It is time we crown the next Queen of KPOP through the second season of Queendom. Following the success of Queendom Season 1 (which crowned Mamamoo as the winner), Road to Kingdom (which gave The Boyz a one way ticket to the next competition) and Kingdom: Legendary War (which crowned Stray Kids as the winner), Queendom is officially back with six new female participants. This season sees WJSN (Cosmic Girls), LOONA, Brave Girls, Kep1er, VIVIZ and Hyolyn battle it out for the Queendom title, while Taeyeon (from SNSD) takes the helm as MC this time around.
As I have reviewed part of Queendom, all of Road To Kingdom and Kingdom: Legendary War, I will also be reviewing the stages of Queendom 2, recapping the high caliber performances from each round and also putting forward my thoughts on what the ranking should have been for that round.
Round 3 (Part 2) – FANtastic Queendom
In part 2 of Round 3 of Queendom 2, the competitors had to perform a song that was chosen by the audience.
In Queendom 2, the rankings were decided by three main criteria: audience votes, global fan votes and assessment from other Queendom 2 acts (i.e. their fellow competitors). These votes and assessments were tallied, and the act with the most points emerged as the winner of this round. The official results of that will be shown at the end of this post, along with my personal ranking from this round.
I will be reviewing the performances based on who went first, and will be looking at song arrangement, concept and choreography for this round.
The Boys (Queendom 2 Version) – Kep1er
(Orig. Artist: SNSD)
Kep1er’s version of The Boys was pretty good. It shows Kep1er in a different limelight, one that isn’t cutesy and youthful, which is what we have constantly seen the group in so far since their debut. Instead, it takes the group down a darker and edgier path that I would like to see them explore in the future. Kep1er, for the most part, kept the melodies of the original the same. But on the other hand, they changed up the instrumental to suit the darker concept, but also add a dynamic flair to the song. I find this smart, as it still makes their version recognisable, but at the same time gives their version of The Boys a much needed breath of new life and modern profile. Vocally, this is the group’s best stage yet as all members sounded solid and well rounded during the performance (which was live). My only wish with this particular performance is that the members could have been a bit more aggressive with their delivery and I wished the producers of this version allowed that to happen. It would have matched the instrumental we got in this version and potentially taken the performance to the next level. We did get a taster for the final chorus, but it would have nice to have heard that earlier on.
At first, I wasn’t entirely sure of the cloaks at the start of the performance. But the more I watch the performance, I find I don’t mind it as much. And it is now to the point where I can’t remember why I felt this way to begin with. It made sense with the darker concept, and adds a bit of a mysterious touch to the performance. The wings moment in the performance, when it goes from black to white was an epic moment, especially since it was paired alongside the high note. I also liked how the lighting worked with the stage’s dynamic moments. The revamped choreography for this version had this strong, confident and powerful side to it, and I liked how it looked as an overall piece. I also liked that they incorporated the lunge and the hand over head moment from the original in the final section of the half.
BOP BOP! – VIVIZ
Out of all the stages for this round, I have to admit that VIVIZ’s was probably one of the most boring. I didn’t really get to see anything new in the Queendom 2 version of their song. Yeah, they applied a pop instrumental to the song, which was decent and brought some good energy to the stage. It also made this version of the song cuter, which helped out the stage concept. But it wasn’t exciting like the other stages. I did appreciate the live vocals, but the backing vocals were too faint. For example, I think the ending of the performance could have been better with the BOP BOP backing vocals was a lot louder, whereas it was pretty mute and unnoticeable. Similarly, the same could be said about the dance break (which I felt was the stage’s most interesting sequence).
As mentioned earlier, the stage concept took a cutesy direction. To be more precise, it was a teenage cheerleading school concept. I don’t hate the idea, but I don’t find anything original with it. I did like the colourful nature of the stage, the dominance of the colour pink and Eunha’s epic ponytail, however. The members looked extremely pretty throughout the stage, as well. Also mentioned before, I liked the dance break, given it was the biggest ‘change’ in the performance. It brought an edgy vibe. It doesn’t go with the rest of the performance, but it helped drive up the interest for me. But as for the rest of the choreography, I didn’t see much too much change. Though, I did like the cheerleader lift the members underwent at the start (I have seen the behind the scene shots for this practice, and I know they struggled with the lift – but they successfully pulled it off for the stage!).
Pantomime – WJSN
As far as I am aware, this is the first stage of Pantomime since the group released the song back in 2020. It is also the first Queendom stage to feature Bona, who hasn’t performed on the show due to her filming schedules for her latest drama. Though while I would have loved to hear a full version of the original, I really liked the old fashion Hollywood style they incorporated into this version. It felt original and added a classy and elegant vibe to the ‘busy’ song. The delicate start was well done, and helped make the first chorus feel super punchy. I also like how they maintained that ‘busy’ feel of the original, by going with similar synths that fits in with that classy and elegant vibe. Yeonjung’s high note, which is a new element to the song, was showstopping! Another new element was the wind-up doll sequence just before the final chorus. Personally, I initially thought they could have done without this sequence, but now I find that it definitely helps make the final chorus that more explosive (just like how the energy played out in the first verse and chorus).
Like the song, the performance took on an old aged Hollywood style, from the stage outfits to the overall concept. There was a few wow moments, which helps makes this a memorable (and one of the best performances of the round). The sleek start with the members dressed in black to mimick suits, the visual display behind the white curtain for the first verse (including when the curtain dropped away) and that very golden age ending, where some of the members were doing some aerial acrobat-like moves. I also like how busy the stage looked, with the number of dancers. Usually, I would feel like it is a bit much, but it really made the stage feel more alive. As for the choreography, I liked that old style influence and the ending sequence the most. But the doll walk section was also quite cool.
Butterfly – LOONA
The song that I really wanted LOONA to cover in some form was Butterfly, so I am glad fans requested this song for LOONA. At first, I was pretty disappointed with this alternate arrangement of (what I think is) one of KPOP’s most aesthetic songs ever. It felt too much like the original. But the more I watch the performance and listen to the arrangement in greater detail, I find that this version of Butterfly is even more refined and aesthetic than the original. I really like the extra details we got in the instrumental, such the heavier presence of strings in the first verse and in the background of the first chorus, and the more heavenly and dreamy profile of the bridge. They kept their high pitched vocals the same as the original, which I now think is clever. It enables the audience to the recognise the song, but interestingly also keeps Butterfly grounded as the instrumental expands outwards into the heavenly and dreamy sectors. I liked how the final part of this stage was a bit more dynamic and powerful, allowing for a touch of intensity and also keeps the song grounded.
For the stage, they really kept with the heavenly and dreamy descriptors I have given the alternate versions. The moon in the background and the lights on the sleeves of the dances made the stage feel dreamy, while the members’ outfits felt as if they were goddesses. I really liked the expanding wings like formation the dancers did on top of the platform at the end of the bridge, allowing the performance to peak in a very clean manner. I wished there was more of that white fog across the entire stage, just to give off a stronger impression of clouds and dreamy vibes. For the choreography, I liked the revamped version and how fluid it felt. This perfectly matches the arrangement of this version of Butterfly. The best part of the performance comes at the end, when the members match the intensity of the song with their dance moves.
Red Sun – Brave Girls
Personally, I didn’t pay attention to Red Sun when it was first released last year. Red Sun, for those who are not aware, was released as an advertisement song for Lotte Department Store. So I was genuinely surprised to see that the group ended up choosing the song, as requested by the fans. Anyhow, Queendom 2’s version of Red Sun has a slightly different instrumental. The original chorus was straight up just synths, but this version samples a famous classical piece before the synths from the second half of the chorus plays out. The second verse also features some classical strings, continuing the momentum from the chorus. I felt the classical and synths contrast was interesting, especially since the synths were very pronounced. And for the bridge, Brave Girls pushed their vocals out, stripping the instrumental of any dance influences before bringing the synths back for the final chorus. I quite liked how powerful the vocals were during the bridge and final chorus, and how it felt very satisfying. I did wish the high note from Minyoung was slightly cleaner. But still, an amazing effort.
The stage began with a video clip of Yuna at the end of 2020 expressing how she had no schedules and no future. For those who don’t know, Brave Girls was considering disbandment prior to their unexpected rise on the charts in less than a month time. We then hear a reflection from the members, before we see their struggles on stage. Then the actual performance began with the members winding up a toy ballerina and uses a pair of glass slippers to symbolise their hope and dreams. The members where stunning flowery dresses that make a bold statement and bring smiles to the stage whilst performing this version of Red Sun. Part through the performance, the members put on the glass slippers whilst playing a clip of them winning an award at the MAMA 2021 awards, symbolising their hopes and dreams have been reached. The actual choreography doesn’t had much value from how I see it, but it was a stage full of meaning for the group. It got to point where Yujeong was crying at the end and even the other competitors shed some tears as the performance ended. That’s how you know the stage had impact.
SEE SEA BAE – Hyolyn
Last up before the finale is Hyolyn, who performs what sounds like should have been a mix of SEE SEA and BAE, two of her solo singles post-Sistar. But ultimately SEE SEA dominated the stage. I quite enjoyed SEE SEA when it came out, but I quite liked how Queendom 2 transformed it into a dynamic piece. I loved the second pre-chorus and thought of it being one of the main highlights of the stage. The dance break was also spectacular, going for a hardcore and powerful sound. Hyolyn’s vocals help also drive up the dynamic nature of the performance, particuarly during the first pre-chorus and very the end of the performance with her ad-libs. I wish the chorus was rearranged to be a little more explosive, just enough to give the chorus some more life and flair. But overall, Hyolyn rocks the stage with this performance.
Hyolyn enlists the help of Street Dance Girls Fighter‘s HARIMU, who acts as the school girl we see at the start and end of the performance. The performance’s concept is beach, which HARIMU arrives at via the subway and is invited to have a bit of a dance with Hyolyn and her dancers. HARIMU really puts her all into the performance and I really loved her expressions on stage. Alongside her, Hyolyn appears to have the time of her life, performing this stage. I love the use of the fluoro outfits and hats (and I found it funny that they got two rows of the audience to also where the hats during the performance). Again, best part of the performance has to be the second pre-chorus and dance break, though I love that she still managed to show off the sexy side that we saw in the original.
And This Round’s Winner Is…
As cliché it might sound, this was another super tight round for me to choose a winner. I am surprised the global audience was quite decisive who they thought had the best and the weakest stage (Brave Girls ranked first with full points from the fans, whereas Hyolyn ranked last less than 2000 points despite being the front runner in rounds 1 and 2).
This resulted in Hyolyn dropping down to fourth place, making up ground with the live audience and assessment from her peers. Brave Girls took out the top spot, claiming full points for this FANtastic Queendom battle, and ultimately taking top spot for Round 3 in general.
I personally thought WJSN outshined the other performance slightly and so I place them first in my personal ranking, but Hyolyn did give them a run for their money for a moment. It pains me to put Brave Girls fourth, but this is the ranking that I feel most satisified with. For more of the rankings, see the table below!
|Position||Official Queendom 2 Ranking||KPOPREVIEWED’s Personal Ranking|
Up next: Queendom 2 – Final Round – Ep. 10