[Review] Up! – Kep1er

This week started off with two Queendom 2 acts making their comeback. First up on the reviewing block is Kep1er, who makes their grand return with Up!. This is featured on the group’s second mini-album, Doublast. This comes after the group’s debut back in January 2022 with WA DA DA, and more recently, their participation on Queendom 2 (as already mentioned).

Up! comes out at the right time, capitalising on the current Summer season in which Korea (and Northern Hemisphere) is in. This is the time we want to hear bright and vibrant songs, and I feel that Up! hits that part of the brief with no doubts. The track also capitalises on the group’s youthfulness, and brings about a fun and upbeat energy to a mix (which is synonymous with the Summer season). Both goes hand in hand in setting up Up!. There are a few aspects in the song that I quite like. The synths used in this song are felt refreshing and didn’t feel like a repeat of what we have heard thus far this year in terms of Summer songs. Up! features some really cool rapping that adds some deepness to the song and keeps the song grounded. The chorus was brought a trendy pop sound to the table and was pleasantly catchy. I do think a stronger melodic hook would have been more satisfying overall, but what we got in Up! is perfectly fine already. On the other hand, the post-chorus felt weak and didn’t feel concentrated enough. In addition to that, I also felt that Up!‘s reliance on cuteness is a hit or miss I wished it was toned down as it is a bit too cliché. A summer track can be youthful, without the need to steer into the cute domain. The vocals were plain in comparison to the rapping. Even with the autotune, it didn’t do much for me. And finally, the second half of the instrumental break in the bridge felt forced. The brighter first half was fine and fits in with the rest of the track, but the more intense second half (taking on a dubstep like approach), was unnecessary and creates an imbalance with the rest of the song. But overall, Up! is a decent Summer track.

A very colourful and vibrant video accompanies the release. No surprises there. For the most part, the video was decent, alongside the music. I did see them trying to push a cutesy agenda, which I am not entirely a fan of. But at the same time, it wasn’t a terrible concept for this video. There were some scenes that I could have done without, such as the awkward laptop POV scene and the lemon charging scene. They felt very random and didn’t make much sense to me.

I quite liked what they did with the chorus in this routine, with the arm wave at the start and the two lines of members. As for the dance break, I liked how bouncy the first half felt. And as much as I disagree with the second half of the dance break, the routine was pretty good. The rest of the choreography otherwise felt standard for me.

Song – 7/10
Music Video – 7/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 7.2/10

[Special] Queendom 2 – Final Round – Live Comeback Stages – EP.10

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.


Final Round – Live Comeback Stages

Every stage and performance over the past three rounds was working up towards the final episode, where the competitors of Queendom 2 were able to perform never heard before singles for the time to a live audience. These singles were released a week prior to the final episode in preparation for the final round.

Scores were still be calculated from the songs’ release and from the actual live stages to help determine the winner of the second season of Queendom. From its release digitally, the songs were already in competition with one another to see who could get the most streams on domestic music charts and globally through Spotify. YouTube views from their past performances from Queendom 2, votes from fans and audience votes from the night of the live performances were also calculated. These, in addition to the points the competitors had picked up from the three preliminary rounds, were into determining the final winner.

At the end of the final round, the winner was crowned. You can find out who won the Queendom 2 title at the end of this post.

Per usual, as part of my recap/review of the final stages, I will be looking at the song, concept and choreography of the final stages. You can find out who I thought should have won (or if I agree with who was crowned as the winner) at the end of this post, as well.


Waka Boom (My Way) – Hyolyn ft. Lee Young Ji

First up is Hyolyn, and Waka Boom, which begins with a fierce militaristic and bold introduction. It isn’t exactly original, but it definitely does get the adrenaline pumping. The rest of the song continues a similar reliance on percussion which was very ‘in your face’ and actually felt overwhelming at times. As for vocals, we get a few different styles of delivery from the soloist, such as a rap-spoken style at the start where her tone felt like she was teasing us slightly, powerful vocals in the verse, and a more standard and blander tone for the chorus. However, Hyolyn shines the best during the pop melody centric parts that form part of the pre-chorus and during her high notes (her high note just before Lee Young Ji’s sequence was my favourite for its clean and sharp execution). On the topic of Lee Young Ji, her deeper tone rapping matched up well with this fierce style and I like the colour she brought to Waka Boom. The hooks weren’t great, not as memorable, and I think they didn’t get an opportunity to shine due to the instrumentation. Overall, a powerful start. But not really my cup of tea.

Hyolyn starts the performance with a bold entrance fitting for royalty and fittingly begins performing Waka Boom on the throne. She subsequently delivers a powerful stage with a very large emphasis on the gold colour (also fitting). The rest of the performance was quite fierce, with the dancers hyping up the performance as well as performing the choreography. Lee Young Ji also features on stage, and I liked her idea of having her travel from the other competitors to the stage. Her participation in the choreography also helped add fierceness to the stage. I like that Hyolyn also finishes up with cool crown (though less horns would have been appreciated) and a waterfall on the screen, which throws us back to the first round during Touch My Body. This performance’s wow moment was when Hyolyn dropped from the platform. It was no low drop, as she as raised quite high. My only complaint is that the male dancers could have worn something that didn’t give off the impression that the budget ran out.


AURA – WJSN (Cosmic Girls)

AURA begins with an atmospheric and scenic narration. I didn’t find it add much to the audio, but it clearly helps out on stage. Anyhow, I felt the song was a bit weak in that it instrumentally felt lacking and doesn’t deliver much impact when I turn my attention to the other aspects of the song. I wished that the producers of AURA did something a little different to what WJSN usually does (given that it is for Queendom), but do enough with it to allow the song to be recognisable as a WJSN title track. What I did like in the song were the whistles, which acted as a memorable hook to the song and was quite stilling, and Yeonjung’s piercing vocals in the chorus and her soaring vocals in the bridge. I felt they added some much needed oomph to the stage, but more still needed. The weakest moment would have to be the rapping. Sorry Exy, but I didn’t like the start stop part of the sequence.

WJSN put their wow factor at the start of the performance with their use of drones. I always wondered when this day would come, given that we see it use to form spectacular display. WJSN’s drone start is by no means spectacular, but it was original. I also enjoyed the performance sequence following the narration/drone start. The harps made it super beautiful, while the rest of the music made it theatrical and cinematic. I like that the images behind the group, as they perform, appear to pay homage to their fantastical and mystical era of concepts. I also like the laser light display when the stage was displayed. As for the choreography, WJSN has a real knack for making their choreography graceful and elegant, yet powerful enough to be cool and trendy. I also really like their hand movements during the whistles.


THE GIRLS (Can’t Turn Me Down) – Kep1er

In the last round, Kep1er performed The Boys (a cover of SNSD’s hit). For the final round, they perform their original song, THE GIRLS (Can’t Turn Me Down). For the most part, THE GIRLS was a decent song. There was a lot of potential behind the verses, pre-choruses and bridge of the song. But the biggest let down of THE GIRLS was the choruses, which felt more like of a sad fizzle for me. There is no impact or memorable factor whatsoever with this chorus, which is usually the most prevalent part of a song and is known for being memorable. The instrumental break helped delivery some impact, but that was more so for the performance aspect rather than audio-wise. I would love to hear more of those brass in the first verse or the flowy melodies of the pre-chorus, as both could have really helped make THE GIRLS better for me. What caught my attention was that the lesser heard members of the group (i.e. Bahiyyh and Mashiro) had larger parts than usual in this song, which makes my soft spot for members who are overshadowed and overlooked happy.

If the performance nailed one thing, it has to be the introduction. When the members fanned out at the start and that fire appeared out of nowhere, it blew my socks off and I loved every second of it. I liked the simplicity of their outfits and wonder if their yellow soled shoes was a bit of a spoiler for their upcoming comeback. I also liked the part where they used the audience as the background of the performance. Choreography-wise, I thought the routine was decent. I liked the energy the rappers shared during the second verse and the dance break was expectedly bombastic. I also enjoyed the overall aesthetic when all the members were on top of the bleachers/steps and the dancers below them.


Red Sun! – VIVIZ

From what I have heard, Red Sun! was actually supposed to be a GFriend song in the past. But it was released under VIVIZ for Queendom 2 instead. I like that VIVIZ kept things original, moving away from the final stages reliance on synths and electronic elements. Instead, Red Sun! opts for jazzy and classically instrumented background which sets them apart from the competition for obvious reasons. I can see how the song could have been released under GFriend, but I feel some moments reminded me of IU’s Red Shoes (which I personally felt was cool, and potentially a nice nostalgic throwback) for the group. I did like how pleasant the vocals were and how they kept to the style of the song. The jazzy melodies were the best! However, since it is a competition, I did want some more powerful vocals in Red Sun!. A stunning and well rounded high note would have been appreciated, just to give Red Sun! that peak it needed. But overall, a very strong effort from VIVIZ!

VIVIZ’s stage takes on an Alice in Wonderland musical look, which I thought was really cool. But instead of Alice, the VIVIZ members were (obviously) the main characters for this adventure. I liked at the start, when they walked into the this alternative world, they emerged in colourful dresses, met some very tall men and had some playful interactions with some tea cups. I kind of wished there was more of these elements, just to continually bring the idea of a fairytale to the front of the performance. As it progressed, I felt this was unique and magical touch was lost and it turned the performance into an ordinary one. I also felt the producers for this stage could have added a wow factor the performance. Maybe some costume changes for the members (they were colourful, but they were painfully plain dresses). Or maybe a large drop of shiny confetti during the ‘rain’ scenes on the stage, just to give that illusion. As for the choreography for this stage, I felt it was elegant and graceful. And I quite liked how they moved about the stage, resembling a musical, which helps deliver the concept.


POSE – LOONA

When I first heard POSE in the snippet teaser that the show uploaded, POSE attracted my attention the most. But when I listen to POSE as a whole piece, that attraction seems to have been lost. I feel that POSE is similar to Kep1er’s THE GIRLS. Both songs had verses that had potential. In POSE, the verses had a sleek feel to it, which I think the group could have taken better advantage of when it comes to the performance (more on that later). But the choruses was the disappointing element. There is no impact to the chorus, and it was super weak here. However, POSE does take the edge a bit, simply because I think the chorus was consistent with the verses. Even during the final chorus and during the bridge, the song stayed consistent. Some points for that, but I wanted more. I think POSE could have been better had it changed momentum and kicked the energy by many notches. I was waiting for that kick to happen, but that never became fruitful. The rapping in POSE added a nice dynamic flavour to the song, while the vocals didn’t have much to it.

I think the ‘red carpet’ start of the performance could have been extended and been a more substantial component of the performance. Though I wished they modernised it to be more of a model’s catwalk, and then have LOONA crash the catwalk. I think this would have tied to the song’s sleeker profile to the performance a bit better than the five second of ‘red carpet’ that we did get. I did like how they used the red carpet set they had on stage as a walkway for the other members during the pre-choruses, though. I liked the hip-hop direction that the stage took with the outfits the members donned. But I think they could have sleeker with the outfits, just to work with the music a bit better. Also with the hip-hop in mind, I wished they had more b-boying and similar going on stage. They did hint towards it, but I wanted to see more substantial b-boying. Interestingly, the stage did incorporate some more energy as I had wanted in the song, via the dance break and in the ending. Why this was left out of the actual official audio? I don’t know, but I am glad the performance managed to incorporated it in.


Whistle – Brave Girls

Out of all the six songs, Brave Girls’ Whistle was catchiest and has what it takes to be a comeback track for the group. It is a summery and refreshing track, especially after all the synths from the other stages (aside from VIVIZ’s stage). The subtle guitar in the background gives off a beachy feel, while the whistles that featured in the instrumental made sense given the song’s title. I liked how solid the vocals were, and how good ‘Whistle, Whistle, Whi‘ hook was. I did think the formula/structure that formed Whistle was a bit ordinary (i.e. verse, chorus, rap verse, chorus, bridge, chorus, final outro), though that is why I think the song would make a good comeback track (or a side track, at least). I did think Whistle could have been more dynamic. Some more interesting vocal work or a touch more dynamic in the instrumental would not have hurt and helped take Whistle to the next level.

The beach theme that the stage had made a lot of sense, given the summery and beachy vibes that the song had. I like how it started with the end of their previous performance (i.e. last round’s rendition of Red Sun). I also thought it was clever for the members and dancers all had their hair hidden away in those straw hats. Them taking their hats off and allowing their hair to come down was actually a bit of a wow factor and seems like an original idea. Again, like in the previous performance, I would have loved to have heard the Latin influence as a second round of the post-chorus following the second chorus in the official audio. It had exactly what I wanted in terms of adding a bit more to the performance. Even the cringy ‘Oh My God‘ could have been added in, and I would have been happy. As for the choreography, I really liked their commitment with their bare feet. It just adds more value to the concept. In addition, I liked the added energy they had for the chorus, which helps makes this a more exciting song.


And This Round’s Winner Is…

As the saying goes, ‘leaving the best until last’. And I felt that was what was done on the night the finale aired. Whistle is my favourite track from the six competitors. Aside from VIVIZ’s song/stage and WJSN’s stage, I think the rest of the competition for this final round was fairly weak (and hence, disappointing) and didn’t live up to the standard that Queendom (season 1) or any of the Kingdom’s finale stages/songs had set. More excitement and original ideas were needed and I think the finale stages were the best time to pull out those aspects.

Below are the official rankings based on the scores from the final stages ONLY including YouTube views, streaming points and audience points, but not including any preliminary round points (that’s the next table). Next to them is who I thought should have won the round, had it been another round in the Queendom 2 competition (and not the final).

PositionOfficial Queendom 2 RankingKPOPREVIEWED’s Personal Ranking
1LOONABrave Girls
2WJSNVIVIZ
3VIVIZWJSN
4Kep1erLOONA
5Brave GirlsHyolyn
6HyolynKep1er

And the overall winner of Queendom 2 is…

Drumroll please!

WJSN was crowned the winners of Queendom 2!! Congratulations to WJSN!

It was a bit of a shock, given the official rankings from the first two round clearly showed Hyolyn was the front runner for the title of Queendom 2. But things did take a turn in Round 3 when Brave Girls took the win overall, and in this final, where Hyolyn shockingly dropped to the bottom. LOONA perhaps could have taken the win this competition had their first round performance counted. But WJSN was fairly consistent in terms of ranking throughout the competition, never placing below 3rd place for the entire season.

Per usual, however, I have used my rankings from each episode (including EP.0) to calculate I think should have won. See if I agree below with the official rankings, or if I shake my final results with my personal rankings. And let me know if you agree with the show, my personal rankings or if you have a different order altogether of who should have won!

PositionOfficial Queendom 2 RankingKPOPREVIEWED’s Personal Ranking
1WJSNHyolyn
2LOONAWJSN
3VIVIZLOONA
4HyolynVIVIZ
5Kep1erBrave Girls
6Brave GirlsKep1er

Thank you for reading through my Queendom 2 posts. You can find a whole list of them down below (and at the end of each post). Unfortunately, time got away from me this time, so I could not keep up with the episodes as they aired. But I hope you enjoyed these recaps and reviews as much as I enjoyed writing them!

Up next: Each participant’s impending comeback!!!

Queendom 2 – Opening Show Performance Rankings EP.0
Queendom 2 – Round 1 – Representative Song Battle – EP.1&2
Queendom 2 – Round 2 – Cover Song Battle – EP.3&4
Queendom 2 – Round 3 (Part 1) – Position Unit Battle – EP.6&7
Queendom 2 – Round 3 (Part 2) – FANtastic Queendom – EP.8&9
Queendom 2 – Final Round – Live Comeback Stages – EP.10

[Special] Queendom 2 – Round 3 (Part 2) – FANtastic Queendom – EP.8&9

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!

PositionOfficial Queendom 2 RankingKPOPREVIEWED’s Personal Ranking
1Brave GirlsWJSN
2WJSNHyolyn
3LOONALOONA
4HyolynBrave Girls
5VIVIZKep1er
6Kep1erVIVIZ

Up next: Queendom 2 – Final Round – Ep. 10

[Special] Queendom 2 – Round 3 (Part 1) – Position Unit Battle – EP.6&7

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, VVIZ 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 1) – Position Unit Battle

For the first part of Round 3, the six competitors split off into groups of two for a battle of vocals and then into different groups of two for a battle of dance. Not all members of each competitor has to compete, but each team must be represented in the battles.

Each group of two for the vocals and dance battles are awarded votes based on their performance. And based on the rankings from these votes (i.e. whichever order they rank in first, second and third), they will be awarded with points that will go to towards their final ranking. I can’t find information on whether the votes are coming from a judging panel or a set number of audience viewers are voting in this round.

For these battles, I will looking at each performance individually, and then have a separate personal ranking for the vocal and dance battles at the very end of the post (where I usually display my personal ranks for the round). These personal ranks, per usual, will be compared to the official rankings from the show. These personal rankings will also be going towards the final ranking to determine the winners of Queendom 2.


Vocals Battle

Don’t Go – Sun and Moon
Members: Haseul, Kim Lip, Jinsoul, Chuu (LOONA) & Kim Chaehyun, Seo Youngeun (Kep1er)
(Orig. Artist: EXO)

LOONA and Kep1er’s rendition of Don’t Go by EXO was extremely nice and pleasant. Just like the original, this version brought a smile to my face. What was really great about this performance was the fact they had harmonies. It was extremely brief and I wished there were longer harmonies. But it made the performance a bit more riveting in my opinion. I did also wish the vocalists were shown off a bit more in this performance. I am not exactly sure whether they had to stick to the original version to a tee (though a later performance specified otherwise), but a few more expressive moments should have been added to this version to better utilise the members, and allow the other members side from Chuu and Chaeyeon to show off their vocal powers.

The stage had a simple setup where the members sang whilst standing in one spot on some platforms. Flying about next to them (and later behind them) were some butterflies, which have consistently appeared throughout the competition. I wished the members donned some more colourful dresses, just to give the stage a bit of oomph. Nothing too loud, but white is a little too standard for my liking.


Hold My Hand – Universe in Eunha
Members: Eunha (VIVIZ) & Yeonjung, Soobin (WJSN)
(Orig. Artist: IU)

You can’t go past a vocal battle without an IU song. We saw Eunkwang, Seungmin and Jongho tackle the likes of Love Poem in the Kingdom: Legendary War last year. This time, we see another trio cover another IU song, Hold My Hand. While the two version are quite similar, this Queendom 2 version seems to have amped the instrumentation to create a power-ballad like approach, which I thought was cool. It brought a a new breath of life to the song and made the performance captivating to listen to. Yeonjung handled the song extremely well and her soaring high note was impressive. Soobin pushed herself for this track, and I thought this was a great display of her vocal capabilities. As for Eunha, she handled her parts well just like the others. But I felt her higher pitch was at odds with the other members, simply because it sounded cutesy. I am not entirely sure if was the right way to go for her, given Yeonjung and Soobin’s more ‘standard’ approach with their vocals.

As for the performance, I liked that they moved about. It gave the performance a bit of a dynamic touch. I also liked the green scenery and the sets that Yeonjung and Eunha performed on stage with. They also looked pretty on stage.


To My Youth – 33
Members: Hyolyn & Minyoung (Brave Girls)
(Orig. Artist: Bolbbalgan4)

This version of To My Youth was emotionally charged, and I loved every second of it. I liked how they slightly revamped this version by starting out with just piano and guitar, before kicking the song up a notch with the band instrumentation. I note the original version had strings at the start and brought in the kick a lot sooner. Hyolyn kicks off the performance and did a great job throughout to deliver some emotional vocals. Minyoung followed through with her powerful vocals, though I did have the thought that she needed a bit of work to match the emotional level that Hyolyn brought to this stage. I loved their version of the high notes at the end, and their harmonies during this sequence. So captivating and breathtaking.

I liked how the pair started of separated and finished together. The above performance did the exact same, but there is something with Hyolyn sitting on the stage and Minyoung standing elsewhere that really felt bold. I like how the lights shown over the member who was singing at the time, and dimmed when they weren’t singing, allowing the focus to be place squarely on the leading singer. And I liked how the lights were used to form a pattern at the end. The lyrics on the screen and the sketch a character on the screen was also a nice touch to the performance.


Dance Battles

Purr – KeVIZ
Members: Sin.B, Umji (VIVIZ) & Xiaoting, Kim Daeyeon, Hikaru (Kep1er)

For this collaborative stage, I quite enjoyed the cat concept they went for. The green cat eyes on the big screen was very epic and sets the tone for the performance. The green on black is a very cool combination and I feel this video really honed into this (via the cat eyes and the green light that illuminated the gas on the edge of the stage). What was also cool was the image transformation that both the members of VIVIZ and Kep1er underwent for this stage. Both groups have been known for their brighter and cuter concepts, so this dark edgy change in image was definitely memorable and stands out.

As for the choreography, it was a good one. Nothing really stood out for me on an individual basis (both move or member-wise), but I quite liked the entirety of the performance as a whole piece. The dark concept and edgy vibes were portrayed extremely well in the routine. I also like the emphasis on wavy motions throughout the choreography. It was a movement type that I saw was recurring throughout the routine, and I really liked the slow wave that ended off the performance.


Ka-Boom! – Ex-it
Members: Hyolyn & Eunseo, Yeoreum (WJSN)

For Hyolyn and WJSN’s dance stage, I quite like how they started off aggressive and powerful. This really set the ball in motion for the rest of the routine, which built on these vibes as the performance progressed. In terms of style, it felt like they went with a hip-hop centric routine with a hint of sexiness mixed into the routine. I quite like it, however, I was wanting from the routine by the time the performance ended.

As for the stage, I liked how boldness was the at forefront of the stage. The glitchy and lightning backgrounds made it feel edgy and electrifying. The fluoro outfits were a very bold choice and I liked how they were used at the start (and throughout the performance) for a bit of a wow factor. The ski masks also added to that. Another bold factor to the stage was the use of the body contortionists. Freaky, but definitely another wow factor to the performance.


Tell Me Now – Queen in Me
Members: Eunji (Brave Girls) & Heejin, Choerry, Yves, Oliva Hye (LOONA)

The last performance for the night was by Brave Girls and LOONA. This performance, while it went with an edgy look just like the other two dance battles, separated itself by really focusing on the sensual side, as well. The slow motions and the sleekness of the choreography really highlighted this, and brought a different dynamic in which the members could play with that isn’t just powerful or edgy (and it isn’t like the other performances). The moves resemble a image of a cat, which makes this the second performance of the night that had a cat theme going on. Very interesting, indeed.

I really like how alluring and hypnotic the members looked throughout this performance, especially in the black and white scenes. This alone was very memorable and definitely was one of my favourite parts of this stage. The red highlights during the black and white shot was super bold, as well.


And This Round’s Winner Is…

These unit battles were intense in their own right. It was a bit of a shake up to the playing field based on the official results. Hyolyn has held first place for the previous two rounds, but she placed second in both in the vocal and dance battle sections of this first part. Brave Girls and WJSN both emerged as winners placing first overall across the board for this first part of Round 3.

Interestingly, Brave Girls also emerged as overall winners of unit battle stages based on my own picks, which matches up (partly) with the official results released by Queendom 2.

Note that this is only the first part of Round 3, which also consist of the fan-choice round. And so, these are not the final winners of Round 3. For my personal rankings, I will be separating these units from the next lots of stages when I use these personal rankings to determine my personal pick for the final winner of Queendom 2.

But for now, here are my picks for the best stage in both the vocal and dance unit battles.

Vocal Battle Rankings

PositionOfficial Queendom 2 RankingKPOPREVIEWED’s Personal Ranking
1Universe in Eunha
VIVIZ & WJSN
(Eunha, Yeonjung, Soobin)
33
Hyolyn & Brave Girls
(Hyolyn, Minyoung)
233
Hyolyn & Brave Girls
(Hyolyn, Minyoung)
Universe in Eunha
VIVIZ & WJSN
(Eunha, Yeonjung, Soobin)
3Sun & Moon
LOONA & Kep1er
(Haseul, Kim Lip. Jinsoul, Chuu, Kim Chaeyeon, Seo Youngeun)
Sun & Moon
LOONA & Kep1er
(Haseul, Kim Lip. Jinsoul, Chuu, Kim Chaeyeon, Seo Youngeun)

Dance Battle Rankings

PositionOfficial Queendom 2 RankingKPOPREVIEWED’s Personal Ranking
1Queen Is Me
Brave Girls & LOONA
(Eunji, Heejin, Choerry, Yves, Oliva Hye)
Queen Is Me
Brave Girls & LOONA
(Eunji, Heejin, Choerry, Yves, Oliva Hye)
2Ex-It
Hyolyn & WJSN
(Hyolyn & Eunseo, Yeoreum)
KeVIZ
VIVIZ & Kepler
(Sin.B, Umji, Xiaoting, Kim Daeyeon, Hikaru)
3KeVIZ
VIVIZ & Kepler
(Sin.B, Umji, Xiaoting, Kim Daeyeon, Hikaru)
Ex-It
Hyolyn & WJSN
(Hyolyn & Eunseo, Yeoreum)

Up next: Queendom 2 – Round 3 (Part 2) – FANtastic Queendom – Ep. 8 & 9

[Special] Queendom 2 – Round 2 – Cover Song Battle – EP.3&4

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, VVIZ 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 2 – Cover Song Battle

In Round 2 of Queendom 2, the competitors had to select one (or two songs in some cases) from another competitor’s discography to reinvent on stage.

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.


NAVILLERA – WJSN
(Orig. Artist: GFriend)

WJSN chose NAVILLERA from GFriend’s repertoire and really hit the brief of reinventing the song to be their own, yet also maintaining enough of the original song (i.e. the melodies and chorus) to allow the audience to easily recognise the song. The addition of a dynamic post-chorus sequence following the first and final choruses was my highlight of the performance (with the shouty portion of this sequence really sticking in my head for some reason), but I also enjoyed the other new additions to the performance – that is Exy’s rap sequence and the instrumental break that honed into the dark concept (more on that in a second). These additions gave NAVILLERA a fresh vibe and adds a bit of unique/edgier zing. The vocals and rapping on this stage was amazing and so so strong, and Yeonjung’s high note blew me away. Definitely potential to be one of the best performances of the night.

NAVILLERA was known for its bright concept when it was first released, so it was interesting to see WJSN take a dark-ish route with this performance. I am all for the darker concept, though I did feel the arrangement could have really gone more down this direction, just so that everything is a bit more cohesive. But overall, a strong concept nonetheless. I did notice the presence of the hourglass at the end, so I am guessing their performances are all linked to one another. As for the choreography, WJSN changed it all up to be more of their style. The chorus was pretty meh in my opinion, but I liked everything else during the new sections of their version of NAVILLERA, the verses. In particular, I thought Yeorum’s dance break was very alluring and captivating. The only part I didn’t get was the piece of fabric that was pulled over Seola and Yeonjung’s heads during the bridge. We got no wide-shot of this, so I couldn’t see its effect.


SHAKE IT – LOONA
(Orig. Artist: Sistar)

LOONA’s version of SISTAR’s SHAKE IT is one that I come back to regularly. While this version isn’t necessarily a departure from the original as both are summery and energetic, LOONA’s version was still a great one. I like how LOONA made their version slightly more intense in the choruses, and it is this that I continually come back for. Also, I just love the overall party feel that comes off from the choruses. I also enjoyed the jazzy bits that formed part of the bridge and allowed for an interlude, and the retro dance break which helps ties arrangement, choreography and concept together. Again, the vocal work is quite strong from all the members, though I think a bit of refinement would have helped make LOONA’s version of SHAKE IT even better.

This performance was cute! Not overly cute that has me cringing, but enough to make the performance vibrant and colourful, which I am sure the direction that LOONA was aiming for. But while it was a fairly strong summery retro concept of transformation from dull to attractive and having some fun, there were parts of the performance that needed some refinement. There was a scene at the start of the stage where the dancers picked up ‘imaginary’ glasses, while Yeojin was holding a physical champagne glass with a glass). It is small details like this that stick out and stays with me, and made the start a little cringy for my taste. Also, I wished the ‘male’ counterparts of the group has took part in the transformation, as well. Once the female counterparts had transformed into hip and colourful outfits, the suits and such looked really dated and felt misplaced. As for the choreography, I liked how energetic and vibrant their take on everything felt. It was fun and LOONA really showed off some cool moves. I also like how they brought back the original choreography at the end, just as a little homage for SISTAR.


MVSK – Brave Girls
(Orig. Artist: Kep1er)

Brave Girls probably had the hardest pick of the night. To date, Kep1er has only one title track and a mini-album of three other songs, so Brave Girls had a pretty limited choice in terms of songs for this round. But they ended up going with MVSK. As per the brief for the second round, Brave Girls changed up the song considerably. They moved away from the electronic and synth based instrumental that dominated the original, and went with a more elegant and classy pop instrumental mix. It was very different and makes their version of MVSK clearer than the original. But while they did move away from the original’s electronic synths based instrumental, they did still incorporate some synths into the mix via the choruses and the dance break. For the chorus, it was present more as accents. The dance break, however, touched based with the original’s influence, brought on a fierce and powerful energy and infuses a bit of rock to the performance. It shook things up and while it doesn’t necessary match with the rest, it was cool to watch. I also liked the push for focus on the vocals throughout the performance and harmonies at the end, though the high note section could have been a lot tidier in my opinion.

The classy vibes of the performance made it through via the black and white filter that was applied to the start of the performance (reminding me of older black and white films), while the elegant vibes came through the golden glow of the lights. I quite like the suits in this performance, just because it made sense throughout the entirety of the performance. The dance break was a bit of an odd ball, simply because it goes against the classy and elegant vibes. But like what I mentioned before, it was fierce and powerful. The glow in the dark masks were cool, and it also served as a way for the members to take off their jackets (though over the top. in my opinion). Choreography wise, I think Brave Girls was probably the one of the weakest, just since there wasn’t much going on in the department. But they make it up in all other aspects.


UNNATURAL – VIVIZ
(Orig. Artist: WJSN)

VIVIZ’s version of UNNATURAL was the one that seemed to push the boundaries the most. Not because it was daring or went for anything controversial. But instead, it was just because it felt the most different version when compared to the original. They brought a Latin influence to the performance, which is an overdone influence in KPOP in general. But for this stage, I thought was super cool and brought a lively dynamic to the performance. And mixed in alongside of the Latin influence is this Broadway show-like type of vibe during some parts, which also added a lot more flair to this version. Vocally, I felt VIVIZ dominated this round with their solid live vocal performances. Sure, they went with the same melodies for their version, but the instrumental really revamped UNNATURAL up. My only negative comment about the performance was the rapping. I wished there was more body to it in the instrumental, and the delivery was a bit more powerful.

Of course, with their version going down the Latin route instrumentally, it would make the most sense for this to be reflected on stage as well. And we got just that from the very start, thanks to their stunning red and black dresses. I also like how from the start and until the very end, the entire performance had this ‘on the edge of your seat’ type of feel thanks to the intensity. Definitely an impressive feeling to have exuded just from the performance. The grand ending with the flags and the stage pyrotechnics was also perfect. There was also two key moments that were really memorable. The first has to be the mirror shot with Eunha and SinB at the start of the performance, and the second has to be Sin.B’s slide into frame after Umji’s part in the second pre-chorus. With regards to the choreography, I loved that they made full use of their dresses and I love how they kept the Latin influence in throughout the entirety of the routine.


Pool Party (Rollin’ Right Now) – Kep1er
(Orig. Artist: Brave Girls)

Kep1er brings summer vibes back to the stage with their mix of Pool Party and Rollin’. It is a very vibrant and colourful mix that definitely sets the scene for a great summery concept (more on that later). However, I felt the style was a bit one-dimensional and that unfortunately flowed onto the other aspects of the performances (i.e. vocals and instrumental). There wasn’t really much going on within the instrumental to comment on, and the vocals were not as showcased as they could have been. While I like the idea of incorporating Rollin’ into the performance, it did muddled things. I kind of understand why Rollin’ was needed (or else the Pool Party sections would have too boring). It should have been tidier and cleaner, in my opinion. However, points must be given for effort, as they are the only group to really go down the two song direction. The rapping faired much better and gave the performance a bit of a surprise factor. Like the other performances, there is a dance break where the bridge of the performance should have been, and I felt the strings and then rock style instrumental was a nice way of incorporating different dynamics (i.e. elegance to intensity) into the performance.

The performance started off with a Alice In Wonderland style introduction with Yeseo playing the titular character. However, this only lasted a short while, as Yeseo quickly underwent a costume change and we launched right into the undersea/ocean concept for this summery stage. I liked the energy that the members brought to the stage and the smiles instantly added brightness to the performance. The bubble was a cute touch to the performance, while the pink outfits brought a nice contrast to the predominately blue stage (as it was an under ocean concept). As for the choreography aspect of this stage, the group went with a completely new routine, though they did keep the iconic Rollin’ move for the first chorus. The dance break we got was super cool and was the highlight of the stage, especially when it was kicked up a notch via the rock influences.


So What – Hyolyn
(Orig. Artist: LOONA)

Hyolyn without a doubt has proved herself to be a front runner in this competition and this stage just confirms that once again. LOONA’s So What allows Hyolyn to show off her vocals in a spectacular fashion and gives her an opportunity to be punchy about it. Hyolyn really uses a lot of vocal styles that we have heard from the soloist in some form before, such as lower registers, powerful high notes, emphasising husky and raspy tones. On the instrumental side, Hyolyn’s version of So What felt more aggressive and sleek, which hits the brief of reinventing the original, but also really showcasing Hyolyn’s versatility. Though, it isn’t really much different to the original version by LOONA. The surprising element of Hyolyn’s arrangement of So What was the inclusion of PTT and its ‘Ra Ta Ta‘ hook. It was unexpected, but it fitted in so well with her version of the song.

What a bold start to the performance. To see Hyolyn floating in the circular frame up above the stage with a Catwoman outfit get-up on definitely added a wow factor to the performance. The green lighting and white gas cloud looked very cool and suspenseful. For the rest of the performance, Hyolyn is aggressive when it comes to her live vocals and her dance performance as well. This performance also shows off her charismatic side, as well. And damn, she looks sexy in her tight black outfit. Again, I like how she engages with the audience, showing her experience on the stage. For the choreography, I liked the attitude filled style that she and the dancers went for. It just really concentrated everything from the song arrangement and concept into a powerful and fiery package that she and the dancers execute so well.


And This Round’s Winner Is…

With this round, I don’t think we can tell yet who the winner is. Based on the official rankings, it appears that Hyolyn is currently in that hot seat, racing towards the finale. And congratulations indeed to Hyolyn for holding onto the top spot for the second round in a row. But from how I see it, things aren’t clear cut.

My personal ranking for this round disagrees with the official ranking, with the entire board reshuffled. So without any further delays, here are my rankings for the second round of Queendom 2. Do you agree with me? Let me know in the comments section below.

PositionOfficial Queendom 2 RankingKPOPREVIEWED’s Personal Ranking
1HyolynVIVIZ
2LOONAHyolyn
3WJSNLOONA
4VIVIZWJSN
5Kep1erBrave Girls
6Brave GirlsKep1er

Up next: Queendom 2 – Round 3 (Part 1) – Position Unit Battle – Ep. 6 & 7

[Special] Queendom 2 – Round 1 – Representative Song Battle – EP.1&2

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, VVIZ 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 1 – Representative Song Battle

In this round, the groups are to perform a revamped version of one or two of their past hits. As part of these revamped versions of past hits, the groups also had the opportunity to bring them to life with never seen before stages.

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.

Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, LOONA was forced to rank sixth in this round as they could not perform with the other acts, and hence was not able to gain points from the audience or their fellow competitors. As a result, it was decided that the group would default to the last position for this round. However, as I am doing this review way after the airing date of this round, I will be including LOONA in my personal ranking for 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.


Time For The Moon Night + Rough – GFriend

It is sad to just see only three members of VIVIZ perform Time of the Moon Night and Rough on stage. But at the same time, I am happy to see that the GFriend lives on. Especially when Rough came on, that was great nostalgia. I love the additional strings in both Time For the Moon Night and Rough, which helps transitions between the two songs, but also bring together the two halves of the performance. The intensity that came about from the mentioned transition was suspenseful and exciting. The electrical guitar in the bridge of the Rough section of the performance was just perfect, building off what was already present in the original song. Vocally, they didn’t stray from the original vocals. I did wish they did a bit more, just to give a fresh VIVIZ vibe to the performance. But instead, they rearrange who sang what since they are down three members. But nonetheless, VIVIZ did a good job with stable vocals. I also liked the slowed ending, dragging out the performance just for a little longer to make it a little more satisfying and to fit in with the concept of the stage.

For the stage concept, I liked how elegant and beautiful the trio looked on stage. They look like princesses on stage. Back when they debuted in 2015, they were schoolgirls. Then, they climbed to the top of the industry (i.e. the crown that Eunha dons), before that is thrown to the side and the group remerging as a new group (i.e. VIVIZ – no crown). Further evidence of them acknowledging their past is via the 09021601 we see at the end of the performance is a combination of their debut dates under GFriend and VIVIZ. A detailed analysis of their stage is in the comments section of the YouTube video, so give that a read. The actual choreography also adopted the beautiful and elegant nature I mentioned. They changed parts of the choreography to highlight this and freshen it up to make it their own, but also managed to maintain the same atmosphere as the original routines. I also enjoyed the electric guitar sequence in the choreography.


Touch My Body – Hyolyn

Hyolyn was the second act to perform in the round and I liked how she also went back in time to her Sistar’s day to pick one of group’s most successful tracks. But unlike VIVIZ’s performance, Hyolyn did change a lot of it. Her re-arrangement of Touch My Body is quite refreshing. She opens up the performance with waterfall and jungle sounds, before taking on a more tropical feel for the rest of the performance. Again, great nostalgia comes when Hyolyn begins sing Touch My Body, and I liked that she put her own twist on the lines and amps up at the end, showing her vocal prowess. I liked the dance break we got. The brass and the drum work fitted in with the vibrant colours that this version of Touch My Body was going for, and also helped build some momentum to the stage.

I like how she extends that jungle and tropical feel to the stage. From her green coloured outfit to the palm leaves held by the male dancers, the waterfall and tropical imagery on the screens, everything worked really well and cohesively with each other. My favourite bit of the stage has to be at the bridge of the song, where the flames come up, representing heat. In addition to the original Touch My Body routine, she definitely heated up the stage with the choreography for the dance break, which was energetic, sexy and extremely vibrant. I also have to commend Hyolyn on her charisma, which I think helped her stage dominate this round.


WA DA DA – Kep1er

Part of me wants to exclaim that this is how you do a remix. But when I think about the performance objectively, I feel like more could have been done to make this alternative version of WA DA DA more robust and dynamic. Let’s start off with the positives. Kep1er’s WA DA DA version on Queendom 2 had a much more powerful punch to it, which makes it so appealing. The dance break had a bombastic feel to it. I also liked how they transformed the chorus in something so much stronger. Sure, it still have that cutesy element as in the original that I still wish they get rid. But they did soften my dislike for that section with what they did on stage at this part (more on that later). Unfortunately, I feel like more could have been done with vocals and rapping. For this department, it felt too much like the original and I feel like this holds back this version of the stage. Just my opinion though.

I kind of like the race car concept they went with, though I do think the physical stage could have been a bit more engaging. It looked incredibly plain. I guess the other teams had more people or used more interesting backgrounds to ‘fill up the space’, whereas Kep1er’s stage felt empty and lackluster. The camera work was also a weak point. Some of it was awesome, but other parts looked a bit rubbish. The most positive aspect of the performance, however, was the choreography. I really like the first chorus, with the sharp side by side motions and circle motion they make with their arms (see video image below). The dance break was super intense and definitely showed a different side of Kep1er. Two things though – I wish there was a bit of refinement as it looked a bit messy (especially as the group get into their positions). And again, I wished the cutesy vibes were less prevalent to match the performance’s more powerful manner.


Chi Mat Ba Ram + Rollin’ – Brave Girls

Brave Girl’s stage started off powerful, going with a militaristic start. After all the members were introduced, they revamped Chi Mat Ba Ram with a sensual R&B vibe, before changing the chorus with a techno backing before back to the original version of Chi Mat Ba Ram. The militaristic start and then sensual R&B returns for the dance break, which I thought was dynamic and rather cool. And then the performance jumps into the tropical version of Rollin’. Personally, I wished they went with a different version of Rollin’, simply because this tropical version has been done so many times before. They should have delivered something a little more original during the Rollin’ part of this performance. Like Kep1er’s comment about vocals, I also wished the vocals were changed up a bit. This would have made the arrangement a little more robust and exciting.

As for the stage, I really liked the blue on black they had going on through their outfits and on the screens behind then. It looked stylish. When it came to Rollin’, the multicolour shards of light on the screen looked quite cool, as well. I do wish the props weren’t cheap looking (i.e. the pieces of fabric that transitioned the performance from Chi Mat Ba Ram to Rollin’, and those fluoro-rods.). It just cheapens the performance and doesn’t put them in a good light. The powdered drums were cool though. As for the choreography, I liked the mixture of new and old. There was a nice balance there. The dance break was my favourite part, though, especially when they kicked the male dancers to the side. The sensual parts were also really good to watch.


As You Wish – WJSN (Cosmic Girls)

Out of all the performances, I feel that WJSN’s was the most captivating to watch. And this is equally shared throughout the three departments – music, stage concept and choreography. The stage started off in a dramatic and intense fashion, which is very opposite to both the original and this version of As You Wish. Then, the members started their performance of As You Wish, which was both elegant and atmospheric. The ramp up to the chorus was really well done in the arrangement, and I liked how explosive the chorus was for this version of As You Wish. They replicated a similar set up for the second verse. The second chorus was substituted out for a very powerful instrumental break that enables the group to showcase a much more powerful side in their performance. We are then treated to a bridge, and the final chorus/outro, which started off slightly distorted. The vocals and rapping, while were similar to the original, gave off different appeals due to the different backings, and I thought this was amazingly fine.

I personally do not know what the concept specifically is. But I guess stopping time might be a possibility, given the recuring hour glasses that was emptied. However, I have no clue what the context is. I quite like the aesthetic that the dancers brought to the stage. The various formations we find them in looked very intriguing. I also like how they were used to occupy the stage, while WJSN moved upstairs. As for WJSN’s choreography, the verses looked graceful, while the choruses featured the original. The dance break we got at the instrumental break is exactly how I described it above – powerful. But also refined, which matches with their style.


PTT (Paint The Town) – LOONA

It was a pity that LOONA was not counted for this round. Though, I am glad that LOONA still ended up performing their PTT stage though. For the most part, the song remains the same as the original. What I did like was the introduction and addition of Korean folk vocals and instruments. They definitely worked well with the original instrumentation, but also introduce a slightly different dynamic to the original version of PTT. I did like the instrumental break we got in the performance (i.e the dance break). The combination between the folk and synths created a very cool atmosphere. Like WJSN’s performance, the vocals work was pretty standard and like the original. But I think the music did enough to make it a different performance.

LOONA performed this version of PTT a week after Round 1 wrapped up. That is why the stage for this performance is different to the other contenders. I did think they made good use of what they had, though I wished we got to see a version on the Round 1 stage. I really liked their outfits (so bold) and the Korean folk elements they brought to the stage via the screen and props. For me the most riveting part has to be Olivia Hye pulled out the hair sticks to allow her hair to fall down. That looked really cool, and left a super strong impression on me that was memorable. The camera transition between Yeojin and Yves was really cool. Again, the choreography was very like the original. And once again, Olivia Hye’s solo part in the dance break was the best part of the stage.


And This Round’s Winner Is…

One round in and I can’t want to see the rest of what these groups/acts have in store for us! Each act bought a lot to the stage and their own charm, and so it was difficult to choose a winning performance. This is going to be one tough competition.

As mentioned twice already, I will be including LOONA in my personal rankings, which will ultimately help decide my pick for the winner of Queendom 2. I have also compared my personal ranking to the official Queendom 2 ranking below.

PositionOfficial Queendom 2 RankingKPOPREVIEWED’s Personal Ranking
1HyolynWJSN
2WJSNHyolyn
3VIVIZLOONA
4Kep1erVIVIZ
5Brave GirlsBrave Girls
6LOONAKep1er

Up next: Queendom 2 – Round 2 – Cover Song Battle – Ep. 3 & 4

[Special] Queendom 2 – Opening Show Performance Rankings EP.0

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, VVIZ 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.


Opening Show Performances

Starting off the show this time around are short introductory performances, referred to by the show as Opening Show Performances. Unlike the 100 second performances that opened up Kingdom: Legendary War, Queendom 2 does not consider this as an official round and these performances are not a determinant in determining the final winners of the show.

However, for the purposes of my recap and ‘my thoughts on what the ranking should be’, I will be determining a rank for these Opening Show Performances (based on my personal thoughts) and will use this ranking in determining my personal pick of a final winner.


WJSN’s Opening Show Performance

WJSN starts off their Queendom campaign with a short version of Save Me Save You that focuses on both the elegant and dramatic sides of the song and group. I quite like this performance for the showcasing of these styles, and overall stage presence. It begins with a brief instrumental sample of their hit Secret and Seola opening a music box. The design on the music box ends up being displayed on the floor of the stage, and the other members performing on the design, before all eight members (sans Bona who was preoccupied with acting schedules, and Dawon who is currently sitting out of schedules due to health issues) come together to showcase elegance and dramatic sides through their dance routine over some classical piano. Vocals come into play, and the members do a quick outfit swap (from dark blue to light blue). I wished the cloud that shoots up from the front of the stage did a better job of hiding the members during the outfit change, just to give that performance more of a wow factor. But overall, a satisfying beginning to the show for the group.


LOONA’s Opening Show Performance

Everything in terms of stage, instrumental and outfits was extremely simple for LOONA’s Opening Show Performance, so the focus was placed on the group’s performance. It is a silky routine that showcases the group’s performance potential. I quite like this direction, as it definitely feels like the group hit the brief for Queendom. There was a range of emotions portrayed throughout this performance (which includes a bit of their Satellite single), such as gracefulness, fierceness, sensual, powerfulness and probably a few more. None of them overpowered or became dominant, and so there was a level of sophistication and aesthetic to the performance. Overall, a strong showing from the group, as expected by fans such as myself. On a more critical note about the performance, the group could have been a bit more synchronised. I think the intention to be synchronised was there, but it just wasn’t perfectly executed. Had it been perfectly executed, LOONA would easily been miles ahead with this opening performance.


VIVIZ’s Opening Show Performance

VIVIZ continues the retro theme of their debut track, BOP BOP!, on their Opening Show Performance stage. You can also hear snippets of BOP BOP! in the background of this performance! Personally, I felt VIVIZ’s performance was the most vibrant and pop-aligned start to the show, which is appealing to my personal taste. I like the brief start with the shot from above. It is creative and the hand choreography was fun. We then switch to small solo stages for each of the members. Given that the group only has three members, this was a unique move and one I think pays off in terms of impact. However, I believe a bit of refinement was needed from each member to make their solo routines stand out a bit more. I also wished their expressions were less serious, which would help add life to the performance. The three members then reunite, and this is when the performance is at its peak. The moves here felt more polished and there was a level of sexiness that I quite liked. I also liked the speaker towards the end of the performance, pumping powder up into the air. It just adds a bit more flair to the performance.


Brave Girls’ Opening Show Performance

For Brave Girls performance, consistency was the big that popped out at me. All the moves definitely fitted in with one another and the flow was great. The music was just right and I really like that the group capitalised on their Rollin’ hook in this song without pulling out any of the Rollin’ dance moves. They easily could have gone down that route, and that would have resulted in a ‘safe’ performance (or potentially ill-fitting routine, if the music remained the same). But this stage was not safe, but was somewhat more adventurous for the group instead. Overall, it was a fun stage to watch, which showed off the group’s showmanship and skills. The use of hats and jackets throughout the performance was definitely cool. The jacket flick back at the end was definitely very sexy. And I really enjoyed the sequence where two members were facing forward and the other two members were walking backwards whilst walking towards the camera, followed by that switcheroo move. If anything, I wished the dance moves were a bit sharper in terms of execution.


Hyolyn’s Opening Show Performance

Hyolyn’s is this season’s one person act. Through this performance, Hyolyn establishes that she is one versatile performer. She has the performance skills, the experience, the amazing vocals that once (and still) swoons the audience. She kind of has it all. In this brief version of Dally, Hyolyn commands the stage alone. I expected dancers to appear on the stage, but this expectation did not become fruitful. Instead, she pulls off the performance by herself with no problems. This speaks towards her stage presence and skills no doubt. The stage hosted one sexy act that is bound of drive fans crazy. Her opening was striking and made an impression, both in a visual and in vocal sense. Hyolyn definitely made an impression, and a strong one at that!


Kep1er’s Opening Show Performance

Kep1er is the relative newcomer and is expected to bring a youthful charm to the show. I don’t have much to say about this performance, other than ‘wow’! I like how fierce the performance was. It just shows us that they are not a group to mess around with or underestimate, given their lesser experience. I also really like the military influence to the performance. I also enjoyed the bolder and abrasive remix of See The Light that the group performs to. They got the synchronisation down pat and definitely had strong stage presence, something remarkable for a group that has only been around for a couple of months. Once again, I have nothing else to say about the performance other than a wow!


And the winner is…

As mentioned before, there is no official winner for the Opening Show performances round. But as per my past posts for Road to Kingdom and Kingdom, I have decided to also rank the Opening Show performances in order from preference. I just want to note that all the performances were amazing in their own right, so it was extremely difficult to actually rank these. But I have managed to settle on a list on where I think these Opening Show performance should rank had there been an official rank:

RankingOpening Show Performance
1Hyolyn
2Kep1er
3LOONA
4WJSN
5VIVIZ
6Brave Girls

Do you agree me? Let me know in the comments below!

Next up: Queendom 2 – Preliminary Round 1 – Representative Song Battle

[Album Review] FIRST IMPACT (1st Mini Album) – Kep1er

Finally, the first album review for an album released in 2022. I am only two months behind. Of course, I start off with the first major release of the year, that is Kep1er’s debut mini-album, FIRST IMPACT. For those who missed Kep1er’s debut, they began their careers on 3 January 2022 with WA DA DA. This followed a slight delay due to some of the members testing positive to COVID-19 in December 2021, just before their original debut date. FIRST IMPACT also features two new original tracks, and three tracks from Girls Planet 999, the show in which they were formed from. I didn’t pay attention to the survival show when it first aired in early 2021, so I am not familiar with the songs from Girls Planet 999 apart from O.O.O when it was first released.

Overall a fair album to kick off their careers. I do hope that the quality of their subsequent comeback tracks have more impact and this is reflected throughout the albums as well. Do you agree me? Have a read of my thoughts below and let me know in the comments!

FIRST IMPACT Album Cover

1. See The LightSee The Light is the album’s introductory track. While it is a satisfactory introduction to the group and the album, I found it to be a bit all over the place. Each EDM segment we get in this song (I would say there are 6 very distinct segments throughout this less than 2 minute track) is quite different to the other and makes it hard to focus on other elements in See The Light. More memorable lines/moments would have also been nice. (7/10)

2. WA DA DA (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for WA DA DA. (6.5/10)

3. MVSK – Without a doubt, I am with the crowd on this one. MVSK is the album’s best track. I just love the attitude and personality that oozes from this song. I found the house elements in the instrumental to be very dynamic. The pauses in the chorus (which in turn gave off a choppy effect) and in other parts of the chorus made the song feel unique and also helped propelled the song forward. It also grabs my attention. The vocals here (from delivery to mixing) was really well done and impressive. (10/10)

4. Shine (Kep1er Version) – As mentioned, this is the first time I am reacting to most of the songs from Girls Planet 999. Shine is pretty energetic in many ways and shows off the group in an incredible youthful light. The chanty moments of the song (start of the song, start of the second verse and end of the song) were quite memorable. It also complimented the instrumental of the entire song, which gave me pop anthem vibes. For the most part, the vocals and rapping was pretty good. But I wished the members toned some of the cutesy vocals down. It just gave a cringy factor to the song. (8/10)

5. Another Dream (Kep1er Version)Another Dream is a ballad, which is a common performance piece in the finale of any MNET KPOP survival show. As usual like the other finale episode ballads, the melodies are stunning, and I like the hopeful energy that comes from Another Dream. The swayable nature of the song is present, and this version no doubt shows off Kep1er’s vocal potential. It is not the most memorable side track on this album, but it is definitely up there. (8/10)

6. O.O.O (Over&Over&Over) (Kep1er Version) – I do remember listening to this song when it was first unveiled as the main song for the show. Back then, I didn’t care for O.O.O as much. And unfortunately, I don’t think my perspective of the song has changed. The chorus has the right tone for it to be a main track, with it being bright, youthful and energetic. It does lack the same flair when compared to the Produce 101 main tracks, but I could overlook that. It is what happened elsewhere in the song that didn’t sit well with me. I always thought dramatic flair that featured in the bridge was a bit odd. I didn’t mind it at the start as an opener, but it just felt awkward in the bridge. The hip-hop influenced rap second verse sequence was also a big questionable moment for me. It really cut the flow of the song, and didn’t fit in. (7/10)

Overall Album Rating – 7.8/10

FIRST IMPACT Teaser Image

[Review] WA DA DA – Kep1er

Kickstarting what is already shaping to be a busy 2022 is a very long list of comebacks and debuts. The first release that I have selected to be the first review of the year is Kep1er’s debut single, WA DA DA, which officially dropped yesterday. For those who don’t know, Kep1er is a nine-member project group under WAKEONE and Swing Entertainment, formed through the survival show Girls Planet 999. The final lineup of the group consist of Choi Yujin (former CLC member), Shen Xiaoting, Sakamoto Mashiro, Kim Chaehyun, Kim Dayeon, Ezaki Hikaru, Huening Bahiyyih (sister of Heungkai from TXT), Seo Youngeun, Kang Yeseo (former member of Busters). The group was originally meant to debut back in December 2020, but some of the members contracted COVID which resulted in the postponement of their debut to yesterday.

WA DA DA definitely has potential as a debut song. For the most part, I quite enjoyed the song. But there were some parts that I did not like and created holes in an otherwise decent track. I would personally put WA DA DA into the ‘girl crush’ style of music. I know it is a generic sound in KPOP, but I just wished the producers of WA DA DA kept to just that. There seemed to be a desire to capitalise on the member’s youth, and so there are all these cutesy elements inserted into WA DA DA that I believe do not fit in with the the ‘girl crush’ concept. A prime example of this occurring is the two halves of the chorus. I really enjoyed the sassy attitude of the first half of the chorus. This felt great following the promise from the verses and rapping elements in WA DA DA. The second half of the chorus disrupted this energy and diverted the song into a more cutesy direction with high-pitched vocals, which I felt was a wrong move. The producers of the song could have just picked one direction and done that one extremely well, with my obvious preference being the girl crush sound. In other promising areas, the bold and strong vocals in the pre-chorus stood out for me. The other part of WA DA DA which I am a bit torn about is the song’s title and main hook. Looking back, it has its merits and is catchy. But I feel WA DA DA is a bit elementary and childish. It didn’t really fit in with the intense moments of the song, and hence I felt that it brought down the quality of the song. For a debut track and all the hype behind Kep1er, I expected something more solid for WA DA DA and not as flawed.

The music video was definitely going towards that girl crush concept direction, which I didn’t mind. Generic as it is, it isn’t a terrible concept/idea. Just unoriginal. I did like the post-production effects on this video, like how the members kept on disappearing and reappearing during the bridge/first half of the final chorus. Plus all the mini lightnings that were coming from their hands. It added a much cooler vibe to the video.

The performance overall was quite good. Again, I wished the performance went in one of the two directions (i.e. girl crush vs. cutesy). We get a mix of both here. I understand that the performance would need to conform to the song, so they did fine in this department for the WA DA DA that we got. I did like the different ways the members got into formation throughout this performance. I am, however, unsure of the various hand movements they had in the choreography, not sure what what they were to represent, if anything.

Song – 6.5/10
Music Video – 7/10

Performance – 7.5/10
Overall Rating – 6.9/10