Industry Insiders Choose the Top 10 Idol Vocalists in K-pop

A very popular topic within the K-pop music industry is vocal ability. Fans usually get into very heated arguments over who’s the best of the best vocalist in the industry. So naturally, many websites take advantage of that and release articles with answers to everyone’s questions. However, those answers are never truly clear nor are they based off of enough credible sources. Many times news websites like Kpopmap and Soompi use catchy titles such as “Industry insiders choose…” or “Vocal professionals rank…”. But who are these professional industry insiders, and how is vocal ability being truly measured with such rankings? Is there truly an objective consistent measurable way to rank these vocalists; and if so, are these industry professionals truly credible enough to judge singing with such confidence?

When talking about professionals within the K-pop industry, it’s important to note who these professionals are and what their careers revolve around. If readers took their time to ignore the names of their favorite idols being mentioned in the article and instead paid attention to the names and professions of each professional in these articles, they’d realize that they’re often not singers and rarely are they actually vocal instructors or coaches. In an article by TVReport, there is never any mention of vocal instructors, but there is mention of specific roles in the music industry, such as “insiders through King of Mask Singer” (Soompi para 1, Koreaboo para 1, TVReport para 1). This generally refers to those who works in the TV show production, PDs, assistants, who may not necessarily understand vocal ability. Another article mentions the best vocalists in no particular order, but gives credit to their insiders and names each one of them. Other judges from King of Mask Singer were mentioned and their job titles were PD, indie musician, pop music critic, producer, composer, and editor-in-chief (Ize para 1, Koreaboo para 3). None of these are professions directly related to singing ability. If these people were asked to judge one’s music, producing, or composing abilities then their opinions would be more relevant. However none of them are credible enough to talk about singing ability since none of them are vocalists or instructors themselves.

There is no way to truly be objective about singing ability when considering opinions from people who are not knowledgeable of vocal ability. When truly analyzing this article, there are holes in their methods of evaluation. Evaluation methods such as votes can often seem more like a popularity contest than an objective process. In no moment is it mentioned why one voted for one over the other. If this was truly an objective look into vocal ability, the decisions should be unanimous. A score system might also be utilized. For example, Girls’ Generation’s Taeyeon scored the highest grade with 93 points out of a 100, followed by Sistar’s Hyorin with 87 points, and JYJ’s Junsu with 51 points (TVReport para 5 – 11, Koreaboo para 4 – 6). However, nowhere in the article is it explained how these numbers came to be. There’s no explanation as to what the criteria scores are based. The use of vague words and explanations for each position such as “He’s got an explosive voice, he’s succeeding in the musical world, and his husky voice is especially charming” or “He has a charming tone and outstanding singing ability, and his musicianship can be seen in his writing his own music and lyrics” (Soompi para 8 – 9) may compliment their voices, tones, or songwriting abilities; but these statements have nothing to do with vocal ability. Although each one of these professionals is entitled to their opinion, simply using generic explanations to rank a top 10 with misleading scoring systems is subjective and should be taken with a grain of salt.

In order to rank vocal ability, one must have sufficient knowledge of singing. The aspect to consider is one’s control of their voice. A beautiful voice is nothing without the skill to use it. A voice is an instrument just like a piano or a violin. If you give these beautiful instruments to amateurs, they won’t be able to play them as well as a professional. The same applies to singing, so complimenting one’s tone is much too personal and broad and doesn’t speak to singing ability. One must first think of a vocalist’s control of pitch, breathing, the control of volume, and dynamics. One must consider if a singer is able to sing with healthy technique. Speaking of songwriting ability or charms has nothing to do with singing ability and should not be part of an objective ranking system for vocalists.

Although articles are often hot topics and can be used to gain views, they don’t truly serve as anything more than a cause for arguments and fan wars. For an article to have enough credibility, the people who are interviewed should have sufficient knowledge of singing in order to properly talk about it objectively like vocal instructors, instead of just entertainment industry professionals. Moreover, in order to truly rank these vocalists, professionals interviewed should carefully listen to every single main and lead vocalist of every active idol group in order to be as thorough as possible. Not only that, but they must watch more than just a few performances in order to be 100% accurate with their judgment of vocal ability. Of course such an article would take time but it’s completely possible and should be the aim for such rankings, instead of simply trying to gain views. The final ranking should be objective and if they were to truly listen to all idol vocalists in every idol group, the result of this top 10 would be very different.

About ahmin3

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

37 thoughts on “Industry Insiders Choose the Top 10 Idol Vocalists in K-pop

  1. Thank you for explaining this so thoroughly. I hope that through this post, more people can come to understand how faulty most “rankings” are and set their fanwars aside.

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      1. wait what, I find it interesting that there’s a class wherein a dissertation on why not to trust insiders in the kpop industry would be accepted in english composition HAHAHAHA good job

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      2. I have to say, I think there’s an improvement in your writing here compared to some of your older posts. 😄 You usually managed to express what you meant to say, but you didn’t always say it in a very clear or elegant way (although part of that is probably because you wrote in a more conversational manner). (And with the vocal analyses you kind of have a formula, so it’s more like a bunch of checkboxes rather than carefully constructed essays.)

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      3. Awww thank you. lol I mean honestly my writing improved with the analyses too, I am sort of scared to read back on my 2014 analyses versus my current 2016 ones. lol I think now I’m a lot more precise and sure of what I’m saying but at first I was sort of testing the waters. But there’s a formula I’ve always followed so it just needed time to be perfected. Actually I don’t think I personally wrote any of the other posts in the blog aside from analyses. This is the first non-analytical post I have written I think, the rest were by the other authors.

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  2. Hi, I’m sorry for commenting here. I want to request another vocalist of APink to be included in the chart. It is understandable for groups like Lovelyz, MissA and Secret to only have one vocalist analyzed since the strongest are average at best. But APink’s strongest are a Proficient, so I don’t see why not analyze at least another one even though they are not that skilled. I believe many are curious of Namjoo and Bomi’s vocal ability. Thanks 🙂

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    1. The reason they’re not added is because their second strongest vocalist would fall under the weak rating, for Miss A, T-Ara Secret, APink, etc. which is why their second vocalist isn’t being analyzed for now.

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      1. But there’s KARA, 2NE1, 4Minute……….. and even BTS, VIXX, TEEN TOP. All weak second strongest, and not so good strongest. Kind of unfair :/

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      2. Well yeah that’s true, they might be analyzed eventually just not for now. The other ones are often requested and many of them ca be overrated which is why an analysis was more necessary but Eunjung, Hyomin, Namjoo, Bomi, Suzy, Hyosung, etc. They’re not really overrated so they aren’t in need yet, also not highly requested at all.

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      3. Okay I am going to be real with you; nothing annoys me more than when people tell us to analyze someone. If we don’t want to analyze Bomi or Namjoo we don’t have to. We are not required to analyze anyone we arent getting paid substantial amounts of money to do this. None of us like to analyze weak vocalist it’s just not fun especially when there are more skilled and interesting vocalist to analyze. We don’t mind suggestions, but it is only up to us who we analyze for whatever reason. I am not trying to be rude or aggressive, but we are putting in our own time and we decided how we spend that not you.

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  3. Mentioning of Taeyeon here reminded me of something that I saw long ago, where JYP was asked who he wishes to work with outside of his own label. He said Taeyeon because “her singing voice sounds like she’s talking.” Is that a good trait to have as a singer? You sing like you talk? (Might be a stupid question ><)

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    1. Honestly I think he means that her singing sounds like she’s actually talking to someone, so it’s emotional or something but like.. I don’t know what he means for sure since it’s vague.

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  4. After reading almost till the end, I was like maybe at the end of this article *BOOM* the chart has appeared! lol jk 😄 too bad though, will look forward to it.

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  5. lol Taeyang above Kyuhyun, that’s gotta rile some feathers around these parts. Also, is this a list explicitly titled “the top ten vocalists” or is it just “top ten singers?” It’s a small but important distinction that makes this list either completely wrong or just a matter of opinion.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s only an important distinction if everyone actually makes the same distinction between vocalists and singers that you imply they make, which is not really the case.

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      1. True, but the flip side of that is I think most people’s personal definition of vocalist/singer is much closer to “singer” than “vocalist.” I bet that very subjective things like tone/conveyance of emotion played at least as big a role in these rankings as technical proficiency did, if not more so.

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      2. That’s not the flip side, that’s the point I’m making. If someone doesn’t make a distinction then the difference is obviously not important, and if they do make a distinction but they still define their terms differently than you, it may still not be that important.

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    2. Honestly, based on what I’ve been seeing there’s a lot to do with popularity. In fact, i’m pretty sure that’s the bulk of how they determine these things. It’s pretty ironic, considering the fact that Taeyang isn’t even the strongest vocalist in his group.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I think it is important here though, because they are defining their terms differently. So, because of that they have a very different list, than you or I, or certainly the writers on this site would make.

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  7. I should copy and past that in all the social media…I hate how people think…Every time I saw videos on YouTube ….first every time I mentioned SOHYANG as a great singer and the best vocal in Korea a bunch of people jump in my faces and she has no emotions and doesn’t sing she sound like sreaming 50% of people on Internet say she only scream when I move to LUNA and say she best main vocal also a bunch of people jump in my face say her voice ugly she only train her voice ugly …why people think like that about them I hear that a lot

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  8. I read the first 2 paragraphs and scroll down to the end thinking there would be an actual ranking lol But I agree with everything you say. Having a nice tone is one thing but having a good vocal technique is another thing; one is completely subjective while the other can actually be measured(? analyzed?) objectively.

    Also, while I’m commenting, I might as well say my huge thanks to all the admins who run this blog. Thank you for keeping this blog running and dedicating your time to do all these vocal analyses. This blog is very informative, I learn a lot while reading the analyses. Like, I was someone who didn’t even know that belting is a thing people do while singing, now I even know what tessitura is. I used to only know something doesn’t sound right when I listen to someone singing, now I can make some guesses why it doesn’t sound right. So yeah, really really thank you. You guys are awesome.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Awww I promise there will be a ranking soon! This is like almost a teaser? Haha awwww this makes me feel sort of accomplished! To share knowledge is my desire so thank you!!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Hi! I just found this blog and wanted to thank you guys for taking the time to do this and also wanted to see if you could please make one for Myungsoo from INFINITE. I know he isn’t the best vocalist but I’m still curious about an in depth analysis.

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    1. I am so sorry but we have no plans of analyzing L. I do apologize. Please check our Future Analyses list when making requests and look at our rules.

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  10. This blog is one of the legit blogs to post a credible, quite precise top 10 kpop or korean vocalists list. You guys really helped us, vocal enthusiasts, to really dig deeper and to be more detailed in analyzing vocalists. We really need and want you guys to release a top 10 korean/kpop vocalist and also we need you to continue your quarterly best performance article. We loved it! Godbless this blog. Thank you to all the contributors of this amazingly informative blog.

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    1. Thank you very much. I’m not sure we’ll be able to do any types of top 10’s, but we shall be able to do a whole chart very soon. ^ ^

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