I may not be a trained dancer, but I do watch music shows each week! In 2018, intricate and catchy choreography continued to play a huge part in K-pop comebacks. Here are the ten routines that caught my eye this year:
Seungri – 1, 2, 3!
NCT U – Boss
Seventeen – Oh My!
+ Make sure to check out the rest of the year-end countdowns here!
10. GWSN – PUZZLE MOON
With some of the most satisfying formations of the year, Puzzle Moon‘s smooth routine precisely emulated all sorts of lunar imagery, relying on little more than curved wrists and extended arms to create magic.
9. MOMOLAND – BBOOM BBOOM
One of the year’s most iconic and covered dances, Bboom Bboom capitalized on Momoland’s addictive, upbeat energy. It’s a smart balance between trendy and trend-setting, simple enough for anyone to follow but impressive in its pure giddiness.
8. BOA – WOMAN
To be honest, Woman’s gravity-defying, inverted introduction earns it a place on this list all by itself. It’s as simple as that. But beyond that showstopping moment, BoA skirts through an army of backing dancers with lithe, effortless confidence.
7. NCT – BLACK ON BLACK
What it may have lacked in memorable point moves, Black On Black made up for with sheer bombast. At eighteen performers, the routine was 2018’s largest. It’s a veritable army of highly-skilled dancers, attacking with full energy.
6. THE BOYZ – RIGHT HERE
Right Here takes ample advantage of what I like to call the “domino effect,” where one member kicks off a pattern of movement that gives the entire group an addictive staccato appeal. All of the Boyz’ routines are polished down to the tiniest step, but Right Here felt like their most cohesive, memorable routine yet.
5. CELEB FIVE – I WANNA BE A CELEB
I Wanna Be A Celeb begs to be taken as a joke, but this quick-footed choreography is seriously better than many “real” idol groups. Yes, there are plenty of comedy routine moments, but when the ladies hit that sharp, fast-paced choreography for the chorus, they’ll have your jaw dropping.
4. CHUNGHA – LOVE U
Love U is not Chungha’s most technically demanding routine, but there’s something about it that I just find so charming. I’m a sucker for mixed gender choreography, and the fact that this feels ripped from some cheesy movie musical scores it bonus points. It’s a testament to Chungha’s star power that she drives the focus even with everything else going on around her. Rarely is a “cute” dance like this carried off with such panache.
3. PENTAGON – SHINE
Shine is probably the trendiest choreography on this list (thank god there’s no flossing…), but it has a playful rambunctiousness that really sets it apart. What occasionally looks like controlled chaos is instead an incredibly tight, humor-filled performance piece that improved an already strong song. It’s hard not to be won over by Shine’s goofy charms.
2. SHINEE – GOOD EVENING
A song like Good Evening must be tricky to choreograph, but SHINee defied expectations by presenting a lyrical routine that focused on story and mood rather than showstopping moves. The result is a routine that harnesses time and pace better than any other this year. Just like the song itself, the choreography builds to a cathartic climax, uncluttered by complex configurations and driven by a shot of pure emotion.
1. GOLDEN CHILD – GENIE
The benefit of having a large group configuration like Golden Child’s is that there can always be something new going on in each corner of the choreography. Genie’s exuberant dance is filled with surprises, and plays with levels to create a cohesive whole that never lacks for energy. There are plenty of times where the full group syncs up for a single move, but just as often they split into pieces, with one unit offering a contrasting routine to the other. The in-unison jumps are perfectly level to the point where you could measure them with a ruler, but it’s that energetic breakdown (and side flip!) that became Genie’s true calling card. I’m exhausted just watching them.
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This is INCREDIBLY OT, but it’s been bothering me for awhile now and I have to get it out.
Perhaps I’m too harsh on poor Tag,, but,, but that boy is taking off with his arms down and leading w/his head, and he is barely making it around here. Aerials are a lot easier when you reach up and kick aggressively w/your leading heel. As it stands, all his momentum is forwards not up, which also means that he has not much “air time” and he definitely doesn’t have enough time to prep for a proper landing. That’s putting a ton of pressure on his landing ankle and knee because he’s still twisting sagittally when his foot hits, which means that his foot stops rotating but his knee (and the rest of his body for that matter) will keep rotating, which uh…. I used to throw my side aerials wrong like this and it definitely hurts with repetition.
There are a couple of idols who do side aerials and other tricks onstage (most of whom need an intervention before they kill themselves and/or another member), but a good comparison point is WinWin from NCT, who is probably the current king of kpop tumbling. I mentioned Cheng Xiao on your original review of “Genie,” and she’s still quite decent, but WinWin is definitely better. You might be thinking of the Fire Truck choreo, but that’s a front aerial (but really a front walkover for the majority of the stages). He can do a side aerial though, and its pretty easy to find if you look up a compilation of all the times he’s tumbled. You could also look up any NCAA beam routine. There are plenty of differences in form I could point out, but I think the one that sums up my point the best is that while WinWin can pull out a really nice-looking trick from a stand/hurdle with no steps, Tag has to back up and sprint a few steps to do his flip, yet he barely makes it around. Good form isn’t just aesthetics – it’s significantly more efficient. Tag relies on running momentum because he fails to generate momentum from heel drive/his arms. Winwin doesn’t need the run because good form generates all of the rotation he needs all by itself. Form takes practice, sure, but it also makes things much easier – not to mention SAFER – in the end. It might look cool regardless of form quality, but trust me – I’ve been in competitive tumbling for most of my life, and the majority of idol tumbling scares, the crap. out of me.
It might seem like I’m ragging on Tag or other idols, but I’m sure they could all fix their tumbling with a bit of practice!! The frustrating thing is that companies/choreographers feel quite comfortable with making idols do tricks without proper training that they aren’t really prepared to perform over and over again. You know, imagine a Gfriend moment with a wet stage or something – that could go south really quickly. Kpop has never prioritized idol safety, but really, they should either teach idols how to tumble right or chill with it.
This is why I love that you comment here. You have knowledge in areas I definitely do not, and it’s fascinating to read your take. I would have never thought that anything was off with the form, but looking closer I definitely see what you mean. I wonder if that’s why they subbed in Jangjun to do a different tumbling move halfway through promotions?
I hope your fear of Tag getting hurt doesn’t detract too much from your enjoyment of the choreo as a whole! It’s such a fun, tight routine.
I have zero knowledge in dancing but as I followed Golden Child’s promotion, I was scared the whole time during that part. It didn’t look right in my eyes and I had this constant fear of something happening and was relieved when other member took that part. Now I really hope they teach him how to properly do it.
Great, now you guys have me being scared for his safety, too!
I’m glad I’m not the only one who thinks that I Wanna Be A Celeb is way more challenging than a lot of choreos out there!
Sea is still my favorite GC choreo, but Genie is definitely quite charming. That breakdown always gets me. Though I’d have to say that personally my favorite choregraphies of the year were Right Here and Dreams Come True by WJSN. I’m definitely a sucker for creative formations.
I Wanna Be A Celeb is so fun. In case you haven’t seen it yet, here’s the og choreo and with way more dancers (Tomioka Dance Club). So fun and satisfying to watch.
Dance competition: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cxu_7kIvD2U
where is district 9 stray kids?