We’re getting closer to the end of the triple tournaments. Episode 4 covered seven groups of three bands. 75 out of 99 bands have completed their portion of the current preliminary.

Group 19 Mary 敍事 (Mary Story), BandEZ, and Storyseller.

Mary Story covered Lee So-ra’s “제발.” Mary Story get their name from poet Park In-hwan’s bookstore. BandEZ, who formed in 1989 and got back together again this year, covered Rainbow’s “Since You Been Gone.” BandEZ is an acronym of “름 좀 어줘” which means “Help us name the band.” Storyseller who debuted in 2004 covered Sinawi’s “은퇴선언.” This set of bands showed off strong, engaging singers. Pulling off very high notes, BandEZ’s vocalist pleased Kim Kyung-ho. Shin Dae-chul preferred Mary Story to other teams but could not persuade the other judges. BandEZ moved on.

Group 20: Nevada 51, Remnants of the Fallen, and 이상의 날개.

A clip of Nevada 51 at their musical gigs was shown. Nevada 51 is a merry group of people who have been performing a musical about an amateur band since 2010. They are also the winner of the 2001 MBC Riverside Music Contest (강변 가요제) which has produced now famous musicians like Lee Sang-eun, Park Sun-joo and Jang Yoon-jung. Nevada 51’s cover of “I Got a Feeling” ushered in an energetic atmosphere which Shin liked. He called them a good band for having kept consistent tone, beat and rhythm in spite of frequent stage movement. Remnants of the Fallen is a metal band who had competed in the first season. They covered HOT’s “아이야.” The band debuted in 2009 and is known as the idol of the underground. The fiery singer with very straight hair enlivened the judges, and Kim Kyung-ho jokingly asked the singer for a growling lesson. Kim Do-gyun asked for a different favor: Right before the twin guitar begins “chu chu chu chu chu”, there, can you play that part again? Kim noted that the guitarist’s down picking was impressive. 이상의 날개 played Radiohead’s “Karma Police.” They are a five-member group who use lyrical melodies to sing about the scars and the anger that people experience. Kim Kyung-ho said that the intermittent guitar effects were distracting. It was obvious that both Nevada 51 and Remnants of the Fallen would move on. Nevada 51 advanced, and Kim Do-gyun saved Remnants of the Fallen.

Group 21: Psychics, Tacopy, and Nikea.

A clip of Psychics’ drummer, a 26-year-old single dad with a baby boy, is shown. Psychics performed Sallulim’s “개구쟁이.” They are a newbie – only seven months old – and are into U2. Next was Tacopy, an 11-year-old band with five records published. They performed “치고 달려라.” The judges commended Tacopy’s experience. Nikea performed Kim Wan-sun’s “리듬 속의 그 춤을.” Kim Do-gyun liked the band’s natural flow. Although Yoo Young-suk called their music distinctive and attractive, he did not like their lack of unity. Even though Nikea generated good interest, Tacopy was the one to advance.

Group 22: Vanilla Unity, Yaya and Cretem.

A video clip of Vanilla Unity’s bass player Nick who is an English lecturer at a university was shown. “With or Without You” by U2 was covered. Cretem covered “Can’t Take My Off You.” Yaya covered “My Favorite Things” from the Sound of Music. Kim Kyung-ho thought that the frequent beat changes did not harmonize with the orchestral section. Shin liked their uniqueness and charisma. Yoo could not understand the music at all. There was division among the judges because Shin was the sole supporter of Yaya. After some prolonged discussion, Yaya moved on. Although Yaya does not cater to the kind of music that Shin likes, Shin believed that their decision to play unusual music deserved positive response. Yoo, who had walked out in refusal to judge, was also interviewed. He went home and listened to all of Yaya’s music. Yoo said: Discord can be appealing, but Yaya did not deliver that kind of discord on the stage. Yoo demonstrated dissonance and consonance on piano. I found this brief instruction rather helpful and hoped for more of this to come from all of the judges in the future.

Group 23: Magnum 69, Wise Apple, and 고래야. 고래야’s cover of “Norwegian Woods” helped them to move on.

Group 24: Analog Freak, Go Go Boys, and Rock and Roll Radio. Go Go Boys covered “모여라” by 송골매 and advanced.

Group 25: 정밴드, 꽝꽝나무, and The United 93. This set included a number of people who have full-time jobs outside of music. 꽝꽝나무 consists of researchers from KISTI. 꽝꽝나무 covered “Smoke on the Water.” 정밴드 did a cover of “Heavy Chains” by Loudness. The United 93 did “Kungfu Fighters.” 정밴드 drew applause from Yoo. He and Shin found 꽝꽝나무’s guitarist brilliant. Shin liked the youthful energy of The United 93. 정밴드 won the round. Top Choice was given to The United 93 by Kim Do-gyun.

This episode included several side features such as video journals of band members, recapping of the judges’ comments, and themes sung by Rose Motel and Harry Big Button. It seems that the show sometimes advances its entertainment component at the risk of dismissing its band music focus when there must be a way to achieve both fun and service to little-known bands. How are the audience supposed to know about these bands if their performances do not get aired?

Two rounds featuring 고래야 and Go Go Boys were cut short, unfortunately. I had been looking forward to 고래야 who had participated in the 21 Century Korean Music Project in 2010. The few songs from the Project that I have been able to listen to introduced me to innovative and enjoyable music that recognizes traditional and folk sounds.

Vanilla Unity was another band that I had been excited to see. I got to know of them through “Something and More” which I must have listened to so many times and also forced a K-pop hater friend of mine to listen to. Their cover performance in the episode did not generate the kind of youthful vibes that had seemed so natural.

I liked the Psychics. Nikea was cool to listen to. The last set of bands including 꽝꽝나무, 정밴드 and The United 93 was most fun to watch. I still wish Fantastic Drugstore were still in the competition.

With 24 more bands left to go, the next week’s episode could air a bit of the final preliminary, which involves performing outdoors on a sliding stage under a 300-second time limit. (The final preliminary has already been completed, and the competition is down to 16 band.)

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