Volume 1 / Chapter 24
When it was his turn, Jun Hyuk went into the temporary studio that had been turned into the panel room. The only face he knew amongst the judges was that of Lee Sung Chul.
“Hi Jang Jun Hyuk. It says here that you’re 17 years old.”
“Hm… It says that you’re an orphan in your introduction… and that you’ve never attended school?”
The female singer took over Lee Sung Chul’s questioning,
“Does that mean you’re living in an institution now?”
“No. I work and live at a cafe.”
“Yes. There’s a cafe in Misari.”
The female singer already looked ready to spill tears with a pitiful expression and only needed to hear a bit more of this sad story to do so.
“It says here that you wandered the streets after you got lost at age 5…..”
Jun Hyuk stared blankly at the female singer. She continued to speak because she thought that they had not understood each other.
“Tell us how you lived while on the streets…”
The camera had already closed in on Jun Hyuk’s face and the mic had been lowered to catch his wretched and sad childhood story.
“Isn’t this a place where we’re judged by our music? Why are you asking me about my past?”
Everyone in the room froze. The three judges and the production crew could only blink while the audition contestants sat with their jaws dropped.
All of their expressions were saying the same thing.
How could he be so daring in front of the judges?
Only the producer in charge of the program balled up his fists.
‘That’s right. This is it. This is what we need. Something new. Fresh. Spunky!’
There had been no need to request a chic personality from him. He was naturally chic, though he was not sure if it was due to his looks, music, or rough childhood.
Unlike the other children who suffered under the pressure, he had made everyone nervous within 5 minutes.
The female singer was speechless at Jun Hyuk’s bold retort and so veteran Lee Sung Chul took the mic.
“That’s right, music is everything. I am expecting your talent to be as great as you are bold.”
- Brother, drag it out a big longer.
The producer’s desperate request came through the earphones, but Lee Sung Chul ignored it entirely. He had seen countless children who mistakenly believed that they had a great talent. He thought that things like this kids’ attractive looks, advanced piano skill, and mediocre arranging skills had made him arrogant.
It was necessary to judge these types of kids ruthlessly so that they would look back at themselves and try harder. Though of course there were many kids who could not even do that.
Lee Sung Chul readied himself to give criticism and invective.
“Judging by the guitar you brought, it seems like you’ll be singing a folk song… Okay, what song did you prepare?”
“Jung Tae Chun’s ‘Poet’s Town’.”
Upon hearing the name Jung Tae Joon, the 3 judges and the young contestants watching the waiting room monitor began to murmur.
“Jung Tae Chun?”
“Who’s Jung Tae Chun?”
“I don’t know.”
Even in the studio, there were not very many people who remembered Jung Tae Chun. Lee Sung Chul and the composer were the only people to remember Jung Tae Joon’s lyricism that had stirred up the 70s.
Producer Kim pushed the staff urgently,
“Look it up quickly. What year is this song from?”
“It was released in 1978.”
As soon as the staff searched the song’s history on the internet, the producer quickly spoke into the mic,
“Brother, it’s from 1978.”
Lee Sung Chul who had heard the information via the earphone needed to provide lip service to the viewers.
“Was it 1978 for Jung Tae Chun’s ‘Poet’s Town’? I think it was released around then… A teenager singing a song that’s almost 40 years old? Wow.”
The composer continued with Lee Sung Chul’s light banter,
“Will you be able to capture the emotion of a song that was created more than 20 years before you were born and is 10 years before your generation? We look forward to it.”
Jun Hyuk started playing the guitar after placing it on his lap and breathing in gently.
Everyone’s expressions were full of expectation as the soft guitar prelude came out. Could this teenager remake this song that only their parents’ generation could know? How would he express Jung Tae Chun’s heavy tone of longing? This kid’s voice did not have the suited huskiness to it yet.
However, everyone’s expectations collapsed.
As the 10-second prelude ended, the suspense-filled judges became bemused. Instead of singing the lyrics ‘Open the window hm – and look out,’ his 10 fingers started dancing smoothly on the guitar strings.
For the 4 minutes following, there was no voice to be heard and only the melody of the acoustic guitar. When the last of the steady fingering came to an end, the only sound in the studio was the rustling of Jun Hyuk placing his guitar back in its case.
While the three judges sat blankly unable to speak, the producer could be heard shouting urgently through the earphones,
“What are you all doing? You have to talk!”
The first person to speak was the female singer.
“Isn’t there someone on the internet who plays the guitar similarly? Jung Sung Hwa? It sounded to be at that level.”
“We’re very different.”
“I said that we’re very different.”
The singer could not speak, baffled by Jun Hyuk’s snappy replies, and the composer took the mic,
“It is the finger style, but you put in a lot of sliding.”
“I also get a much rougher sense… I think it would have been better to play this on an electric guitar.”
Jun Hyuk formed a small smile as though he appreciated that there was a person who could hear properly.
“First off, the guitar technique is top level. Most teenagers concentrate on playing the faster components, but Jun Hyuk focused on saving the sentiment of the music. We could say that you were gifted as a guitarist. It was a good performance.”
Lee Sung Chul was the last to speak after the composer’s commentary ended.
“Performing an instrumental is taking a great risk. You are starting with a limitation by forfeiting the delivery provided by lyrics and relying solely on the sound of the instrument. Why did you choose to do an instrumental when it’s such a disadvantage?”
“Because I handle the guitar much better than my voice.”
“You’re saying you play the guitar better than you sing?”
The producer discovered the smile that had momentarily appeared on the monitor.
‘That kid. He’s being cocky. To the judges and the evaluation.’
He pressed the switch on the mic and yelled,
“Brother, push him more. We need to get a full idea of how cheeky he can be.”
“It isn’t that you can’t sing?”
“A classic guitarist can perform for an hour merely with a guitar, but there is no vocalist who can sing for an hour without accompanying music. There needs to be a piano playing at the bare minimum because the human voice is an imperfect instrument.”
Lee Sung Chul, who had proudly been lauded as the best vocalist throughout his entire life, was left speechless.
“John Lennon’s music can be considered masterpieces, but John Lennon doesn’t sing so well that he gives people goosebumps, does he?”
He had never heard of such insolence. How could a teenager like this pass judgment on John Lennon?
Lee Sung Chul however showed a completely different reaction to Jun Hyuk’s assessment of John Lennon because they were the exact words that he had said on air.
“That’s right. Anyone who wants to make music needs to have his own set of standards. I would like to hear another guitar performance from you, except on the premise that you play in a wholly different style. What do you think? If you pass this round, can you show us a completely different performance?”
“I can play the ‘Poet’s Town I just played in a different style right now. Do you want to hear it?”
“Producer Lee, let’s stop for a second.”
Lee Sung Chul asked to stop recording at Jun Hyuk’s provocative actions. The monitor that the contestants were watching as well as the mic were turned off.
“Wow. That bastard is trouble, isn’t he?”
“Yeah. Arrogance to that extent is an illness.”
Producer Kim Ki Sik who had been watching the stunned contestants outside came running in.
“Alright. Let’s hear it. Let’s see how good you are. Go ahead and play it.”
At Lee Sung Chul’s order, Jun Hyuk pulled out his guitar and started playing again.
Lee Sung Chul and the other judges, the producer and staff did not realize that 30 minutes had passed until after they had heard eight different versions of ‘Poet’s Town’.
The composer was the most astonished. He did not have the confidence to create eight completely different versions of a song even if he were given a month’s time.
This child however, accomplished this difficult task impromptu. Moreover, without modifying once. Even if he had anticipated this situation and come prepared, each song was impressive.
Lee Sung Chul wanted to work with Jun Hyuk as an arranger for his next album, the composer wanted to see his ability to create music, and Producer Kim had the feeling that he had caught the biggest fish of the season.
Jun Hyuk found them inadequate as they were showing such excitement and surprise over such a simple and easy feat.
What is going on?!