We’re approaching the end of the year, and this week many of the music shows combined holiday cheer with flashback performances to all of the songs we’ve heard all year. Music Bank held an end-of-the-year special show and offered up a host of great performances, EXO added a few more trophies to their collection with wins on Inkigayo, Show Champion, M!Countdown, and Music Core, and f(x)’s Amber ended her tenure as MC on Show Champion this week. Let’s get into some of the best performances of the week and be sure to add your own thoughts in the comments!

APink’s Eunji & BEAST’s Kikwang’s “Sleigh Ride,” KBS Music Bank, December 20, 2013

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BLNH5afRR4U]

Combining Eunji and Kikwang was unexpected, but their “Sleigh Ride” cover was too sweet to pass up, and I found Eunji’s voice especially pleasant in the song. There wasn’t much to be done on stage other than sing, but for how short the performance was, I’d say the simplicity worked to their favor.

EXO’s “Miracles in December”, MBC Superhit, December 20, 2013

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1nE-PhGsG6Q]

If you’ve enjoyed the “Miracles of December” promotions, then EXO’s performance on Superhit should rank highly as one of the best performances of the song. Chen is the highlight of the song, and he shows his importance in EXO’s vocal line by contrasting so well against the deeper, more soulful voices of Baekhyun and D.O., while leaving enough room for Luhan’s softer, more gentle voice to fit in also.

Nine Muses’ “Santa Baby,” KBS Music Bank, December 20, 2013

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8q6AR7hZ1Ck]

Nine Muses and “Santa Baby” made just about the perfect match. Starting out with the more traditional version of the song and then moving into a more upbeat arrangement. I think Nine Muses does a fantastic job with choreography, and they take advantage of their numbers by creating so many different visuals and lines onstage. Unlike many Christmas covers, this cover of “Santa Baby” didn’t feel forced at all and was an all-around enjoyable performance.

Yong Jun-hyung’s “Flower,” MNet M!Countdown, December 19, 2013

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hsGorMUQcFQ]

While I do think Jun-hyung needs a huge dose of charisma onstage as a solo, I like the song and hope that as he moves past the debut stages, he picks up some more self-assurance onstage. I’m torn between thinking his backup dancers are amazing for all of the acrobatics and interesting visuals that they provide during the stage, but I could argue at the same time that they work against Jun-hyung since they are the focal point of attention so often. Hopefully the relationship between Jun-hyung and the dancers will be a bit more organic in future performances.

Girl’s Day’s “Expectation,” KBS Music Bank, December 20, 2013

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2P56Fa76VrY]

The power of “Expectation” is undeniable. Certainly the strongest song Girl’s Day has presented this year, “Expectation” synthesizes song, dance, and visuals incredibly well, and the girls showed a lot of starpower and energy on Music Bank with their performance. The unfortunate thing is that the song was cut for the sake of time, but in about two minutes, Girl’s Day makes a strong case for why this is the only girl group song you should care about from 2013.

T-ara’s “What Do I Do?”, SBS Inkigayo, December 22, 2013

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nM2OOZn3UCc]

T-ara’s “What Do I Do?” is just a fun song to watch live. One would think the use of so many backup dancers along with a medium-sized group would create a busy stage, but the performances just end up looking like a well-orchestrated party, thanks to the great work of the dancers. The responsive crowd seemed to help up the enthusiasm onstage as well, which counts for quite a lot in live performances.

[KBS, MBC, SBS, YouTube [1][2][3][4][5][6]