Who exactly is the best K-pop vocalist? Korean entertainment insiders anonymously picked their favorite singers.
News-Ade, a Korean media outlets, surveyed 40 Korean music industry officials to pick the most talented idol vocalists. While K-pop idols have traditionally been criticized for their lack of refined vocal skills, several singers have proved themselves in recent days, changing opinions.
Girls’ Generation’s Taeyeon, who released her first solo album “I” earlier this month, was selected as the best K-pop idol vocalist.
The rest of the top five vocalists were also idol group members, including SISTAR’s Hyolyn, JYJ’s Junsu, SHINee’s Jonghyun, and A Pink’s Jung Eunji.
Eunji is the only one of of the top five vocalists who hasn’t released a solo album, although she has gained a name for herself as both a singer and actress.
Big Bang’s Taeyang, Super Junior’s Kyuhyun, EXID’s Solji, Beast’s Yoseob, and Mamamoo’s Solar also were picked by the insiders.
No single K-pop idol group had more than one member recognized by the 40 industry insiders, but SM Entertainment had the most artists chosen. Taeyeon, Jonghyun, and Kyuhyun are all currently signed to SM Entertainment, while XIA Junsu was previously a member of SM Entertainment’s TVXQ before leaving the company in 2009.
The other two “Big Three” Korean entertainment agencies, YG Entertainment and JYP Entertainment, were less represented than SM Entertainment in the survey. Taeyang was the only YG Entertainment artist picked, while JYP Entertainment had no artist mentioned amongst the top ten best K-pop idol vocalists.
Many K-pop idols have made names for themselves as soloists, singing drama soundtracks, and appearing on Korean music shows. MBC’s “King of Mask Singer,” where the identity of singers are hidden, was highlighted by the survey as a popular way for singers to rid themselves of the preconceived notion that idols cannot sing well.
Tamar Herman is a multi-media journalist and the co-founder of KultScene. She is a freelance writer and copy editor, and has written for MTV Iggy, Noisey, and Paste Magazine.