I must admit that of the many celebrities 10asia interviewed for their music recommendations, it’s inevitable that I always end up translating the articles in which I personally enjoyed the recommended music myself. So perhaps these music recommendations are just as much mine as they are these celebrities’. This week’s music recommendations come from actor Gong Yoo. Overall, his music choices are very soft and mellow, and they perfectly suit the kind of music I’m up for right now.
Published Dec. 22, 2010
Written by Choi Ji-eun
Photographed by Lee Jin-hyuk
Translated by Blue1004
“It’s hard to choose just a couple.” Gong Yoo sighed as he took out the A4 paper filled with names of many musicians and album titles. “Lucid Fall’s 3rd album, ‘Night at the Border’, is good, but for me to choose just that one album, all his albums are good. I promised to sing the song ‘Insa’ from Toy’s 6th album ‘Thank You’ when I go on as a guest on the KBS music program Yoo Hee Yeol’s Sketchbook. Ah, Lee Ji-hyung’s ‘Miracle of Spring’ is very good too. I also often listen to ‘No Reply’ these days…”
It was unexpected that there would be this side to this actor who seems well-suited to be a sportsman like the star baseball player, Park Cheol-soon, he played in the film, Superstar Mr. Gam. Perhaps this side of Gong Yoo is closer to the meticulous character of Han Ki-joon he plays in Finding Mr. Kim Jong-wook, who goes around the entire country with Ji-woo (played by Im Soo Jung) looking for her first love she met at India who she knows nothing about but his name. This movie is his first acting project since being discharged from his military service last year. In the film, in contrast to his tall height and his manly appearance, he plays a timid character who bears an expression as if he has been wronged. Of course, his appearance as “Kim Jong-wook” in Ji-woo’s memory is the epitome of the perfect male lead of a romantic comedy. Since capturing the hearts of many women as Choi Han-kyul in the MBC drama series Coffee Prince, Gong Yoo has returned to show a different charm of himself, and his growth both as an actor and as a human being.
“As an actor, there are times when you get lonely and become sensitive due to the hardship, but have to grin it and bear it without being able to confide it with others. So I came to listen to music that helped to calm my emotions, and there are times when I feel like these singers must surely understand how I feel. (laughs) In that aspect, I think musicians who tell their story or their message through their music are able to do so much more directly than actors who have to express themselves through the characters given to them. That’s why they’re objects of my admiration, and when I hosted the military radio program ‘Gong Yoo is Waiting at the 20th Hour,’ I tried to invite indie bands every week and played their music. It really was a delightful job to connect with and showcase their music and message to others as a radio DJ.”
Here are the albums that Gong Yoo selected after much consideration.
1. Park Ji-yoon’s 7th album “Flower, Again for the First Time”
Of the many albums, the one that Gong Yoo recommended first was singer-songwriter Park Ji-yoon’s 7th album, which she released in 2009 after a 6-year hiatus. “Many people remember Park Ji-yoon as the dance singer of the song ‘Coming of Age Ceremony’. But after listening to this album, I thought that she is now finally wearing the clothes that fit her. Dear Cloud, Lucid Fall, and many other talented musicians were involved in the album, but as I listened to the song ‘You’re Like a Tree’ that Park Ji-yoon wrote and composed herself, I felt that so much of her thoughts and concerns were expressed in that song. Even though I don’t know her personally, when I think about how much she must have wanted to do her own music for all these years, I feel touched and proud. I really wanted to invite her to the radio program I used to host and talk with her, and I feel regretful that we weren’t able to have her on the show. But when I tell others this, they all think I just like her because she’s pretty. (laughs)”
Park Ji-yoon – “그대는 나무 같아” (“You’re Like a Tree”)
2. Yoon Sang’s 6th album “Things I Did Not Know Back Then”
“I’ve always liked Yoon Sang’s music. The song ‘The Shadow of Parting’ from his first album came out in 1991, but it doesn’t sound outdated at all even if you listen to it now. And while listening to this 6th album, I realized that ‘classics last forever’. Whether they are actors or musicians, I admire those who have their own distinctive color and go ahead of others, without going against the trend. Not someone who is in his own corner making things others cannot understand, but who helps make others understand his product. Also someone who doesn’t go too far ahead that others cannot comprehend, but someone who goes somewhat ahead at his own pace is a more impressive feat. Since I know how hard it is to do that for a long period of time, I really like those people who do that well.”
Yoon Sang – “그 눈 속엔 내가” (“In Those Eyes I Am…”)
3. Casker’s 5th album “Tender”
“Casker is a band that I’ve liked for a long time. Over the last few years, many others came out who do similar music as them, but considering that I still continue to listen to Casker among all the others, I must like them the best. Jo Won-sun’s vocals are good, but I especially like Lee Yoong-jin’s vocal. I even think that their recently released 5th album is Casker at their best. Even though they haven’t changed a great deal over time, I actually like that they don’t change and that they do their own Casker-style music. I’m no music expert, so it’s hard for me to talk about the technical aspects. But just as actors are able to express things with their eyes that they were not able to do so in the past, even for musicians who stick to their own style, I think that it can’t be helped that the music they made in their 20s are different from the music they made in their 30s. I can feel that change and maturity with them.”
Casker – “꼭 이만큼만” (“Please Just This Much”)
4. Mate’s 1st album “Be Mate”
“My favorite is the 6th track ‘Leaning on You’. And their 8th track ‘Why’, 9th track ‘I Love You’ and their 10th track ‘Goodbye’ are all good and sad.” Although many people download songs these days, Gong Yoo is someone who still buys the cds and listens to the songs in the order they’re in the album. “I came to know about Mate through the title song ‘Missing You’ from their first album. I liked them so much that I continue to listen to them. They mostly do modern rock, but their music is not unfriendly or too difficult, and there’s a somewhat of a mass appeal to them. I’ve once invited them on my radio show, and I remember how Jung Joon-il’s fashion as he sang and played the piano was way ahead of his time. (laughs)”
Mate – “너에게…기대” (“Leaning on You”)
5. NY Fish’s 2nd album “Forest of Truth”
“After listening to the title song ‘Love Again’ from their 2nd album, I once recommended it to Director Lee Yoon-jung of Coffee Prince. And much later, Director Lee called me one night. She said she was having a drink with NY Fish and she had told him that I was his fan so I should talk to him. When I greeted him over the phone, he said in a slightly drunk voice, “Thank you for liking a poor musician. I love you!” Often indie band musicians get surprised to find that celebrities like their music. When I meet them, I become and act like an avid fan. I ask them about when their next album will be coming out. I got autographs on my own cds from the different bands that were guests on my radio program, and when they asked me for my autograph, I felt a little embarrassed. (laughs)”
NY Fish – “Love Again”
“One day I was in my car reading a scenario that I’ve received, and I liked it. That was Finding Kim Jong-wook.” For Gong Yoo who went for his military service after rising to stardom with his role in Coffee Prince, choosing his comeback project was an important decision. But as opposed to using any strategy, he picked the project as his heart led him. “It doesn’t happen often where you laugh out loud like that from reading a scenario. I didn’t laugh merely because it was funny, but because I was able to relate to it and was able to imagine it in my head. After laughing about it to myself, I decided to do it because I thought it’d be fun.” After making his debut with the KBS drama series School 4 in 2001, he’s already become an actor of 10 years experience. With time, he’s gained composure. And as opposed to radical transformations, he is revealing a different side of himself little by little. This is why we’re always anticipating Gong Yoo for what is still to come.