By: Penny Rae Hawkins
Run the World! Queendom 2 has arrived.
Queendom 2, the sequel to Mnet’s Queendom from 2019, is already off to an ambitious start. For starters, this season is hosted by none other than Taeyeon, the leader of legendary girl group Girl’s Generation and a solo artist in her own right. She’ll be introducing challenges and performances for Queendom 2’s crop of hopefuls for the crown: WJSN, Brave Girls, VIVIZ, Kep1er, Loona and Hyolyn. The introduction of a contestant debuted in 2010 came as a shock to myself and the rest of the girls, prompting Dayoung of WJSN to wipe down Hyolyn’s chair before she was properly introduced in what is sure to be an iconic moment.
The theme for this first episode was “Signature Song.” This proved an interesting challenge for the contestants, especially for rookie group Kep1er who have one proven hit to their name with “WA DA DA.” Veteran performers like Brave Girls and Hyolyn, who was a member of SISTAR, had years worth of material to choose from. Similar to Hyolyn, VIVIZ had an entire catalog of GFRIEND songs to rifle through as well as their newer work as a trio. The scoring of these performances are determined not only by global votes, but YouTube views on full-length videos of the performances posted after the episode’s conclusion.
Unfortunately, the competition began with bad news. Despite the six groups that were meant to perform in round one, LOONA had to drop out of filming after all twelve members tested positive for COVID-19. This left the remaining five groups to prepare show stopping performances to prove themselves worthy of the throne. Luckily, LOONA will be allowed to complete the first round’s mission once all members have recovered.
VIVIZ opened the competition with a mash-up of GFRIEND songs “Time for the Moon Night” and “Rough.” The girls’ costuming was delicate to the point of being doll-like, perfect for their elegant choreography and angelic vocals. Raising a glittering crown to the sky, they continued the program’s tradition of elevating K-pop standards into high art. Midway through the performance amidst the stars, a promise to other GFRIEND members and Buddy was put on display. This promise? “We will meet in the end. Even though we trapped in the time and lost in the way.” It proved to be a particularly emotional performance for VIVIZ member Eunha, who cried as soon as she left the stage. She later stated it was due to her previous uncertainty as to whether she’d ever be able to perform GFRIEND songs again after the groups sudden disbandment in May 2021. Overall, it’s a touching tribute and a tear jerking display of talent regardless of your knowledge of the members’ past.
Hyolyn followed up with a reworked version of “Touch My Body” by SISTAR, an iconic summer jam if there ever was one. Eschewing traditional royal imagery, Hyolyn declared herself queen of a tropical paradise. The set design evoked lush jungle imagery complete with massive ferns, colorful flowers and a digital waterfall. Despite a delay in the performance caused by a shoe malfunction, the performance was a seamless celebration of summer. If the malfunction hadn’t been revealed, it’s doubtful anyone would have noticed. The vocals were pitch-perfect and a display of pure joy, and the inclusion of choreography from her iconic solo hit “Dally” are a sharp stroke of genius. Even with an army of dancers behind her, it merely took a single champagne glass of glitter to prove why she’s the only soloist competing: because she can.
In the pre-credits preview for next week’s episode, members of WJSN are seen panicking about harm they seem to have unintentionally caused. It’s deliberately unclear whether another group’s performance or another contestant’s safety has been endangered, but it’s a gripping tease that I will surely tune into next week for the full explanation.
Queendom 2 airs every Thursday at 9:20pm KST (8:20am EST) on Mnet’s YouTube Channel and Viki. Episodes can be rewatched on either of these platforms after the end of the live broadcast.
|Image credit: Mnet Official Instagram|