[ENTERTAINMENT]A Voice That Only a Mother Could Love

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[ENTERTAINMENT]A Voice That Only a Mother Could Love

"Please do not think that there should be some profound concept of my album; it's just for fun. Do not try to analyze what and how I sing, just enjoy yourself," explained Lee Jae-su, 29, a parody singer who recently released his debut album. Compared to singers who work desperately to make a name for themselves, Lee seems to be oddly unambitious.

His croaky voice is far from pleasant. "I'm tone-deaf, according to my doctor," Lee confirmed. But this does not discourage him; rather, Lee considers his musical shortcomings a strong point that make him distinctive from other singers.

Lee first received recognition on the Internet. He helped to produce the online daily radio program "Bae Chil-su's Music Tent," a parody of the offline radio program "Bae Cheol-su's Music Camp" which airs on Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation and has been popular for years. Appearing as a regular guest, Lee's mission was to screw up pop songs with his extremely off-key voice. Lee cared little for melody or rhythm, and concentrated on unbridled screaming.

Korean youth, who have taken a recent interest in all things bizarre, found Lee and his songs funny, not unpleasant. More than two million people have downloaded a file of Lee's version of "Still Loving You," originally by the Scorpions. Lee now makes regular appearances on a local sitcom. His crucial breakthrough was appearing in a Korean TV commercial for Mountain Dew, with his tortured "Still Loving You." Lee did a fine job amusing his Korean fans, but Klaus Meiner, vocalist of the Scorpions, would not be too pleased with his rendition.

Encouraged by his unexpected popularity, Lee cut his album, which came out in early July. Also titled "Still Loving You," the album has 19 parodies of other "classic" pop songs, including "Come Back Home" by Seo Tai-ji, "When I Dream" by Carol Kidd and of course "Still Loving You." Recently Lee daringly suggested that he would like to open for the Scorpions in Korea in late July. He was politely refused.

Lee seems to have gone too far in producing a music video of "Come Back Home," which openly mocks singer Seo Tai-ji. Seo, a Korean pop icon, sued Lee for violating his copyright to the song. Seo's spokesman, Kang Seong, a lawyer at I&S Law and Patent Office, told the JoongAng Ilbo English Edition, "Every artist has the legal right to keep the identity of his music, which Lee arbitrarily destroyed." Seo Tai-ji asked the court to ban the sales of Lee's albums, the case is now on trial; the decision of the court will be known in late August. Lee protests that it is only a parody and says he cannot understand why Seo is making such a fuss. Mr. Kang proclaimed that Lee's music has no creativity, but Lee shows no sign of submission. He even sounded heroic in saying, "I want to be like ['Weird Al'] Yankovic, the American parody singer. Parody should be acknowledged as a genuine genre of music in Korea as well."



by Chun Su-jin

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