Of the three Gayo Daejuns that the major broadcasters put on, the KBS version is often considered the most boring. While MBC has the excitement of New Year’s and SBS at least entertains with its frequent WTFery, the KBS Gayo often comes off as a glorified Music Bank, but without the anticipation of who’s going to win the trophy at the end of the show. Throw in the usual technical difficulties and strange camera angles, and you have yourself the new definition of ‘underwhelming.’

However, last year’s Gayo showed promises of improvement, and that trend continues with this year’s edition. We have a bigger stage, better props and even decent camera work. Heck, it could even be argued that it was better than SBS’ 2014 effort, which is a huge step up.

Gaya and Laverne have provided their highlights below; enjoy!

Part 1 — by Gaya

BTS Trying to Sneak onto My Bias List

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pYdbZqxTbIc]

K-pop loves copying (this Gayo also had accusations of SNSD ripping off Dolce & Gabbana), but BTS’ intro with Jimin and Jungkook built on the technology behind Beyonce‘s performance of “Run The World” at the 2011 Billboard Awards into a video game duel. They also didn’t drag it out like K-pop has in the past (though this is likely due to their rookie status) and quickly moved onto showing off their solid rapping and on-point synchronisation. If only their vocalists were as strong as the rappers and they didn’t have that ridiculous concept I’d be signing up for their army ASAP.

Ailee. Just. AILEE.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KuaSVBnVqDI]

This year’s KBS Gayo was thin on the estrogen, with most of the few female idols attending barely making an impact with their stages. One of the exceptions to that, though, was Ailee. Naturally. That girl is amazing, and she set the stage on fire with her sharp performance of “Don’t Touch Me.” It was a relatively simple stage, but when Ailee’s around, what else do you need?

Music Blasts from the Past

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j7fGED9kfWo]

A bunch of male idols dancing to songs made before most of them were even born? I did not know how much I wanted this until I saw Leo in hammer pants. The dancing itself was nothing to write home about, but it was great to feel all nostalgic about listening to Will Smith rap, as he does in “Wild Wild West,” while 2PM struts its cowboy stuff. The hats obscured the members’ faces, but it wasn’t hard to see how much fun Jun.K was having.

N.EX.T For Shin Hae-chul

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4XbRA5hQqaI]

After individual performances, Exo, Infinite and Beast come together with band N.EX.T for one last hurrah with Shin Hae-chul’s “To Her.” As nice as it was to see everyone performing in a more relaxed manner — no choreography to follow or poses to make — the best part was seeing the members of N.EX.T letting loose. They also received proper recognition from KBS, with each member individually introduced to the audience; even if it did end up looking rather awkward, it was a nice gesture nonetheless. I’m really glad this tribute wasn’t left to just the idols and that other musicians were involved as well.

Part 2 — by Laverne

 The Queens of the Sexy Dance… A Pink?

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=C_olSJY616g]

While A Pink usually sticks with cute concepts, their stage proved that they can own sexy, too. While I’m not a fan of the outfits, they also showed that you can wear nearly anything and still be sexy. Out of all the girl group dance stages, this was one of my favorites.

Exo Goes Back to Basics

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Ldh2OjV6M34]

Kai on a throne. Need I say more?

What was wonderful about his solo during the intro was seeing his ballet training influence his dance. Idols are great at contemporary dance, but it is nice to see other genres influence their stages every now and then.

One of the few problems with KBS’s Song Festival was the sound system, and Exo’s stage definitely demonstrated this. It was so bad it led to Baekhyun ripping out his earpiece. With Exo actually being able to sing live, it would have been nice to be able to enjoy the song without sound issues.

Infinite Faces the Music, and Wins

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SqgK1IXGoq4]

Sure, I could comment on the actual performance, but how was the audience supposed to focus when all of the members of Infinite were wearing their own faces on their clothes?

Once the initial shock wore off, it was hard not to enjoy Infinite’s stage. Their high energy stage for “Last Romeo” contrasted by the remixed “Back” kept me captivated and showed why Infinite is a top performance group.

Another Kind of B2utiful

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ubzXq3MFig]

Bringing another remix into the mix, Beast brought a new flavor to “Good Luck,” and the B2uty in me squealed. While they’re all individually talented, they perform the best when they’re together. “Good Luck” surpassed “12:30” for me despite Hyun-seung’s voice sounding strained at times.

These were some of our favorites so give yourselves a pat on the back, KBS. Just don’t let us down next year.

(Nate, YouTube[1][2][3])