Queendom has become one of K-pop’s most pleasant surprises this year. Its conceit — five girl groups (and one soloist) competing for performance-based dominance — was shockingly good-natured in reality, allowing each act to showcase their charms without the kind of needless drama these series usually thrive on. In fact, I’d be just as happy if Queendom ditched the competition aspect entirely.
Even before it premiered, the show was pitched as the “battle of the comebacks,” where each participant would release a new single on the same day and compete for chart dominance. On paper, this idea seemed ridiculously exciting. Would we really get six new comebacks in one day?
Not really. The six songs arrived two days ago without much fanfare. As enjoyable as the series itself has been, this final push feels a little underwhelming. No promotion, no music videos and — quite frankly — music that sounds more like glorified b-sides than actual comebacks.
But, I’m still here to rank them, because that’s what I do! To be clear, this ranking is based entirely off the song itself, not my feelings about the actual group. If I were to rank each act’s full discography, my list would look something like:
Lovelyz > Oh My Girl > AOA > Mamamoo > (G)I-DLE > Park Bom (solo work only).
6. Park Bom – Wanna Go Back
Honestly, Park Bom was set up for failure from the very first episode. It just doesn’t seem fair to have a soloist compete with groups. Still, Queendom has been a great showcase for her always-endearing personality. And, it’s nice to have a veteran artist in the mix.
Sadly, Wanna Go Back is not Bom’s best work. Its general sound echoes her previous 2019 solo tracks, but not much about this track feels memorable. The production is too plodding and the melody does little to pull it from its murk. While not for everyone, Bom’s idiosyncratic vocals carry the day. I just wish they were attached to a more interesting song.
5. Lovelyz – Moonlight
Lovelyz seemed to learn a valuable lesson throughout Queendom: don’t try to be something you’re not. With this in mind, Moonlight is kind of baffling. It sounds nothing like a Lovelyz song. But rather than go totally left-field, Moonlight opts for the kind of generic tropical vibe that’s cluttered international charts for too long. I’m not sure what the point is here. The production already feels dated and the melody isn’t anything special. What a waste!
Slightly off-topic, but between this, Rocket Punch’s debut and the W Project 4, Woollim Entertainment hasn’t delivered anything remotely original since May. I’m a little worried. My favorite K-pop agency simply can’t be going generic! I’d have to revolt.
4. Mamamoo – Destiny
I love the bluesy opening to this track. Mamamoo spent most of Queendom simply skirting through the various performance rounds. Their popularity and talent easily carried them, but it didn’t feel like they ever really challenged themselves. Destiny’s unconventional structure is the ballsiest thing they’ve done throughout the series, and does a good job showcasing their different performance styles.
However, Destiny comes across as a series of high and low points. I’m not sure that all the different tempo and stylistic shifts come together to make a satisfying whole, even if they’re pretty impressive on their own. It’s the kind of song I can appreciate, but not necessarily love. Still, they get points for thinking outside of the box.
3. AOA – Sorry
This is really different for the girls. I like the general vibe, even if its trendy elements aren’t what I look for when it comes to AOA releases. The synthpop chorus is Sorry’s strongest moment, pulsing with a catchy melody that honestly should’ve been tethered to a more retro song. The verses spend a little too much time absorbed in their own moodiness, and I wish the track jettisoned all of its trap elements, but overall this is a success.
On a broader note, I’ve really fallen in love with AOA through Queendom. I’ve always enjoyed their music, but didn’t know much about them as people. Their self-deprecating humor is very charming.
2. (G)I-DLE – Lion
If I’m going to be really biased, (G)I-DLE is probably the only group I’ve ended up liking less throughout their stint on Queendom. Something about their group dynamic just rubs me the wrong way. It seems very top heavy, if that makes sense. Maybe I just need to watch more of their variety that doesn’t involve competition so I can get a better sense of their individual personalities.
Anyway, Lion is probably the best (G)I-DLE track since 2018’s Hann. Sometimes it feels like the group tries too hard to be edgy without focusing on the song itself, but Lion harnesses their strengths and fuses them to a catchy melody. I love the percussive arrangement and the fierce energy. The structure is more streamlined than I would’ve expected, though I’m not sure how Lion’s repetitive refrain is going to age. I could see it tiring quickly.
1. Oh My Girl – Guerilla
Oh My Girl have played things incredibly smart during Queendom, and will likely go down as the series’ biggest winners even if they don’t actually take the crown on the final episode. So, it’s no surprise that their song is also the strongest of the six.
Rather than use this platform to experiment with something new, Guerilla enlists longtime collaborators to produce a song that fits right within Oh My Girl’s wheelhouse. It comes across as a lighter, more upbeat companion to their own The Fifth Season, bringing in orchestral elements for its standout chorus. Of all six singles, Guerilla feels the most like it could actually be promoted and compete with full-fledged comebacks of other artists. It’s not close to Oh My Girl’s best, but it’s far and away the strongest song to come from Queendom’s finale.