[Review] Flip That – LOONA

As mentioned in my last song review, two Queendom 2 participants made their comeback this week. Now it is time for the second group and runner up of the competition to get their review. LOONA has made a comeback with a special Summer mini-album, Flip That, which features the title track of the same name. Aside from Queendom 2, this is the first time we are seeing the group following their PTT (Paint The Town) Korean comeback and their Japanese debut Hula Hoop.

Compared to their last few releases (which have been more powerful and intense releases), Flip That brings a very different colour to the group’s discography. Flip That is described as a house based track. But instead of the usual likes of house EDM, Flip That is more subdued, light and airy. That being said, there is still heft and bass to the instrumental. This creates an interesting and almost aesthetic atmosphere that feels unique and different. Their vocals take on a sweeter and brighter tone profile, which I find to pair extremely well with the instrumentation and its subdued nature. Keeping the song is check and balance are the rappers, who too brought a smidge of heft to the song. But while this sound combination sounds successful so far, I don’t find Flip That to be LOONA’s most riveting piece to date. This determination came down to the melodies and hooks. A small part of me felt Flip That‘s melodies and hooks were memorable to a degree. But a much larger part of me a feels that the melodies and hooks were underwhelming, underdeveloped and underplayed. It didn’t feel enough, if you understand what I mean. I wished it was teased out a bit more and brought a more dynamic touch to the song. Overall, Flip That does have its pros and cons. At this stage, I like it for its uniqueness and thinks that this compensates for the rest of the track.

To match the song’s subdued sound, Flip That‘s accompanying music video takes on a more lighthearted and innocent look compared to their recent music videos. Its bright and airy. There is a lot of colour (though not bold or heavy handed, which I find it be quite nice and easy on the eyes). I really love the forest background that was selected for one of the choreography shots in music video. Its so vivid, and the producers put a lot of thought in ensuring that the video remained balanced with the 13 members and bright white outfits. Not entirely sure if the video is trying to tell a story of some kind, but it can easily be summed up as the members enjoying their time outdoors (or towards their next location/comeback).

Just like the song and music video, the choreography takes on a lighter, cuter and more delicate feel. I like what they did with the formation of the second chorus, and the chorus routine in general. And also, I like that they kept their signature synchronisation. But as a whole piece, I didn’t feel like it was as captivating as the performance could have be.

Song – 8/10
Music Video – 7.5/10
Performance – 6.5/10
Overall Rating – 7.7/10

[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

[International Song Reviews] TWICE, MONSTA X, Stray Kids & LOONA

It is another edition of the International Song Reviews segment. Last week, I posted an ISR consisting reviews for Ten, Jackson Wang, WAYV, Yuqi and 2PM. This week, I will be focusing on another set of releases brought to you by TWICE, MONSTA X, Stray Kids and LOONA. I am keeping this post to just four tracks today, rather than the usual five, so I can focus on some other things today. As this post have a lot to cover, let’s get started!


The Feels – TWICE

I listened to this full English song when the music video dropped at the start of this month. I didn’t think much of it then (and honestly I never returned to it until today). But I have to say, the ‘Boy, I know you got the feels‘ repeated one-liner hook is so damn catchy. It somehow gotten stuck in my head since that first listen, even though it was very much delayed. Anyhow, The Feels is a funky pop track, and listening back I am surprised I didn’t return to the track sooner. It is a very vibrant and colourful track, suitable for my personal taste and TWICE’s overall discography. I really enjoyed the energy that comes from it. The members sound fantastic, and I just love the elongation of the word ‘feels’ in that hook. My only gripe about the song is Chaeyoung’s lines in the pre-chorus. They just didn’t feel like a perfect fit. I liked the music video, but it isn’t that special. The theme seems to be prom-queens, but it seems to be more than that with the red carpet and stage sets. Regardless of what the theme is, The Feels music video is fun and pleasant to watch. For the dance, I thought it was great. Again, nothing special with it. But it works wonderfully with the music. (8/10)


One Day – MONSTA X

A month prior to the above song’s release, MONSTA X released another all English track titled One Day. Since then, the group has been confirmed for a Korean and Western comeback in the next two months, so do expect to see more of MONSTA X on the blog. Now, back to the song in question. One Day is an atmospheric yet simple synth-heavy ballad that I quite enjoyed. One Day really does a good job of presenting stillness and comes off as soothing and calming. The instrumental also comes off as dreamy. For the vocals (which appears to be the song’s sore point for some), I thought MONSTA X did a really nice job. I did think they could have pushed themselves more to be even more expressive, but their delicate tone and emotional touch fits the bill perfect for the song’s meaning and overall sound. The melodies were stunning, as well, adding to this. Both the song and music video features Shownu, who recently enlisted into the military. It was definitely nice to see him one more time. Unfortunately, Hyungwon was missing from the group shots for this music video for unknown reasons. For the music video, I liked the simplicity of the video as well. I also liked the mature visuals that the members gave off. They look good and somehow the mature vibes fitted in with the idea of the song being a ballad for me. (8.6/10)


Scars – Stray Kids

Knowing fully what Stray Kids is capable of, Scars is quite underwhelming for me. Coming off the high of their recent Korean comeback, I would have liked to hear something with the same level of impact and energy. But Scars didn’t deliver this. It doesn’t mean that Scars is a bad song, however. But it is definitely not their best. Scars was a pleasant EDM track – nothing more, nothing less. The members opted for a sentimental tones that sounds nice. But once again, nothing more, nothing less. Vocally, the sentimental tone came naturally and actually sounded quite good. Rapping wise, I thought it was plain. The EDM sound that Scars opted for attempted to add impact, but it more so fizzled out once that impact is delivered. Hence, everything came together to contribute towards an underwhelming and not-so-memorable track. For the music video, it seems like the members are running away (well, more so slowly walking) from ghostly apparitions. They seek shelter in a caravan and kick start a device that repels the ghosts during the night. Then, the story kind of repeats itself and doesn’t really resolve. I hope there is a second part to this, as I think it could potentially be an interesting story to dive into. The choreography for this comeback was quite good, fitting in with the sentimental and mature tones of the song. It doesn’t hit hard, but there was some intensity in the choreography that was quite satisfying to watch as well. (7/10)


HULA HOOP – LOONA

I was quite nervous to hear that LOONA’s company is in the financial red, which puts a massive question mark over the group’s future. But seeing LOONA still pumping out music is a bit of a reassuring sign. Mid-September saw the group release their first original Japanese single, HULA HOOP. It is a dance pop track that is very chirpy and energetic. Actually, in comparison to their debut track which I would say is the equilavent of this track (Hi High, if you are wondering), HULA HOOP seems to let its go a bit. Nothing wrong there, if I am being honest, but I do miss the certain aesthetic that we associate with the group when it comes to their tracks. I liked their vocals and the hooks throughout HULA HOOP quite a bit. They are fun and definitely cutesy. This isn’t usually my cup of tea, but as I always say, there are exceptions. The music video is very unique, with everything moving in an upward direction. I will give them points for that. But I also feel that the video overwhelms us with all the post production applications. It made everything feel a bit much. In the midst of all the overwhelming graphics, you can see a lot of throwbacks to the group’s previous releases through the images, outfits and props (including some of their pre-debut works). No surprises come in the choreography. I enjoyed the fun and energetic side of the song, and the synchronisation between the members makes the performance cooler (as always). (8.2/10)

[Album Review] & (4th Mini Album) – LOONA

Next album I am looking to review is LOONA’s fourth mini-album, & (pronounced ‘and’), which was released at the end of June of the year. It features their title track, PTT (Paint The Town). This is the group’s first comeback since the release of 12:00 and Why Not. This comeback also marked the return of Haseul, who has been on hiatus for their last few comebacks. Like the recent album reviews I have been writing, I too also made a few remarks regarding the intro track but have not included it in the overall album rating, which will instead feature the other 6 tracks on the album. Anyhow, on with the album review!

& Album Cover

1. & – Kicking off the album is the howl of wolves and synths in this intro track. It is powerful intro track that features those traditional Indian elements also heard in PTT, teasing us with what is to come. But & is more than that. Dramatic and suspenseful synths precede and set a very strong tone.

2. PTT (Paint The Town) (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for PTT (Paint The Town). (8/10)

3. WOWWOW is an upbeat jazzy number that comes off as an exciting addition to the album. There is also a bit of a familiarity with WOW, as the song sound similar to Wow Thing (a collaboration between Seulgi, SinB, Chungha and Kim Soyeon from 2018). Like Wow Thing, LOONA’s WOW is extremely lively and energetic thanks to the jazzy influences. It also adds a nice classy colour to the album, whilst also reminding some of their pre-debut work. The vocals shown off in WOW was impressive and had the right level of oomph for the song, which just makes this a satisfying track to listen to. Altogether, WOW was a great song. (9/10)

4. Be HonestBe Honest follows a similar upbeat and energetic nature as WOW. However, I didn’t find anything that grand within Be Honest, as I did with the preceding song. This song was a pleasant retro pop track and LOONA does pack a punch with their chirpy melodies and lines. The upbeat energy gives the song a nice kick and I will agree that it makes for a fun summer track. However, Be Honest just doesn’t come off as memorable for me. (7/10)

5. Dance On My OwnDance On My Own is this album’s English track, similar to how Star was LOONA’s English track. It is also the start of the album’s more toned down side, tapping into the R&B ballad general. It is a nice listen, with pleasant melodies. I liked the overall lightness of the song and the catchiness from the repeated ‘Dance On My Own’ hook. The issue with this song, in particular, is that it gets pretty repetitive, which may not be many people’s cup of tea. (8/10)

6. A Different NightA Different Night is another pleasant ballad. It is very light on the ears and is quite a blissful piece. Instrumental-wise, A Different Night isn’t anything different to your typical ballad. Classically instrumented. There isn’t anything wrong with this when it is done right, and I feel that A Different Night is an example of it being done right. Another great aspect of the song are the vocals. In A Different Night, harmonies are more prevalent and adds a soothing factor to the song. (9/10)

7. U R – Another R&B song to end the album. U R is a nice listen that continues the toned-down nature of the second half of the album. I like the breathy nature of the vocals and the lo-fi beats give U R a different profile from the rest of the toned-down tracks on the album. However, to me, it doesn’t have a memorable factor to it. I also find the song to be on the dry side. (6.5/10)

Overall Album Rating – 7.9/10

& Teaser Image

[Review] PTT (Paint The Town) – LOONA

And I am back to finally review the rest of the week’s releases before I move onto focusing on album reviews this coming weekend. First up is LOONA’s latest comeback, PTT (Paint The Town), which officially dropped on Monday. This is the group’s first comeback since their quite addictive Why Not? comeback back in October 2020. PTT is featured on the group’s fourth mini-album [&] and also marks the return of Haseul, who has been absent from LOONA’s lineup since the release of So What due to mental health issues. Welcome back to Haseul and LOONA! In other related news, LOONA will be gearing up for their Japanese debut, with a Japanese version of PTT released alongside this comeback on Monday as well.

PTT is a bold release, incorporating Indian instrumentation with ‘aggressive dubstep and 808 bass sounds’. While we have heard of foreign influences in KPOP songs in the past, I don’t think any were really featured as prominently as PTT had. It definitely helped create a dynamic atmosphere that was quite alluring and catchy. The song opened with this (what I presume is an) Indian chant before we are introduced a full suite of traditional instrumentation. Some of this traditional instrumentation retained as we move along into the verse (i.e. the tabalas), which is also accented with pounding percussion that strengthened the energy and appeal of the song. As we move closer to the chorus, the hip-hop side profile of the song emerges through the melody, along with the electronic touches mentioned above and the occasional appearance of some traditional instrumentation detailing. This buildup to the chorus felt very clean and felt logical to bridge the verse and chorus. For the chorus, the aggressiveness of the dubstep dominates the first half of the chorus with the Indian touches taking more of a backseat allowing that aggressive nature to appear. It playing field switches in the second half of the chorus, with the Indian instrumental elements emerging from the darkness and the aggressive nature takes a more subtle approach. For the second verse, I liked the boldness of their rapping. The instrumental for this part works well with the rest of the song and doesn’t break the flow of the song, like in some other songs. For the bridge of the song, the slowdown was nice and allowed for Chuu’s high note to pull the song back up to the final chorus, which really hit the song home. Haseul’s vocals in the bridge was also a highlight. Elsewhere, the vocals in PTT were really good and continued to show that clear and crisp vocals that the group has been showing us in their releases. To me, the reason to why PTT is not a perfect song is the chorus. While I did like the instrumentation as I had mentioned above, I felt it was rather weak. The ‘Latatata‘ they went with was pretty dry, bland and didn’t add momentum to the song, as I would have expected a powerful chorus to. It did have some catchiness to it, but I don’t think it was nearly as much as it could have been. I also feel like it didn’t match the aggressive nature of the chorus, which resulted in the chorus feeling rather disappointing. Overall, I think PTT was a strong song from the group. But what should have been the song’s centrepiece was lacking.

While the aesthetic of the music video is reflective of what we have seen from LOONA since So What, it also brings visual elements of their predebut unit releases and their animal representations that formed part of their pre-debut package back into play. And this is all alongside what I am guessing is a new story. But while it is always great to get back in touch with your roots, the music video for PTT is quite overwhelming to watch. There was just so much going on. Maybe when I have some more time, I will try to figure out what this new story is and how it relates to their predebut works. Until then, I will only make comments on the visual display we saw. PTT has some really bold imagery and this imagery works extremely well with the music. The choreography shots, especially when it came to the more aggressive side of the choruses, really honed in that aggressive imagery with the dark and stormy atmosphere and angry colour choices. On the flipside, the verses feature more calming and innocent colours (i.e. white and yellow) to match with the song’s vibes during such parts. And the solo shots of each member we see shows off their beauty really well.

To reflect well with the music, the choreography is quite powerful and artistic at the same time. I don’t think this is their best work but it was still quite great to watch! I really liked the domino effect they had in the second half of the chorus (i.e. one line of members performed first, then the second performed the first set of moves when the first line of members were on their second move etc.), which made that section look really nice.

Song – 8/10
Music Video – 7/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 7.7/10

[Album Review] 12:00 [Midnight] (3rd Mini Album) – LOONA

LOONA is nominated for Best Female Group, Best Music Video (for So What) and Best Female Group Performance (for So What). To support LOONA and your other favourite artists, click here to vote for them!

LOONA made their comeback back in October with Why Not and their third mini-album, 12:00 (read as Midnight). And per my terrible planning skills, I am finally getting around to writing an album review for 12:00 one a half months later. But as they all say – better late than never! Alongside Why Not, 12:00 also features seven new songs. One of these new songs is just an intro track, which I do not review. The final song on the album is titled Star and is the English version of Voice (which is featured on the album). As they are the same song (just in different languages), I will only be reviewing Voice (but I have also included a link to Star if you want to listen to it. So before I delay it further, here is my album review for 12:00.

12:00 Album Cover

2. Why Not? (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Why Not?. (9/10)

3. Voice (목소리)Voice has been selected as LOONA’s follow up promotion song, with the group currently promoting the song on Korean weekly music shows. The English version of the song, Star, also has a music video! Voice is a much lighter song that brings a bit of innocence to LOONA’s song. In comparison to the title track, Voice is a lot smoother and has a very simple melody that is super easy to get into. And because of these factors, Voice is super catchy. The instrumental is pretty synth-heavy and has this slight retro vibe to it that is extremely pleasant and likeable. Voice and Star are definitely highlights of this album. (10/10)

4. Fall Again (기억해) Fall Again is a super soothing ballad. It takes on a bit of a R&B beat for the most part. I really enjoyed the acoustic guitars that peeked through the instrumentation. It was nice change up to the otherwise straight forward R&B side of the song. I also really liked how the bridge was just the acoustic guitar as the main central piece, as well. The song also features really nice vocals from the members, allowing the soothing vibe of the ballad to be heightened even more. (8/10)

5. Universe – Everything in Universe was so smooth to listen to. This smoothness creates a strong alluring aura that is almost hypnotic for me. I just wanted to keep on listening to the song every time it appears on my playlist. What really makes Universe stand out for me is the way it built up. It started off as a soft song. But as it progressed, the song’s pop instrumentation kept on building up its energy and momentum. Yet they managed to keep the alluring aura consistent throughout the whole song. Once again, the vocals in this song are just so sweet and proves to me that every member of LOONA is capable as a vocalist. (10/10)

6. Hide & Seek (숨바꼭질) – The album returns to a bit of an edgy vibe with Hide & Seek. The bouncy way the song started felt like an extension of the title track’s chorus, just a lot brighter and colourful with its pop sound. I also liked how the chorus ended up becoming bouncy as well, which made the song so much more fun for me. I also really liked the synthesizer in the pre-chorus, which helped infuse some energy into the song. The bridge was also super appealing, with one half being a great segment to show off some strong choreography and the other half helping make the final chorus feel bolder. The only thing I was unsure about was the rapping in the second verse. I wished they didn’t go down the typical route for this element. (8.5/10)

7. OOPS! – The final song I am reviewing today is OOPS! It is definitely something different to everything we have heard above. This also includes the title track, which I felt was more melodic than OOPS! Instead, OOPS! goes for the group’s edgiest sound since So What. Personally, I felt the hip-hop styled song was disjointed at times. While I love texture in my songs, I felt like the overuse of textural elements in the instrumental actually became a flaw. I did like their delivery and the energy that came from the group members/song. I just wished it was a bit more refined and cohesive. (6/10)

8. Star (English Version of Voice) – See above for my thoughts on Star / Voice.

Overall Album Rating – 8.6/10

Why Not / 12:00 Teaser Image

[Review] Why Not? – LOONA

Joining the influx of comebacks this week is LOONA. The female group dropped Why Not? on Monday (sorry for the later review), along with their third mini-album, 12:00 (which is to be read as ‘midnight’). This new comeback continues LOONA’s newfound sense of edginess, following in the footsteps of their title track from earlier in the year, So What?. This is also the second comeback to not feature Haeseul, who is still sitting out for health concerns.

LOONA impresses once again with their title track. It isn’t as fantastic as their last one (more on this in just a second), but I found LOONA’s bright energy and catchy hooks to still be quite memorable. The funky and bass-heavy electro-pop that makes up the instrumental aligns the song to the current trends in the industry, but the way it comes together is quite refreshing. The song is more on heavy with the rapping, giving that edgy vibe that I mentioned earlier. The vocals in the song are quite nice and pretty strong. I particularly find the ‘Di Da Dum‘ repetition we get in the first half of the chorus to be the most memorable and addictive part of the song. I did kind of expect a little bit more in this regard, though I felt that this was partly due to what I am about to explain next. I feel that there is a strong contrast between Why Not? and So What? and it is this difference that really sets the two songs apart. (For those who may not remember, I really enjoyed So What? – giving it a 10/10 rating for its review). Why Not? lacks that punch that could have made the chorus a lot more powerful and impressive. What we good had a nice ring to it and I do find it quite catchy. But I felt that the hook could have been beefed up with some attitude and the music could have been a fraction punchier to bring it up to par with their preceding title track.

Once again, my mind is instantly trying to connect this music video to their previous music videos. As mentioned in my last LOONA review, I will be (hopefully) one day revisit my LOONAverse music video theory that I wrote up for LOONA two years ago, including So What? and Why Not? (and any new videos between now and then) in that revisit. Standalone, it is another decent looking girl-crush concept. It isn’t as powerful visually, as well. I also think the addition of the not-so-much ‘girl-crush’ scenes (i.e. the more innocent looking scenes) were a good move. I also liked the unit choreography scenes. Not that I experienced it before, but one could become overwhelmed with so many people in one scene. So that was a good choice.

I personally like the energy that comes from the performance. The group brings a nice vibrancy to the stage and this makes it a fun performance to watch. I also feel that the song requires a fair amount of confidence in order to pull-off, particularly the random ‘yeah‘ throughout the song and ‘woah woah woah woah‘ we get just before the choruses.

Song – 9/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 9/10
Overall Rating – 9/10

[Album Review] # (2nd Mini Album) – LOONA

No reviews today. But I thought it might be a good opportunity to get the album review that I am holding onto out or else everything else will be pushed to a later date (which screws with another break I am planning to have). The artist in focus today is LOONA, who returned with # and their latest title track, So What. This is the group’s first comeback in a year since Butterfly. The group did release 365 as a single back in December and this is also included as part of the album. For those who didn’t read my So What review, (spoiler alert) it is epic! So let’s see how the rest of the album fair.

# Album Cover

2. So What (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for So What. (10/10)

3. Number 1 – The album is co-produced by Lee Soo Man, who some people may know as the SM Entertainment CEO. So, I was wondering if we would hear some influences of the big company on the album. Number 1 confirms this, with a song that is right up BoA’s alley. The entire time I was listening to the song, I could imagine BoA singing this R&B track, as well. And while this may sound like a good thing, some of you might not know that I am not really a big BoA fan (some of her tracks are good, others sound very plain). The plainness comes through in this track and this leaves me disappoint. I do find the vocals to be elegant and delicate in this song and there is a nice melody. But, not really enough appeal from the instrumental department, in my opinion. (6/10)

4. Oh (Yes I Am) – Another very typical instrumental. Oh (Yes I Am) attempts to exploit the trap genre of music that has been very dominant over the last few years. I think the chorus and pre-chorus are pretty good examples of fresh usage of the genre, given that the energy that does come from the song is very promising. Another way of thinking about the song is that it is pretty much a tamed and held back version of GWSN’s title track. This is also a really good set up for the rappers, who are given another opportunity on the album to shine. The genre’s usage in the verses, however, was very boring and I didn’t enjoy this part of the song as much. I thought the vocals were good, especially with the ‘Oh~’ that we get every now and then in the chorus. (8/10)

5. Ding Ding Dong – After Number 1 and Oh (Yes I Am), I was wondering when the album will start to infuse some energy into the album. And we get it through Ding Ding Dong, which is probably more of a cutesy and innocent sound. It does sound like the group is stepping back from their routes through this song. But I reassure, it is still a good song nonetheless. The instrumental contains a slight jazzy like touch, which is where the energy comes from. The rapping is very typical in this track for a LOONA track, but I guess that is because of the innocent side of the track. The vocal work is a strong point in this song, especially Chuu’s parts in the bridge, which I thought gave the song a really good peak. (7.5/10)

6. 365 (Pre-Release Track) – This pre-release track was released back in December 2019. It was a ballad, suited for the Winter season that we had just left. There is a warming feeling to the song, thanks to the piano and the vocal work of the song. There is also a few Christmas-related touches in the song. The chorus is probably the best part of the song, which is where I start to sway along to the music (those who have been reading my blog for a very long time would know what this means). It isn’t the strongest song on the album and I didn’t really think much of it when it was released. But writing the review now, I find it a nice track. (8/10)

Overall Album Rating – 7.9/10

# Teaser Image

[Review] So What – LOONA

Today’s major comeback is by LOONA. Finally, the group that took out the Best Female Group Choreography in the recent 2019 KPOPREVIEWED Awards with Butterfly has returned. This is the group’s first comeback since Butterfly, so it definitely has been a long wait. Hopefully, So What isn’t the group’s only comeback in 2020, as we don’t want to wait another whole year for a comeback! Unfortunately, this comeback does not feature Haseul, as she sits out due to health concerns.

The song is titled as So What and I think this is a great title for such an intense and attitude filled song. The song is probably best described as a hip-hop infused urban dance track. Usually, I would say that the song ‘throws at you’. But this time, I am going to say that the song kicks you (sorry with the violent analogies) with its intense moments. The chorus is just loaded and comes hurling in your direction with no warning. And I feel that way each time I have listened to the song today, despite knowing fully what is coming my way. Vocally, I have no complaints. There is a fair amount of rapping in the song due to the hip-hop direction, which makes total sense. The vocals were also quite strong, despite it being limited this time around. I did like the slow down in the bridge. It brought relief from the intensity and that they recovered all that lost energy pretty well in the final chorus (i.e. it didn’t ‘start’ a ‘drag down’ of the song). Overall, very impressed.

I only have a limited section in this review to discuss the music video. But my heading it whirling with theories at the moment as this video definitely connects with Hi High and all of their pre-debut singles. But that is another post. The teasers referenced the dark side of the moon, the side that we don’t know of the moon. In this video, we are shown the ‘dark side’ of LOONA or the side that we did not know existed. And it seems Olivia Hye, the final member to be revealed has some influence with their unveil. I remember quite fondly that red lighting was a thing in her music video, and at the end the members were shot with a red light over them. On top of that, a white feather is burning at the end. The feather is an important aspect of the video connecting Haseul (who is absent) and their animals to this video. In addition to the connection of their LOONAVERSE, the group managed to incorporate amazing cinematography, stunning closeup shots and a great depiction of the girl-crush concept.

Their knife-like precision is shown off again in this performance. I like the intense sections of the song feature powerful moves, while the slowed down bridge showcases a more elegant routine. The start, the pre-chorus section and the chorus all looked really cool. It was just so hard to choose a favourite section!

Song – 10/10
Music Video – 10/10
Performance – 10/10
Overall Rating – 10/10

[Special] 2019 KPOPREVIEWED Awards – Song-Based Categories

It is that time of the year again where I announce the winners for the 2019 KPOPREVIEWED Awards. In December 2019, I allowed the audience (you all), once again, to vote for their favourite songs and artists for the December 2018 to November 2019 period. Thank you to all who voted and participated in the KPOPREVIEWED Awards this time around. Even more people voted this year, making this year more intense than ever in many categories. This post will focus on the song-based categories, which will also involve the Performance categories, Best Music Video, Best Concept and the most voted song (by you all). The winners for the artist categories will be posted in an accompanying post today, while the Top 100 songs of 2019 will be posted tomorrow.

Here is how things are going to work. Each category (aside from the non-fan voted categories, which are specified) will have a WINNER (the song/performance/video that ranked first), a Honourable Mention (the song/performance/video that ranked second) and a KPOPREVIEWED Choice (my personal choice if I voted, which I didn’t include this year). And let’s go!


Best Special Performance

This is not a fan voted category.

WINNER – Egostistic Cover (AOA) at Queendom


Best Concept

This is not a fan voted category.

WINNER – HIP (Mamamoo)


Best Solo Choreography

Nominees: Blue (Ha Sung Woon); Focus (Kim Dong Han); Gotta Go (Kim Chungha); LALALAY (Sunmi); L.O.V.E (Park Ji Hoon); Twit (Hwasa – Mamamoo); WANT (Taemin – SHINee); What Are You Up To? (Kang Daniel); What You Waiting For? (Anda & R.Tee); Ya (Lee Minhyuk – BTOB).

WINNER – WANT (Taemin)
Honourable Mention – Gotta Go (Kim Chungha)
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – LALALAY (Sunm
i)


Best Male (Group) Choreography

Nominees: All Night (ASTRO); Boom (NCT Dream); HIT (Seventeen); Hollywood (AB6IX); Humph! (Pentagon); Love Shot (EXO); RPM (SF9); Say My Name (ATEEZ); Side Effects (Stray Kids); You Calling My Name (GOT7).

WINNER – Love Shot (EXO)
Honourable Mention – HIT (Seventeen)
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – Side Effects (Stray Kids)


Best Female (Group) Choreography

Nominees: Bon Bon Chocolat (EVERGLOW); Boogie Up (WJSN); Butterfly (LOONA); DALLA DALLA (ITZY); HIP (Mamamoo); Pinky Star (Run) (GWSN); Sunrise (GFriend); The Fifth Season (Oh My Girl); Violeta (IZ*ONE); Zimzalabim (Red Velvet).

WINNER – Butterfly (LOONA)
Honourable Mention – HIP (Mamamoo)
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – Zimzalabim (Red Velvet)


Best Collaboration

Nominees: Blossom (Eunha & Ravi); Boy With Luv (BTS ft. Halsey); Don’t Need Your Love (NCT Dream & HRVY); I Wanna Be (Key ft. Kim Soyeon); Spring (Park Bom ft. Sandara Park)

WINNER – Boy With Luv (BTS ft. Halsey)
Honourable Mention – Don’t Need Your Love (NCT Dream & HRVY)
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – Boy With Luv (BTS ft. Halsey)


Best Music Video

Nominees: Abandoned (Brown Eyed Girls); Above The Time (IU); Crown (TXT); Feel Special (TWICE); HIT (Seventeen); Love Drunk (Epik High ft. Crush); Noir (Sunmi); Snapping (Kim Chungha); You Calling My Name (GOT7); Zimzalabim (Red Velvet)

WINNER – Obsession (EXO)
Honourable Mention – Feel Special (TWICE)
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – HIT (Seventeen)


Best International Song By A Korean Artist

Nominees: Breakthrough (TWICE – Japanese); Flower (GFriend – Japanese); Lights (BTS – Japan); Moonwalk (WAYV – China); Someone’s Someone (Monsta X – US).

WINNER – Breakthrough (TWICE – Japan)
Honourable Mention – Moonwalk (WAYV – China)
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – Breakthrough (TWICE – Japan)


Best Official Soundtrack (OST)

This is not a fan voted category.

WINNER – We All Lie (Ha Jin- Sky Castle OST)


Most Viewed Review of 2019

This is not a fan voted category

WINNER – Goblin (Sulli)


Most Viewed Album Review of 2019

This is not a fan voted category.

WINNER – BXXX (Ha Sung Woon)


Songs With Most Win on Weekly KPOP Charts

This is not a fan voted category

WINNER – Time Of Our Life (DAY6)
WINNER – HIP (Mamamoo)


Best Non-Title Track

This is not a fan voted category

WINNER – Ten Nights (Mamamoo)


Best Album

Nominees: Love Poem (IU); Narcissus (SF9); Purpose (Taeyeon – SNSD); The Book Of Us: Gravity (DAY6); Want (Taemin – SHINee)

WINNER – Love Poem (IU)
Honourable Mention – The Book Of Us: Gravity (DAY6)
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – The Book Of Us: Gravity (DAY6)


Most Voted For Song of 2019

WINNER – Obsession (EXO)


And that brings us to the end of the Song-Based Categories for the 2019 KPOPREVIEWED Awards. If you haven’t seen the Artist-Based Categories yet, click here.

Tomorrow, we will get to see which artist ranked on the Top 100 of the 2019 KPOPREVIEWED Charts, where the song that ranks first becomes the ‘Best Song of 2019’. Remember this is decided based on the votes for Best Song of 2019 (50%) and the Weekly KPOP Charts that I post every Sunday (50%). Will EXO’s Obsession become the ‘Best Song of 2019’ officially? You can find out by clicking here (hyperlink will be updated once the post is published).

[Album Review] XX (1st Repackaged Album) – LOONA

LOONA returned last week with XX, which featured the title track Butterfly. It also features 4 other new tracks (which I will be reviewing today), on top of the tracks featured on their ++ release, which we first saw in August of last year. Their company has been teasing this comeback for some time. The first teaser was released in October and it featured the ending of the Hi High music video but in reverse. Interestingly, the order of ++ songs on XX is actually been reversed as well. While I think I may have cracked that code, there is still a lot more cryptic messages to work through. In the meantime, here is my review for XX.

loona-xx-2
XX Album Cover

2. Butterfly (Title Track) Click here to read the full review of Butterfly. (10/10)

3. SatelliteSatellite is a very interesting track. It combines several appealing techniques to really make the song feel quite bold (but in a subtle way). The song starts off with a bouncy instrumental and very clear vocals. The pre-chorus takes a slight turn with a short yet sweet build-up, layered on top of a rolling drum beat. The chorus is what got my attention. It starts off with very melodic and wave-like vocals, which later moves onto a faster beat which provides a nice rush of energy to the chorus. It isn’t a combination that doesn’t really seem fitting, but it works effortlessly in this track. The rap sequences that make up majority of the second verse was also another well-done section, adding some texture to the track. I particularly like the inclusion of Kim-Lip’s section which sound like an electronic powering down (sorry for my unimaginative descriptions of each section). The rest of the track continues the same standard. Personally, Satellite is a very strong track if you are looking for something aesthetically pleasing. I also think this is a wonderful addition to their portfolio thus far. (9/10)

4. CuriosityCuriosity throws a hip-hop feel to their aesthetic works that we got during their pre-debut period. It does create an interesting mix, to be honest. I just felt that there seemed to be a lot to focus on during the chorus and the instrumental, while it featured a deep sounding synth that sounds somewhat unique, was overpowering the vocals at times. But hey, that was my first impression. With more listens, the song is getting slightly better. But the one feeling that has remained from the start was how lacklustre the rap sequence felt. I wanted more. More definition and something to really kick the song up a notch. (7/10)

5. ColorsColors is undeniably their most colourful work on the entire album. I attribute that to the certain level of brightness that you could feel during the chorus. The instrumental had a lot going on as well, which I think also contributed to this feeling. Once again, the instrumental did feel somewhat overwhelming, especially for the vocals of this track, which opted for a soft approach once again. However, I did like the instrumentation for the track, particularly the rolling drum beat during the chorus. The song also features a very conflicting dance break. It just doesn’t go with the rest of the song but for some reason it draws attention to the song in a way that I cannot really understand. To me, it attracted some good attention rather than a negative response (in my case at least). (7.5/10)

6. Where You AtWhere You At is an R&B dance track that actually has a very addictive chorus. There isn’t much going on within the song, but it was still a very strong track overall. The ‘Where You At’ repetition within the chorus instantly gets me singing along. Come to the think of it, the entire track is quite pleasant, and I think the soft nature of the song is a major charm that they played right. The instrumental is on the more typical side of the spectrum, but I still thought it was nice. The vocals had this electronic filter applied to it, which also gave it a nice effect. It isn’t as extreme as autotune and worked well with the soft nature of the track. Interestingly, the track does not feature a rap. I personally think this was a good move as it would cut the softness of the track. (9/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.5/10

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