If MCOUNTDOWN In France was a soup, then the pot is sizzling. If the excitement were a flavour, spices would be shooting off fireworks in your mouth. On the 15th of October MCOUNTDOWN delivered a lineup to Europe so delicious, so star-studded, and so satisfying, not one second was wasted merely filling in time. The lineup could be best described as dripping with gold and saturated in talent, and attendees will have found themselves well fed after experiencing such an event.
A testament to just how good the lineup is might just be when a superstar is the opener. After DJ and producer Raiden temporarily transformed the arena into a club for the preshow, ATEEZ arrived shortly after to get the main event going, to the audience’s surprise (but more so their delight). The dashing eight arrived in individually styled outfits that highlighted each member’s best look, topped with subtle gold detailings and the odd piece of statement jewellery. Briefly joined by taekwondo dance team K-Tigers for an explosive opening performance of "The Real", they then went on to break some walls in “Guerrilla” and emanate glorious pirate vibes in “Wonderland”, during which Seonghwa brought out a sword and graced the stage with a swift move.
After a few more gems from ATEEZ, recently formed supergroup EL7Z UP took over to charm all in their brief time with “CHEEKY”, “Die for You”, and a cover of BLACKPINK’s “Pink Venom”. The girls are certainly no newcomers to the industry; with the group forming over an MNET survival show, EL7Z UP brought some familiar faces from CLC, WJSN, and more. Instead of pyrotechnics, the girls’ stage made it rain bubbles on the dancing crowd. TREASURE are the second reality show winners of the night (and not the last) to jump up on stage, clad in matching black streetwear, and deliver a swagger and style unique to them. The ten members’ confidence during their first performance in the continent was earned, and they received tremendously loud support from the crowd during their hit “JIKJIN”.
Bewitching girl group Dreamcatcher was next to bless the stage, offering something different than the earlier pop perfection by EL7Z UP. The girls are famous for their fierce sound, accompanied with powerful vocals and typically either heavy rock or EDM elements. Standing out in the scene, the seven are a unique moth amongst butterflies, and Paris welcomed their power-packed melodic rock vibe, particularly during “MAISON” and “REASON”.
ZEROBASEONE were next on the list of never ending talent that illuminated the arena. Perhaps turning the tables on Dreamcatcher’s girl power, the nine Boys Planet winners performed their debut hit with a soft and cutesy vibe, a little uncommon for boy groups these days, but one well-fitting for themselves. They later returned for a special performance, joined by a few dozen ecstatic fans on stage to dance together to “New Kidz on the Block”, bringing everyone together to celebrate the fun and ever-changing genre we’ve all come to love.
Yet it wasn't over. NCT DREAM brought the “Hot Sauce” soon after, which had thousands of neon green-clad fans ascending into space. The group in recent years have established their own 90s-infused neo sound, of which their hit “Beatbox” is the perfect prototype, which was delivered flawlessly with A-grade live singing from main vocalists Renjun and Chenle. The five were followed by duo Shownu and Hyungwon of MONSTA X, who did well to fill out the massive stage with fantastic presence and stable vocals. Their songs “Love Me A Little” and “Play Me” veer slightly off from Monsta X’s typically strong sound, but still kept it sensual. The duo reminded everyone where they came from with a brief dance cover of “Love Killa”, getting the crowd into a frenzy.
Before long, the way was made for esteemed soloist Taemin to show us all why he’s regarded as the Michael Jackson of K-Pop. In SHINee, he’s part of one of the most famous boy bands in the world; as a soloist, he stands tall as a pillar. Filling the massive stage with charisma, Taemin demonstrated how it was done in “Advice”, “MOVE”, and “Criminal”, not for a second let down by the crowd’s overwhelming cheers for the beloved star. He delivered his signature sensuality during “MOVE” in particular - which is arguably his most famous hit - with a slow and controlled rhythm in the subtle dance moves. Some performances require endless bursts of energy, some need a bit of elegance: Taemin shows us how to do both.
For what was truly a once-in-a-lifetime event for those that could make it, when nearly half the lineup could qualify as headliners in their own right, only one man could wrap up a night as vibrant as this. PSY finally arrived with a couple dozen of his dancers as the final act to electrify the La Défense Arena in party vibes. Donning sunglasses and a sparkly black shirt, PSY established the definition of fun in “That That”, before finally ending the show with the hit that started it all: “Gangnam Style”.
11 years ago, the viral song introduced millions to K-pop. Now we have huge arenas worldwide, filled to the brim with fans wanting to experience the one of the most energetic music genres of our generation. With ATEEZ, the show was opened with a song that incorporated traditional Korean instruments on a hype dance track, and with PSY, it closed with one of the biggest K-Pop hits of all time. We couldn’t have picked a better two songs to tie together one of the continent’s biggest ever celebrations of the thrilling genre.