Friday, July 20, 2012

"I Miss You" (보고싶다) by Kim Bum Soo: Possibly the best ballad ever

I never get tired of listening to "I Miss You" by Korean singer Kim Bum Soo. It's just one of those magical songs that somehow manages to be fresh and effective even after the hundredth time you listen to it. I especially enjoy trying to sing this song at noraebangs (karaoke rooms). All I need is a little soju to help me hit those high notes.

Like 99% of Korean ballads, it's about tortured lost love and regrets and self-loathing. It was part of the soundtrack to a very popular drama series, Stairway to Heaven, which I haven't watched and probably never will because it was made 7 years ago and has likely aged quite badly. The song is now a standard in Korea, and every self-respecting balladeer has to tackle it at some point.

Heroically sparing the public from the
horrors of his visage
Now, the story of the singer, Kim Bum Soo, is quite interesting. He always had the voice of a superstar, but not the looks. Thus, early on in his career, he was relegated to doing soundtracks and rarely, if ever, appeared in public or in music videos as himself. There's the famous story of how his first album featured a cover in which his face was deliberately covered.

Okay, Kim Bum Soo may not be the best-looking guy in the world, but he's not some hideous troll. He's a perfectly normal-looking guy who has an amazing voice. That, and his artistry, are what should matter in the end.

Fortunately, he's actually become quite a visible star in Korea now, thanks to his appearance on the huge hit show, I Am A Singer, which is kind of like American Idol except that the contestants are established professional singers and not wannabe kids.

Below is a video of an acoustic version of the song. The original version is effusively emotive, so there's a kind of haunting beauty to this subdued version.

PS Transliterated from Korean to English, the song's title is pronounced "Bogoshipda".

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