Queendom season 2 is here!
After three years, Mnet’s girl group competition—Queendom—is back with a new set of groups who will try to follow MAMAMOO’s footsteps. After much anticipation, Mnet released the Queendom Season 2 lineup last February 21 and of course, there’s a lot of fun prior to the show in guessing how the results will be. Based on the six Kpop girl group contestants, who will emerge on top?
[퀸덤2] COUNTDOWN D-1 l 3/31 (목) 밤 9시 20분 첫 방송✨
— Mnet (@MnetKR) March 30, 2022
Thus, we shall go through the six participating groups in alphabetical order. You can’t really go wrong with an alphabetically-arranged list to dispel any explanations of bias, eh?
Here’s the full Queendom Season 2 lineup:
The pros: Yes, they need the boost that the show Queendom 2 will bring so that they can further stretch the 15 minutes of fame the viral video brought them. Their discography is something most of the rest of the girls (definitely with the exception of Hyolyn and her SISTAR connection – a definite gold standard in girl group discographies) can only dream of. I mean, High Heels? Deepened? Yoo-hoo? Those were ABSOLUTE BANGERS. The songs only girl groups can dream of as being part of their musical history. Well, come to think of it, they are the BRAVE GIRLS, the first girl group under the label of THE BRAVE BROTHERS, only legendary k-pop producers responsible for the breathtaking discographies of iconic groups such as After School. T-ara, and 4Minute, to name a few. So, when it comes to songs the group can use to battle with the other contestants, they don’t and won’t have problems with that.
— Brave Girls (@BraveGirls) March 30, 2022
Discography – check. Performance factor – check. Who can ever doubt the skills of these girls who have danced on top of chairs and performed that stingray move super seriously (like don’t they find that Name recall – check. The newfound fame—that compilation video of them performing for the military—lifted them to phenomenal status. And at a time when they achieved newfound fame when everyone was at their homes during lockdown only added to their fame because people didn’t really have much else to do – even those who don’t follow a lot of k-pop didn’t have much of a choice but see them go viral on social media and mainstream entertainment. So yes, Koreans (or at least those who will be watching Queendom) by now know who the Brave Girls are. Bye, nugu-dom; hello, Queendom 2!
The cons: The line-up. The group’s discography (and the songs of the other competing groups, especially WJSN) has a lot of rap verses that were fire under the very able skills of main rapper Hyeran. Unfortunately, Hyeran has been inactive with the group since 2017 and was officially out of it by 2019. The current 4-member line-up – Minyeong, Eunji, Yuna, and Yunjeong are pretty much solid when it comes to vocal skills. Minyeong can belt high notes like nobody’s business and the vocals of the three others can surely make Brave Brothers proud, but Eunji and Yuna as the designated rappers, cannot really measure up to the original main rapper’s skill level. So, yes, I did say that the current BG line-up is a bit unbalanced.
Given the other groups in the competition, I am thinking that Brave Girls will pull off an AOA and will most likely end up 4th or in the worst-case scenario, 5th.
When it comes to looking for an ideal girl group participant for an Mnet reality show, the Cosmic Girls would fit the bill. The lineup is spectacular, as even without the fantastic Chinese trio whose presence has not been felt by the group since 2018, the group still looks balanced and in fighting form in all aspects. We have to admit, Xuanyi, Chengxiao, and Meiqi were practically the group’s main dancers and international crowd drawers (read: visuals to reiterate the group’s diversity), and all these contributions have been ably filled up by Bona and Seola, plus formerly overlooked members Yeoreum and Eunseo. That the group has such a huge lineup may have worked against them in the past, as it used to be that the public’s attention span seems to be limited to nine members at most (thank you, Girl’s Generation) and WJSN’s delineation of the member’s skills isn’t as pronounced as another huge group with so many members, SEVENTEEN. The way Pledis made the three groupings – vocal, performance, and hip-hop very distinct for SEVENTEEN worked for them, as the public caught on immediately and associated even the members who are less popular with their units (e.g., Dino is a performer, Joshua is a vocalist). The units for WJSN – Wonder, Joy, Natural, and Sweet didn’t really work that well for WJSN. But after the three Chinese members’ hiatus from the group, the lesser-known members like Luda, Yeoreum, and Eunso had some space to step up and get themselves some recognition. Thus, everything – Bona, Seola, and Yeoreum in charge of visuals and dance; Eunseo, Exy, and Luda in charge of rap and dance; and Soobin, Dayoung,
Dawon, and Yeonjung in charge of vocals (these four are quite a superior vocal line), make the current WJSN lineup simply spectacular.
As for their discography, WJSN also has a very credible stable of songs that can match the competition. After all, they are a Starship group, and with SISTAR and Monsta X as solid proof, WJSN has been blessed with some really good songs since their debut in 2016. They have also proven themselves to be very versatile and adaptive when it comes to concept and image tweaks as they successfully went from very cutesy in their Mo Mo Mo debut to more sophisticated in Catch Me, before going mystical and dream-like in Secret with Yeonjung’s entry into the group. The group has gone on to oscillate between girly (Happy, Boogie Up) and darker (Dreams Come True, Unnatural) concepts, although always maintaining that mystical and cosmic ingredient to their comebacks. They have even scored a hit that has someone ingrained itself into Korean contemporary culture, as their 2019 song As You Wish makes an annual return to the top of the charts every New Year for three years in the running – 2020, 2021, and 2022!
WJSN sells well and has household name status, but I don’t believe the group will win Queendom season 2. I do have a feeling they will be the Oh My Girls of this season, massively reaping the rewards of the show after it ends. Best case, they will get second, and at worst, they will be 4th. I don’t see them faring very bad at all, but I also don’t see them winning the whole thing owing to the other participants having larger fanbases. I will be quite happy if they end up winning though.
Speaking of Starship Entertainment, now we have a member of one of the most, if not the most successful group Starship has produced so far, Hyolyn of the iconic Kpop girl group SISTAR. SISTAR is one of those groups that didn’t even encounter rookie difficulties and went on to release hit after hit (with a sterling record of having all their title tracks at #1 in Gaon) until their unfortunate disbandment in 2017. And if Hyolyn will be fully reliant on the SISTAR catalog, there’s no question she’ll do awfully well in the competition. For one, SISTAR continues to have good name recall with the Korean public. The group parted ways with not much controversy, as they even did a farewell tour of all the music shows, both to promote what was going to be their last single, Lonely, and perform medlies of their greatest hits as a sort of encore performance. Plus, there’s no denying that SISTAR songs are just great songs.
This brings us to how Hyolyn’s trajectory in the show might end up being similar to the only solo act that has appeared in the show so far (considering both Queendom and the male version Kingdom), 2NE1’s Bom. Unfortunately, Bom did not do well during the show, always finishing 5th or 6th in the rankings. While Bom was constantly lauded for her bravery to join a contest where she has to compete by herself against groups, she somehow always sounded shaky in her performances, not to mention people still felt uncomfortable with how her facial features have changed. Suffice to say that people still recognize Bom as a solid vocalist as her solo releases have been warmly received, but her live performances have somehow a negative effect on viewers. Simply put, watching Bom live makes people anxious.
On the other hand, the opposite can be said of Hyolyn. People somehow already know what to expect from a Hyolyn live performance: stable vocals and risque portions. Seriously, were people really shocked with her performance in the 2018 KBS Drama Awards? She was going to perform Dally, and Dally is pretty much a “trademark” Hyolyn song – vocally challenging but easily unnoticeable because people would tend to focus on the rather suggestive choreography. So, if Queendom is set on showing performances that will send tounges a-wagging for weeks for a bit of “shock factor”, then they can most definitely count on the former SISTAR leader for that.
What Hyolyn lacks is a credible solo discography.
While Bom’s post-2NE1 releases have relatively good critical and commercial reception, Hyolyn’s has been a bit erratic. Although we know her as this sexy performer, Hyolyn’s most commercially successful releases have actually been OSTs – Goodbye from My Love from a Star and Let it Go from Frozen, to name a few. Her solo releases when she was still with Starship charted well, but after See Sea, Dally, and Bae, her releases under her own record label have not achieved similar levels of popularity. Thus, to perform well in the show, Hyolyn may have to really rely on the SISTAR (and SISTAR19 – Gone Not Around Any Longer and Ma Boy are still very much popular) catalog and her earlier works.
Having said that, I think if Hyolyn plays her cards right, she can rank as high as 3rd. Unfortunately, if she catches the Park Bom “curse” of solo performers not faring that well in Queendom, then there’s a possibility she’ll finish at the bottom.
But of course, everybody will still be looking forward to a 2022 version of Dally.
Not a lot can be said of Kep1er. That’s because the group was only formed months ago and only debuted in January.
— from kep1er (@fromkep1er) March 24, 2022
So, yes, what really can be said about the group that has had only one song under their belts? One thing’s for sure: Kep1er does feel like a last-minute addition to the show, the type of group that was only included in the line-up because a group backed out before the final announcement was made. Rumors were rife that Apink would be this edition’s MAMAMOO (aka a veteran group that had many ask, why are they on this show?), as well as Dreamcatcher. Now that either group is in the final line-up, many have concluded that Kep1er filled in for either group as it is likely that Apink did not want to do the show without Naeun (who YG will never permit to appear on such a show, although they did allow iKON to appear in Kingdom, which also had many scratching their heads) and Happyface does not see the merits of allowing Dreamcatcher to join the show (or any Mnet show). It is also likely that Mnet just wants to mindlessly push (read: shove) Kep1er down everybody’s throats since the show they produced for their formation, Girls Planet 999, unfortunately, did not turn out as successfully as its Produce predecessors. From Mnet’s viewpoint, they might as well ensure a return on their investment with every opportunity they get, eh?
Swing Music, the group’s current label, may have also warmed to the idea that any exposure Kep1er gets will be beneficial to the group, no matter if it makes them look miscast or like fish out of wonder because they’re competing against some tried and tested performers. So, maybe the goal of Kep1er’s participation in the show isn’t really to win the whole thing but just to keep the group in the public’s consciousness. Also, since Kep1er just finished competing months ago, the members might still be in competition mode even as we’re speaking, so that “rookie mindset” may work for them in the show.
On the other hand, their inexperience in going up against industry veterans and their general state of being too “green” and amateur may also work against them. Besides, they don’t even have a discography. Alas, not a lot of people have warmed up to a number of Kep1er’s members, particularly the much-maligned Huening Bahiyyih. IOI had Sohye, IZ*ONE had Kang Hyewon, and now, there is, unfortunately, a lot of hate for Huening Bahiyyih. IOI and IZ*ONE didn’t compete again, though, so the amount of vitriol the poor German-Brazilian-Korean idol will be subject to is still unknown. But then again, shall we count on MOA to rally behind Huening Bahiyyih again? Lest we forget that fans of her brother, Huening Kai, were attributed in ensuring Bahiyyih’s spot in Kep1er by power voting in the finals, despite her lackluster performances in Girls Planet 999. Based on their WA DA DA stages, I think Kep1er will do fine in terms of performances, and since they have a member who is the sister of one of k-pop’s most popular groups, that can only work in her and her groups’ favor.
Much has been said about LOONA, and if the show will allow worldwide voting, then, as early as now, we can safely say that LOONA will win Queendom 2. No need for performances, no need for drama, no need for challenges, leave it to the Orbits to ensure victory for LOONA and the LOONAVERSE.
— LOONA Press 👑🗞 (@loonapress) March 30, 2022
But then, consider:
- Queendom is an Mnet show. Mnet has a history of vote manipulation in reality shows. Kep1er is practically an Mnet creation. Mnet may most likely do anything to turn things towards Kep1er’s favor. In other words, international Orbits may most likely be silenced.
- This may definitely work against LOONA as compared to the Brave Girls, Hyolyn, WJSN, and VIVIZ (or at least its members), LOONA’s popularity in Korea hasn’t matched the groups mentioned. If Mnet insists on Korea-only voting rules (just like they had in the Produce seasons after the first one – yes, the manipulated seasons), then the playing field (or at least the voting demographics) may be more even for all groups.
- Because in terms of line-up and performance, LOONA as a whole unit may not be as good as the others. LOONA and WJSN may have started off at the same time, but the latter already performed as a whole group with Yeonjung since August 2016. LOONA finally performed as a group of twelve in 2018. That’s a two-year headstart for WJSN to work on and improve their group dynamics and harmony. Even Hyolyn has had a year of getting used to performing solo before LOONA released Hi High.
- Finally, it has to be said: the strength of LOONA as a group is weaker than the strength of its individual members. The releases of each member are definitely more interesting than the group’s releases. From Hi High to PTT (Paint the Town), fans have been anticipating for a breakthrough, that one release that will push the group into explosive heights of popularity. And that anticipation has been on for four years and running.
So, will LOONA dominate Queendom? If international voting will be allowed, then yes, by a landslide. If dominating the show will be based on Korean following, performances, and discography, LOONA might be this season’s Lovelyz or AOA.
Finally, we have tricky VIVIZ. Several factors will definitely have an effect on how VIVZ will fare on the show.
- The use of GFriend’s discography. This will definitely give VIVIZ a huge advantage. The thought of Rough, Navillera, and Sunrise alone is already giving me chills.
- That the GFriend discography will be performed with SinB is gold. But the intricacies of GFriend choreo to be reduced to being performed by a trio may prove to be a little underwhelming. It’s like Oh My girl choreography being down to YooA and Mimi. The girls will definitely still have the moves, but the grandness of the formations and changes will, unfortunately, be lost.
- That the GFriend discography will be sung without Sowon and Yuju will definitely be very tricky. It will be a huge challenge for Eunha and Umji to fill in the shoes of the two main vocals. Song arrangement will play a vital role. It goes without saying Hyolyn will have a walk in the park. Yeonjung, Dawon, Dayoung, and Soobin will not have any problems with that. Chuu and HaSeul should step up to the plate. Yeseo and Youngeun may match Sowon and Yuju’s levels for Kep1er. But Eunha and Umji… it’s gonna be challenging.
- Can VIVIZ count on Buddy’s voting power to tide them through the competition? That remains to be seen. If the performance of the group’s first EP is any indication, then we may expect good results, but even LOONA’s Korean Orbits may pose a challenge.
But let’s get one thing clear: Queendom still boils down to voting. So, if the show comes down to votes, we can look forward to these results:
Korea-only votes will be considered:
- Brave Girls
International votes + Korea votes combined:
2. A mad scramble
But of course, the show will still be fun because of Mnet edits, the performances, and the drama! Personally, I am looking forward to these things:
- A couple of girls may complain that Hyolyn may have featured artists in her performances (reminiscent of Jimin complaining of Bom having people with her).
- LOONA performing WJSN’s Butterfly and WJSN performing LOONA’s Butterfly
- WJSN performing SISTAR songs for the nth time (I can only reckon they’ve been performing them since trainee years) but with a lot of embellishments for the show
- Kep1er getting a chance to perform any and all songs originally performed by their competition
- Kep1er’s Xiaoting performing Chinese line portions of WJSN songs
- Hyolyn performing Brave Girls’ sexier hits (Hyolyn performing High Heels!!!)
- Brave Girls performing Dally (the only choreography that can compete with their stingray move)
- Umji performing Dally
- GFriend choreography being performed by LOONA
- Taeyeon – Hyolyn legendary main vocal interaction
If the Queendom Season 2 lineup is not exciting, we don’t know what is. Can’t wait to see how the competition unfolds and which Kpop girl group wins!