Queendom 2 Episode 6: Never fear (ratings), Street Woman Fighter is here, also Position Unit Battle starts with vocal stages

Continuing from where we left off, the good times keep rolling as VillaTime continues into the night.

Seeking to finally cut Hyolyn down a peg (thanks MSnake!!), Real Host Lee Yongjin tells the cast that, believe it or not, the former SISTAR leader is in fact, not the most experienced industry-person on the show. Above her is Kep1er‘s Kang Yeseo, who debuted one month before Hyolyn as a child actress in 2010. VIVIZ Eunha’s debut was even earlier, in 2007. And our oldest sunbaenim on the show is… Kep1er’s Kim Dayeon, who appeared in a KBS drama in 2006, when she was only 4 years old.

After the short factoid session, the idols gets to vote for the Queen of Queens, picking a favorite visual and “recruit queen” from the field. Kep1er’s Shen Xiaoting gets visual third place, LOONA‘s Heejin and her boy-voice gets 2nd, and the number one visual goes to… Huening Ba– ha just kidding. WJSN‘s Seola takes the gold, ranking #1 amongst lunch ladies, baristas, and uh, insects. Seola vows to be more beautiful in the future (lol).

“Recruit Queen” is a more general popularity contest, proposing the question “if you could poach a member from another group, who would it be?” The queen’s fall in line with Mnet’s bidding and vote two Kep1er members, Hikaru and Chaehyun, as very desirable and useful members, which is why they had to go on a girl group survival show to debut, right? Anyways, of course everyone wants to be in a group with Hyolyn. Her reward is meat. She shares her meat with VIVIZ.

—-

Flash back to earlier in the day. Now it’s time to focus on the dancing units, to see how their practices went, and to see just what special characters might saunter in. First is the VIVIZ + Kep1er unit. After coming up with the laziest team name, they change into warmups and begin rehearsal. Moments after, HertZ from Street Woman Fighter-featured crew Holy Bang walks into the “studio” (living room?). Holy Bang’s leader Honey J couldn’t be there in person but appears in prerecorded iPad form. HertZ takes charge of leading the unit through the steps. Meanwhile, Dayeon chooses violence.

Next is WJSN + Hyolyn, who come up with Ex-It as a team name, which is fine, except it sounds just like EXID. When it comes to the concept, Hyolyn just wants the other two to break free from their WJSN chains. Having known what it was like to be in a tightly concepted group, she wants them to afford some opportunities she wished she had as a girl group member.

In the practice room, they’re suddenly surprised by LACHICA‘s Gabee, Simeez and Rian. Hyolyn mentions that the choreography in the preview really caught her eye, and Gabee says they developed something they thought would grab Hyolyn’s attention specifically. Eunseo actually takes charge of the killing part, given she’s the tallest of the three. But her attempts to act cool come out as extremely goofy, cracking up the other members during practice.

—-

LOONA frets about their song, since it was their least preferred choice. But after watching the long preview, they quickly come around on the song, thinking it could be a pretty cool and novel performance if they pull it off correctly. In the rehearsal space, PROWNDMON leader Monika enters sporting a chic outfit with big ol’ Dolce Gabbana earrings. She leads the unit in stretching, during which Brave GirlsEunji shows off her A+ flexibility and familiarity with modern dance.

Monika goes over the dance steps in detail, over and over again. Exhaustion sets in and Olivia Hye loses focus, which Monika calls attention to. Monika uses the opportunity to go full Whiplash for a bit and tell them about how sincere her choreo is and how it deserves their full respect and attention. The girls find their resolve, Monika tells them “Good Job” and then they all cry.

—-

Cut to the evening time. Like the singers in the last episode, the dance units are asked to preview their performance for an interim check. And, just like the singers, the most popular unit will win the opportunity to decide the running order during the main show. Ex-It is first, but punt it when Eunseo can’t help but clown around after missing a step. LOONA/Eunji (“I’m The Queen?” low-tier name) are next and pull off the point-move sequence fairly cleanly, if a bit out of sync. Finally KEV1Z perform. Hikaru can’t find the center of the stage. Things just kind of boil over into some sad, freestyle twerking. Everyone…. loves it?

Finally, the results of both votes are revealed. Hyolyn and Minyoung win the vocal interim vote, while reason reigns supreme and LOONA/Eunji win the dance trophy. This finally marks the first time on the show Hyolyn doesn’t win first place, as well as the first time Brave Girls has been first for anything. Both winning units decide their rivals’ order of performance.

Playtime is OVER.

—-

Fast forward to the the day of the Position Unit performances. The performing participants arrive at ye olde Mnet studios bright and early. Since only a select few of the members are actually participating, the rest of the idols prepare some motivational gifts and placards for their respective teams. The live audience is last to arrive, and they’re all very excited that Korea’s ban on fan-chants and the like during live shows is done with.

TaeTae finally shows up and explains the rules to the audience.

The special judges for this round are various industry folk, including the entirety of CocaNButter, May J Lee, the YG Kwon Twins, Yeojin from YGX, producer/songwriter YOSKE, NIve, SM lyricist Jo Yunkyeong, and many more I don’t recognize.

The vocal performances begin.

—-

First to perform are Kep1er and LOONA, “Sun and Moon”. We flashback to ten days before the performance. It’s decided through group chat that they’ll have a group date to go see some butterflies. Chuu and Kim Lip decide to drive over to Youngeun‘s school to pick her up. Haseul and JinSoul pick up Chaehyun, and they all arrive safely at the garden.

It takes about 5 minutes before they start screaming in terror.

Youngeun sees a display of taxidermized butterflies pinned to a wall and decides that the team should be more like that. They shoot a tongue-in-cheek promo, then work on their harmony.

The performance itself is fine and safe. “Don’t Go” definitely fits the unit’s range as singers, Chaehyun sounds relaxed and Chuu hits the high note without much trouble, given it’s not actually all that high. It feels like a comeback stage on a music show, when the group sings the ballad off the new EP before performing the lead single. There’s some novelty because we haven’t really seen the Kep1er members do this type of thing yet, at least not since they were competing on GP999.

Didn’t even notice Youngeun was crying on stage until they talked about it afterwards.

—-

Next is VIVIZ+WJSN, or “Milky Way Who Embraced the Universe” (I swear it sounds better in Korean). For their practice, they first meet on the rooftop of Starship HQ, in a lovely rooftop garden surrounded by the cacophonous bustle of construction. Still considering a multitude of choices, they finally settle on a song that kind of meets everything in the middle: IU‘s “Hold My Hand”, which I think is a really, really good choice. They all vie for the killing part, and Eunha takes it by busting out never-before seen aegyo tech.

During recording, Eunha uses a bunch of takes to get her killing part just right. Yeonjung worries she’s being too heavy and brassy, wondering if she’s bringing too much Musical Theater into her recording. The studio engineer assures her it’s good, as the monitors hang on for dear life. Soobin has the most work to do as she’s got the most to prove with this stage. She practices incessantly and reminisces about how grateful she is to be able to perform for people again.

I think this stage is fantastic! Soobin coming in from the audience makes it feel more special and spectacular. The song is great at highlighting the positive attributes of their voices without exposing the deficiencies. Eunha does a fine job with her parts, Soobin shows a color she’s not usually given a chance to, and of course Yeonjung kills the high note, but also pulls it back just a little so it doesn’t sound completely out of place. I’ve got nothing bad to say about it.

—-

Finally we have “33”, the duo of Minyoung and Hyolyn. Minyoung had a little trouble during the interim evaluation, still suffering from the long-term effects of COVID-19. Hyolyn spends most of the time in the recording session boosting Minyoung’s confidence, telling her to lean into her emotions and really just push it all out. As thanks, Minyoung invites her over for some soju and snacks. She opens up to Hyolyn about how hard it is to be leader of her group. As a leader herself, Hyolyn relates to her struggles.

The performance is great, Minyoung shakes off her COVID rust and sings without issue. The two look positively shattered as they pour their feelings out to the crowd. The hug at the end is cathartic, even if a little awkward.

But the sentiment here feels a bit too overcooked. Mnet is partly to blame for this, having hyped up for weeks just how depressed Brave Girls are and how devastated their self-esteem is. It’s an emotional performance for sure, but not either Hyolyn OR Minyoung’s best. Their voices don’t mesh together that well, either.

For me, it’s a close second to “Hold My Hand”, which actively thrilled me.

Anyways, the vocal teams get their results, which won’t be revealed to the viewers until next episode. However, based on their reactions I’m pretty sure Hyolyn got first place again.

—-

Random Thoughts

  • While I am a fan of the Brave Girls and their late-stage success, the way Queendom 2 has become “Brave Girls Emotional Therapy” is a bit disconcerting.
  • Queendom 2 also becoming “Oh hey Kep1er is good and cool and talented just take my word for it signed Mnet” is also disconcerting, but completely predictable and cheap.
  • When Chuu talks about how lovely Dayeon’s butt dance was I can juuuuuuuuuuust make out her dying a slow death behind her eyes.
  • “Jo-ha” is incredible new aegyo tech, Eunha is a genius
  • If you can’t tell, I am 100% for Monika’s dramatic vamping. Keep on terrorizing the youth, you crazy diamond.
  • Take a shot every time Mnet adds a cat sound effect during team “Purr”‘s practice.
  • I’d watch a Kim Lip/Chuu road movie, like Blues Brothers except they just get lost and go around in circles for two hours.
  • I rather enjoyed Hyolyn’s “Queen of the Green Room” attitude when WJSN were giving her the cat toys.
  • The places where the idols meet to discuss performances should continue to get worse and worse, like I wanna see them meet in a sewer for Queendom 3.
  • The Queen’s Land gods heard my cries for more Dayoung/Seola singing and gave me sustenance.
  • Mnet is like “Dayeon must win something on this show,” before pulling out the ACKTUALLY SHE IS THE OLDEST SUNBAENIM HERE.
  • Now we know Eunseo’s type is Olivia Hye. Do with that knowledge what you will, you deviants.
  • Somehow WJSN’s fans are getting older and more “take a shower please” as the show goes along.
  • WJSN themselves continue to be delightfully messy, per them screaming down the hall after the “Hold My Hand” stage.
  • Face award:

About Hojo

Big honkin' hot take machine