Yes, it is just me this time, and yes, you read the title right. Quite frankly, female artists dominate my shortlist. They stepped up their game, with intense and/or intricate choreographies that stood out from the rest.

This is not to say that the boys completely failed. NCT Dream, TXT, and Monsta X, among several others, all had good dances. However, they were very much the same, and I, at one point or another, have talked about their dance styles in previous Best Dances. Seventeen, at the time of writing, have not released their main comeback track yet.

Let me, for once, talk about the girls.

Chungha – “Stay Tonight”

Chungha has always been an artist that was on my shortlist, but never made it to the final list. My main qualm was that while her choreography was fun, nothing truly stood out to me. But this time, she’s my top choice, and it was love at first leg extension.

“Stay Tonight” is everything I ever wanted from a solo female artist. It is sleek, with clean lines, subtly powerful extensions, intricate hand details, and feminine charm. Smooth and simple movements are the main focus, and they require more strength than expected to achieve the aesthetically pleasing dance lines. There is a sense of motion throughout and nothing is ever still.

Furthermore, the backup dancers are used extremely well and complement Chungha. There is a variation of images created, from the opening 30 seconds, the transition between dancers in 1:43 to the 2:00 mark, and the slight variations in positions and levels throughout. My favorite moment of the dance is from 3:02 to the end of the track, from Chungha and her female dancers strutting and the levels used, to the domino effect of the movements, leading into a short segment for all the backups, before the final hook comes in.

The dance additionally uses what I consider to be Chungha’s strength. Ever since her first solo in Produce 101, she has been someone with great arm movement, probably due to her waacking background. This has been seen in previous dances, but it is elevated with “Stay Tonight,” with bits of voguing thrown in as well.

Itzy – “Wannabe

Itzy have amazing dance breaks that define their dance routines, ever-present without being boring. “Wannabe” continues the trajectory of their previous releases, with their clean and sharp lines, and a choreography that highlights their strengths. From start to finish, there is something interesting happening, be it a variation of the same movement, small bounces to create a moving image, or little hair flicks that give the dance personality. It shows that a dance can be memorable even without bells and whistles. Itzy may be five members, but they fill the room; they dance larger than they are.

Frankly, this was love at first Ryujin shoulder jerk. This dance, if done by someone who did not put in the same force in their body movement, can easily be sloppy. But with Itzy, this isn’t the case. This is especially clear in the choreography of the first verse, which builds and adds layers to the dance, without it being overwhelming. But it requires attention to detail, and the ability to keep specific angles steady, to create the complete picture of organized chaos. And this is all balanced by isolations that, based on experience, can be sloppy with a single wrong move.

The dance is simple-looking but effective. It elevates the message of “Wannabe” and highlights the members. They may be dancing as a unit, but they are still individuals, with hints of their personality clear.

Loona – “So What

Finally, we have Loona, who I suspect will remain long-time dance favorites. “So What” is very different from the energetic “Hi High” and “Favorite,” and a sharp contrast from the elegant “Butterfly.” While “So What” is different, the choreography still has what I consider to be the group’s strengths: amazing transitions, smaller group-centric formations within sections of the song, and making use of their large number to create clean formations.

“So What” has the sharp, angular movements with a fluid musicality, and it continually builds and builds, creating a sense of urgency that matches the song. The first verse is different from the second verse in terms of which kind of dances and formations are featured, and the bridge and final chorus are also different as well. And yet, it fits seamlessly while matching the almost call-to-arms-esque message of the track. While “Wannabe” is about standing out, “So What” is about standing together.

While they begin as a unit during the first verse, with an almost military-esque formation that fits the first minute, they then divide into smaller groups during the second verse. In doing so, there is a variety of images created, all while amplifying the overall product.

The year so far has produced some great dances from the girl groups. Honorable mentions include Everglow‘s “Dun Dun,” Weki Meki‘s “Dazzle Dazzle,” Iz One‘s “Fiesta,” and Dreamcatcher‘s “Scream.” There’s no doubt in my mind that once we reach the end of the year, we’ll have even more candidates from the girls, and several contenders from the boys as well.

(YouTube [1][2][3], Images via MNH Entertainment, JYP Entertainment)