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2022 KBS Gayo Daechukje (Song Festival): Recap & Best Performances

2022-gayo-daechukjeTo be honest, you may or may not see recaps for future end-of-year festivals this December. I’d like to write about all three big nights if possible, but over the past few years these events have become so boring and predictable.

Basically, acts emerge with some dramatic intro (swords, pyrotechnics, flags, etc) before performing a version of their song that you could see on any weekly music show stage. Gone are the inventive reinventions and remixes of years past. We’re probably not going to see full symphonies, collaborations that feature dozens of performers at once or throw-down-the-gauntlet epics anymore. Now, we’re lucky if we get a perfunctory trap breakdown. Throw in a ridiculous running time (over three hours!) and these festivals are becoming more of a chore to sit through.

With that said, I’m nothing if not a glutton for punishment. So, I two-screened this event and have compiled my highlights. Nothing here knocked my socks off, but if you’re looking for a whistle-stop tour through the 2022 KBS Song Festival, you’ve found your guide!

For those curious, the theme to this year’s festival was “Y2K”. I was a teen during Y2K. Most of these performance didn’t feel Y2K-ish to me at all, though I appreciated the throwbacks to K-pop songs of that era.


10. JYP Y2K Hip-Hop Medley




This felt like the most cohesive of the night’s selection of cover stages and I like that they didn’t just go with the most obvious choices. This throwback style is emblematic of the JYP sound and I wish their artists would further explore it in their own material.


9. LE SSERAFIM – Fearless + Antifragile


Okay, the intro with the luggage cases was really cool. Simple, but effective. I wish they’d record a title track with this kind of aggressive electro beat. Honestly, all the parts where they weren’t singing their songs had much more exciting instrumentation than the singles themselves. I need them to fully embrace 90’s dance music.


8. Yena – Smiley (ft. Bibi)


I really liked this mix, though it had way too many momentum-killing breakdowns. Such is the case with K-pop, though! Overall, this stage delivered great energy as a song named Smiley should!


7. ONEUS – Same Scent


You know I always give extra points toward remixed versions of songs that feel like something more than a trumped-up weekly music show performance. The traditional instrumentation here has become a year-end stage trope, but this still stood out. It also elevated a somewhat boring song.


6. ENHYPEN – Blessed-Cursed + ParadoXXX Invasion


Okay, I really liked the dance break in between these two songs. It didn’t feel shoehorned in like these breakdowns often do. And, it was long enough to appreciate the group’s skills. The songs themselves were unchanged from original versions, but they were performed well.


5. Forestella – Bad Romance


Was this actually any good? I have no idea. But, it was pure camp and very entertaining to watch. Plus, Bad Romance is an unbeatable pop song. Those ingredients add up to an instant standout, even if that crazy-deep bass voice kind of creeps me out on this song.


4. Sexy Boy Medley



I have no other title for what this was supposed to be, so I’m just going to call it Sexy Boy Medley. Dance covers are par for the course on shows like this, but this one scores extra points for song choice. I’ve never been a huge fan of SexyBack, but No Diggity was excellent. Now let’s hear some new music in this style from K-pop!


3. IVE – Love Dive + After Like


An honest-to-goodness reinvention of a song! I’m not sure this was the best thing that could’ve been done with Love Dive, but at least the producers put in some effort. The large configuration of dancers also helped, making this feel more like a spectacle. And, After Like is the kind of song tailor-made for a year-end event. They get a pass for not switching it up because the original is already a massive party.


2. TXT – Opening Sequence + Good Boy Gone Bad


I’m not a huge fan of either of these songs, but adding the extra guitars to Good Boy Gone Bad was a perfect choice that elevated the track and made this one of the night’s biggest standouts. I mean, if you’re gonna go rock, go full on rock! The energy was palpable.


1. BoA – Girls On Top (ft. Taeyong & Jeno)


Call me an old codger if you want, but this song from 2005 was the highlight of the entire night. BoA is a legend, Girls On Top is a legend, and having two of the NCT guys join her for the stage was a great way to make it feel a bit different and modern. I loved the production switch-up two thirds of the way through. The rap worked really well without making it feel as if we were shifting into an entirely different song.

18 thoughts on “2022 KBS Gayo Daechukje (Song Festival): Recap & Best Performances

  1. no yuna solo stage on here? 😐😐😐

    but also as ur comments sections resident deobi ofc i have to give my 2 cents on the no diggity cover……EASILY one of my fav performances theyve done this year which considering they probably had 3 days to learn it makes it all the more special tbh. all 3 of them have their own unique dance styles (juyeons being more sexy/graceful jichangs being more powerful/technically skilled and sunwoos being more swag/effortless) which rlly adds a lot more personality to the whole performance and also the song itself draws from all 3 of those qualities i mentioned before so its an absolutely perfect choice of song. also. juyeon absolutely OWNED that stage. what a performer. i dont blame the ppl in the audience for screaming bloody murder every time he appeared

    and unrelated but did u ever watch lssrfms mma dance break? HANDS DOWN one of the best awards show performances of the past few years (the hydra shouldve been a full song imo)

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I would have loved to see you rank TMA, MMA, MAMA and AAA performances but it’ll probably be too much to sit through LOL. I loved the IVE performance here but the MMA remix of After LIKE was still better, the finale was ABSOLUTELY gorgeous.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I loved ONEUS and THE BOYZ’s cover of ‘Sexyback’ and ‘No Diggity’.

    THE BOYZ were great as usual. I didn’t expect Sunwoo to be part of the trio but damn he was great. I kinda wish Changmin was given more time to shine in the performance. Nothing to say about Juyeon. Great as always.

    ONEUS blew me away honestly. LEEDO??? LEEDO?????? That man has become super swole over the last few years. I had to rewatch the video just for him. Hwanwoong was incredible as always. I hope more people give him recognition for his performances. Seoho was great. He has this smooth feel to his performances which suited this song so well.

    These were my personal favourite performances.

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  4. What are some of your favorite past performances like the ones you mentioned in the intro?

    I have to say, the johnny entertainment concert you linked in their company grading gave me spectacle and felt like a celebration. I was able to sit back and take in forty minutes of that. Some of these performances I just can’t get into at all, and I’m left waiting for a wow moment that never comes

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  5. To be fair, it isn’t often that one hears a male bass voice in pop music. The Grinch song, Old Man River, and … and … … Pentatonix had a bass for a while, but he didn’t get a lot of solo lines.

    In any case, the year end shows are so dull that even Forestella repurposed a performance for it = essentially a reprise of Immortal songs mid-year king of kings show, in white instead of red, fewer dancers, and less swirly cameras.
    ‘https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jKg7JdtPPaA

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    • … and Stray Kids’ “Maniac”, though it is hit straight on without vibrato and with enough production on top of it so as to sound other worldly bass not resonant – different timbres, different deep effects. Also, Ko Woo RIm here is singing a good 4 or 5 semitones deeper than Maniac.

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  6. I am pretty surprised about your thoughts on TXT’s GBGB since you gave it an initial 8.75 and I quote: , “I’m rating the song the same as my initial score for 0X1=LOVESONG. That one is on the cusp of becoming a “perfect ten.” I don’t think Good Boy Gone Bad will have quite as impressive an arc, but I can see it becoming more addictive with time”. How come it did not even earn a place in the top 50? Guess it was the opposite of a riser for you Nick lol I guess the repetitive hook loses a bit of charm after some months.

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  7. “even if that crazy-deep voice kind of creeps me out.” lmao that’s a bass, do you even have any knowledge about classically trained singers?

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