SMTOWN LIVE “Culture Humanity” Concert

SMTOWN Live “Culture Humanity” is a free online concert organised by SMTOWN, held on January 1, 2021 and broadcasted through Facebook, Twitter, V Live, YouTube, TikTok, Beyond Live and KNTV. The concert line-up included K-pop acts from SM Entertainment, namely, Kangta, TVXQ!, Super Junior, Taeyeon, Temin, Baekhyun, Kai, Red Velvet, NCT, WayV, SuperM, Aespa, Raiden, IMLAY and Ginjo. It has also set a record for the highest number of viewers for a Korean online concert with over 35.83 million streams from 186 countries. The entire concert was pre-recorded and filming was conducted safely in compliance with the Covid-19 restrictions. 

The highly anticipated concert began with an introductory speech by Lee Soo Man, the founder of SM Entertainment. “Music has no boundaries. We can communicate without language through music and music can be a comfort and cure for each and every one of us.” said Mr. Lee. Since 2020 was a tough year, the concert was organised to bless and celebrate SMTOWN fans’ humanity by comforting every fan with music. Then, he ended his speech by saying that for better days in the future, we ought to “Be kind, be humble, and be the love.” This motto was repeated by the various artists under SM Entertainment in different languages including Korean, English, Chinese, Japanese, and Thai.

NCT Dream 

Image may contain: 7 people, people standing and people dancing
SMTOWN GLOBAL twitter

During this time of the coronavirus pandemic, many online concerts have adopted the technology of augmented reality (AR) to create a more immersive and engaging experience for audiences and, in turn, a means of powerful escapism. The opening act of SMTown Live Culture Humanity was no exception, laying the tone and exhibiting the collective efforts put into delivering a great show. In the center of an urban night landscape, surrounded by neon lights and skyscrapers, the boys of NCT Dream performed their hit song “Ridin”. 

NCT, which stands for “Neo Culture Technology”, has a concept of “limitless” members, with sub-units that undertake a rotational system, possess subtleties in musical styles, and are targeted at diverse audiences. The third sub-unit, NCT Dream, comprises of the youngest members in NCT at the time of their debut in 2016, namely, Mark, Renjun, Jeno, Haechan, Jaemin, Chenle, and Jisung. Its original concept stated that members would “graduate” from NCT Dream when they turn 19, ceasing their promotions with the unit and continuing in another NCT unit instead. However, Mark was the only member to graduate before this concept was dissolved and he returned to the unit in 2020.

The boys may have debuted with the fresh, bubblegum pop song “Chewing Gum”, but NCT Dream has evolved into edgier sounds, more closely in line with the rest of the NCT brand, while still staying true to their youthful roots. “Ridin”, released in April 2020, was indeed a turning point in their career, having sold over 500,000 copies, topping major realtime Korean charts upon its release, and becoming the group’s highest-charting song to date. On the stage, their dazzling bomber jackets complemented the rhythmic bass, textures, and power ad-libs. 

They later performed “Deja Vu”, released in July 2020, a futuristic dance beat with funky elements. Member Jisung sat out of the performances due to a knee injury; however, the camera cut to him singing on stage from a separate filming during his lines. 

KANGTA 

Composer, producer, and former member of H.O.T., Kangta, shared his new unreleased single titled “Cough Syrup”. The song is different from his previous ones in that it is R&B-based and uses a vocal style that is new to Kangta. 

In the middle of a cuboid light installation, he greeted audiences by saying, “I really want to know what the landscape looks like [where you are]. I guess you guys are having fun in your own place. I’m not sure if I can deliver the energy and the heated atmosphere on this site but I’m so grateful and happy to see you like this. We’re seeing each other with a safe distance apart. But I hope we can be together at a closer distance in the new year! Lately, I am fascinated with making music and spend a lot of time at home, creating new songs in my home studio.” Kangta’s sincerity could be felt through the screen as he sang his song and lastly, he wished for everyone to stay healthy. 

TVXQ!

TVXQ! is a pop duo consisting of U-Know Yunho and Max Changmin that was formed in 2003. They are also known as DBSK, an abbreviation of their Korean name Dong Bang Shin Ki which roughly translates to “Rising Gods of the East”. Selling over 10 million physical records in the first 10 years of their career,  TVXQ has become one of Asia’s most successful music acts of their generation. They are often referred to as “Asia’s Stars” and the “Kings of K-pop” for their immense success and contributions to the Hallyu. They found great success in Japan, having the most number-one singles and albums for a foreign artist in Japan, and are also Japan’s best-selling foreign artist in CD singles of all time(Source).

Wearing black suits with hints of red gave the legendary duo a slick look as they performed “Chance of Love”. The song had a catchy hook matched with classy dance moves that really proved TVXQ!’s professionalism as one of the oldest K-pop acts that are still active.

They expressed how they missed performing in front of an audience and have learned to appreciate each moment in life. After that, they performed another of their songs – “Dream” with the desire to give hope to the audience. The song which has a bright tune and has lyrics such as “It’s all right, no matter what you say, Just for this moment, I want to be by your side like this”, lifted up the audience’s mood in these challenging times.

Keep Your Head Down “, which talks about recovering from a relationship breakup was the last song TVXQ! had performed. The set depicted ruins of burning buildings in every direction, with embers from the still-raging fires stirring in the air. A helicopter entered the scene and flew across the stage. Smoke burst in the air and the background turned into a landscape of a run-down city. At one point, block letters that said “KEEP YOUR HEAD DOWN” sunk into the ground. The thrilling elements of the set coupled with TVXQ’s prince-like outfits and powerful composure amidst the chaos demanded one’s attention and respect for the two. 

Super Junior

Super Junior is a legendary K-pop boy group who is also known as the “King of Hallyu Wave” due to their prominent contributions to the Korean Wave by making K-pop known throughout the world, primarily in Southeast Asia. Currently comprised of members

Leeteuk, Heechul, Yesung, Shindong, Sungmin, Eunhyuk, Donghae, Siwon, Ryeowook and Kyuhyun, each member is well-established in the entertainment industry either as actors, emcees, variety show stars, ballad singers and more. Their adaptability to current trends in music seen in their hit songs “Sorry Sorry”, “Mr. Simple”, “ Lo Siento” and more coupled with their engaging personalities has attracted a strong and long-lasting fandom named “EverLasting Friends” or also known as “ELF”s who just celebrated Super Junior’s 15th anniversary in November 2020. Super Junior also made significant breakthroughs for the K-pop industry by being the first large member group, first group to have a non-Korean member, first group to form a sub-unit and many more. (Source)

Super Junior opened their stage with Super Clap, an upbeat retro-vibe dance song that has an addictive chorus which makes one dance along. The set resembled a classic arcade room with vibrant neon lights. In the center stood a dance arcade machine with the words “SUPER Clap” and “EVERYONE SUPER Clap” printed across the machine and the SMTown stage “inside” its monitor. Super Junior’s fun and lively stage creates a sense of escaping the troubling reality of Covid-19 as the members can be seen goofing around and having a great time on stage!

Super Junior wished everyone a happy new year and greeted the audience with their classic ‘We are Super Juni~or’ greeting. While each member was introducing themselves, other members joked around by mentioning each members’ nickname. Their plans to release their 10th album in conjunction with their 15th anniversary in 2020 didn’t come into fruition, however they assured their fans that it will come out in 2021. “When you eat rice, it gets more delicious after you cover the lid for a while. In the same way, you can have better songs if you wait longer for the album” said Leeteuk to encourage fans to be patient and wait a little longer. They also mentioned how their pre-released song “Burn The Floor” received a hot response but their album will be hotter as it contains many amazing songs, so they asked for people’s love and support. Lastly, Siwon wrapped up by encouraging people to endure the hard times with Covid-19, have hope and stay healthy. 

As part of their 9th repackaged album ‘Timeless’, 2YAYAO! Is a hip hop song produced by famous rapper Zico and was described as having an addictive rhythm and witty lyrics. (Source). 2YAYAO! was also listed down as one of the The Best K-pop Comeback Songs of 2020 by METRO UK.  ‘We are we are young’(lyrics from 2YAYAO!) perfectly describes the energetic and fierce performance Super Junior put up despite being in their 30s. 

Screenshot taken from concert stream

Despite being in the Kpop industry for so many years, Super Junior never ceases to surprise fans with new stage/album concepts and their “Burn The Floor” stage definitely is one of the most creative Kpop stages ever. The set was simple in that it only had a lightbox and some stage fog. However, the execution of the lighting effects, including those from the small lights that each member carried in their hands, made for a dramatic and artistic performance. The song itself had influences from classical music and dubstep, two genres one wouldn’t expect to blend well; however, Super Junior made it work. To complement the genre of the song, the dance performance was heavily influenced by theatrical and ballet dance moves with a hint of hip hop during the dubstep drop of the song. The performance was very intense and left audiences on the edge of their seats until the very last moment when Eunhyuk covered the last light source in the room, plunging the whole screen into complete darkness.

Super Junior-K.R.Y.

Super Junior-K.R.Y. debuted in 2006 as the first sub-unit of Super Junior. The group is made up of the three main vocalists Yesung, Ryeowook, and Kyuhyun. 

When We Were Us” opened up on a lush green forest, glistening with twinkling fireflies and sunlight peeking through the towering trees. Complete with theatrical fog and spotlights shining down upon each singer, dressed in pastel blue suits, the scene looked like a fairy-tale. As the song reached its peak in the bridge, containing harmonies and high notes, the backdrop switched into a deep blue swamp area, rich with flora and bioluminescent organisms. 

Super Junior D&E

Super Junior D&E is Super Junior’s fifth subunit which consists of members Donghae and Eunhyuk. Their debut single “Oppa Oppa” was first introduced in Super Show 4 on November 19, 2011. Initially, Donghae was supposed to prepare a solo stage for the concert, however, he felt lonely performing alone, so he invited Eunhyuk to perform with him. As a result, Lee Soo Man liked the performance and suggested that they perform together on TV shows(Source). Donghae’s loneliness resulted in Super Junior D&E releasing two studio albums, five extended plays(EPs), and twenty one singles. 

Growing Pains” is a pop ballad with lyrics describing one’s reliving of memories of love which no longer exists. In line with the meaning of the song, the performance showed Donghae & Eunhyuk’s sentimental side whilst maintaining their identity as the dance unit of Super Junior with dance moves that accentuated the beats of the song.

Taeyeon 

Alongside being the leader of “The Nation’s Girl Group” Girls’ Generation, Taeyeon has established herself as one of the top female soloists in South Korea, with 39 award ceremony wins and 133 nominations to her name as of 2020. While fans online voiced their longing to see Girls’ Generation (or at least their unit Oh!GG, composed of the five remaining members under the label) on stage together again, they nonetheless beamed with pride watching Taeyeon alone represent the whole group with her rich vocals. 

The set glowed in the bronze and golden hues of larger-than-life clockwork as she sang her reggae-tinged pop ballad “Four Seasons”. Surrounded by a warm and festive backdrop of Christmas trees, a lit fireplace, and an inviting couch, she followed with the flowy and euphoric “Happy”, which features a booming bass. It was Tayeon’s first time singing “Happy” on stage since its release on May 4, 2020, a particularly memorable song because its initially scheduled release date, on her birthday, March 9, unfortunately saw the passing of her father. In a way, this song is a reminder of bittersweet sentiments, while also a testament to Taeyeon’s resilience and an inspiration for listeners in pursuit of their own happiness. 

During her speech, Taeyeon addressed how the pandemic had affected her and everyone’s 2020. “It was tough and somewhat inconvenient due to COVID-19. But in another way, we could feel how precious social activities are. We could spend more time with family,” she said, acknowledging the silver linings. She also spoke of the up sides of this SMTown Live being held online and free for viewers around the world without the hassle of ticket-buying and she wished for everyone to “have bright and hopeful days by thinking positively and listening to good songs. I’ll be with you with great songs more often in 2021!” 

Sporting an outfit change into a baker boy hat, fuzzy pink sweater, chic pink skirt, and thigh high stockings, she ended her stage by singing her most recent single “What Do I Call You”, a laid back, mid-tempo and more indie-style song. Taeyeon showcased once again that she need not have grand choreographies but simply her raw vocals to draw listeners in and shine on stage.

Taemin

Taemin debuted at age 14 as a member of the group SHINee in May 2008. Initially given the role of being the ‘pretty boy’ in SHINee, Taeming has grown into a K-pop icon who many younger K-pop artists look up to. Most renown for his song “Move”, Taemin shook the K-pop industry with his androgynous dance moves(them sexy hip movements) which resulted in countless number of K-pop artists covering his song in music programs and variety shows. 

Taemin started off by performing “Criminal” which is part of his “Never Gonna Dance Again : Act 1” album. The performance began with his hands tied, portraying the idea of being a criminal. It also had theatrical elements where each movement and expression told a story, as Taemin himself described: “I’m tied up, then I’m free and I dance around, but not in a joyful manner. It’s very emotional, and I added an element of catharsis at the end.” (Source). After that, Taemin proceeded to perform his newest single “IDEA:理想”, part of his “Never Gonna Dance Again: Act 2” album. In comparison to Criminal, IDEA was a lot more fast-paced and intense. The amazing usage of the stage made it feel like a real life concert, leaving audiences speechless and in awe. 

Baekhyun

Baekhyun is a member of Exo, which debuted in 2012, and the third in the group to make his solo debut in 2019. Exo as a group boasts many accomplishments including 23 Daesang (grand prize) awards and the record for the most music show wins for a single song (18 for “Call Me Baby”). With his debut EP, City Lights, Baekhyun broke the Gaon Chart record for the highest monthly album sales by a solo artist and has since risen to be one of the most successful male soloists in 2020. 

As a soloist, Baekhyun has taken an R&B-influenced pop route, although many fans and casual listeners champion his voice as one suited for romantic ballads and OSTs as well. “UN Village” was performed with Baekhyun’s effortless vocal runs, fluid choreography alongside his backup dancers, and a surprise rap feature from Mark of NCT, which they last did together in SMTown Live in Tokyo 2019. 

Candy” then brought out Baekhyun’s playful nature both in its lyrics and choreography as he took light and bouncy steps and danced face to face with his popular female backup dancer. The song features fun and trendy moves that have led to its virality on TikTok, Twitter, and Instagram with the #CandyChallenge, all evidence of Baekhyun’s star power. 

Kai

Kim Jong-in or better known as his stage name Kai debuted in the group Exo alongside fellow member Baekhyun who was part of this concerts’ lineup too. Famously known as the dancing king of Exo and one of the best dancers in Kpop, he won many hearts with his sensual yet sharp dance moves in popular fancams from Exo songs such as “Love Shot” and “The Eve”(try not to drool while watching these fancams). Kai made his much anticipated solo debut on November 30, 2020 with a self-titled album named “KAI (开)” which consisted of 4 R&B songs and 2 PBR&B songs. (Source)

Kai began his performance with the title song of his solo album, “음 (Mmmh) “. “음 (Mmmh)” is an R&B pop song with a simple yet addictive melody on a minimalist track, it is also described to be a charming, straight-forward love song (Source). Despite wearing one of his less revealing outfits in this stage, his sexy aura still exudes from his body rolls and intense gaze. What shocked fans even more was his angelic vocals which were highlighted during the bridge of the song. Kai also showed off some of his influence from ballet by executing a jump that resembles a type of jump in ballet named “Temps de Poisson” (forward to 6:27).

After leaving the audience breathless with his “음 (Mmmh)” performance, Kai proceeded to perform one of the B-side tracks of his album “KAI (开)” named “Reason”.  “Reason” is a progressive R&B song composed by famous American producer Mike Daley, with an addictive 808 pattern added to minimal club music, and the lyrics are intriguing about searching for one another, and eventually become fascinated to each other (Source). “Reason” had a more dancy vibe to it and showed off Kai’s hip hop dance skills as he executed each move with full of swag.

Red Velvet 

Red Velvet debuted in 2014 with “Happiness”, which went on to make them the first Kpop girl group to chart their debut single on the Billboard World Digital Songs chart, a solid start and forecast for their coming releases. Their concept is split between their “Red” side, including pop and electronic music, whereas “Velvet” is for their classy and more toned-down music influenced by R&B, ballad, and jazz . Red Velvet’s musical prowess and versatility are certainly to be reckoned with. 

Their performance of “Bad Boy” at SMTown Live “Culture Humanity” marked main vocalist Wendy’s first performance back with Red Velvet after her year-long hiatus, caused by an accident during rehearsal at a year-end music festival show in December 2019, from which she sustained multiple bone fractures and bruises. After the members spent many shows trying to fill Wendy’s place while expressing their longing for her return and encouraging support for her, it was all the more exciting to see Wendy fully-recovered and Red Velvet on stage as five once again. 

Wendy shared during their speech, “It’s been a year since we performed on stage as a full group. I’m so thrilled, excited, and nervous. But most of all, I’m happy to be on the SMTown stage as a whole group.” Irene followed up with how happy she was that the five of them were able to start off 2021 together. Seulgi and Joy said that the group dearly misses their fans and were thankful as they gained strength knowing that their fans are continuing to support them online whenever they have the chance. Yeri said, “This year, I wish to have many performances and stages in front of you.” 

The ladies then performed “Peek A Boo”, a more mature sound from their last two singles that experimented with the line between cute and creepy. 

Screenshot taken from concert stream on YouTube

Lastly, they performed “Psycho”. The extravagance of this set featured an angel statue, rotating chandeliers, and wrap-around balconies, like the inside of a classical concert hall, which also transformed into kaleidoscopic visuals. Red Velvet nailed their characters as ultimate femmes fatales. 

WayV

WayV debuted on January 17, 2019, as the fourth sub-unit of NCT and the first based out of Korea, in China, under a Chinese management label collaborating with SM’s production. On that account, their discography and promotional activities are mainly in Chinese. The group currently consists of Kun, Ten, WinWin, Lucas, XiaoJun, Hendery, and YangYang.

The scene unfolded on a closeup of WayV’s trademark logo, a 3-dimensional “V”, and zoomed out to reveal a dystopian set with two large planes flying across the expanse amidst laser beams. Cool visuals on top of the surround sound made for an epic intro much fitted for the song “Take Off”, which they performed in sleak, all-black outfits, as though straight out of a blockbuster sci-fi action film. 

They later performed “Turn Back Time”, an electric track with a blend of rock and hip-hop characteristics. Each member sported unique and grungy white jackets, trousers, and gloves, decorated with various embellishments, from bold prints, to rings, tassels, and patchwork. 

NCT U 

NCT U debuted on April 9, 2016, as NCT’s first sub-unit. Aside from NCT’s impressive and hard-hitting choreographies, this unit is also known for their ballads that pack an emotional punch. 

From Home” was sung by Taeil, Yuta, Kun, Doyoung, Renjun, Haechan, and Chenle, in what looked like a traditional design home interior. Dim lanterns, candelabras, potted plants, and wooden bookshelves rested along walls adorned with vines. The cozy atmosphere of the set was accompanied by vocal harmonies paired with dreamy falsettos of the slow R&B ballad track. It surely touched the hearts of fans at home. What’s more, the song is mainly in Korean but features lyrics in Chinese, Japanese, and English, reflecting the different nationalities represented by the members themselves and the group’s global appeal. 

Shifting gears, NCT U returned to their up-tempo tracks with their performance of “Make A Wish (Birthday Song)”, a hip-hop focused song with an addictive whistling hook. 

This performance was followed by their speech, which they began with a reminder to audiences to practice social distancing. Doyoung said, “As I’m on the stage without your shouting, I feel empty but I’ll show you great performances.” Then, in Chinese, Lucas spoke of the fact that even though they can’t meet fans this year, their fans’ support is always in their hearts and they will continue to deliver amazing stages in return. Japanese member Shotaro, who joined NCT recently in 2020, conveyed with a smile in both Korean and Japanese that this was his first time at SMTown Live so he was very nervous but will keep working hard to improve in the coming year to show everyone a better side of him. NCT is determined to transmit more energy to listeners with a variety of new music in 2021.

Later, they performed “Work It” in colourful suits, and lastly, their latest single “90s Love” in casual loose-fitting layers. 

NCT 127 

NCT’s second sub-unit, NCT 127, debuted on July 7, 2016. The digits of the unit name derive from the longitudinal coordinates of Seoul, 127, to represent the city where Kpop first sprouted from and the point where all the members came together to become the idols they are today. 

They first performed “Punch” in sports racing jackets. The stage was lit with flashing motor speedway lights and railroad crossing signs. 

Next, they performed “Kick It” against a setting of a mysterious pagoda, from which an oriental dragon soared out from and hovered above the NCT members. With dainty golden hints sparkling from their bedazzled black and white blazer jackets and pants, the members of NCT 127 looked like royalty. As if the stunning looks and trendy choreography were not captivating enough, the dynamic background only became more jaw-dropping as the song progressed. Animations ranged from a closeup of 3D dragon-like scales, a seamless loop of historical Chinese architecture, a colourful vortex across the floor, and the name “Bruce Lee” repeated in large font circling around the area, all very hypnotising visuals. 

Ginjo feat. Ten and XiaoJun of NCT

Ginjo is a DJ and producer and former member of the band TraxX. He performed “The Riot” feat. Ten and XiaoJun of NCT. 

IMLAY feat. Yangyang of NCT 

YangYang of NCT performed his first solo song “Asteroid”, released on Feb 19, 2020. It was produced by DJ IMLAY, who chose YangYang himself to feature on the song. 

Aespa

Aespa is the newly formed girl group by SM Entertainment which debuted on November 17 2020 , 4 years since SM’s last girl group debuted in 2014. The group’s name, aespa, is a combination of “ae” composed of the English initials of Avatar and Experience (Avatar X Experience), plus the English word “aspect” meaning “two sides”, which symbolizes “meeting another self and experiencing the new world”(Source).  The group consists of members Karina, Giselle, Winter and Ningning. Each member is accompanied by a virtual counterpart where the artist members of aespa exist in the real world while their avatars exist in the virtual world. News of this concept was met with excitement and controversy as some thought it was an innovative idea while others worried that the existence of virtual members might cause the actual artists to be dehumanised and over-sexualised. Despite those concerns, aespa debuted with a bang, accumulating 21.4 million views on YouTube for their debut song “Black Mamba” within one day, giving it the highest 24-hour view count for a debut MV in Kpop history.

Known for their fast-paced and high energy performances for their debut song ‘Black Mamba’, aespa began their performance with a dance break that screamed ‘We’re here to dominate the kpop world, look forward to it!’, especially shown in the ending pose where 4 members stood in a line, staring into the camera with much confidence. Then, the camera cut to a magical forest with a black mamba snake gliding across the forest floor, leading the audience to the beginning of many k-pop fan’s favourite debut song of the year – ‘Black Mamba’. The stage set gave a futuristic yet magical vibe(somewhat like Avatar) which blended really well with the powerful performance aespa prepared. Despite it being aespa’s first SMTOWN concert, they performed like seasoned artists and left the audience looking forward even more to the songs/albums they will put out in the future. 

Raiden feat. Winter of Aespa 

Raiden feat. Winter of Aespa performed an EDM version of “Yours”, originally by Raiden & Chanyeol feat. Lee Hi and Changmo. Released during the onset of the pandemic, Raiden expressed that he wished for “Yours” to “spread the feeling of warmth and positivity around the world. During this crazy time of confusion and isolation, I wanted to present the feeling of love and care for each other.” 

Leading up to the group’s debut, Winter herself had been one of the members that remained relatively unheard of until her official reveal as the first member of Aespa in their debut teasers. As this cover was mostly instrumental and did without the back-and-forths of the original singers’, it allowed for Winter’s unique vocals to be highlighted outside of her group, adding her own flavour to the song with her airy and sweet tone.

SuperM 

SuperM was formed in 2019 by SM Entertainment and Capitol Music Group. They are known as the “Avengers of K-pop” with famous members from different SM boy groups, such as Taemin from Shinee, Baekhyun and Kai from Exo, Taeyong and Mark from NCT 127 and Ten and Lucas from WayV. On October 4, 2019, the group debuted with their self-titled EP, which entered the Billboard 200 at number one, making SuperM the first Asian artist in history to top the US album chart with a debut release, truly showing their potential to be the biggest act in Kpop in the near future. (Source

100” is about stepping onto the gas pedal to accelerate to the top which was depicted in the background giving an allusion of constantly moving forward. Needless to say, SuperM really gave their “100” percent in their rap, vocals and dance, making the viewers feel energised and ready to take on anything in life.

After giving their 100 percent on stage, they greeted the audience with a round of self-introduction and wished everyone a happy new year in Korean, Chinese, Japanese and English. They acknowledged the difficulties of 2020 but were still hopeful that 2021 would be a better year. Besides, they also celebrated the fact that NCT127, Taemin and SuperM were on the list of ‘The Songs and Album that Defined K-pop’s Monumental Year in 2020’ by the TIME. Showing off their close bond, they congratulated Kai for his solo debut and joked about him making 3 debuts so far. 

A break from their usual dance-pop songs, they performed their piano ballad “Better Days”, which is entirely in English and has a touching message of reassurance that is much needed given the existing pandemic situation. The performance began outside a giant white greenhouse situated in a forest. Its doors opened inviting viewers inside, down a cobblestone path, lined with colourful potted flowers and at the end of which lay the stage. The words “SuperM” and their logo were mounted on a vertical garden wall beside it. SuperM stood in analogous colours of beige suits as they conveyed heartfelt words through song and struck a chord for audiences with, “I know it feels like the world is falling down and you can’t make it through. / There’s gonna be better days for you.”  

One (Monster & Infinity) is a hybrid track, merging two of the side tracks (Monster & Infinity) from the group’s first studio album. Dressed in uniform-like outfits, SuperM looked like they were ready to ride in the “latest driving spaceships”, “all the way to infinity”(lyrics from the song) as they performed as “one” with great showmanship. 

SHINee

Screenshot taken from concert stream

In between the show, a montage of SHINee’s greatest hit songs was aired, followed by the message “2021: SHINee is back”. SM Entertainment later confirmed that SHINee would be making their comeback in 2021, their first in three years (Get ready, Shawols!).

All Artists ending

For the closing act of SMTown Live concerts, it became a custom for all artists part of the lineup to assemble and sing H.O.T.’s “Hope”, while promoting the spirit of the SM “family”. Typically, the artists would wear their custom SMTown Live t-shirts, send their thank yous and goodbyes to fans waving light sticks in the audience, and stand hand-in-hand as they take their final bows. 
This time, the ending song was performed with each act filmed separately and edited together with smooth transitions and special effects of post-production. Despite the fact that all artists sported identical plain white pullovers against a bare grey/black backdrop, the energy was lively and full of optimism as the artists laughed amongst one another, swayed to the beat, and expressed their greetings for 2021 at the end, resulting in a wholesome closing VCR

Written by: Michelle and Pei Zoe

Edited by: Maki

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