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!