocally. One of such risks was always his bravery in attempting to add many vocal runs, even very early on before his debut as a member of VIXX. Unfortunately, back then his runs would be very messy and lack a purpose. They’d often come out somewhat randomly and lack a musical direction, as they’d out of place and the melodic idea behind them would never be delivered effectively. This was because he’d lack the full control of his vocal cords to be able to smoothly sing through a number of pitches within the same vowel sound and still being able to separate each note without falling off the key center of the song. This can be heard in “Only One For Me“, “Same Sad Song“, “Baby Baby“, “다시 사랑할 수 있을까“, “대.다.나.다.너” and “아파.” More recently, he’s shown improvement in this career and has been able to simplify many of his runs, instead of trying to add as many notes as he can to his runs, now he’s able to sing simpler trills and slower runs with much better accuracy, as heard in a live showcase of his higher range and in performances such as “Rolling in the Deep“, “Love Letter” and “사랑에 빠지고 싶다.”

Overall analysis

Ken debuted as one of the two main vocalists of VIXX alongside Leo in 2012. He’s known for his high notes and his powerful sound output, which is thanks to his higher tenor voice that lies within the light lyric tenor fach. This combined with an extensive mixed voice allows him to often sing in a very demanding high range. His overall tone is bright, clear and at times sultry, as he sings lower in range. He’s been able to showcase his vocal ability throughout the years by participating in many vocally focused TV shows such as Immortal Song 2, King of Mask Singer, Perfect Singer, Go Until The End, and more recently Duet Song Festival.

The lower portion of his chest voice is by the least developed part of his voice. He’s always struggled to produce a full sound as he descended lower in range, where his voice would always sound quieter and airier the lower he’d sing, as heard in “아파“, “그리워 그리워” and “어둠 속을 밝혀줘.” This problem has been somewhat addressed, as more recently he’s been able to show improvement in the range around F3 ~ G3, where now he is able to produce fuller and more connected notes with proper breath support. His chest voice stays projected only above F3, as heard by the F3’s in “사랑에 빠지고 싶다“, “그것만이 내 세상“, “서울의 달” and F#3’s in “Never Ending Story.” Below F3 though, he is still unable to maintain his vocal cords connected and generally becomes very breathy and quiet, losing volume and projection. This can be heard heard by his E3’s in “차가운 밤에“, “Never Ending Story“, Eb3’s in “Listen“, “눈물이 뚝뚝“, D3’s “Anthem“, “아이돌하기싫어“, C#3’s in “하늘을 달리다“, B2’s in “Never Ending Story“, Bb2’s in “너의 모든 순간“, “Anthem” and “사랑에 빠지고 싶다.” At times he may also push his larynx down to project below his supported range, but this results in a muffled tone instead of a full one, as heard by the C#3 in “서울의 달.”

His mixed voice is another area where some improvement has been heard throughout the years. He’s always shown that he knew how to support his voice and had a basic understanding of breath support, at least up to E4. Above E4 he’d have the tendency to let go of support to a degree and begin to sound tighter, lacking openness and not being fully relaxed. This part of his mixed voice has shown improvement, whereas before he’d show support and tightness around the F4/F#4 range, as heard in “하늘을 달리다“, “차가운 밤에“, “그것만이 내 세상” and “태어나줘서 고마워“, now he’s able to produce cleaner and more opened notes without as much tightness, as heard by the F4’s in “야생화“, “미친 존재감“, “행복하지 말아요“, “사랑에 빠지고 싶다” and F#4’s in “너의 모든 순간“, “그것만이 내 세상” and “Never Ending Story.” However, above that he still is unable to open his throat and remain relaxed. As a result, whenever he sings in the range above F#4, he tends to strain his voice, tighten his throat muscles and squeeze his voice out.

The range in which Ken sings the most unfortunately happens to be the range in which he has no support. Most of the time, Ken is known for his high belting and when singing solo or as a member of VIXX, he tends to favor songs that have him belting way outside his comfort zone. As a result, he’s often heard singing in a range where he strains his voice and shows a lot of tension mixing. The tension is caused by his throat muscles closing around his larynx when singing higher and his tendency to push a lot of air through his vocal cords and compressing his vocal cords tightly together, this causes him to sound pushed and shouty above F#4. Not only that, but he also sings with a high larynx above F#4, therefore being unable to support and remain relaxed in that range. This can be heard by the G4’s in “말하자면“, “잠시만 안녕“, G#4’s in “Error“, A4’s in “사랑이라는 이름으로“, “다칠준비가 돼있어“, “Anthem“, “태어나줘서 고마워“, “차가운 밤에“, Bb4’s in “불행했음 좋겠다“, “마지막 승부“, B4’s in “Rolling in the Deep“, C5’s in “청춘이 아파“, “My Everything“, “서울의 달“, “빗속에서“, C#5’s in “Love Letter“, Eb5’s in “서울의 달“, “사랑에 빠지고 싶다“, E5’s in “그것만이 내 세상” and F5’s in “행복하지 말아요.”

His upper register often consists of a mix between a falsetto and a head voice. At times he’ll be able to use a connected head voice where his muscles are functioning properly and at other times, he’ll use an airy falsetto instead. Regardless of what he uses, he mostly is able to stay within the key center of a song and switch without too many issues but he’s never been able to showcase support in his head voice, even though he’s able to connect it. This causes him to sound shallow and somewhat tight, especially as he sings higher above E5. This can be heard by the Bb4’s in “불행했음 좋겠다“, C5’s in “Love Letter“, D5’s in “I Miss You So Much“, his G#5’s in “사랑에 빠지고 싶다“, and throughout the range from Bb5 to F#6 in the high note battle between him and fellow VIXX member Hyuk, where he tends to add a big push of air with a high larynx to vocalize in a range where he can’t bring proper breath support.

Contrary to popular belief, Ken does not possess a whistle register. Commonly referred to as a whistle tone or “dolphin sounds” in Korean, Ken does not vocalize properly to create a true whistle register. Instead of exhaling air and allowing his vocal cords to flip up into the whistle register, Ken inhales air and causes his sound to be more of a creak that makes his vocal cords vibrate at a faster speed but is not musically usable in songs and does not count as part of his vocal range. Vocally Ken possesses enough control of his breath to manipulate his airflow in order to sing with more or less volume output within his supported range. Outside his supported range he tends to sound shouty and only be able to sing loudly in his mix. Nonetheless he possesses the basic understanding of musicality to convey emotions properly through the use of dynamics.

Ken vocally has a lot of potential shown by how extensive his overall vocal range is. However an extensive vocal range is meaningless if the vocalist doesn’t know how to control his instrument with skill and in a healthy manner. Ken is young and as such he can take vocal abuse and not show signs of permanent vocal damage yet, allowing him to sing in a higher range without support for now. As a result it is possible that he may damage his instrument in the long run if he doesn’t take care of his vocal technique. He’s shown some minor improvements lately and it’s advisable for him to work on easing up tension and not singing in such a high range as often as he does. For the future it is important that he takes care of his voice to have a long lasting career. He’s a talented young vocalist and shows potential as a vocalist, musician and as a member of VIXX, so his potential should be nurtured and developed.

Musicianship

Harmonically, Ken is able to blend and pull back the volume of his voice to be able to match it with whoever is singing with him. This helps him not overpower his duet partners and shows more control of his voice, as heard in “Missing You.” Musically, he often tries to add his own musical ideas, runs and adlibs to songs. This are met with mixed results, as at times he is able to sing more basic adlibs that actually fall within the key center of a song, and at other times he can become somewhat pitchy and sound off key, as heard in “Baby Baby“, “Rolling in the Deep” and “I Believe I Can Fly.”

Rating

Average Vocalist

Vocal Range Video(s)

Video by: kpoparina

Video by: Mariel Ang

Best Vocal Performance(s)

Analyzed by Ahmin (Kitsunemale)

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About ahmin3

kitsunemale from YouTube, AhMin33 from Twitter and Ahmin from OneHallyu! https://www.youtube.com/user/KitsuneMale

97 thoughts on “VIXX’s Vocal Analysis: Ken

  1. Thanks for the analysis! I honestly had really high hopes for Ken and Leo but that just shows I have much to learn ☺️
    So would it be Ken>N>Leo>the rest? Thanks again

    Like

  2. Wow! Even when Ken can go very high, he is still ranked as an Average vocalist. While some other male idols don’t sing very high, they are rank above Ken

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  3. Thanks for the amazing analysis! Ken is such a cutie but his vocals are really overrated sometimes.

    “Not only that, but he also sings with a high larynx above F#4, therefore being able to support and remain relaxed in that range.” Did you mean “unable” or am I reading it wrong?

    I’m glad he could improve a little and has support down to F3 now. I was honestly expecting the worst for his lower register but it’s not as bad as I thought. Would you say Taemin’s is slightly more developed as he has Eb3/E3?

    Ooooh and people really believe he has a whistle register because of this one magical C7 moment? Funny. 😀

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  4. Wow lol I didn’t expect the ranking at all, although I guessed right that he’s stronger than Leo vocally. Being the second in my KPOP singers’ ranking after Kyuhyun I expected more from Ken but okay. :))

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  5. Yay, I’ve been waiting for this analysis for a long time! When I got into VIXX everyone was like “Leo’s the best vocalist” but I never really believed it. After I looked more into it and did vocal range videos for them (thank you for putting my video here btw) it was obvious that Ken’s much better. Oh wait how did I miss that mixed F5? Lol anyways great analysis as always. Also, I know the C7 doesn’t count as his range but what exactly is that, is it an exclamation?

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    1. All singing is exhaling air through the vocal cords, but since it’s inhaled, it doesn’t count as really singing range. It’s not an exclamation, it’s just inhaled.

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      1. Yeah that makes sense cause his C7 sounded very different than his F#6, it was way more pleasant. I wonder if in the future he can do whistle notes.

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  6. Been waiting for this! Finally! All of my biases are Main Vocals and Ken is the second (coz Chen is number one in my heart). And I am so happy to read their analyses here. Hope you can make Dokyeom of SVT in the future. I will check my list of bias for now. Chen, Ken and Kyuhyun had been analyzed. Hoping for DK soon! THANK YOU!

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      1. He just debuted, so let’s give this baby more time. lol Yes she’s in our Future Analyses list already.

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  7. Thanks for the analysis! Some people have alluded that Ken seems to have a natural gift for singing, that he’s the type that has a knack for it, even if he doesn’t have all the proper techniques. Do you get that sense too? Also the high note battle was with Hyuk, not N 😉

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    1. Oh my bad on saying it was N, I didn’t look at i correctly. I am not sure if I get that he’s a natural in singing, but it’s likely since he has a lot of potential.

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    1. If you click the video on the analysis for the part in which I addressed the inhaling air thing, it’s the same video so yes it is inhaled.

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  8. Wonderful analysis over Ken! As a new fan of them coming in during Chained Up, I thought Leo and Ken were pretty good but when I looked up older performances(concerts, king of masked singer and such) and even more recent performances I found that Ken and Leo didn’t have the vocal quality that I was told that they had?I really hope that Ken and Leo get the proper vocal training that they need so they become the best singers that they can be without ruining their voices(have you heard them shrieking? ehhhhhh).
    ALSO I have a question! It’s really random omg but is there a name for when people make their voices rough while singing? like here’s an example in this Sistar song at 0:25 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NH3rPQfHzS8 if there’s no name for it it’s fine! I just don’t see the stylistic appeal to it?

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    1. I’m glad you liked it! Oh this? That’s called growling. It’s stylistically appealing to some, sometimes I enjoy doing it too haha

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  9. How much should I pay you to train Ken so he can make up his weaknesses? *ignore this* >.<

    anyway, I found his voice appealing and much more for his cutie face lol. thanks for the analysis, been waiting for this analysis since he's the only kpop idol throne-ing my list. a noob question tho, how to train a singer thus he can control and manipulate his voice at such? what would a vocal coach tend to do to accomplish that? *pardon my english*

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    1. How much is he willing to pay me for me to train him would be a better question LOL jk Your English is fine. Well I would need to first work on addressing issues that he has with tension by creating different new vocal habits that would counter the bad ones.

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  10. LOL i hope you don’t get a lot of flack for vixx’s analyses…. imho you seem to be fond of both of them, ken especially. 😀 thanks for the read!

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    1. Admin won’t receive any backlash, don’t worry. Starlights are pretty chill, and even I accept that they have a lot of room for improvement and hope that they can train to be better, technique wise. Also, Thank you admin, for posting this analysis:)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Weak to average to average yeah, if it was based off of his material from 2011 ~ 2013 only, I’d have rated him weak to average actually.

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    1. I’m sorry but VIXX has 4 or 5 vocalists, and 1 or 2 rappers so we only analyze half the vocalists in a group. Hyuk won’t be analyzed.

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  11. Pretty surprised by this one, as I believed this singer was one of the better male singers in the entirety of Kpop. I knew that his fellow vocalist, Leo, was very weak… but this was… wow.

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    1. You’re right about the pitch but not the octave, unless you just typed wrong. It was C#5, E5 and then D5. It sounds very tight, squeezed and strained actually.

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  12. Hi I am sorry I keep on commenting lol Would like to ask how Ken did here…

    I think his low notes are more stable compared to other performances, or am I wrong again lmao
    They lost by 4 points again OTL

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  13. Hey, what’s the lowest note that Ken sings at the beginning of Fantasy? I’ve been trying to figure out what note it is, but my sense of pitch is just pathetic.

    He starts at :14.

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      1. Ah, so it’s not lower than Bb2, my mistake. I had thought that maybe he showed that he could go lower, but if that E2 is Ravi, then it doesn’t really matter. Thanks for letting me know. 🙂

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  14. Heya~ This doesn’t have to do with Ken, but rather his partner on Duet Song Festival, so I decided to ask on Ken’s page, haha.
    I’m just curious whether he sings relatively well or not! I dunno if it’s been asked or not but I thought I’d ask anyhow. ^^

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      1. Ahh, thank you~!
        I don’t know if you watch most of the Duet Song Festival duets, but would you say that the majority of the partners do not have very good technique?~

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  15. Hi Ahmin,

    I wanted to say thank you to you and Haruko and Pandayeu for the people you choose to analyze. I like how you truly weigh in the popularity vs. skill problem when choosing the vocalists to analyze. One of the situations in which skill over popularity was best was when picking V over Jimin to analyze because there was an actual gap in skill and it permitted you to address things that would have never been learned about if Jimin had been chosen. Another situation was when Haruko chose Leo instead of Hyuk and N. Although I remember she said the latter had better technique, she chose Leo because not only was he more popular, but it permitted her to address a large series of vocal problems that people did not know about Leo and his speech habits. This would have never been seen if she had gone for N.

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    1. Thank you, that’s a very nice observation you’ve made and I’m glad you were able to notice such things. It can be tricky choosing whom to analyze.

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  16. I’m not sure if this is really late or not and I’m aware that it won’t change any of the analyses BUT

    When you guys do them, do you factor in how the fact that they are singing pop affects stuff?
    You compare the singers based on the material you’re given, but if a singer only sings pop music to appease his audience, then your analysis is based off of what the singer has shown and not necessarily what the singer is capable of. For example, Ken is stylistically breathy, but is capable of using proper breath control. Eunkwang has shown off his ability to sing some classical music, but singers like Ken and other people blah… I don’t really know where I was going with this.
    HOWEVER, what is super-triggering me is that you say Ken lacks the musicality needed for him to be an above average singer, yet singers that can’t sing on pitch most of the time without assistance (if I list names I’ll probably trigger other people D: ) are ranked above Ken. Ken has about as perfect pitch accuracy as you can get. He also has a strong vibrato, as well as a good sense of other technical thingies. Okay maybe I will name names. I love INFINITE (the group that got me into kpop), but Sunggyu is not a better singer than Ken. That is almost a fact instead of an opinion. Intonation should be the number 1 factor into your analyses before you consider anything else D:

    I suppose my point is that I don’t know how Ken can only be a 2 for the reasons listed, while many other singers who cannot sing as well as Ken are ranked higher… yeah.

    I also guess Ken is my only main complaint for this site (not that my opinion really matters much xD).

    Thanks for doing what you guys are doing!! This page is awesome!

    But please consider my salty saltness and do something about Ken’s ranking you fishy fish analysis-er. *angry face*

    Source/legitimacy(?): I iz a singer

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    1. Although I appreciate your points and what you’re saying, I really do but there are more than a few misunderstandings and misconceptions I’m noticing with your comment that I need to address.

      Well we are a K-POP Contemporary Vocalist analysis blog. We analyze contemporary technique, not classical technique. Every form of technique within the contemporary pop field matches this. Which also includes Rock, R&B, Musical Theater, Hip Hop and stuff but does not include traditional styles of singing such as Pansori nor does it include Classical singing.

      So all our analyses are based off of the material which is given to us, which is what the vocalists have shown. We are “limited” to that but technique is not this complicated, it’s a little more black and white than you’d think. Support is a dead give away and it can be heard within any song you sing. You could sing classical, pop, R&B or rock and if you can’t support, we can hear it. The way you’re saying pop is as if you’re referring to only cutesy pop songs, whereas VIXX and Ken have sung many different genres within the umbrella of pop and Ken has shown enough of his technique, I doubt there’s anything he’s not shown that would make a difference to this analysis.

      Eunkwang showed off that he was not classically trained with his “classical” performance. He didn’t show off anything positive nor relevant to his analysis aside from a supported head voice. You say Ken is stylistically breathy but is capable of proper breath control. That was addressed within his analysis, which is where he was given a supported range. Every vocalist in this blog rated average or higher is capable of breathiness for effect. Ken has tried singing with a slightly lowered larynx position to emulate classical singing when he attempted singing the musical song “Anthem” but all he showed was his inability to manipulate the position of his larynx without using throat tension to bring it down and his inability to project his sound without pushing it with his throat muscles.

      I also don’t know where you got the thing where “I said he lacks the musicality to be rated as an above average vocalist.” I don’t know how you understood that but musicality isn’t one of the most important things we take into consideration when analyzing vocalists and although Ken has basic musicality, musicality is not the reason he’s rated as average, his technique is. Ken does not have perfect pitch accuracy, especially not on his runs and although I agree that pitch is an important part of singing and judging technique, there are MANY many other factors that come into analyzing a vocalist and pitch issues happen to everybody for X reasons. Lack of familiarity with a song, lack of confidence, fatigue, or even not being fully warmed up.

      You said he has a strong vibrato and a strong sense for “technical thingies.” Not only is that vague, it is also inaccurate. It is NOT a fact that Ken is a better vocalist than Sunggyu. Why is Sunggyu not a stronger vocalist than Ken? I can name more than a few reasons why Sunggyu has better technique than Ken. Ken does NOT have a strong sense for technical “thingies.” If you read the analysis carefully again, you’ll see that the fact that he has a LOT of throat tension, a lack of proper breath control as he tends to overpush air pressure against his vocal cords with a tense tight throat as opposed to relaxing into a stronger vocal cord stretch. So no he does not have good technique whatsoever, he pushes his sound out of his throat and as a tenor is unable to sing above F#4 with proper support. Sunggyu has always shown much better technique by first of all having a lower range that isn’t pure whispering. Second of all he uses a LOT less air pressure and a lot more strength of his vocal cords than Ken when singing in his mix. Not only is he able to sing up to G4 with support, he can also and has produced resonance in his mix with proper vocalization where his vocal tract was opened, his larynx stable, his vocal cords engaged properly and he did not overpush air pressure. Ken may be louder and sing higher than Sunggyu and maybe his pitch is more accurate but that is all he has, his lower range is very underdeveloped and his mix is full of tension, which all fall under the umbrella of proper vocal technique. Pitch is too basic to be considered the most important thing in singing and pitchiness can be caused by many factors.

      You may mention any other vocalists you believe should not be rated above Ken and if you don’t wish to read their analyses thoroughly I can explain to you exactly what makes Ken a less skilled vocalist than them. I do appreciate your comment, your politeness and that you brought up your opinion is a thoughtful manner but I do ask that you read carefully because I believe you didn’t really understand the reasoning behind Ken’s rating, since musicality was not a big factor when deciding his rating. Actually to many, Ken’s rating should’ve been lower but his supporting system does match that of an average vocalist’s.

      Thank you for your support and your compliments but there will be no change to Ken’s rating unless you clearly explain what “technical thingies” make him better than Sunggyu or whoever else while understanding what it is we are analyzing beyond simple pitch accuracy. Your reasons listed were strong vibrato, pitch accuracy, technical thingies and…yeah. Nothing really that is valid within the context of our criteria. I also appreciate that you’re a singer yourself but that much is irrelevant to us. Madonna is a singer, so is Britney Spears, so is Justin Bieber, so is Taylor Swift, so is Selena Gomez, so is Henry Lau…and that does not mean they understand how vocal technique works so instead of telling me you’re a singer, show me precision in your critique so as to make a stronger argument in your favor, because so far I don’t see anything that changes the content within the analysis.

      I hope I don’t come off as aggressive nor defensive and forgive me if I do.

      Like

  17. I read in the comments above that N and Hyuk were better vocalists than Leo. Does that mean N and Hyuk would be placed in the weak to average rating? And if N and Hyuk have better vocal technique, why was Leo the one that was analyzed? I thought you guys will analysis the group member with better technique.

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    1. No no they would all be rated as weak, but within weak there’s a chance they may be within the same rating but still be slightly better or worse than another vocalist. The difference was too small for Leo not to be analyzed.

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  18. lately, Ken has duet with GOT7’s Youngjae in some program. both of them in the same rank, average vocalist. which one do you think better?

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  19. Can I ask… how did Ken and Taeil do here? Can you give feedback regarding their performance? I personally think Ken’s performance of this song compared to the one posted above was better.

    Thanks!

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    1. Oh it’s that TV show, I didn’t know Taeil and Ken went on it. I haven’t heard them both singing in a while. Taeil is so cute and tiny.. lol I would suck at this TV show if they gave me the wrong key. lol 1:18 They put “The high note part that goes up to B4” in that part on the screen…like y’all being extra af. 1:19 F#4’s for Taeil not bad, 1:21 Bb4 ACTUALLY not B4, strained. 1:32 G#4 already closed throat for Ken, 1:35 but the F4’s are quite nice. 1:40 the phrased F#4’s are nice too. 2:39 this is really closed. 2:52 strained B4, people love strain. It’s not Taeil’s fault he didn’t get the exciting high note strained parts to sing. 3:10 very tight, very closed throat, high larynx. 3:23 strained G#4. Poor Taeil. Anyway yeah it’s a lot less rangey cause it’s not for Duet Song Festival, so they didn’t give it a bunch of key changes and harmonies, so it’s less difficult but it doesn’t show anything different than previously mentioned.

      Like

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