I love the stage set-up MBC uses. I can’t remember if this is the same staging as last year, but it’s definitely the same as it was in 2014. It strikes a nice balance between intimate and expansive, and places the audience super close to both indoor stages, which results in a more “live” feel. MBC’s camera work also tends to be the best., and the seating of the idols in the main hall provided more meme-worthy reaction shots (and inappropriate tongue wiggling… ahem… Monsta X…) than any other Gayo this year.
(Random thought: Aren’t those LED strips that run down the theatre’s aisle-ways a fire hazard? How do people get out if they have to use the bathroom?)
The “timeslip” theme seems a little overdone, but I’ll forgive it since it allows for nice cover performances. The opening video was a nice attempt at some sci-fi idol interaction, though it ultimately amounted to nothing much.
They really upped their New Year’s game this year as well. That firework display was certainly a visual upgrade from the bell they’ve been ringing the past couple of years. That said, I kind of miss the bell…
Overall, I thought this Gayo was weaker than the past two years at MBC. It seemed to have less groups in attendance than usual, and although there were some strong performances, too many were just the same thing we’ve seen over and over again. In the battle of the year-end broadcasts, I think I’d give the crown to KBS, just by a hair.
Lots of the usual suspects in the top ten list, but no honorable mentions this time. There was no performance that stuck out as bad or even fast-forward-worthy. Instead, a lot of them were solid but unmemorable.
I liked the staging, but would have loved to hear a beefed up orchestration behind the track rather than just the normal instrumental.
GFriend are always fantastic, and bringing in the kids certainly enhanced the sentiments behind their songs. Even so, I feel like we missed out on the awesome orchestral rearrangement these songs are begging for.
8. 2008 Covers Stage
Not sure why they chose 2008 specifically, apart from the fact that it was a real watershed year for the genre. There were some massive tunes in here, though, with Abracadabra’s distinct electro riff stealing the show (as it usually does).
That extended dance break looked much cooler tonight than at the other Gayos, but I’m still disappointed that we didn’t get some awesome remix like in past years.
I loved the dizzying camera angles and live band during You’re The Best, and the added strings in Decalcomanie were a nice touch. This is a group that is best when they’re loose and fun and interacting with each other.
5. Hoya, Dongwoo & Choa
Honestly, just watching Dongwoo play with that cape thing he was wearing was the highlight of this entire “Rolling Music Box” segment. This was way more entertaining and badass (in a totally ridiculous way) than it should have been.
What a smart idea to blend Honey with Very Nice! Unfortunately, that small stage was severely limiting and did the guys no favors. They seemed so tightly packed and restricted. Still, that awesome choreography was on point and I’m happy that Very Nice finally got a Gayo performance.
This was a brilliant remix, capitalizing on the song’s weirder, more fantasy-like elements. The introduction was especially striking. There’s only so much you can do with a song as tightly structured and catchphrase-dependent as TT, but this was a nice surprise.
2. Infinite x Shinee
Preceded by the single best sketch any Gayo has given us this year, two of the absolute best groups in all of k-pop blitzed through a greatest hit each. I consider both Infinite and Shinee to be some of the most talented live performers in the entire genre, so there was no way this was gonna suck. I was so happy to see them both get deserved spotlight for being the respected veteran acts they are.
1. Next Generation Stage – UP10TION
Next generation, indeed! Wow. This remix was incredible, and their go-for-broke performance matched it for energy. White Night is particularly powerful live, and this was the best I’ve ever seen the group perform it. They set the bar very, very high right as the show was kicking off, and nobody quite matched it over the course of the program. Against all expectations, this rookie group snatched the performance of the night.