‘Queendom Puzzle’ Episode 5: Extreme corn tea product placement can’t save boring, filler-like 1st half of All-Rounder Battle

Ah yes, the Queedom Puzzle recaps continue on, but this one wasn’t a very interesting one. Predictable results, unpolished stage performances, no character development and no memes, this episode felt like one great-but-not-legendary performance and a whole lot of wasted time. I couldn’t believe two hours had passed at the end of it all.


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We left off Episode 4 at a dance battle to decide the song choices for the dance portion of the All-Rounder Battle. But in sign of things to come, Episode 5 begins without even addressing said dance battle. Instead we get a rock-paper-scissors battle to see who decides the order for the next round. Team Queendom’s Dohwa goes on a hot streak, and teammate Elly finishes Team Puzzle off. Team Queendom will go last for the first three rounds.

Cut to the day of competition. The crowd fills in and the performances start. MC Taeyeon explains the rules to the audience: 5 rounds of head to head competition, and the total scorer of votes will decide the overall winner. Each head-to-head win will benefit the winners with 20,000 benefit points as well. So even at a 4-1 disadvantage, a lopsided victory can turn the tide if the rest of the rounds are close.

Team Puzzle’s “Rush Hour” is the first stage of the night, featuring Nana, Yuki, Zoa, Yeoreum, Yeeun, and Suyun, a very Avengers-esque lineup. They’re going for some sort of hip-hop, car repair shop concept, which is fair enough I guess. During their prep period, they try to get away with just skipping the bridge completely, and the producers are like, uh no.

The performance is fine, I guess? The rappers do a rap song, and it’s alright. The other performers here are the dance/performance experts, so I suppose it’s not a huge surprise their vocal stage is a B- at best. Adding dance moves doesn’t really make it better. The false ending wasn’t particularly worth it either.

Next up is “Weekend” from Team Queendom. Just four members here: JooE, Yeonhee, Soojin and Seoyeon. Prep time is spent discussing how everyone wanted to do the one good song in the whole round. Mnet sets Soojin up with a redemption arc considering the beating she took last episode (and all season to be fair). She goes into leader mode, running through a gamut of concept ideas and running them by the producers. They go for a city pop, old-timey movie/pure concept. After rehearsal the competing teams give each other feedback, and the notes from Team “Rush Hour” basically amounts to “zzzzzz”.

“Weekend” has a lot of props and flowers for sure, but not a lot of vocal prowess. The flowers on the mic literally blocked the members’ faces out half the time. The rap was… not great, haha. I think the main issue is the song itself isn’t really built for showing off vocal talents, everyone sounds a bit broken and weak on the chorus harmony just because sustained falsetto isn’t very appealing on a big stage. These song choices… are kind of bad, Mnet.

“Rush Hour” beats “Weekend”, mainly on the strength of the material. Tough luck for Soojin.

2nd round is the ballad round, we have Kei and Bora teaming up for Team Puzzle. Arguably the two best vocalists on the entire show, it’ll be hard for any combination of members on Team Queendom to beat these two. The prep session has very little drama at all, other than Kei being a trollop and dumping Soeun for Bora (yes yes, I know Soeun chose not to join Kei).

And while they’re no Mr. Trot, their rendition of “If We Ever Meet Again” succeeds on all fronts. It doesn’t do much more than ace the exam, mostly because it feels all too easy. Kind of just like a nice King Of Mask Singer stage. The projections on their dresses are cool. After a couple of shaky Kei performances in previous episodes, it’s nice to see her just belt one out for old time’s sake.

To battle against this unbreakable tide, Team Queendom sends out Jiwoo, Juri, Dohwa and Fye, singing BIG Naughty‘s “Hopeless Romantic“. Again, Mnet really shat the bed on these song choices; not sure there’s anything you can do to the arrangement to beat Lim Young Woong even at face value. That won’t stop the quartet from trying their best. Everyone except Fye is super pitchy through the recording session, but the magic of AutoTune comes to the rescue yet again.

To repeat myself, I think this stage is doomed from the beginning. There’s a reason why most idol ballads are bad; “Hopeless Romantic” is a song propelled entirely by BIG Naughty’s dramatic emoting. Maybe Jiwoo or Dohwa can pick it up a bit in two weeks of practice, but the fact that they couldn’t hit their notes right in the recording booth forced to producer’s hand into ironing out the recordings to be on pitch. And, on this budget, you can choose one not both: emotive glissandos or being on tune. Only Fye, who has acquitted herself solidly on the show as a whole, is afforded the ability to emote, ever so slightly.

Of course Bora and Kei win this, are you kidding me?

For the final head-to-head vocal battle, Team “WANNABE” from the Puzzle gang is up first. This is basically the proper idol vocalists group: Jihan, Jiwon, Riina, Wooyeon, and rapper Sangah. They go for a hard rock rendition of the song, and Jihan picks up the guitar add a little spice to a song not really heralded for it’s vocal complexity. This is gonna work on pure charisma or not at all.

I don’t think I need to tell you that there’s no sound coming out of that guitar lol. But Jihan looks good doing it! To be fair, “WANNABE” succeeds in that the performs understand the base song so they’re allowed to preen and prance and feel good without much worry. Sangah’s secret weapon of getting up in the girl’s little VIP section was cute. Too bad she goes off beat when she’s up there. It’s a solid performance, helped by the fact you can screw up a little bit and still sound just as good as ITZY‘s vocal line.

The last stage, and probably the most anticipated one, is from Team Queendom, with the song “Time Of Your Life” by Day6. All-star Hwiseo, Elly, Soeun, Miru, and Chaerin are voted for the task. The concept they choose is both genius and perfect: going full anime with a ‘Girl Who Leapt Through Time’ theme. A call to Day6 member and “Rose Blossom” songwriter Young K convinces them to ditch the instruments and just focus on vibes, which is 100% the correct move. Also, Soeun turns Miru gay.

Mnet saves the best for last as “Time of Your Life” exceeds expectations. My only qualm with it is maybe I wish it was more vibey, the movements should’ve been a bit bigger, more stuff like the the strumming, the head pats, etc. Elly has been vocally perfect all season long, and it doesn’t stop here with her best showing yet. Soeun, likewise an underrated singer, also does her best work here. Hwiseo’s high note is a little flat, but she is like also one of the three people on the show who can properly emote when singing, so she’s great. The surprise factor is Miru, who finally looks comfortable and happy and that helps her a lot. The crowd selfie is cute, and positioned perfectly before the song’s climax.

We are denied the result as Mnet chooses to play with our emotions even though they have done nothing this episode to deserve the right to do so. But we do get a clip of the next episode, which reveals that Team Queendom is doing “Underwater“/”Glow Up” while Team Puzzle is doing “Web“/”Bad Blood“, so again, dance battle who?

Oh yeah and they’re going to be eliminating people on Episode 7. Fun.


Random Thoughts

  • More than confirming who is an all-rounder on this program, this battle stage is revealing just why maybe some of these idols haven’t quite achieved the success they seek. Lots of holes in everyone’s game, with no attempt to hide it.
  • On that end, this round feels way less polished/spectacular than the Re-mix Battle. The halt in momentum is jarring.
  • Screaming person in the audience who loves Sundays had a better vocal performance than half the contestants.
  • It was hinted at during the “member stealing” portion of the 4th episode, but Episode 5 all but confirms that Dohwa is our new protagonist.
  • Holy shit, I do NOT CARE about these score fake outs, just get on with it! PLEASE.
  • Special guest sightings: Weeekly‘s Monday, LIGHTSUM‘s Chowon and Juhyeon, mimiirose‘s Jia.
  • Monday DEFINITELY should’ve been on this show. Main vocal and rapper, and the Yin to Jihan’s Yang.
  • Mnet needs to turn down the air conditioning, people are getting goosebumps way too often this episode.
  • Rock-Paper-Scissors? Everything is AKB48.
  • Bora definitely reads the comments on YouTube, and is smartly choosing when to collaborate and when to cut out other main vocalists.
  • Juri telling a nervous Jiwoo to sing only to Juri was probably the most emotional part of the episode.
  • When corn tea advertisement placing is on the short list of highlights, that’s a booooooring episode.
  • I think they’re cutting 5, leaving 21, since the three semi-final songs have 7 members in each formation.
  • If 5 is the case, I think Chaerin, Soojin, Seoyoung (I will seethe and spit), Miru, and Elly (I will gnash and wail) are gone.


IATFB’s Shitters Section

Have to agree with Hojo that there wasn’t a ton going on in the episode, and there were also really only six performances.

Puzzle Team – Crush (Feat. BTS’s J-Hope) – “Rush Hour” > Queendom Team – SNSD’s Taeyeon – “Weekend”

I sound like a broken record at this point, but while the Puzzle Team here is a near dream team in terms of contestants, everything about this was great except the vocals. Nana, Yeoreum, Yeeun, and Yuki all showed why they are likely in the final group based on performance so far.

This was a bad mismatch even on paper, but a Queendom Team that basically has no vocals doing a Taeyeon song is just … I mean it turns out how you expect.

Puzzle Team – Lim Young Woong’s “If We Ever Meet Again” > Queendom Team – Big Naughty (Feat. AKMU’s Suhyun) – “Hopeless Romantic”

Puzzle Team basically had a performance that was saying, “Hey, you fuckers need somebody in the group that can sing, so here we are.” Not overly impressive, but fair enough, really.

Queendom Team had a song I wasn’t familiar with and they didn’t make me want to seek it out with this disjointed effort. Not really fussed about Fye here one way or the other as she’s a capable singer and passable rapper, but Juri again did stand out as somebody who can do well in a group, especially since she brings great idol qualities.

Puzzle Team – ITZY’s “WANNABE” > Queendom Team – DAY6 – “Time Of Our Life”

Puzzle Team was done a huge solid here by whoever arranged the rock remix of the song, as it helped everybody by paving over some rough vocals and allowing them to focus more on delivering the requisite attitude and performance that played into their strengths. Probably my favorite performance of the episode.

Unfortunately that means that Queendom Team gets swept here in my rankings as well as the show’s, but they didn’t actually do poorly here, and honestly I wish more groups would use their stages like this during promotions instead of just doing their choreography over and over week after week. It’s a lot of fun.


In a way a lot of this feels a bit weird at this stage of the show, as I think a lot of people already know who they like and there’s not a ton more to prove. That’s why to some extent it feels a bit like a filler episode and it’s probably be smart to get back to focusing on the rankings to drive attention that way instead.

About Hojo

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