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[REVIEW/OP-ED] Ailee: From Heaven, To Your Soul

written by: naRae

Ailee deserves my 101% earnest commentary. No bullshits. No trolling. Only utmost respect. This girl is born to sing, to perform, and to be on the stage. A whole package deal. This review is very behind the schedule because I was busy with schoolwork (Sorry!), but you get a longer review cause she has done several covers on some shows and more live performances of “Heaven”, so I guess it’s not too bad of a tradeoff.

Before I get started on the review, I have mention that I’ve been listening to Ailee singing ever since her Youtube days, so I know how far she’s come—from being a Youtube star, to doing collaborations and live performances at various venues, and finally to where she is now. Here are several videos of her awesomeness in the past.

I’m ordering you to watch the full video and every single video included in the commentary, and do not fast-forward!!! (Save the best video for last!!) Maybe you can do that for Wheesung’s MV

Youtube cover of Mariah Carey’s “Hero”:

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She got swag and groove.

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Ailee’s performance of Beyonce‘s “Halo” on Singer and Trainee:
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This is essentially the milestone of her singing career—the first time performing on national TV. Her cover of Beyonce’s “Halo” garnered an immense amount of attention in the music industry as well as the general public, making her debut be one of the most anticipated. I sent tweets to my friend to complain about the agony of waiting for her debut.

Ailee is an R&B singer debuting as an idol. So I can’t express how thankful I am for Wheesung to discover her. (Maybe he didn’t really discover her; he took her under his wing and became her mentor?) My point is that as an actual musician, he has an eye for talents, and he makes sure that the talent is known. Chaos ensured if she’s in another company singing aegyo song. Imagine Ailee singing Gee It’s a crime to put such talent to waste.

“Wheesung feat. Ailee”

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Moving on to the song itself, I don’t expect anything less since “Heaven” is produced and co-composed by Wheesung. When the full track was finally released, I was not disappointed in the slightest. “Heaven” is tailored for Ailee. This is the closest you can aim for a pop track with a bit of R&B element for idols in Korea. Every note, every beat was arranged to showcases her impeccable vocal techniques and powerful voice. The instrumental is enticingly simple, which allows Ailee to work her magic, bringing the song to a new height.

She carries this song extraordinarily well by meeting the vocal demand and conveying the emotions. The way Ailee sings tugs your heartstrings—it’s captivating. This girl can sing her head off effortlessly without breaking a sweat, and she still won’t sound excessive or shrilled.  The incredible dimension and body to her voice are added bonuses.

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As for the live performances, I am disappointed to hear unbearably loud backup tracks during most parts of her live performance. She does not need any backing vocals. The backing vocals overshadow her lovely timbre! Since she also wants to overcome the backing vocals and loud music, her high notes actually sound excessive and forced; if not, even a bit shrilled.

Geez, the terrible thing backing vocals make her do!!!

It’s still a good performance. But for those who know her ability, this is not the best singing she can put forth. Here’s a performance on Wave K, “One Night Only.”

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Do I hear any backing vocals? No.

Do I hear shrilled high notes? Pfft, my ass no.

And say goodbye to excessively loud music!!!

I’m sure you can hear the difference of her voice between “One Night Only” and “Heaven.” Her voice has more depth and dimension when she was singing “One Night Only.” Ear-gasm to the max. This is what I mean by her vocal prowess. The lack of backing vocals does wonders for her. Her voice sounds a lot more polished.

She is a powerhouse, so either you let her voice dominate the song or her voice will compete against unnecessarily loud music and backing vocals. An ensured ear-gasm like “One Night Only” and “Halo” when her voice prevails; a “less-than-perfection” perfection “Heaven” when you crank up music and backing vocals.

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I know this is recorded, but the point of having the cover of “On Rainy Days” is to prove the versatility of Ailee’s voice and her technique. Powerful and aggressive in “One Night Only”; sensual and deep in “Halo”; melodic and sweet in “On Rainy Days.” I am in love with her cover of “On Rainy Days” because it’s very different from what we’ve been hearing. Her voice is so soft and delicate as if it’s flowing in the air, yet it doesn’t lose its power and body. Impeccable.

Here’s a cover of “The Greatest Love of All” on “Yoo Hee Yeols’ Sketchbook” pretty much sums up everything.

Omg, I can’t… she is a jewel. I love this girl. Too much awesome-ness. Loss of words. She puts her own style and variation in every cover and makes it her own–it ends up sounding like a completely different song. 

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I swear I had chills up my spine … pleasant ones. Ailee has a mature, deep voice suited for songs with a lower key. Projection and resonance for lower notes are much better than higher notes. That’s why “Heaven” is less of a perfection. There are too many good things put together in too-high-of-a-key.

I’m not saying that “Heaven” is bad or anything, because it’s good – really good. That is, if she had never done covers with better material or if I didn’t know her voice gives better resonance in lower keys. So when comparing this track with others, “Heaven” is not exactly up to par. However, “Heaven” is the best song you can give to Ailee among the many songs of the current kpop trend.

Wrapping this up, my stance in this commentary is that “Heaven” is awesome—the best song in the kpop scene for her to sing—but this song is not suited for her to sing live.  She has sung better songs with fantastic techniques that aren’t overpowering. I feel that “Heaven” went overboard by trying to showcase everything unique about Ailee, and that made her voice sound stressed and artificial. Awesome-ness is bad when it becomes excessive.

P.S. Did I mention how happy she looks like whenever she’s singing and on the stage? She embraces every single chance of being on stage to perform for us all and immerses her soul in the performanceShe respects the stage and the craft of singing and performing. I respect that immensely

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7 thoughts on “[REVIEW/OP-ED] Ailee: From Heaven, To Your Soul

  1. Nice article! This is the kind of stuff I had waited for. This is kind of a “singer review”, where you write about Ailee, her voice, her timbre, and vocal ability. (leaving the popmusic review a little bit aside). So, for that: Great Work. (As a singer I would really like to read more things like this, in the future).
    And well, what can I say about ailee?. I mean, her perforamances are amazing. Her voice is the demostration of “Big Voices Old School” (That’s how I like to call to the singers who learned how to sing with songs of mariah, whitney, celine dion, aretha franklin, etta james, chaka khan). She has definitely set the bar high for idols.
    I mean, the girl could sing Sorry, Sorry, and it would sound AMAZING! THAT’S A VOICE!

    GinoChiang76

  2. Oh. MY GAWD.

    I love me some Ailee, and I know how good she is…but SRSLY – those perfs of J-Hud & Whitney were incredible. Move over, Hyorin – Ailee now has the undisputed crown as the best female Idol vocals in all of K-pop.

  3. She’s fantastic. I love how she seems to enjoy every moment when she’s performing. I actually prefer to listen to Heaven live just cause she has so much presence on stage.

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