Warning: This recap is not spoiler-free. Proceed at your own risk!
EPISODE ONE RECAP // EPISODE TWO RECAP // EPISODE THREE RECAP // EPISODE FOUR RECAP // EPISODE FIVE RECAP// EPISODE SIX RECAP // EPISODE SEVEN RECAP // EPISODE EIGHT RECAP
This week, we finish up the FANtastic Queendom round, made up of songs chosen by the fans. This is the last competition before the finale.
FANtastic Queendom Round
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 – The Boys
Head to last week’s recap for the full review!
5. LOONA – Butterfly
I’ll admit, I’m not as sold on Butterfly as most people seem to be. The song has grown on me over the years, but I still find the chorus a little underwhelming. And while I’m wearing my curmudgeon hat and admitting things, I’ve gotta say this performance didn’t do much for me either. The dancing was slick and the staging was simple and effective, but I think they missed an opportunity by not doing more with the track.
As a casual LOONA listener, this just sounded like the original mix of Butterfly with a few more symphonic elements weaved in. Not every song needs to be reinvented for Queendom (and some really shouldn’t), but the pureness of this stage felt a bit underwhelming compared to its more bombastic competition.
With that said, LOONA still have my favorite performance of the series with Shake It, and I don’t see that changing.
4. VIVIZ – Bop Bop
Head to last week’s recap for the full review!
3. Brave Girls – Red Sun
At this point, I’m convinced we’re never going to see a proper performance of After We Ride, despite it being a title track. That’s a damn shame, and it should have been the choice this round. Inexplicably, the fans chose a crappy CF track. Are we just trying to sabotage Brave Girls at this point?
For the performance, they’ve targeted audience sympathy, retelling their unlikely rise to fame after years of toil and diminishing returns. The arrangement brought extra drama with a tried-and-true trick: lacing Red Sun with a well-known classical sample. As the only stage to attempt a fleshed-out narrative, I have to give the performance extra points. But if I’m honest, Red Sun is such a nothingburger that the emotion kind of collapsed in on itself, heartfelt and earnest as it may have been. Just think how powerful this stage could have been with a more evocative song at its heart!
2. WJSN – Pantomime
Head to last week’s recap for the full review!
1. Hyolyn – See Sea – Bae
Okay, I love See Sea. Call me basic if you want, but I wouldn’t mind if Hyolyn gave us variations of this same sound for the next ten years. It’s so breezy and hypnotic and fits her voice to a tee. A mash-up of See Sea and Bae sounds like heaven. Throw in a Sistar track or two and you’ll find me passed out from pop bliss.
I know Queendom is supposed to be about the stages, but a great song goes a long way. I mean, it’s the most vital ingredient in the recipe. Hyolyn looked like she was having a ball, which is such an undervalued facet of live K-pop performances. I want to watch performers enjoying themselves and pulling us in with their magnetism. That’s the magic of a popstar. Hyolyn has *it*, more so than anyone else in this competition. And, that’s more dynamic than a thousand visual tricks or dance breakdowns.
(But speaking of breakdowns, the dance break here was killer. It was a good choice to bring in Street Woman Fighter’s Hyerim as a guest)
Going into the finale, it’s time to see how the voters felt about this round. After a lot of hemming and hawing on the producer’s part, we have our ranking:
1. Brave Girls
Hmmm… I guess the sympathy thing worked. It often does on shows like this. It’s funny because I’ve been sympathetic to Brave Girls this whole season (I mention it pretty much every week), yet I found the stage to be just okay. More than anything, I’m surprised at Hyolyn’s low showing. I guess I’m just biased toward her and her music. But hey, the spoiler of this blog is right there in its title!
Obviously, I don’t agree with this ranking. But, I’m glad to see Brave Girls get first place. I’m really rooting for them.
I’ll be back tomorrow with a personal ranking of this year’s original finale songs, which were also teased at the end of this episode.
Spoiler alert: they ain’t great…
That spoiler alert is ominous although I get it.
Been a little busy, but overall I enjoyed a lot of the stages though I would probably rate Butterfly first because of bias but also I love the formations and choreography + the ethereal feel of it. The full cam is gorgeous to watch, but I swear that camerawork is the worst. As always, LOONA looks their best without the unneccessary camerawork. I also really liked Pantomime even if the beginning was a bit slow. I thought See Sea was a great showing, even if the first two were my favorite compared to Hyolyn. The rest were alright althouh VIVIZ was definitely the least interesting of the six.
I will say for the finale songs I love both POSE, Whistle and Red Sun! but I have a feeling this blog will not be amicable towards the first. However I’ll save most of my criticisms and praises for when Nick actually reviews them. (I love LOONA’s but a shouty chorus full of rap? Nick is already feeling that trauma from the battering of those tracks this year has given out. There’s something special about POSE to me, but I get it if it doesn’t click with others. It’s just so fierce to me but then again I like Wings and that’s got a worse rating than POSE will ever get).
Hey….Initially I also thought that it would be nice to perform after we ride in this round but interestingly none of their fan mentioned this song in their choices (or maybe mnet just cut out). But then this round is more of their connection with their fans, fearless . I think it’s a good choice overall ..
※PS: If I were them thinking this would be probably the last round, I also will choose a song that will connect with my fans like wat MAMAMOO did last time even though I would get eliminated later.
Red Sun! is top-tier tho…
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They are all mad at songs with a good chorus? Chorus were the big missing part of this episode.
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I absolutely agree that Hyolyn having the time of her life during that performance was what made it one of my favourite performances ever! We absolutely need more idols enjoying their own songs and performances!
To say that if Moonlight from Lovelyz was released in Q2, it would be the best song on the album show how it dropped quality-wise. With maybe the exception of one, they feel very underthought, esp compared to Lion or Guerilla.
Anyways, I’m waiting for your rankings!
About the performances, I liked them a lot. Actually, Bop Bop has grown on me a lot, Pantomime is still my favorite. See Sea had a cute idea, but I wasn’t that sold on the execution of it that much.
Hyolyn “Bae”: Holy color saturation, Batman! There were two volumes to this performance: when Hyolyn was singing, and when she wasn’t singing. Thanks, Mr Soundboard! Other than that, it was fine.
Brave Girls “Red Sun”: I don’t understand the theme or story, but I enjoyed watching it, maybe because they were actually smiling real genuine smiles. Nice flower dresses too.
Loona “Butterfly”: Of the three, this performance most resembled a daily music show with bigger stage and more dancers. I kept wishing for some cool interlocking arms thing a la TVXQ to make a giant glowing butterfly, but alas it was not to be.
They didn’t pull off the song or change it enough to work
Pretty outfits, but the original choreography was more impactful.
Liked the concept and dance breaks.
Pretty good stage, but it’s like her touch my body performance part 2. I didn’t understand the story either
Loved the chaotic energy. They felt more charismatic than in previous stage
1. Brave girls
I liked that they added cannon in d to the track. I can see how people can find it cheesy,but I think they definitely improved on red sun. I found it very touching and I cried ( by far the biggest emotional response I’ve had to anything on this show)
Lol I always write these before reading the posts and it’s funny how Nick and I have the same ranking but just swapped hyolyn and brave girls
I have to agree on your assessment of “Butterfly”. It was a great performance, but I was expecting more.
Heavily disagree, the stage itself was gorgeous without the unnecessary camera shots, watch the full cam version instead.
You’re gonna have to take the L here. Red Sun is a great song, this was a fantastic remix, and I think Brave Girls outperformed. This was not a sympathy win, they won because they were the best.
As much as I would love to believe that the fans decided to vote based on quality all of a sudden, unfortunately I have to believe that any voting from fans is always influenced by other factors, and that there was some sympathy voting at play here, because at the very least fans of any group agree that it would be sad to see a group be eliminated. And this is coming from someone who enjoyed the Brave Girls’ performance! I’m just saying that, since Round 3 was filmed after the results of Round 2 had been released, most fans know that Brave Girls was on the cusp of elimination and there were wide-spread plans to use their 2nd votes in the 2-vote system to vote for Brave Girls. This also tracks with Hyolyn’s sudden downfall from 1st in the last two rounds to 4th, because I’m assuming most people had been voting 1st vote: their fave, 2nd vote: Hyolyn for the last two rounds, also leaving Brave Girls in the dust at 6th as the two are the acts with the smallest dedicated fandoms that would need to rely on 2nd votes, and now those votes are being given to Brave Girls.
I’m conflicted about this, because obviously I’m delighted to see Brave Girls take the win for this round, but also it’s yet again another reminder that the votes can be manipulated, that voting is still at its core a popularity contest, and that we needed something like an imminent elimination to disrupt the typical voting patterns. Something a little relieving is that somehow, the winner for this season is still up in the air, unlike QD1 and Kingdom where Mamamoo and SKZ seemed locked in from the beginning. Not that winning this show is really all that important in the long run – we all know that the real winners of the show are those that get the boost in public recognition after – but it’s still nice to see that there’s not total domination from one group with the biggest fanbase.
Easily their best performance on the show, but compared to the others it’s kind of underwhelming. For the most part, I don’t remember much of it but I’m just mad that they didn’t perform O.O.O
I’m not a hyolyn fan at all so this could just seem like a biased ranking but this seemed exactly like her “touch my body” performance but with a different song. I thought that the inclusion of hyerim (I think that was her name?) was cute but in general this performance bored me. But at the same time it’s a good performance just because the song itself is really good.
This was a cute performance with a nice concept. I really liked it and don’t have much to say about it other than that it I liked their energy.
I probably should have ranked loona either below or at the same rank as viviz if you’re talking about the stage itself, and I will admit here that I am probably a bit biased, but imo loona’s stage encapsulated the meaning of this round the best. This felt more like a stage “for the fans” by virtue of choosing a fan-favorite song with meaningful lyrics. The aesthetics of the stage itself were also pretty, but I feel like they could’ve done more with this performance to make it look even more majestic.
This was one of the best performances, but it seemed a bit messy. The messiness doesn’t exactly make the stage worse because it’s part of the stage and the song’s appeal, but if it were a bit cohesive it would’ve been better. But in any case, the LED screen display, the chair dance, the aerobics, everything was cool and I was captivated while watching it.
1. Brave Girls
This is the only performance that i watched more than once. This stage definitely tugs at the heartstrings, which imo should’ve been the case for more of this round’s performances. Not only is it the perfect performance for this round (from the song itself to the story they’re trying to tell, not only is it the most cohesive stage, it’s the epitome of a “performance for the fans”) but I loved the rearrangement after the chorus.
See Sea is still my favourite Hyorin song ;u; as a fan I am happy and catered to.
Alas, the problem with the amazing Butterfly is that it’s too difficult to improve on! It’s always been an odd song out, so, a good choice for fanservice, but not really competition show material.
I adore Viviz but this performance felt like three solos trying to stitch themselves together. Gfriend amazed us by their synchronisation, Viviz as a trio don’t seem to be using that to their advantage nearly as much, and when they’re split up on stage they don’t have as much stage presence as I’m used to. But they’re senior rookies and they’ll adapt \o/
Kepler… was fine, just fine by me. I barely recognised The Boys’, it really felt like their own Kepler version in terms of performance and style, so to me that makes up for using another group’s song.
And WJSN sure did a good job of doing everything to captivate the live audience. It may look messy on video but if I were watching this live it would be just enough.
All right, Brave Girls finally showed me what they could do!
I waited until this stage to compare with their previous performances.
With MVSK I saw two main problems (in spite of plague-related issues):
– in the first parts, the full cam version shows that performers not on camera look awkwardly inactive. It’s the least dynamic song in the set and the choreo does not do the beat justice or help to energise it. Loona’s success with Shake It, where nobody was inactive on the sides of the stage, showed how important that is for the live audience voters.
– the song felt unfinished and awkwardly chopped off just when it was getting good. The rave-lit dance break interrupted any flow the song had, then the final chorus finally brought back some intensity… for twenty seconds, then bye-bye. There should have been more time for this – heck, the rave dance break could have been cut out altogether.
And with their first-round Rolling, I’m sorry but these poor women’s tacky outfits were very distracting. You could even hear them creaking during the talk segments. I got into kpop with gen 2 so I’m nostalgically fond of horrible tacky stage outfits, but here they just stuck out from the more modern stage outfits.
And all the different fluorescent props and solo moments looked messy. Hyorin shopping for fake plants was cute and #girlboss, but it showed how much attention she paid to the visual cohesion of her stage.
All this to say that in this round, Brave Girls finally got a stage where they were in decent costumes, where the members looked united instead of being scattered all over the stage, where the aesthetics were coherent, and where the props helped instead of distracting from the performance. And ta-da, the voters managed to hear the talent!
My ranking of this round is completely based on what songs I already liked and who I was biased towards (ie, Loona, Brave Girls, and Hyolyn) which I’m ok with!
6- The Boys by Kep1er. I really wish they had performed a song from Girls Planet 999- one of the unit songs like Snake or Shoot would have been a perfect choice and I am rather of the the opinion that it is incredibly hard to do Girls Generation songs justice because of how good SNSD originally performed them, so you may as well not bother before you embarass yourself. About 0.5 of Kep1er have the vocal chops for this song particularly, if they were going to do an SNSD one they could have easily done Gee or Oh! which would have suited them better.
5- Pantomime by WJSN- I’m not familiar enough with WJSN as I am for the other groups for this to resound with me although I thought their staging was incredibly creative and a lot of fun!
4- Bop Bop by Viviz- this was a really cute stage design and I liked the remix of this, it felt like it was a sequence from a 2000s teen movie and their outfits were so pretty. I like Bop Bop well enough as a song but it didn’t have the emotional grab that my top three did
3- Red Sun by Brave Girls, I’m with you on I wish they’d performed After We Ride! It was my top song this year on Spotify Wrapped (I played it 606 times, jesus christ) and would have been amazing for this round, or even Thank You or High Heels. The emotions in their Red Sun performance definitely got to me though, and while it is only a CF song their vocals all sounded great. (Plus, the floral outfits!!)
2- See Sea by Hyolyn, this is undoubtedly Hyolyn’s best song and I would be also be perfectly happy for her to release things incredibly similar to this every single year. She has all the confidence and charisma that comes with her experience and the songs to back it up. The staging for this was pretty cool and even though she didn’t win, she had absolutely nothing to prove and instead showed off her incredible talent every single episode.
1- Butterfly by Loona. I didn’t think this song could sound any more soaring and dramatic and heartbreakingly beautiful, and then Loona proved me wrong. I agree that this remix didn’t add much apart from a more symphonic and orchestral sound, but it absolutely works and made me cry about five times while watching this performance. Butterfly has my favourite K-pop choreography of all time, as it’s stylish and adds to the song itself while also being technically incredible, and I felt like it was a privilege to watch this piece