Welcome back to the the Best of Weekly Music Shows! The new year is now in full swing, and with it are comebacks out the wazoo. AOA, AkMu, NCT 127 and April have all made comebacks, making for a very crowded field. Neither Show Champion or The Show aired, while Twice took top honors on Music Bank and Big Bang took home the trophies for M!Countdown and Inkigayo. So which stages were my favorites of the week? Let’s see!

AkMu’s “Reality” SBS Inkigayo, January 8, 2017

It’s so good to see that AkMu’s escape from the YG dungeon is an ongoing experience; they always breathe new life into the K-pop scene. While “Reality” is not as flashy or vibrant as some of their other songs, it’s got a quiet charm. The cheery, showtune-esque music and stylized choreography is the worst possible representation of reality, but that combined with the too-big grins and depressing lyrics gives off an aura of “we’re smiling so we don’t cry”. It’s silly and bitter, which is something we’re gonna need for a while.

Uhm Jung-hwa‘s “Watch Me Move”, Mnet M!Countdown, January 5, 2017

I have a lot of respect for Uhm Jung-hwa; the woman has been working in entertainment since before I was born, and she’s still kicking ass and showing the kids how it’s done. Not many industry veterans can do dancehall EDM and not look like someone desperately trying to be cool, but Uhm Jung-hwa can. This is simply another trick up her sleeve, and she knows it. Between her effortless vocals and complete control over the stage,it’s impossible to do anything other than follow her commands and watch her move.

Top Secret‘s “She”, KBS Music Bank, January 6, 2017

Top Secret are one of the first debuts of the year, and if they’re an indicator of what’s to come, 2017 looks pretty good, on a musical front. Crisp dance moves, solid vocals, and an exuberance that matches the disco funk of “She”. Really, though, what won me over on this stage is the powder blue suits that are so tacky, they slingshot back around to hit amazing. Top Secret are a burst of fun in a music scene full of calm control and class.

AOA’s “Bing Bing”, MBC Show! Music Core, January 7, 2016

This is a stage that had to grow on me. “Bing Bing” is a fun song, but the choreography seemed so small, in comparison to the bombast of the track. In the end, though, “Bing Bing” won me over with it’s hyper-stylization; coming off as a hybrid of seduction and Las Vegas showgirls in a way that should not work, but does. The outfits were just the cherry on top — sexy trench coats that  scream for a private show and pull the audience into AOA’s world.

NCT 127’s “Good Thing”,  SBS Inkigayo, January 8, 2017

NCT has never been a thing I could get into, but “Good Thing”, with it’s 90’s flair, is something I like a lot more than I should. The beat is something I could actually dance to, with a grooving bassline and the sacred instrument of pop, horns– or at the very least, the horn setting in ProTools. And the live stage picks up on the throwback elements, with the baggy tracksuits and voguing touches in the choreography. More than that, though, is that NCT 127 are clearly enjoying this chance to play things a little lighter, and that enthusiasm is infectious.

Any performances you think I missed? Leave them in the comments!

(Image via Mnet, YouTube [1],[2],[3],[4])