The end-of-year festivals officially kicked off this Christmas, with SBS’s Gayo Daejun once again opening the three-night festivities inside the immense Gocheok Sky Dome.
Unfortunately, this year’s proceedings were marred before they even started, with Red Velvet’s Wendy suffering a horrible accident during rehearsals. I’m sure that idols were (understandably) concerned about the safety of their performances throughout the night — especially since SBS’s own negligence seems to be the cause of this unfortunate incident.
Nevertheless, idol groups soldiered on as they always do, delivering a series of solid performances — plus a few standouts. What SBS’s broadcast may lack in the breadth of its line-up, it usually makes up for in bombast. The enormous dome setting certainly helps, as does the Christmas spirit, which seemed to be especially present tonight (even if it kicked off with BTS ostensibly kidnapping a young girl and shepherding her through a series of jazz-hands-worthy set-pieces that defined “cheesy”).
Alas, that oddball opening performance didn’t quite make my list, but read on to see my favorite ten acts of the night. And know that a killer remix or re-arrangement is more likely to vault a group to the top than a standard “music show” presentation of their track.
Monsta X – Alligator + Follow
Alligator was a pretty standard performance. Follow was better. But, Monsta X sneak onto the honorable mentions thanks to that awesome introduction. I never realized how cool rapping and drumming could be when combined together!
GOT7 – Eclipse, Page
Ah, Page. The addictive title track that never was. At least the guys performed it tonight, even if there were some microphone issues.
10. NCT Dream + Stray Kids
This was a pairing I would have never expected, but by selecting the members that they did, I think it worked. The lip-syncing was especially dubious, but the dancing was great and the guys looked like they were having a blast.
9. Seventeen – Home, Snap Shoot
This mix of Home was super interesting. I’m not sure it worked all the way through, but I liked how it played with the energy in new ways. Snap Shoot was a good song to perform given the night’s festive atmosphere, even if it’s not a personal favorite of mine.
8. Mamamoo – Gogobebe, Hip
I firmly believe that almost every song can be improved with a strong injection of rock guitar. I loved the rearrangement of both of these songs, though I craved for a more unpredictable performance to go along with it. I almost wish the girls just ditched the choreography altogether and simply rocked out with the crowd.
7. Oh My Girl – Bungee
Though Bungee hasn’t really held up for me as much as most of Oh My Girl’s singles, I love a good Christmas remix! The girls brought a great festive energy to the night, buoyed by an arrangement that felt loose and playful.
6. Nu’est – Bet Bet, Bass
I still don’t care for Bet Bet, and this double performance just highlighted how much better Bass is. It really should have been their title track, especially given how powerful its accompanying presentation is.
5. ITZY – TT, ICY, Dalla Dalla
This was a pretty tight encapsulation of ITZY’s debut year, with some nice remixed elements and a decent cover performance of a Twice classic. I wish the girls would have been given more dynamic staging (and better camera work!), but they brought the necessary energy to this medley.
4. NCT 127 + NCT Dream
I love it when they have different NCT units perform together. It highlights the cool interchangeability of the whole NCT concept. I think the directors could’ve pushed both Boom and Superhuman farther than they did tonight, but there were some cool dance breaks and extended instrumental moments.
3. “Don’t Touch” Dance Stage
Okay, this makes the list for Chungha + Hwasa alone. JR and Jackson were also an unexpected pairing (I wish their stages hadn’t been so separated), but it just doesn’t get any more fierce than Chungha and Hwasa basically trying to out-sass one another over a reggaeton beat.
2. Twice – Fancy, Dance The Night Away, Yes Or Yes, Feel Special
Like Mamamoo, Twice’s stage benefited greatly from a rock guitar makeover. I would’ve never thought to pair Fancy with this kind of backdrop, but the result was awesome. The rest of the stages suffered a bit by comparison, but I like how they kept the live band feel throughout the entire set. My only question is: why weren’t DAY6 the ones collaborating with them? That would have been epic.
1. Stray Kids – Miroh
And here I thought they’d just be performing Levanter at these year-end shows! You all know how much I love Miroh, and turning it into a Stomp-esque percussive track for the first half was a genius move. Thirty minutes into the show, this was the first time that I really felt electricity in the air during tonight’s festival. Honestly, I need a full version of this remix right now. They killed it.