Sometimes when we listen to a certain song, we don’t recognise a voice singing an ad-lib in the background or leading the song’s chorus. And then we go for days and days wondering and debating about who it is until someone gets their hands on the physical copy of the album, if it’s even credited at all, or the original demos. Or we actually do recognise them right off the bat because we happen to be fans of that singer and just know their voice like the back of our hands.
But most of the time, background vocalists just don’t get enough credit, even if they’re incredibly popular, well-known idols. So I’ve done a little digging up and gathered six of them.
SHINee Jonghyun in Playboy by EXO
We’ll start with arguably one of the most popular background vocalists out there: SHINee’s Jonghyun for EXO’s Playboy (Korean/Mandarin). Jonghyun himself wrote and composed this song, so every single melody and turn of phrase was originally his anyway. Even after EXO gave their own take of the song, Jonghyun’s vocals still remain. He has even sung his own rendition of it live a few times now.
Spica Kim Boa in… well, in the background of many, many songs
Spica may not necessarily be the most successful group out there, but their leader Kim Boa has an extremely extensive career infiltrating discographies of some of the most successful groups. She’s in many of your favourite songs by Kara, T-ARA, Nine Muses, Boyfriend, Girls’ Generation and Infinite. You can refer to this for the full list. Yes, there’s a list.
You can hear her husky tone very clearly in the chorus of Nine Muses’ Wild. Compare it with her full demo.
It would be remiss of me to disregard first generation idols in a list like this. Especially when newer generations are now pretty much in the forefront of people’s minds. Lola Fair, former member and lead vocalist of the now defunct Baby Vox, played a part in a B-side of SNSD’s The Boys album entitled Say Yes. Lola is now an indie artist; you can find more information about her current whereabouts here!
EXID Solji in Dal Shabet’s BBB and Fiestar’s Hello
Next, we have EXID’s main vocalist Solji. Formerly a vocal trainer, she has a long history of working with EXID’s main producer, Shinsadong Tiger, singing vocal guides for his compositions. Her full voice can still be heard in Dal Shabet’s BBB and Fiestar’s Hello if you listen very closely.
15& Park Jimin in Wooyoung’s ハンパない (Hanpanai)
OK, this one’s a Japanese song, but since it’s by K-Pop idol, Wooyoung from 2PM, it totally counts. Jimin cheekily colours the song ハンパない (Hanpanai), in a bit of departure from her usual repertoire and image. The song is a jam by the way, check it out.
2NE1 CL in Taeyang’s Love You To Death
With CL, fans could immediately identify her singing in the background of two of Taeyang’s songs (Love You To Death and Body) when they listened to Rise. Even though her singing was heavily processed with autotune and went uncredited until Taeyang himself confirmed it, on Tablo’s Dreaming Radio at the 15:01 mark.
Finally, Livii. She isn’t an idol in the slightest but I’m going to include her anyway, because her light, haunting tone melds perfectly with the instrumentals in Taemin’s Drip Drop. A stunningly ethereal backdrop to Taemin’s vocals that has to be appreciated before the end.
Of course, this is all merely the tip of the iceberg. Feel free to pitch in with any others that you know of!