In the battle of the end-of-year music shows, KBS’s Gayo Daechukje has always felt like the forgotten middle child. SBS boasts the bigger stage and MBC is bolstered by a longer list of performers and the added excitement of New Year’s. In contrast, KBS’s special often feels more like a typical weekly music show.
Last year, they were able to change this by inviting fewer acts and giving them longer sets (including a career-defining performance by Seventeen), but everything’s back to normal in 2018.
Despite having a longer running time (and boy, did it feel long at times), this year’s Daechukje wasn’t able to match the excitement of SBS’s show earlier in the week. They certainly tried, with a host of special stages and a tearful (verging on exploitative) Wanna One performance, but there weren’t enough big moments to make the night stand out.
Of course, that doesn’t mean we didn’t get some highlights, and the bonkers sing-along of Amor Fati that ended the show was definitely one for the history books. Those holograms alone…
I loved the staging on this. It was a nice blend of retro and comic book sci-fi. The guys didn’t really do anything different with Tempo or Love Shot, but hearing Sign was a treat. If they don’t somehow incorporate Gravity into one of their year-end performances, we’re all missing out.
I would’ve loved hearing a remixed version of this track (or honestly a different Monsta X song entirely), but the guys gave a great performance of Shoot Out with some of the night’s best staging and lights. It was one of the few performances that felt bigger than a standard music show stage.
Hush (Collaboration Performance)
These cover performances are usually pretty slavish in their devotion to the original song, and this was no different. But unlike the saccharine nature of Kissing You that came earlier in the night, Hush allowed the girls to really sink their teeth into a beguiling performance piece.
Stripping back the instrumental was a smart move, as the first half of the song really let the guys’ vocals shine. A ballad like this works especially well on a smaller stage, and this felt like the most emotive performance I’ve seen from BTOB in awhile.
10. Nu’est W
Help Me was mostly business as usual, but the new mix of Dejavu was really nice. I wanted it to go even harder (those opening verses were amazing), but I was still impressed that they were able to do anything drastically different with the song.
Unlike their sexy, slow-burn mix at SBS’s Gayo, tonight’s version of I’m So Sick benefited by a really cool injection of added electronics. If this is the creative, badass direction that Apink are going, sign me up right away. I loved the simple dinner table set, too.
Bboom Bboom started off like a typical performance and I was ready to write it off, but it really came to life when elements of other tracks (Ring Ding Dong, Amor Fati, LA Song) were brought in for the slick segue into BAAM. Many listeners have criticized these two songs for sounding too much alike, and this medley shamelessly accentuated that. But I love how the girls just leaned into the similarity and made it work.
As expected, VIXX gave Scentist a suitably dramatic treatment, with gothic costuming and terrible hair on Ravi. The mix was just different enough to give the song extra oomph, and the dance breaks were wonderfully executed. Honestly, it’s my ambivalence to Scentist as a whole that keeps this from placing higher.
6. SM – The Best
This had some brilliant moments (that Kai/Jisung dance!), but is it wrong that I wish they’d performed older songs? Where was my Rising Sun? Or Lucifer? Or Atlantis Princess? Or We Are The Future? That obviously would’ve taken more work to put together, but it would have had more impact as well. Even so, this was a solid reminder of SM’s hits over the past few years, and I always love seeing inter-agency collaborations like this.
Since their debut, Seventeen have been my MVPs of the end-of-year shows. They always bring something exciting and new. They set an impossibly high bar for themselves during last year’s KBS Gayo, but the performance tonight was still fantastic. I loved the slowed down remix of Thanks, and it segued perfectly into the harder-hitting Getting Closer.
Woollim Entertainment always gives their artists dynamic mixes for the end-of-year shows. I would’ve loved to hear more of the high-energy electro remix of That Day (it sounded great!), but I can’t fault them for moving quickly towards the strings-backed Lost N Found. You just can’t go wrong with a string section, and it made for one of the night’s most welcome enhancements of an already strong song.
If BTS’ performance on the SBS Gayo was a blitz through their greatest hits, tonight’s set felt like a collection of special stages taken from a concert. Though they were brief, it was nice to see each member get individual spotlight. Fake Love, though, was even better. I’m so glad that they used the rock version of the track, and the dance breakdown was super creative and a blast to watch.
After an underwhelming part one of the KBS Gayo, Sunmi was the perfect performer to kick things into gear. Inviting Seulgi and Daehwi to duet on Heroine was an inspired choice, and offered the kind of unexpected team-up that makes these end-of-year festivals so much fun. The staging was terrific, and of course her two songs were as stunning as always.
1. JYP – Of All Time
Coming into the night, I was much more excited for SM’s collaboration stage than JYP’s, but the execution here was just too good to deny. Perfectly utilizing its artists in new and exciting ways, this was a pretty flawless medley. It honored the agency’s past (love the Park Jinyoung songs!), but with an eye toward the future. Having DAY6 as a house band for the opening segment proved invaluable, but things really heated up when we got to the rap and dance portions of the performance. Taken as a whole, this was the kind of showstopper I expect from these kind of special stages.