Welcome back to Best of Weekly Music Shows! This was an enormous week in K-pop that saw 100%, BTS, Gavy NJ, Twice, and VAV all make their comeback stages. BTS nearly had a clean sweep of the awards with wins on Show Champion, M! Countdown, Music Bank, and Inkigayo; meanwhile NCT Dream collected a second win on The Show. Without further ado, here are my picks for the week.
BTS’ “Not Today,” Mnet M! Countdown, February 23, 2017
While “Not Today” runs familiar to BTS’ hype song standards, their stages are always full on hard-hitting energy. Keone Madrid‘s choreography, once again, continues to shine here. He uses the back-up dancers on stage to amplify the intensity of the song. Whether it’s the makeshift cannon or the military line up of dancers all synchronized with BTS as they hit the moves together at the end, “Not Today” carves out these powerful images and boisterously declares BTS as leaders of the K-pop industry.
Gavy NJ’s “An Obvious Melo,” Mnet M! Countdown, February 23, 2017
These ladies are surely underrated. “An Obvious Melo” has a great Latin rhythm that underlies what is a stellar vocal showing from the trio. When they perform, their voices take charge and demand to be noticed. More importantly, they seem to display strong group dynamics with harmonies and layered vocals revealing the strength of this group.
100%’s “Sketch U,” MBC Show! Music Core, February 25, 2017
These guys are also another underrated group. “Sketch U” is an excellent ballad from a group who has been in the game for about 5 years now. They especially impressed me with their vocal range. Some of these lines tested the higher range of certain members, but what struck me was the control. 100% were steady and had unique tones which conveyed the emotional depth of this song.
NCT Dream’s “My First and Last,” Mnet M! Countdown, February 23, 2017
Out of all the NCT units, NCT Dream was the last one I warmed up to. With “My First and Last,” they really caught me off guard with their innocent sincerity. Yes, it is this sugary pop jam with a cute veneer, but the boys pull it off well. They are light on their feet, seemingly bouncing around the stage with their hands flung behind them. There are other great moments too, like when they all collapse on the floor or when they dance across the stage in a staggered line. It’s such a fun tune and definitely shows a group brimming with potential.
Red Velvet‘s “Rookie,” KBS Music Bank, February 24, 2017
My goodness, this stage was a production nightmare. You know it’s bad when they have a staff member go on stage to give a hand mic to a performer in the middle of their performance. However, while these situations can be unavoidable, they can also reveal a lot about the performers themselves. In this case, Seulgi handled the mess with extreme professionalism and seemed determined after getting the hand mic. On another note, the production on “Rookie” is quite good, but I’m still not sold on the lyrical hook — despite it being catchy. The choreography is well put together and I felt like there was some good variation in choreography — something I didn’t feel was as strong in their last comeback. Overall, this promotional cycle has been a success for the girls. While, it still isn’t their breakout hit that gets all-kills, Red Velvet are showing they have longevity and continue to deliver an on-brand sound.
Twice’s “Knock Knock,” MBC Show! Music Core, February 25, 2017
This song took a second to get stuck in my head, but after it did, I couldn’t stop replaying it. One thing about Twice’s performances are that they bring this playful aspect to it. They don’t ever seem to be particularly serious on stage and portray that ultimate girl (group) next door vibe. While my wrists felt tired for Twice enduring all the excessive knocking motions, I really liked the lighthearted knocks on each member’s back. The genius of “Knock Knock” — and other Twice choreography in general — are the connections made on stage. Between the members holding hands to make an illusion of a makeshift window to the playful interactions they have on stage, this is something that is definitely emphasized in Twice’s choreography to hone in on their unity as a group. Twice can sell choreography like no other, and they make you want to join along with them.
BTS’ “Spring Day,” MBC Show! Music Core, February 25, 2017
Call me a biased stan — even though I’ll deny — for choosing two BTS tracks to highlight this week, but since their promotional cycle is only going to be one week long, I’m making an exception. What “Spring Day” accomplishes exhibits BTS as extremely versatile performers. We know BTS can hit those hard beats, but “Spring Day” focuses more on the contemporary, lyrical performance. The emphasis has shifted to the lines and flowing, graceful movement.
Jimin is the focal point of the choreography and really weaves the story together. He starts off embattled and troubled, but tries to pick himself up during a great floor section. The rest of the group later follows up with the same floorwork while spotlighting Jin as someone trying to reach out. If Twice’s “Knock Knock” is focused on their members’ connections with one another, BTS’ “Spring Day” draws on the missed connections, instead. There are elongated arm motions that flow with longing and a displacement of body motions with steps moving ahead of the body. The BTS members constantly use their bodies to create dynamic stage boundaries and play on the idea of distance feeling farther than it actually is with members often placed back-to-back. Altogether, it’s a cleverly devised piece of work that tugs at your heart throughout because of this anxiety of not being able to support a friend in need, and it wrecks you at the end when they finally get to embrace one another.