Warning: This recap is not spoiler-free. Proceed at your own risk!
EPISODE ONE RECAP // EPISODE THREE RECAP
It’s time to finish the first round of Queendom performances. There’s only four of them this week, but the show still stretched for two uninterrupted hours. That’s a lot of backstage filler, folks.
Watching the first few minutes of this episode, it’s clear how desperate MNET is for all-out war. Zooming in on explosive moments, manufacturing drama, placing words like “battle” front and center… it’s all so obvious at this point. This has become one of the K-pop industry’s most regrettable selling points. Whether directly or not, this messaging plays into (and exacerbates) existing fan wars and the competitive nature of fandom. It’s the gamification of music, and those who enjoy the actual songs tend to lose out.
Anyways, rant over. I didn’t mean to start this recap on such a dramatic note! At any rate, I can’t wait for these groups to totally undercut the narrative and become the supportive peers we all know they are.
SIGNATURE SONG BATTLE
As noted earlier, we finish this round today. I’m combining last week’s performances with this week’s for a final ranking. LOONA didn’t participate, but their performance was shown so I included it in my own ranking.
Disclaimer: I’m watching the full show, not just clips on YouTube. So, the editing of each performances may inadvertently factor into my rankings. But, I’ll be embedding the full YouTube performances in these posts.
6. Kep1er – Wa Da Da
It’s crazy that this is the group’s first performance in front of a live audience! It must be hard debuting during the pandemic — such a shift from what they’d envisioned as trainees. Kep1er’s behind-the-scenes edit worked hard to convince us they weren’t cast for Queendom solely due to their relationship with MNET. I don’t buy it for a second, but it doesn’t really matter. This is an MNET show. They have the right to promote their own artists. Now, whether Kep1er can convincingly compete with their seniors is another question…
With that in mind, I’m not quite on board yet. It’s probably because I don’t find Wa Da Da to be all that great itself. The girls gave it their all, but the mix kept switching and changing with no overarching vision — only to circle back to a hook as uninspired as… “wa da da da.” It all feels a little throwaway. This isn’t a knock on Kep1er’s talent or performance. We’ve just seen this style of performance so many times.
5. LOONA – PTT (Paint The Town)
As you can tell, so much of my feelings about a performance rest on the song itself. You can throw tons of cool effects and interesting concepts into the mix, but if the foundation isn’t strong, it’s hard to create a true standout. I don’t really care for PTT, but I thought LOONA gave it a cool makeover with a traditional approach. This worked especially well in the verses and resulted in a cool dance break. The chorus didn’t feel nearly as complimentary to this style. And honestly, the fact that the performance was presented as an afterthought toward the end of the episode made it much less of a moment.
4. WJSN – As You Wish
WJSN lament over the fact they don’t have one big smash hit everyone knows. I guess that’s true, but I’d take their excellent discography over “one big hit” any day. I love As You Wish, even if I don’t consider it their signature song (that would probably be Secret or Save Me, Save You).
I also wanted to love this performance. In fact, I was prepared to!
I liked it just fine, and there were parts that were almost spectacular. But, the remix missed the opportunity to build and build to the point where its bombastic finale felt earned. Still, WJSN are a force to be reckoned with and I’m really pulling for them.
(Apparently, the girls’ hourglass prop broke and made the stage very slippery due to all the sand that scattered everywhere. This is unfortunate, and may explain some of the hesitancy I felt during the performance. Of course, MNET wrung all the drama they could from this incident…)
3. VIVIZ – Time For The Moon Night + Rough
See last week’s recap for my full thoughts!
2. Brave Girls – Chi Mat Ba Ram + Rollin’
I can already tell Brave Girls are going to be my underdog queens this season. They’re all about “power” this round, trying to show the public a new side of themselves. This doesn’t always work well in the context of Queendom (thinking of you, Lovelyz), and I’d hate for Brave Girls to lose what makes them unique and special.
They performed two absolute bangers this week, switching up Chi Mat Ba Ram just enough to give it a Queendom-appropriate makeover. The staging was striking and the vocals were great, but the highlight was definitely the quick transition into Rollin. I loved the added sax. It felt like a real celebration – the feel-good energy I expect from Brave Girls. I’m glad they didn’t opt for a “dark” reinvention. They don’t need gimmicks. They’ve got the songs and they’ve got the talent.
1. Hyolyn – Touch My Body
See last week’s recap for my full thoughts!
As I mentioned last week, I don’t plan on writing too much about the non-performance parts of the series — mostly because I find them boring. The teams each voted for acts that were “below” and “above” them. This involved equal parts strategy and dramatic editing. I found Hyolyn’s honest evaluation pretty refreshing. I also felt awful for VIVIZ. This format is soooo awkward.
And just in case you were wondering, we have a…
- Brave Girls
(I have a feeling I’m going to have to sing Brave Girls’ praises even more than I already do because they clearly need the hype.)
Overall Ranking (Global + Onsite votes)
- Brave Girls
(Yep. Definitely joining that Brave Girls street team.)
People be pulling some bullshit out of their butts, how did Ke1per rank above Brave Girls and LOONA?!
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LOONA is automatically 6th since they got COVID and couldn’t perform their stage the day of Round 1. Kep1er edged out Brave Girls in the Global Evaluation by more points than Brave Girls did in the Audience. Most of the live audience voted Hyolyn > WJSN = Viviz > Kep1er = Brave Girls. So naturally, Brave Girls got last, and Kep1er barely beats them by 600 points.
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To extend this a little. IIRC Brave Girls Minyoung had a nasty voice crack that was edited out in the official broadcast. Of course, you can’t really edit something like that live so the votes were affected that way.
Oh wow, I’m honestly shocked MNET didn’t keep that in and replay it a thousand times from every possible angle.
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We’ll see for Round 2 if they keep up this editing because rumor has it Round 2 also has a major voice crack too. If they do edit it out, then it’s probably just to elevate the performance/soften the blow (though their camerawork kinda sucks sometimes).
If not, it’s a little suspicious though Brave Girls are kind of struggling anyway so I get trying to soften that blow.
I’m less critical of a singer “Peter Brady’ing” (screeching) a note or two because that at least informs me that they are actually singing; versus lip-sinking.
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True, though I can see why Brave Girls didn’t end up with a lot of points that way. Most of the people live-voting were from various fandoms, and the second vote ends up to another performance. It’s not a surprise then that Brave Girls would end up with a lot less votes then if a voice crack was visibly heard compared to something like HYOLYN’s perfomance, which ended up getting most of vote based on the scores.
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I agree, though I can understand that hearing a voice crack probably instantly leaves a bad impression, even when the rest of the performance was good – especially considering the audience just watches each performance once, by the time all of them are over and they must vote, they rack their brains thinking what they remember from each performance, and unfortunately this probably would stick out (which sucks).
Anyways, Hyolyn and Brave Girls did by far the most live singing and sounded great, though following them (surprisingly), from what I can tell, is Kep1er – you can consistently hear some of them sing quite confidently over the backing track (Youngeun + Chaehyun in particular). For example see 2:23 where Chaehyun misses the beginning of her line and you can hear the backing track, and then she joins in over top. I might be being tricked here with well-edited pre-recorded vocals that are cleverly placed and have some imperfections on purpose…but idk (this goes for everything I’m saying here, anyways).
Loona was just really quiet all around, so I’m guessing maybe they could had the backing track low assuming they would be singing live over top for most of it, but that didn’t end up panning out – I don’t blame them though because they’d all just recovered from COVID. It’s hard to tell with WJSN and Viviz, it also sounds too samey and consistent for me to pick out anything.
I could totally be off base here, this is just what I heard!
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Well, LOONA is probably exhausted. Their performance was on the next episode’s stage, so they probably had to perform two separate numbers within a day of each other; the one they missed last week, and this upcoming episodes. I can’t imagine them having any wind left in their sails having to do both after coming out of Covid.
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The brave girls performance was really disappointing in my opinion. I ranked kep1er higher
Maybe they should change the name of the show to “Biasdom”, because it seems more about whether of not you have a bunch of hit songs under your belt, and less about your ability to belt out hit songs.
Some of the standout moments from Queendom 1 for me were the ways artists brought “performance” to the stage. It didn’t matter if they sang “Three Blind Mice” so long as they transformed a simple tale of simple tails into an epic and fantastical drama that followed the plight of three rodentia now bereft of their rudders because of the whims of a maniacal chef.
I remember watching AOA’s rendition of “Egotistic” and being blown away because of the changes they made, then watching Hwasa and Kei deliver a largely unchanged, down-to-earth Eilish cover that made up for the lack of glitz with bucket loads of stage presence. It didn’t matter if I liked the original “Egotistic” and/or “Wish You Were Gay”, I liked the presentation of both songs; changed or otherwise.
As for the 6 stages presented thus far, I haven’t been wow’ed. I have a soft spot for LOONA, so I enjoyed seeing their un-performance. It was nostalgic to see Hyolin. WJSN and VIVIZ provided some fond memories. Brave Girls.. ..need to be less self-deprecating and find their “Oomph!” button. Kep1er are supplying the same “Aaaw!” factor as a pen full of puppies.
It’s only the first round, so.. ..we’ll see; won’t we?
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[BREAKING] The K-Pop industry found dead after Hyolyn’s legendary performance
anyway, i decided to listen to every song that was played in the American Song Contest so far and let me tell you, a lot of them are very meh. i even ranked them here like this
entire contest found dead, the killer: south carolina (not alone; 9.25)
all the good shit: alaska (the story; 9), connecticut (beautiful world; 9), minnesota (ready to go; 9), kentucky (sparrow; 9.25), delaware (train; 9), colorado (feel the love; 9)
be pretty decent: alabama (the difference; 8.25), iowa (wonder; 8.75), wisconsin (feel your love; 8), arkansas (never like this; 8.25), mississippi (fire; 8.75) kansas (tell me; 8.5), north dakota (can’t make you love me 8.25), new york (green light; 8), montana (fire it up; 8.25), ohio (every night; 8.5), florida (flirt; 8.5), louisiana (now you do; 8.5), new jersey (i don’t take pictures anymore; 8.25), texas (mr independent; 8), south dakota (bad girl; 8.75)
cookies that weren’t in the oven long enough: oklahoma (wonderland; 7.75), puerto rico (loko; 7.25), rhode island (held on too long; 7), virginia (over you; 7), oregon (million dollar smoothies; 7.5) u.s. virgin islands (celebrando; 7.5), nebraska (never alone; 7.25), maine (get out alive; 7), (seventeen; 7.75)
did the juries think this was good: indiana (love in my city; 6.5), northern mariana islands (sunsets & seaturtles; 6.75)
from the lowest pits of hell: wyoming (new boot goofin; 5.25)
i’ll update it once the rest of the songs come out and see if the ratings for these songs fluctuate
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Beautiful World was very lackluster live fyi… Michael Bolton seemed like he was singing from a teleprompter…
Hoping you’ll update w songs from this week. I liked DIY from Georgia
i’ll update this once the rest of the songs come out don’t worry
Here’s my thoughts for Round 1 as a whole.
I never really hated PTT, just the chorus. This rendition of PTT doesn’t really change that, but everything around it sounds fantastic and I’ll gladly listen to it more, it also fixed my big problem with the ending being too sudden. The theming is my favorite, and just I love watching the full cam of the performance. LOONA always delivers in that aspect.
I’ll also give it to LOONA that they kind of got fucked by COVID so any energy problems I have can be chalked up to lingering symptoms tbh, plus having to prepare this stage in short notice. Notice the different stage? It’s Round 2’s stage and they filmed this a day prior to Round 2. So there were changes and stage direction that needed to be taught very quickly.
Rough and TFTMN are both iconic… but is VIVIZ’ performance iconic? It’s very safe, which I suppose can be smart since the songs can stand on its own, but I’m not very nostalgic for GFRIEND in the slightest and a lot of the rearrangement and choreo isn’t very well… different? I also kind of think it’s too bright for most of the performance, the staging was basically just sparkles. The only time I felt drawn in was when the drama was amped further, like that glorious transition. Although that font choice sort of took me out of it, it’s a bit of an amateurish choice if I’m being honest.
Hyolyn killed it. No further questions haha. Seriously, she kind of killed the concept, she stood out from her dancers and brought the energy needed for the song. Plus the arrangement is just very solid.
I’m not really attached to Brave Girls but I think they did pretty well. Their performance and song at all, but they did it well with a lot of energy. You can tell they’re not amazing dancers but still a really good vibe overall, though I’m not all for it personally. It’s not showstopping in my opinion, just kinda alright.
Here’s the thing, I actually kind of enjoyed Kep1er’s stage, but even I can see the big lack of budget in their stage. They performed very well though and I appreciate WA DA DA nowadays. The flags were more funny than cool and the remix was a little over the place, it had some good electronic moments but could’ve been more elevated I suppose plus the WA DA DA’s can get a bit much haha. Still, love that choreo.
I get you with WJSN’s arrangement was kinda confusing. Some bits are good, some are not. You can also notice that they kind of slip a little at points from the sand which is unfortunate and I can see why they were fully crying backstage from that broken prop. Still I certainly appreciated the drama and the use of second floor. I think the breakdown was also a bit too electronic? I think transitioning into a creepier vibe might have worked with the fantasy aesthetic more than the glitchy style they went for.
Ranking them would probably go like Hyolyn > LOONA >>> WJSN > Brave Girls > Kep1er > VIVIZ, though the last four are kind of interchangeable personally. All four didn’t fully stand out to me, but none of them were truly bad even Kep1er’s (at least to me).
I’m excited for Round 2 honestly. I found it hilarious that everyone wanted LOONA as their pick, which makes sense since their diverse discography and solo+subunit catalog means any soloist and groups with any number of members can find a song that they can embody for their aesthetic. They have cute, girl crush, fantasy and elegant, etc songs in their discog to pick and choose. I also kind of spoiled myself on the song choices, and they are a doozy haha.
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Haven’t watched the episode yet, but I watched all the performances first this time around. Not quite sure on this following ranking, except that Hyolyn was far and away the best performance for me.
Hyolyn >> Brave Girls > WJSN > Viviz > Kep1er > Loona
Also, I don’t find As You Wish WJSN’s signature song either, but it probably is in the eyes of the Korean public, since it goes to #1 on the Korean charts every New Years. They probably ended up picking it because of that (I don’t know if they mention that in the episode), and since they already used Secret and SM, SY in the intro performance (which, in case I didn’t mention it before, was by far the best of the intro performances).
I’m actually pleasantly surprised in the Global Vote results. Everything I’d seen so far re: fandom power pointed to Kep1er and Loona absolutely running away with anything to do with votes or views. So if those were the voting results, I’m glad that Hyolyn most likely topped the votes due to people enjoying her stellar performance, since she likely has the smallest dedicated fandom among all the groups. Though, it seems global voting won’t be the main factor this time anyways as we’re back to an in-person audience.
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About the voting, every live voter needs to vote for two performances and each fandom has the same amount of people attending. This means they vote for their bias group and then one other, hopefully, the performance they like the best. But after seeing how strategic the groups treat their own voting I wouldn’t be surprised if the audience also does it. At first Brave girls and Hyolyn were the go to choices for the big fandoms because they weren’t really seen as a threat, Hyolyn is probably going to have a bigger problem getting votes after a perfect score in the first round.
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I was considering this, yeah…I’d seen what SKZ/ATZ/TBZ fans were doing in Kingdom, trying to use their extra votes on the groups not deemed a threat. Though I wanted to hope that the extra votes would be used on the performance they liked the best. Ah well.
I’m saving my spot to potentially write up a longer review of the performances, but for now, I wanted to plant my flag in support of Brave Girls and Hyolyn, the only 2 artists to really SING (!!)… and louder than a backing track! Hyolyn is a nudge ahead of due to better use of the stage. She’s a pro and still willing to do what she could easily view as beneath her (and at this point kind of is…). Only Brave Girls is giving her a run for her money. They also look like they are just happy to be there. Watching them just makes me smile.
Everyone else was different degrees of meh, but I’m most disappointed in Viviz. I don’t know if there were any problems on stage or they were sick, but this was lifeless. I loved the remix of the songs, and I think everyone is partial to Rough (give it a few years and it will probably wind up being one of “those songs” year end shows always use to cover)… but it was like a vampire sucked the life out of the stage. It looked and sounded like they had zero interest of investment in this. They said their selling point was “having the passion of rookies but with 8 years of experience,” and if I had to judge them on that…. unfortunately, neither passion or experience showed up for this performance. I’m honestly not sure if they realize just how important this opportunity could be for them since it sure didn’t seem like it. I’m hoping for better in the future or else they can exit the ride.
Given Hyuna’s viral reaction to VIVIZ, I’m a bit surprised they didn’t splicey splice her in to argue with Hyolyn thinking it “didn’t have impact!” It’s probably more geared for Buddies, but I thought the stage was gorgeous (particularly the transition between TFTMN and Rough).
Mnet does want to manufacture drama. It’s just good theater. SinB has been fully leaning into the pro wrestling/ice queen persona, so I expected some much more caustic return fire.
Just so you know, I didn’t watch the episodes, I just watched the clips in order they performed. I couldn’t waste two hours on the fake drama, the bs with kep1er in the beginning and behind the scenes that may not even be relevant.
She gave us a whole festival. I really loved the dance break and how the energy never got lost due to the great arrangement. “touch my body” is one of my favorite kpop songs so that definitely plays a part.
I wasn’t impressed with the staging here, but rough and “밤” are such strong songs that it almost didn’t matter. Loved the live strings and this performance had a unique vibe compared to the others.
Some of y’all are gonna hate me for this….WaDaDa is my least favorite song out of the ones performed this round. However, I think my low expectations of kep1er and my lack of attachment to the song is what made me enjoy this performance. They sounded good, I liked the flags as props, the choreo was good, and certain members caught my attention. Dance break could’ve been better, and I’m still not gonna listen to the song;but they did better than I expected.
4. Brave girls
Started off really good. I thought the staging was terrific. Also, chi mat baram is my favorite song on this roster.
I’ve been following them since 2016, however, that seniority didn’t come through like it did with hyolyn. I thought the vocals sounded rough and unpleasant and the dancing wasn’t impressive. The whole thing felt unpolished. I didn’t like the arrangement for chi mat baram either. The switch to Rollin was a great moment and I felt like the vocals got better there. I like that they used the summer remix version of the song since they are our current summer queens. Maybe my expectations were too high
I knew they wouldn’t do secret or save me save you cause they did it for the first episode. “이루이” was one of my guesses of
the song they’d pick, and I’m glad they did it because it’s my favorite song by them. Why so low? The arrangement really took away from what was already such an anthemic, exciting song. It was so distracting. There were cool moments in the dance, but overall I was just left feeling disappointed. All that work and no impact at all.
This was so annoying. Traditional performance… but they left the Indian instrument in the mix? Someone needs to be fired and sent to Mars. The dance break was boring and they somehow managed to take the song’s climax (one of its redeeming features) and dull its effect all together. I will say I think some of the camera decisions here may have hindered some of this performance.
I think I was influenced by which songs and groups I did like but the effect might’ve been different from some of y’all. I still want brave girls to win, but they can do so much better.
Go hyolyn, literally bodied all these groups. Maybe she’ll be the catalyst to get us back to those good old 2nd gen days
Viviz did seem lifeless but the other groups (except Kroger) weren’t serving anything special
On Loona’s performance, I give the sound engineer an F. The members voices didn’t stand out over the music enough to give this song a chance. Furthermore, I wasn’t really excited about the song choice. I would’ve gone with “Butterfly” over anything else in their discography
Just came here to say that I love the people commenting on this blog, they give the best reviews. The OP is always boring, full of nonsense metaphors and genuinely uninspiring, but boy!!! The people commenting are so good it makes the post worth of a click! Thanks you all for your reviews
Lol… gee, thanks…
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If it helps, try imagining Nick reciting the review to you with a helium voice.
P.S. Sorry, Nick, just trying to lighten the mood. 🙂
P.P.S. Nick, try to imagine me telling you that last line with a kazoo in my mouth.
P.P.P.S. Umm.. ..I was never here. Byeeeee!
I just don’t understand why you feel the need to say that rude stuff. You could’ve just left it at you like the comments people leave.
I’m just watch Hyorin, viviz and WJSN performance. They’re good but i like WJSN performance more.
I found the intro performances quite hard to actually rank so I’ll instead write a quick review first and sort out a ranking at the end of my comment!
Kep1er- They did the best to make Wa Da Da better, which is incredibly hard to do. I did like the staging with the flags but it’s just an unfortunate song to perform
WJSN- I like this song a lot but something about the way WJSN performed it just stripped it of all its charm. It’s a shame their prop broke but I would have rather seen them perform it without the prop in the first place and focus on them as performers
Hyolyn- This was quite simply, iconic. Hyolyn came on Queendom but she already is a queen and this was the perfect first stage for her to perform. It hit everything that was great about Sistar and highlighted her strengths, and had a very cool stage design
Brave Girls- Arguably Brave Girls had the best songs to perform out of this round, and I liked the transition between the two. They sounded great, performed great, and simply just have the talent and the songs to back it up.
Viviz- Hyuna’s reaction to this was pretty much mine! I cried a couple times in this performance, I think it was a good decision for Viviz to hit the nostalgia and emotional factor even if Yuju’s power notes were lacking. The second the transition hit I REMEMBER actually throwing my phone across the room because I was so excited
Loona- The traditional arrangement of this was really cool and I loved how they fleshed out the last chorus to draw it out which I always thought the original was missing. Personally I would have loved to see them perform Hi High instead, but considering they literally just recovered from Covid they did amazing and it’s so bullshit they didn’t get any points for this performance.
So I think my ranking is…
3- Brave Girls