SM Entertainment is one of the most artistically respected companies when it comes to K-pop, and their talent list has stood the test of time as some of the biggest heavy-hitters in the industry. From the first-generation icon BoA, to the ever-influential Girls Generation or the unstoppable size of NCT, SM’s complete team of artists has made it a point to annually celebrate the end of the year – and the promise of starting something new.
This year, the concert revived some of their monumental acts and put together something that effortlessly changed the dynamics of K-pop, making the groundbreaking event an inevitable display of perfection (and the most livestreamed concert to date). From its blockbuster-worthy introduction including planets brought to life through a pastel vision, to the idea of stamping your virtual passport to enter SMCU’s imaginative world Kwangya – SM remains the true embodiment of a visually centered enterprise with flavors of all forms for art.
During a night that built a bridge between 2021 and 2022, the highly successful music event featured a fine selection of artists, each of whom has achieved some of the best performances in each generation of K-pop since its inception. By embracing the nostalgic factor of reunions and the birth of a concept so rich in hope for the future – SM had a potent magic prepared for captured audiences. Here are some of the most memorable highlights of the annual SM concert.
The reinvention of K-pop Royalty
The groundbreaking debut of SM’s iconic lineup of Girls On Top (GOT) took the stage and became an unfathomable early candidate for Song of the Year, and we’re not until January.
With four generations of artists included (BoA, Taeyeon, Hyo, Seulgi, Wendy, Karina and Winter), the group becomes the first all-star list of women to come out of K-pop, with full force in vocals, choreography, visuals and stage presence. The group’s debut will easily go down in industry history as one of the prominent moments in music for ambition as well as overall performance.
Another crucial piece of SM’s label comes with the prospect of solo endeavors, and the evening featured some of their most decorated artists to date.
There was the refreshing “Weekend” moment from Taeyeon that featured one of the best tracks of the year, and the sensuality of modern R&B in Kai’s “Peaches” that showed different dynamics in sound and delivery. The solo performances of Wendy and Kangta pursued more deeply felt meaning and artistry – whereas Joy enhanced the mood with feel-good celebrity and completed a wide range of sounds and styles.
NCT remains one of the most unique ideas in the SM world, consisting of 23 members with always adaptable skills.
The creation of the group led to several incarnations, and the SM Town Live concert brought enough of the group’s variety to give a concert-worthy performance each time. We then see a look at their dazzling filmography and contrasting styles in “Favorite (Vampire)”, and later a colorful performance from NCT Dream that further adds respect for conceptual variation. That, along with the inclusion of several members on other collaborations during the night like WayV, added a dose of depth to NCT’s inclusiveness as artists.
The comfort of the Classic SM
At a time when nostalgia is a massive factor in K-pop (the resurgence of Brave Girls is proof of that power), we are starting to see the return of artists we know and love. It has SM though always made the active choice to preserve their artists in the long run – so that these reunions feel as if they have taken the necessary steps to respect the concept of heritage.
The concert brought back collective members of TVXQ !, SUPER JUNIOR, BoA and more to highlight the generational significance that SM is poised to celebrate in the coming decades. Seeing these groups perform with the latest tracks on reverse timeless hits enlivened the stage with comfortable, timeless staples from textured artists.
SM has always had a gift for pairing talents, through forming groups, selecting soloists and collaborating (via Station or otherwise), where the concert is an opportune time to demonstrate this ability.
The night brought spectacular relationships like Taeyeon and Key with pastels, flowers, memorable guitar presence and spooky falsetto arrangements. Taeyeon’s verse perfectly complements Key’s style with a beautiful harmony formed between the two as another massive highlight of the whole concert. The association of NCT members Jeno, Hendery, YangYang, Taeyong and aespas Giselle was also crucial in bringing the energy up to a charismatic performance of “Zoo”, which has the potential to become a significant hit in 2022.
Check out SM’s official YouTube channel for selected concert moments and information on their upcoming releases!