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 // EPISODE NINE RECAP // Ranking Queendom’s Final Singles
I always kick off these survival show recaps with such an optimistic outlook. Then, week after week the episodes become more exhausting. I really should have learned my lesson by now! The Queendom/Kingdom franchise hasn’t been all that great since 2020, and even the promising Road To Kingdom season had some major (*cough*… elimination) issues as well.
Queendom 2’s biggest roadblock is that it’s become increasingly boring as the season went on. We haven’t seen that many memorable stages, and each performance has been buffered by what feels like hours of tedious backstory. It all comes to a head in this week’s three (!) hour finale. Forgive me if I use my fast forward button liberally this week.
I already wrote about the largely unimpressive studio versions of the finale tracks. I’m not sure I can handle a comprehensive behind-the-scenes report for each one.
Before the final round begins, this week’s “comeback single” ranking is announced. LOONA fans streamed the hardest, putting them in first place. Second place goes to WJSN. I have no desire to hear either song again, but I guess K-pop streaming isn’t always about enjoying the music.
In true MNET fashion, we don’t even get to the behind-the-scenes part of the performances until half an hour into this episode. Seriously, if I had a magic wand I’d condense every episode into 60 minutes or less. Bigger isn’t always better. Just show us the best bits and edit out all the boring stuff.
Apologies for the weird formatting below. MNET region-blocked this week’s videos, but a kind soul on reddit uploaded Streamable links. Unfortunately, WordPress is a bit weird with Streamable…
If official YouTube videos become available, I’ll update.
6. WJSN – Aura
The cool drone opening to this stage makes me wonder why drones aren’t used more often in K-pop performances. WJSN have been pretty consistent with their themes this season, and Aura makes for a suitable conclusion. I still think the song is super underwhelming for such a momentous showcase, especially when compared to a lot of the group’s material. The same could be said about this performance. It felt like a normal music show recording with some extra dancers. From a visual perspective, the stunts and camera tricks of Road to Kingdom and Kingdom really spoiled us. Of course, the trade-off was the absence of a live audience.
5. Kep1er – The Girls (Can’t Turn Me Down)
It’s so hard to evaluate this performance because the song is so obnoxious. I mean… I wouldn’t ever choose to experience this sound, but objectively Kep1er did more with the stage than some of their senior acts. It’s the dilemma of 2022: K-pop acts are undeniably talented, but recently they’re being weighed down by subpar songs and made to sing in weird shouty affectations that don’t show off their natural charms.
I really don’t know what to say. The song was terrible, but they were more ambitious that WJSN tonight. So, they get a little bump.
4. Hyolyn – Waka Boom (My Way)
Look, Hyolyn’s the strongest performer in this competition. She brings a ton of charisma and power to every song… even one as dull as this. Flanked by dozens of dancers and adorned like some gladiator queen, she opened tonight’s episode with a bang. But, the concept and execution didn’t really bring anything new to the stage. Guest rapper Lee Young Ji was the highlight, which probably isn’t a great outcome for a finale performance like this.
But yeah… Hyolyn. She’s definitely the queen this season.
3. LOONA – Pose
Pose seems to be the most divisive song of the finale. I just can’t get past its buzz-killer drop chorus. This is another song I don’t care to listen to ever again, yet I can acknowledge the strength of LOONA’s performance. Across the competition, I’ve learned that they’re much more of a dance-focused group than anything other aspect, and they certainly excel in this realm. The set design of this stage was minimalist in a weird way, but I liked the styling and the choreo. For what it was, it worked.
And if nothing else, LOONA still boast my favorite performance of the season with their ebullient cover of Sistar’s Shake It.
2. Brave Girls – Whistle
Brave Girls have had a wild ride this season. It’s in my nature to always support the underdog, and it helps that they’re the group who are releasing my favorite music at the moment. But, my ranking of their performances has been all over the place.
Summer concepts will always be fun, and I think Whistle is the strongest song in the finale (that’s not saying much). The choreo for this performance suited the track and I liked how they filled the entire stage. Nothing here was very original, but they played to their strengths. I think that’s a smart, satisfying way to end their stint on Queendom.
1. VIVIZ – Red Sun!
Red Sun may not be the style of song I’d listen to often, but I give VIVIZ major kudos for doing something so different from everyone else. This extends to their performance, which took on a whimsical air that really stood out among their competition. Of all the acts in Queendom, it feels like this trio has done the most with their experience, trying a multitude of genres and concepts. While not a spectacular showstopper, this was a very pleasant stage and felt refreshingly focused and intentional.
(the guys on stilts were super awkward, though)
MY FINAL RANKING
In my own version of MNET’s complicated points system, I compiled my final ranking by weighting all my previous rankings of the group rounds (including original songs). Six points for first place, one point for last place. The results surprised me… especially who ended up at number one!
6. Kep1er (8 points)
5. WJSN (15 points)
4. LOONA (16 points)
3. Brave Girls (21 points)
2. Hyolyn (22 points)
1. VIVIZ (23 points)
Honestly, I think Hyolyn and Brave Girls made the biggest impact on me this season, but VIVIZ were just consistently ranked in the top half. Their finale performance tipped them over their competition.
THE VOTERS’ FINAL RANKING
Well, this was kind of… weird. As usual, the whole series came down to a popularity contest, but with all sorts of odd factors and fanbase loyalties driving the final decision. I’ve long since learned to take MNET votes with a huge grain of salt, especially when they shift so much during a final episode. But, here are the final results, determined by a hodgepodge of different categories:
6. Brave Girls (45,896 points)
5. Kep1er (46,973 points)
4. Hyolyn (48,761 points)
3. VIVIZ (54,419 points)
2. LOONA (77,988 points)
1. WJSN (81,020 points)
Hopefully this win buoys their upcoming comeback. I can’t say I understand this ranking at all, but then again I didn’t really understand my own ranking either! It’s been a weird, underwhelming series.
Regardless of ranking, I’m not sure who made the biggest mark and gained the most momentum through this competition. As we’ve seen in the past, it’s not always the official winners that benefit most from the MNET exposure. I guess we’ll see after all the eventual comebacks have happened.
Until then, I’m just happy to have my Friday nights back!
TL;DR: Season 2 was a let down for me; mostly because of MNet’s crap.
There were a lot of similarities between both seasons, such as..
– Seemingly unbeatable front-runner: mamamoo >>> Hyolin
– Should not have been on / potentially career damaging: Park Bom >>> Brave Girls
– Perfect fit for Queendom: (G)I-dle / Oh My Girl / Lovelyz >>> WJSN / LOOΠΔ / VIVIZ
– Darkhorse that never made it out of the gate: Lovelyz >>> Kep1er
So, dynamically, there’s common ground; but that’s where it ends. Season 2 felt lackluster. I remember numerous performances from season 1 where I went slack-jawed. “Egotistic”, “Put It Straight”, “Lion”, “Twilight”, etc.. Season 2? I don’t know. Three, maybe four truly memorable ones?
Season 1: I still remember..
Oh My Girl: Destiny / Twilight
G(I)-dle: Put It Straight / Lion
Hwasa/Kei: Wish You Were Gay
6puzzle (Dance>Yein/Soojin/Chanmi/YooA/Moonbyul/Eunji): Power
Season 2: I remember (for now)..
LOOΠΔ: Shake It / Pose
Hyolin: Touch My Body / See Sea, Bae
Queen Is Me (Dance>LOOΠΔ/Eunji): Tell Me Now
..I remember, but will probably forget..
Brave Girls: MVSK
Ultimately, I think MNet over played the adversarial drama card and it dampened my overall enjoyment of season 2. I didn’t sign up for a dog fight, but the producers kept trying dump one on me. Just let the girls perform without trying to bloody the waters with all the zoom-in/insta-replay/sloppily delivered chum. Then, maybe, I won’t fast forward through all production douche-baggery just to get to the stages.
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You listed Lovelyz as both dark horses/perfect fits and didn’t list AOA—was AOA meant to be in the perfect fit category?
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Yeah, that was a flub on my part. In truth, some groups could have applied to more than one category. Example: Lovelyz were both a Perfect Fit and a Darkhorse.
AOA were the real oddballs of season 1. In some ways, they were in the “Should not have been on” category because they were near the end of their contracts. Choa and Mina had already left and many felt that there wasn’t a path forward for them. Why, then, were they taking up a slot in place of another group that had an actual chance of being successful? Don’t get me wrong; I’m a die-hard AOA fan, but even I raised an eyebrow when I saw them listed as contestants. Regardless, they “were” on, and that put them in both the Perfect Fit (group trying to regain popularity) and Darkhorse (unlikely to win) categories.
If WordPress allowed me to edit my posts, then I’d have switched Lovelyz with AOA in the Darkhorse category.
P.S. Who knew that my favorite performance from the entire first season would be from the group that had me scratching my head over whether or not they should have even been on in the first place. I still listen to AOA “Egotistic”.
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Sadly, I don’t think the finale performances were as memorable as the season 1 performances. Maybe my memories are already being clouded by nostalgia but the season 1 stages really hit harder for me. Some of my favourite parts of the season 1 finale performances include:
-AOA’s choreographed dance fight between Chanmi and the backup dancers.
-The first few verses of Guerilla with the choreography involving dancing in and out of ropes.
-The narration at the beginning of Lion together with what looked like stained glass (?) drawings.
I honestly feel like it’s a waste to just perform the original track during the finale, and I personally appreciated performances where there was an added dance break (Pose and Whistle) that wasn’t in the original track.
I agree – it was a letdown to have all performances lip synced to the studio track here for a finale. I was underwhelmed by that choice.
Happy for WJSN winning
I am surprised because after round 2 I was almost sure that Loona will be given the second post if not the first. For me it is a great deception, they are more a dancing company than a music group, I fear this is the future of K-Pop.
Viviz that I thought could fight for 1sr place with Hyolin soon I noticed was being pushed down so my prediction was 3rd place at least but I started to fear a 4th place. I know they are not Gfriend, I know Yuju’s voice will be mixed but I am still hoping for the few times when Eunha leaves behind that cute style of singing and to watch her produce a more robust sound.
And Hyolin I thought would be the winner, she never was my favorite because this American woman has grown watching the American style of her performances so for me her performances were nothing new but I can still accept she is a powerhouse.
WJSN was the only group I could not grasp fully, until Pantomime they did not manage to attract me. Their songs are missing something for my taste but in general they constantly did a good job. They were for me the contestant for 3rd place or even 2nd for Loona, never thought they would be the winner.
Brave Girls for a moment I wondered if they will be used as Cinderellas and be given the first place, I am glad I got that wrong but I am mad they were used as an excuse to boost Kep1er.
Kep1er… I am proud that in the end they managed to create as amazing performances as the rest of the groups, but… Mnet used the program to boost their popularity and exposition but they were clearly not ready at the beginning. I think they have not managed yet to define the image of the group and they were trying during the show to see what the fans would prefer, I knew they would not be given the last place so no surprise there.
Since the end of the second round I have had these results in my mind and the only surprise was that Hyolin was sent to 4th place and WJSN got 1st place.
These results were given not because I am good with music but because of how the groups were being portrayed and that pissed me off because I really wanted an interesting music and performance wise competition. I have never watched the previous program so I did not knew what to expect.
I wanted people talking about vocal performances and techniques, I wanted people commenting on the technical aspects of the choreographies and their creations, on the stage designs, the costume selections, even to watch the people discuss between them how to improve their performances.
For how sweet and funny some of the interactions were, I wanted another thing from this show. In the end it was a musical drama instead of the music show I wanted. I am happy that I was able to read and get this great points of views here, thank you.
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“For me it is a great deception, they are more a dancing company than a music group, I fear this is the future of K-Pop.”
With the amount of lip-syncing being accepted in the industry, we are probably heading that way.
This season was definitely more mixed as it had major highs but a lot in the way of ‘meh’ at times for me. Grading only these, I would rank this way:
6. Viviz – Much like Aura and Pose aren’t your taste I think that’s my own feeling about Red Sun. There’s something for me lacking here vs. Bop Bop – is it the speed maybe? – and it just is incidental that it lands last for that reason. Nothing wrong with it, just not my style.
5. Kep1er – in general putting on a group that has essentially 2 songs of their own to their name was cruel not just for the options they have but because I still think they’re finding an identity as a group. This was fine and I did like it more than Red Sun but only barely.
4. Hyolyn – I agree with your critiques on it being a bit bland but she delivers it SO WELL. Ultimately I realize a big factor in my liking it is because of her and her performance as I doubt I would think a lot about it otherwise. I think she’s among those coming back soon and I hope it’s more oomph than this. But Hyolyn is Hyolyn and even in 4th she clearly benefitted the most from being able to show her range. I still don’t get why she/Sistar never got quite a dedicated fanbase – it let her down here – but I hope that in the future that is changing for her.
3. LOONA – Count me among those that really like the song LOL. It does tick all the buttons for a good performance track and they handle that well but what is really being a hang-up for me is – surprise – lack of line distribution. Much like always I found myself looking for & missing Hyunjin, Yeojin and Vivi vocally with those 3 plus Gowon having such fleeting time even camera wise. As a group they’re very strong but I need them to really be more varied in promotional track style. This fits with a paint the town or So what and yet a bit too much? Hmm
2. Brave Girls – Not a whole lot to say here but I really liked that they are firmly in their groove and gave us what is probably the most out & out fun song and performance. More so than other groups I think they’ve won as far as properly showing themselves and their group’s musical color and this firmly felt like them.
1. WJSN – I can see why this won: it felt really dynamic and all the pieces fit together nicely. The whistle theming was good and the fullness of their chorus and vocal sections worked for me a lot too. I also feel like they were the most equally present as a group which helped as well. This was the song I first remembered from the initial listen post here and I still holds up quite a bit for me.
It’s definitely been an interesting journey and I hope we get a 3rd season, even if I cannot think of who would be good to be here right now.
Viviz – I can see why this is on top here. It is Three High Notes away from some sort of Alice in Wonderland rendition of IU’s Good Day (or whatever the theming is here). Also I learned this week that their name is “Bee Bee Chee” in Hangul, where I would pronounce it with a short i as in it “vih-vihzzz”.
I didn’t care for the rest, mostly because I didn’t care for the songs.
One small comment – last week’s performance, I think it was either WJSN or Kepler who did a lean back and kick, and my dance head immediately said “point your toes dammit”. It happened again this week, Kepler, the flip near the beginning.
Another small comment – they all seem to have 5 minutes to perform, show us their stuff. WJSN spends almost 1:45 doing all introduction. What was that about?
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Surprised to see that my personal ranking match to the tee with yours this round. Honestly, I don’t really click with 3~6 so I just ended up ranking them based on my biasness and how good their performance are (thank god at least Loona’s new comeback doesn’t seem to have girl crush/bad girl concept as their title track this time). Hope every participant to be successful on their comeback and in the future!
PS: Wake One, please stop giving Kep1er girl-crush concept.
Not happy with how this turned out. Funnily WJSN won… But I’m so over them now. I realized how boring and unengaging they really are(I guess people are into that since they won). Brave girls and hyolyn still have my heart I hope they actually gain popularity from this. Kep1er shouldn’t have been there but at least now I know all the members names so that’s something. Loona was always super dance focused and they really put that on display in this competition. I already liked them so not much changed there. Viviz is still no gfriend but I got to see their charm as the show went on.
Honestly, this show is awful. Like… I want my time back. I deserve a check for the labour that was watching this show. If they do a another season I’m just reading the recaps
This season was so… curated and bland. I can’t say I sat through all the episodes, but for what I did, I wish MNet would learn we like to see groups interacting positively and having fun, not a cat fight between them.
Watching the performances, Hyolyn was the only competitor I could say I could see myself enjoying every performance of hers live. Brave Girls and Viviz would be next. And that says something. Perhaps Covid has something to do with it with such a long time not performing in front of a live audience (and never or not in years for some groups), and you can tell that has been shaping 4th gen groups tremendously. They perform for the cameras, not for the audience. Example, LOONA’s final two dance heavy performances look far more impressive watching the “edited for TV/YouTube” versions, but when you watch what the audience got to see, it’s a scattered mess and you barely see anything at all (it made the live audience vote very odd for the finale). In the first season, we had so many great performances that I can still remember that both engaged the audience and looked great for live and recorded viewing. This season? Hyolyn felt like the only performer that remembered there was even a live audience to perform for and not just get votes from. If the majority of the stages are just dance heavy with nearly full lip syncing (hi, LOONA, WJSN, Kep1er, and even Viviz), they might as well keep the RTK/Kingdom format of not having a live studio audience and go all out with the staging. This mishmash of having it not quite be either is so horribly underwhelming.
It also makes me scared for future seasons as we get more 4th gen groups without real performance experience that spent their formative years ONLY performing for cameras. It’s a totally different conception of what a K-Pop performance should be. The aftermath of those changes is now being seen through complaints about newer artists boring audiences at college festivals and whatnot because they are treating them like music shows instead of a chance to show fans what they can do live and interact with the live audience. It’s going to be curious to see how the 4th gen Covid groups hold up as things return to normal and new groups debut under the same circumstances closer to their 3rd gen peers rather than 4th gen (bubble gen?).
Well, that’s all for this season, thankfully. Sorry for the tangent… I pulled an MNet with making this too long lol. Here’s to also hoping that future seasons cap episodes at 1 hour, are more fun, and stop editing performances with repeats, slow mos, and reaction shots!
This is a really interesting take and not something I’d considered before. We do have a whole generation of groups who’ve never really performed in front of a live audience. And unlike other music markets, live crowd interactions don’t seem to be a big part of the K-pop training process either. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out in the coming years. So far, it hasn’t gone down very well.
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They are returning to live audiences little by little. The new groups are going to have to learn to interact with them they want or not.
This was a fun season, helped, I think, by the dynamic backstories of each artist (just debuted, just redebuted, went solo, etc) and that there was no clear frontrunner like Queendom season 1. My thoughts on each artists’ overall showing, in no particular order:
Having watched Girls Planet 999, this felt like a sequel program whenever they were on screen. I was sad that they seemed to have all their stages directed by their management, which hurt them. It was fun to see the members shine in all the stages, but the stages themselves felt lacking identity. I left the show still not knowing what Kep1er’s sound is besides generic girl crush.
Another group still finding their sound. I liked all of their stages, but they got overshadowed by another artist each time, including in the dance and vocal rounds. But no one was overshadowing Eunha, the human meme and full on cartoon character who stole the cutaways constantly. Excited to see what they do next.
My least favorites on the show, but they turned it around in the finale. Their concepts (As You Wish, Navillera) and staging (Pantomime) were too complicated, until Aura where they simplified everything into a gorgeous stage that had room to breathe. I only knew Exy and Yunjeong going in, but enjoyed getting to know Yeoreum, Eunseo (new bias), and Soobin. Not my winners, but I can’t say they didn’t earn it.
After falling in love with them during predebut, I fell off the LOONA bandwagon a long time ago. They skipped all of my favorite songs (would have killed for an Odd Eye Circle stage), but killed it in the dance round. Thank God for Shake It, which not only was fantastic, but in the words of the other contestants, is the sound and image they should be pursuing.
I went into Queendom knowing Hyolyn was talented, but Queendom showed me she was even more skilled than I thought, especially with her stellar live singing. Instead of WJSN screaming “WE ARE ART,” Hyolyn showed she was a true artist, carefully thinking out every performance. I wish her finale song wasn’t such a let down, but appreciate her falling off that lift. The true winner of Queendom 2 for me, with I’m So Bad as my favorite stage of season.
I came into the show unsure what Brave Girls would bring to the table. After an odd intro song and unfocused initial stage, MVSK harnessed their charisma and they ran with that until the end of the show. Red Sun was a pity play that paid off beautifully, and they ended on a high with the best finale song by far. Also, really appreciated that they sang live so much. I’m desperately trying to see them in concert now.
Uhhmm it may be weird but performance-wise, Kep1er actually did good, but the song just ruined itt. Same with Pose and Waka Boom (the rapper actually carried the stage), Aura sadly was so boring for a final stage… But WHISTLE and RED SUN! DEVOURED, they look so happy on what they’re doing and it’s so catchy as well that it would make you smile too! Honetly, I don’t get the hype for Pose, with a boring chorus, decent rap and pre-chorus, that’s it not my type sorry, anw my ranking would be
1-Whistle by Brave Girls (THE SONG KEEPS ME ALIVE AS WELL AS THIS PERFORMANCE)
2- Red Sun! by VIVIZ (the melody aughh and don’t get me started with the theatre vibes,, the outfits were bad tho)
3- The Girls by Kep1er ( I know, I know don’t judge me the song was the worst but performance wise it’s good so don’t judge me)
4- Pose by LOONA ( again the song is super weird and just as bad as Kep1er’s song but the stage presence and the performance itself carried)
5- Waka Boom by Hyolyn (yeah… another MEH song the stage presence of Hyolyn carried it and the one who carried was the rapper, the choreography did not save it as well)
6- Aura by WJSN (Sadly,, I really love this song but just so boredd with this performance, the performance did not give justice to the song.
Anw it’s weird because kep1er released a summer-ish concept teasers for their comeback this June 20th, so yeah that sums it up
I was really rooting for Loona, Brave Girls, or Hyolyn to win and then… none of them did. I think Whistle is the finale song I’ve returned to the most, it’s a perfect Brave Girls song and would not have been out of place on their Summer Queen mini at all. I also loved Pose oddly although the instrumental was a bit grating at first, but the performance aspect of it worked for me and I think it might actually be their strongest girl crush-based song in the execution of its concept. I think Waka Boom is my third favourite purely because of the prechorus and Hyolyn’s voice, she could sing me the list of war crimes she’s committing and I would listen to her.
So my ranking of final songs is:
3: Waka Boom
4: Red Sun
6: The Girls