Retrospective: Dreamcatcher's "BONVOYAGE" Promotions Validate Group's Commitment To Fans, Music, And Each Other

K-Pop's resident rock/pop girl group bid a fond farewell to the "Apocalypse" storyline, but seemed to begin a new page in their veteran careers.

Retrospective: Dreamcatcher's "BONVOYAGE" Promotions Validate Group's Commitment To Fans, Music, And Each Other
Dreamcatcher snaps a group photo at a fansign. Source: hf_dreamcatcher (Twitter)

In the often volatile and fast-moving world of K-Pop, change is inevitable, especially if you’re a group that has made it past the initial stages of needing to be sustainable in order to continue making music. Whether it’s evolving talent, change in attitude and presentation, or in musical style, there’s just going to be things that are different. And while Dreamcatcher has been fairly consistent about their music and their concept over the six years they’ve been active, they’ve not done so without some changes. The group’s morphing of music from harder rock to a more hybrid rock/pop style, the growth of its members, and the milestones achieved (even if for some, they came much later than they should have) all contributed to a very different Dreamcatcher today than what we saw at debut.

When the group renewed contracts near the end of 2022, a decision was made by Dreamcatcher to continue onward together to see what more growth and changes could happen for a little while longer. In many ways, that was also a renewal of their desire to perform for their fans and be with them. But I don’t think that commitment truly manifested itself entirely until this past set of promotions for “BONVOYAGE” era. What we saw and heard from the group was not only the result of that re-commitment back in November 2022, but also a validation that it was the right call to make, leading to one of the group’s most successful promotional periods yet.

As always, here’s some of the things I noticed looking back at “BONVOYAGE” era.

“Old School, New Vibes” seemed to be the comeback theme.

From the moment Dreamcatcher finished performing their new title track “BONVOYAGE” for the first time before release at a pre-recording of K-Pop legend BoA’s “K-909” show, fans could tell something was different. The group came out in brightly colored marine-style outfits, displayed a choreography whose mood was not the dark and fierce stage presence of the past, and flashed smiles throughout a song that exuded a hopeful, bittersweet message, rather than one that seemed bleak or pyrrhic. This wasn’t the “Dreamcatcher is trapped as nightmares forever” mood of “PIRI”, nor the “Dreamcatcher never found their utopia” feel of “Odd Eye”, but something completely different. “BONVOYAGE” was certainly far from being 100% happy, as it delivered an emotionally weighty message about necessary partings (and optimistic reunions), but it was a far cry by comparison to the group’s other two storylines.

Yet for all its differences, Dreamcatcher’s “BONVOYAGE” is at its core, very much “old school” Dreamcatcher. The song is billed as a “progressive rock” song by the members, and it shows in the stylistic changes but solid rock music foundation that it presents to listeners. Much of the feedback we’ve seen from Dreamcatcher fans, reactors, and reviewers is that this is a throwback to the harder rock days of early Dreamcatcher, when people were hoping that the group would get noticed in the Japanese market to do an anime opening, or that people would see that this was a group doing something different with a well-regarded, yet less popular genre of music.

And it wasn’t just on the title track front that Dreamcatcher put out an “old school, new vibe” feel. A couple of variety appearances were returns or older references, whether that was doing “BONVOYAGE” for 1theK’s Suit Dance for the first time in three years, referencing and briefly singing older Dreamcatcher songs at fans’ requests during a song relay they did for K-Pop outlet Soompi, or SuA making an appearance for baseball team Kiwoom Heroes 5 years after JiU and Yoohyeon had. These kinds of callbacks were appreciated, and proof that Dreamcatcher hadn’t forgotten where they came from, as they kept moving forward with what they released.

Dreamcatcher’s recognition as one of K-Pop’s veteran and unique girl groups was felt in the appearances made and homages given by others.

Sometimes time really flies when we’re having fun, and as a long-time Dreamcatcher fan, even I seem to forget that the group has been around for six and a half years. As such, I sometimes forget that the group is one of the most veteran third-generation K-Pop groups out there that’s still active, and that carries with it a certain status among the groups that are out there today that came after them. During this era I was surprised to see a younger group like Lapillus cover 2022’s “MAISON” from Dreamcatcher. They did the song justice with the sharp choreography and the aggressive stage presence that Dreamcatcher brought to countless performances of the song that got them their first music show win.

E’LAST’s Wonhyuk also recently did an entire medley of Dreamcatcher songs, impressing fans with his versatility in covering multiple member parts. Some of the 2020-debuted boy group’s members had already done a “BONVOYAGE” challenge on TIkTok, but this was a whole different level and a nice homage at the same time. This obviously wasn’t the first time we’ve seen junior groups work with or recognize Dreamcatcher, but the actual content and performances created in official media meant to me that Dreamcatcher’s reputation preceded itself.

Variety-wise, we’ve come to expect Dreamcatcher to garner time on many shows including Idol Radio, Kim Shinyoung’s Hope Song at Noon, and more, and there are constant and stalwart partners, like MBC’s Weekly Idol, that seem to go out of their way to invite Dreamcatcher to their studios even when more popular groups are available or have appeared before. After years of wondering when Dreamcatcher would get a shot besides a partial appearance on Weekly Idol, the fact that they’ve been on as primary guests multiple times over the last third years says something about the level of respect and recognition they’ve been given. The “older days” stories referenced in the above video just add to the fact that the group has a rich and detailed history with each other, and while there’s still another tier or two to climb to get to the top of the K-Pop variety world (Knowing Bros, Amazing Saturday, Studio CHOOM, and more await), it’s nice to see Dreamcatcher be a standard at the level they currently occupy.

By the numbers and achievements, Dreamcatcher and everyone involved with them have validated their decisions and hard work as they continue onward.

In many ways, “BONVOYAGE” era, promoting Dreamcatcher 8th Mini Album “Apocalypse: From Us”, was a milestone, one that has been recognized as such by the members themselves and everyone that happens to work with them. I said at the top of the article that this was the first comeback since their contract renewal in late 2022, and multiple members have talked about being a bit nervous that their first music release since that would be received well.

Understandably, they’ve said that almost every time during press and fan showcases on release days, but this is a different vibe simply because of the circumstances. Aside from the slight shift to something different than what they perform normally (as I said, “Old School, New Vibes”), an all-member contract renewal likely brought with it thought of whether or not a commitment of unspecified years was right to do. That might seem like heresy to say, but I think it’s more a natural mental process for whenever you take a step and make a big decision when you’re at a crossroads.

Dreamcatcher's producer Ollounder posts a release update on Dreamcatcher's 8th mini album on his instagram
Ollounder posts on the release date of Dreamcatcher’s 8th Mini Album. Source: ollounder (Instagram)

And it wasn’t just Dreamcatcher themselves that may have been wondering how things would go. Ollounder, for example, had his first album with Dreamcatcher as its most prominent producer, as long-time partner LEEZ had departed for an exclusive contract with Hi-Hat Entertainment as its Music Director. While there were still members of production group Edenary to help Ollounder, the 8th Mini Album was on many levels his, and there had to be some kind of thought as to how fans would like it, especially with more experimental tracks such as metal/funk B-side “DEMIAN. Performance Director Hwang Sooyeon and Choreographer Kim Keeyeoun were also absent during promotions due to their tour commitment with K-Pop group Red Velvet, and had to watch remotely as Dreamcatcher executed their dance vision during “BONVOYAGE” era. In short, everyone involved, including Dreamcatcher, was curious as to how things would go.

As it turned out, Dreamcatcher et al had nothing to worry about. The group increased their personal achievements for “BONVOYAGE” by securing two more music show wins, one that was a complete landslide on SBS MTV’s The Show, and another that was squeaked by on the skin of their teeth (70 points) for MBC’s Show Champion. The latter of these seemed to be completely unexpected from the group’s standpoint, as the competition, which included far more popular groups such as (G)-IDLE, aespa, ENHYPEN, and LE SSERAFIM, had all effortlessly collected music show achievements on Show Champion previously. Yet the work of Dreamcatcher fans both casual and hardcore carried the group to victory, and the first music show wins in front of a live audience and on stage with their peers.

I could talk about the myriad of circumstances that contributed to this, as music show wins are partially a matter of timing and luck, but they really wouldn’t be relevant to my point currently, as only the result matters. Music show wins have long since stopped being a requirement for sustainability, but personal achievement always feels good no matter what. So it was no surprise to see some level of emotion from the group - not just because of it only being the third and fourth music show wins ever, but because of that validation that I mentioned above.

And as for the album numbers, they’ve only reinforced that validation. The album has risen to be Dreamcatcher’s 2nd best-selling album overall, with only 2022 full album “Apocalypse: Save Us” exceeding it as of this writing at 103,000+ sales on Hanteo. “Apocalypse: From Us” is within striking distance of 100,000 sales on that chart, and the rise back up from the dip experienced for “Apocalypse: Follow Us” seems to validate my point during the last retrospective that there were plenty of other circumstances (such as giving fans a ton of opportunities to spend close to or around the comeback and heavy competition from other groups) that may have led to it. We’ll have to see how it plays out, but for now, between the sales, a really decent number of music video views by historical metrics (even with ad campaigns, 27 million), and the achievements garnered during this comeback, it seems Dreamcatcher is very much just fine, and can be at ease knowing that they continue to have a solid fanbase that supports them and their music.

Dreamcatcher takes a group pic at their June 12th fansign. Source: hf_dreamcatcher (Twitter)

Armed with a successful first comeback of 2023, the accolades and appearances they’ve garnered from it, and more, Dreamcatcher appears to be looking forward to a summer of at least some rest peppered with more appearances and concerts, but also excitement to get to work on their second comeback of the year. I’ll be just as ready to see what Dreamcatcher has in store for us when they begin a new storyline (or perhaps release another special mini album) with their music, but if “BONVOYAGE” era is any indication, the group is far from done from giving us some of the most unique and varied discography we’ve seen in K-Pop.

Bonus News: The Dreamcatcher Recall video experiment!

Now that I’ve moved to a new platform and expanding my content, I’m playing around with different ways to deliver it. TikTok is one of these. Below, here’s two versions (one 2 minutes and one 1 minute) for previous editions of the Dreamcatcher Recall in June. I’m messing around with this, YouTube, and more to see what might be good, and would love constructive feedback.

Dreamcatcher Recall -  Week of June 11th, 2023

@thelowkeygeekDreamcatcher Recall - Week of June 11th, 2023 #fyp #dreamcatcher #dreamcatcherkpop #드림캐쳐 #BONVOYAGE

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Dreamcatcher Recall - Week of June 18th, 2023

@thelowkeygeekDreamcatcher Recall - Week of June 18th, 2023 #fyp #dreamcatcher #dreamcatcherkpop #드림캐쳐 #BONVOYAGE

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Of course, you’re free to follow me on TikTok as well and to like and signal boost my videos should you so choose.

Please look forward to more of these experiments and certainly consider subscribing below to make sure you don’t miss them!