Just Bananas About: Week of 7/3/17

Music is such a powerful medium.  And so, when I saw that Yoo Hee Yeol was doing another music program on JTBC, it made me wonder if this was meant to be the program that followed Sugar Man which ended last year.  Despite not having Yoo Jae Suk beside him, the fact that Yoon Do Hyun and Lee Sora would be joining intrigued me in and of itself.  Begin Again takes its name from the music film starring Kiera Knightley, Mark Ruffalo and Adam Levine but takes these established musicians to the streets in foreign countries where they’ll have to sing in front of audiences that may not be familiar with who they are.

It didn’t seem out of character to me that Yoo Hee Yeol and Yoon Do Hyun would agree to do the program but it was highly surprising that Lee Sora agreed to do it.  After all, she’s been pretty much of a recluse for the last 6 years and hasn’t released anything new since then.

Having said that, the three musicians, with their differing styles, got together to practice and go on this adventure.  Noh Hong Chul will act as their road manager and I’d imagine that he will also provide amusing commentary.  The first destination for the group is Dublin, Ireland.  Immediately, the group can’t help but think of Once as Glen Hansard’s character in the film was that of a struggling musician, busking in the streets.

As the group arrives in Dublin, Yoon Do Hyun can’t help but comment how Lee Sora, despite her reputation, likes to talk a lot.  She’s actually become fast friends with Noh Hong Chul as they’ve learned that they’ve got a lot in common.  Not only does she talk non-stop but she even comments how she can’t quite catch her breath as she’s talking so fast and so much.

After arriving in Dublin, the group arrives at the house that they’ll be staying in and divvy up the rooms.  Shortly thereafter, Lee Sora goes into her room to take a nap and the boys take a trip back into the city.  They pass by some of the Once filming locations and especially stop by Walton’s music store, the store that appears in the film.  Yoo Hee Yeol can’t resist playing the piano there and Yoon Do Hyun breaks out his guitar as they try playing the number “Falling Slowly”.  All I can think about is that the workers in the store must be tired of hearing this number as I can’t imagine that they are the first people to do it.  However, they play the number well.

Then, they head out to Grafton Street to scout out the best locations for the team to play their music.  They listen to several musicians to check out the crowd and even the acoustics.  Noh Hong Chul can’t help giving all the musicians they’ve listened some money, especially considering that they’re being filmed for the show as well.

However, Yoo Hee Yeol comes up with the idea to reenact one of the scenes in the movie in which Glen Hansard gets his money stolen by a thief and chases after him.  He tells Yoon Do Hyun to play something while Noh Hong Chul will play the thief.  However, some Dubliners come by to steal the show.  It’s hilarious to watch Yoon Do Hyun just standing there not knowing what to do while Yoo Hee Yeol is cracking up.

Later, they enter St. Stephens Green Park to have Yoon Do Hyun try again.  A few of the park goers stand by and listen to him play but then the rain stops the show as the listeners pack up their things and go.  As they return home, the boys decide to name their band, Begin Us.  As they are established musicians, they suddenly feel like they are starting over again with this project and so the name is fitting for them and the theme of the show.

Back at home, they find Lee Sora awake and humming to herself.  They catch her trying to strum some notes on the guitar and Yoo Hee Yeol and Noh Hong Chul can’t help taking a look and even taking some video.

But later on in the evening, the group finally sits down to practice their set.  On the one hand, it’s quite beautiful to see their harmony.  Especially for the “Falling Slowly” number as Yoon Do Hyun has a husky, rock voice while Lee Sora has a falsetto, lighter than air quality to her singing.  This number is quite uniquely suited for both of their voices.

On the flip side, it’s pretty amusing to see them joking around.  Yoo Hee Yeol can be incredibly dorky and he proves just as much as when he tries to play the guitar for Yoon Do Hyun during a rendition of “Every Breath You Take”.  And then he recoils his fingers as he comments how his fingers hurt from playing the guitar.  I can totally relate to that feeling as all I could think about was the pain when I tried to teach myself guitar.  I think I’ll stick to the piano as well.

In this week’s episode, Yoon Do Hyun requests that while they’re in Ireland, they visit Slane Castle.  It’s a famous castle in which U2 recorded their album “Unforgettable Fire” and even shot the music video for “Pride”.

What’s interesting to note is that U2 used a smaller room to record the album and the larger Chandelier Room to shoot the music video.  I can almost see why they did that as the Chandelier Room has better acoustics for reverb but when you record an album, you want a clean sound.  The group decides to play in the Chandelier Room for the live aspect.

Having said that, this episode is mostly about the song “청혼 (Proposal)”.  It’s a sweet bossanova number by Lee Sora and Yoon Do Hyun  has been having a particularly hard time playing it.  There’s a delicacy when you have to play bossanova but Yoon Do Hyun is quite used to play strong and loud.  Lee Sora provides him some advice during one of their initial practice sessions.  They then go to Hongdae as a test for them to see how they’ll fare in a live busking setting but the group is unable to coordinate their harmony and timing.

The group has an emergency meeting afterwards and Yoon Do Hyun and Lee Sora both feel that they need another guitarist but Yoo Hee Yeol is firm in his belief that the three should do it on their own.  I’m quite taken by how Yoo Hee Yeol is steadfast in his ideology of teamwork.  In fact, later on in Dublin, the group heads out to Grafton Street to play together but it is raining which means that they aren’t able to pull out the keyboard or hook the guitar to an amp.  Yoon Do Hyun suggests that they could try and play in the rain but Yoo Hee Yeol says to hold it off as they should really play as a group.

Yoon Do Hyun enlists the help of his band’s guitarist, Heo Joon, as he used also play jazz guitar and practices non-stop.  I mean, it’s quite interesting to see that Yoon Do Hyun is all about practicing until you get it right while Yoo Hee Yeol is more about natural talent.  In fact, as Yoo Hee Yeol and Yoon Do Hyun practice together, he comments how he’s never really practiced this hard in his life for one song.

As the group practices again in their Dublin lodgings, Lee Sora is quite surprised by how much he has improved but then tells him to slow it down.  Yoon Do Hyun is taken aback by it as he’s been practicing based on the album but she tells him that the pace is quite fast on the album and it sounds better at a slower pace.  She doesn’t make it easy.

However, they’re able to play the number in the Chandelier Room at Slane Castle and it’s quite beautiful.  I wish I could provide a link for the video but JTBC hasn’t posted any videos from the program because this and some of the other numbers are worth listening to but it seems like that they are making the tracks available to download on the music sites.  Yoon Do Hyun marvels at how he was able to pull off the number as I’m sure he can’t help but tense up.

I’m amused that Yoo Hee Yeol gives Yoon Do Hyun a nickname, Rock Babo (aka Rock Idiot).  As much as he looks cool when he performs, Yoon Do Hyun has quite a dorky, clumsy side to him.  Such as not being able to play hackysack, spilling tea and then riding his skateboard in the rain and falling down with his guitar.

After practicing hard for weeks, he ends up cracking his guitar which they put back together with tape.  You can’t make up this hilarious, facepalming stuff.

I like that the show gives us a behind-the-scenes look to musicians and we get their thoughts about music history aned their impressions on it.  I also like that the show is somewhat of a reality show that shows off their personalities.  And I also like that the show variety show in which they play games and eat together.  So far, I’m quite hooked and think that the coming episodes has a lot more to offer as we look into how they might be received by Dubliners, especially as they begin to play on the streets and at other venues.

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