The Fangirl Verdict

Completely biased reviews and fangirling

Review: Dream High

25 Comments

THE SHORT VERDICT:

Fresh, fun and earnest, and backed by a breezy soundtrack that’s easy on the ears, Dream High ranks as one of my all-time favorite music-centric, high school dramas. Heck, it’s one of my favorite dramas, period.

Despite its youth-y premise, Dream High has a pretty universal appeal, with its emphasis on friendship, loyalty and finding & pursuing your dreams. What the idol-heavy cast lacks in finesse, they more than make up for with earnestness. And then there’s Kim Soo Hyun, Uhm Ki Joon and Lee Yoon Ji in the main cast, lending acting cred and nuance to the overall package.

The drama takes an episode or two to get into its groove but once it does, it’s cracky, delicious goodness.

Dream High OST – 드림하이

THE LONG VERDICT:

Fairly fresh from my watch and review of You From Another Star, I was on the market for something fun and light, preferably in the comfort food sort of vein, and Dream High felt like a nice fit.

It’d been a while since my last watch (which had been my 2nd, by the way); and I thought it’d be interesting to see how I’d take to the show now that I’ve accumulated a lot more kdrama miles under my belt, and also, now that I’ve got new Kim Soo Hyun-appreciating eyes. Heh.

I watched episode 1 last night – well, re-watched, since this is watch #3 now – and found it rather nostalgic. Seeing familiar characters again and hearing the breezy OST again felt easy and comfortable, even though I thought the show felt a touch dated compared to dramaland’s newer offerings. I’m pretty sure that was just my clued-in k-senses talking.

Most of you who know the origin story of this blog also know that long before the idea to start a blog ever crossed my mind, I used to journal my drama thoughts. I used to be a total lurker in the k-blogosphere, so my journal really was the only outlet I had, for my drama thoughts.

On a whim, I dug out my 2011 journal to see what I had to say about Dream High after my first watch, and lo and behold, I found a mini-review! Reading it, I found it fun getting back inside my pre-blogging, 2011 brain, to see how I perceived and processed drama, and I thought you guys might enjoy a peek too.

So without further ado, I give you Past Me, talking about Dream High, back when I never thought anyone would actually be, well, reading me. I haven’t edited it at all, and only added a couple of screencaps for this post.

Let me know if you guys like visiting with Past Me, and I’ll see if we can’t time travel a little more with some other older dramas ;)

[WITH SPOILERS]

My 2011 thoughts after first watch:

I just zoomed through Dream High, and I really, really like it!

I almost decided against watching it, because I didn’t particularly feel like watching something with such a strong youth theme, after watching several dramas with more grown-up themes. I’m really glad that I decided to watch it anyway, coz in spite of myself, I ended up really liking it, and I might even re-watch it sometime.

The thing that took me by surprise was who got the girl in the end.

I’d confidently placed my bets on Taecyeon, who acted as Jin Guk, and fulfilled every criteria for the male lead, I thought.

He was tall, well-built, good-looking in a totally Song Seung Hun kind of way, had intense eyes, and his character even had that childhood history with the female lead. Plus, he had 2 shirtless scenes when the other guy had none, and even started a relationship with the female lead, who liked him back. Plus, he got to kiss the girl. And we got through the whole of episode 1 without ever meeting the real male lead. Like, seriously, how could they break so many kdrama conventions by letting the other guy get the girl??

I mean, it’s really unheard of for the second lead to get to kiss the girl. Plus, the second lead never gets a shirtless scene unless the lead gets as many or more shirtless scenes.

The fact that this drama broke so many rules really took me by surprise. I really was quite stunned when I found out at the end of episode 14 that she liked the other guy.

I was rather disappointed that Taecyeon didn’t get the girl, coz I think he’s cute. He’s so much like Song Seung Hun, and I realize I really dig that look. That chiseled, high cheek-boned clean-cut look with the intense eyes & strong brows, topped off with a suitably hot bod. Let’s just say that I found him very, very easy to root for. Ahem ;)

Having said that, I have to admit that Kim Soo Hyun who played Song Sam Dong, the guy who got the girl, did an amazing job. He was the only real actor among the main cast, and it showed. His delivery was so full-on, so heartfelt and so realistic, that I totally believed his character every step of the way. I think he would have shone even if he’d been placed in a full-on actor ensemble; he was that good.

I teared when he ran after the bus, thinking that Hye Mi had left for good. I also felt his pain and confusion when he realized that his hearing was damaged forever. I teared too, when they showed him crying with Hye Mi, not wanting to leave her to pursue his dream in the US.

He was heartbreakingly good in all the intense scenes, which is precisely where all the others just paled in comparison. He really did anchor the show in the dramatic department, and considering that he had to learn to dance and sing alongside actual professional idols, he really held his own very well.

The only time he seemed uncomfortable singing & dancing was during the special concert that was aired after the last episode, and that doesn’t quite count, in my books.

I also really liked IU, who played Kim Pil Suk. She has a sweet, husky quality about her that I really like. I thought she acted really well, especially considering that she’s not a professional actor, but a singer.

I totally loved Park Jin Young, who played Teacher Yang. He’s a really well-known respected producer, and the CEO of JYP Entertainment, which manages lots of well-known artists. He actually wrote the script for Dream High, which is pretty amazing to me.

He completely stole many scenes with his comic portrayal, and it really does blow my mind to know who he really is. He rawked in so many ways, and it’s clear that he’s a cool guy in real life, being confident enough to be so self-deprecating in the show. I loved him; he’s a big reason to re-watch Dream High.

Of course, the other big reason is Kim Soo Hyun, coz he’s so good. It’ll be interesting to re-watch this knowing that he’s the male lead.

Plot-wise, the show had good pacing and it never felt like it was getting draggy.

I was glued to it from pretty early on, despite my resolve to do other things. For the past 2 days – or was it 3? – I’ve basically been quite unable to tear myself away and ended up putting everything else on hold while I ate up the show.

A definite thumbs-up from me, despite my initial doubts about it :)

THE FINAL VERDICT:

Fun, engaging and  full of heart. Worth a rewatch – or several.

VISUAL TREATS:

For those who haven’t seen the show, here’s a quick teaser:

Here’s an extended, subbed trailer which gives a pretty good flavor for the show while only being mildly spoilery:

This is one of my fave tracks from the OST, with spoilers only from episode 1, and it’s subbed too.

Author: kfangurl

Proud to be a k-fangirl since 2007. Main diet of kdramas with movies and kpop on the side.

25 thoughts on “Review: Dream High

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  5. So much nostalgia with this post. It’s making me want to re-watch Dream High! :)

    • Seconded! I’m still very much a kdrama newbie, but I really enjoyed Dream High! I love how this drama wasn’t just about the love story, it was about dreaming and working hard towards what you want! :D

      • Exactly – that’s one of the things I love about Dream High. It’s very uplifting and warm. Have you seen Shut Up yet? If you haven’t, I think there’s a good chance you’d like it too! :D

        • No, I haven’t! Is it just called Shut Up or are you just shortening it..? :P sorry, I really am a noob :D

          • You’re so right – I did shorten the name, sorry! :P It’s Shut Up Flower Boy Band (my quick review is here, if you’d like to peep at what the show’s about).. It’s got a lot in common with Dream High, in that it’s music-centric, and takes place in high school. It’s like Dream High’s cooler, mildly grittier rock cousin, who’s tough on the outside, but is as warm and fuzzy as Dream High on the inside ;)

            • Ah, yes I know what that is! :D I haven’t watched it yet, but it’s definitely on the list!

              • Aw, yay that it made your list! I loved it a whole lot when I watched it, and I would even go so far as to say that I think Shut Up manages to be even better than Dream High, in that the heartfelt angst comes across as more raw and real. Definitely and unreservedly recommend it, even if you’re not into rock music. I’m not big into rock myself, and found myself enjoying the music anyway. It’s the kind of rock that’s pretty accessible even to non rock fans :)

    • It’s worth a rewatch, imo! ^^ I’m on watch #3, and it’s still warm, breezy, fuzzy fun :D

  6. Talk about fan love and dedication! You’ve reviewed the three major shows KSH ever starred in. I’d say it’s bigger than medium k-love. Heh! :-)

    • Tee hee. I go through phases, kaiaraia! :D After being swooned out by him in YFAS, I kinda wanted a little more KSH on my screen. I also do love Dream High and have always felt that I should review it. When I stumbled on my mini review while poking around my old journal, I couldn’t resist putting it up, just for kicks XD I’m still rewatching Dream High as I type this. This is watch #3 now!

  7. I’m not a huge high school drama person, but I loved this one! Despite the fact we spend the whole drama trying to figure out who’s going to win in the love triangle only to have it come out to be for naught. Hrm. But it did start my appreciation for Kim Soo Hyun’s acting skills.

    • Oh, I have a soft spot for high school dramas, actually. But at the time, I did wonder if I was going for something too youthy, especially with the kpop premise of this show. I needn’t have worried, I LOVED this show. That love triangle really threw me for a loop though. I was relying on all my knowledge of kdrama tropes, and totally didn’t see that curve ball coming! XD But yes, Dream High was also where I started to appreciate Kim Soo Hyun. He really is terrific, isn’t he?? I seem to love him in everything I see him in. Well, I love the movies a little less than the dramas, but I do still love him in them. If that makes sense :)

  8. Hi Kfangurl!
    Long time, no comment !

    I have been sucked into the void called Soompi for 8 weeks getting my Secret Love Affair fix, now my Witch’s Romance fix. I consider your blog to be the first time I really posted something more than “yes, loved it” or “yes I agree” over at Dramabeans. Now I am writing non-stop. Your encouragement and responses gave me courage!

    Anyhow we talked about Dream High a long time ago when I commented on how I never like to watch the endings of dramas and then I went and finally watched the ending even though I knew it would break my heart having to leave it again. I am so glad you loved it. It so reminds me of my youth. I am of the Fame generation and it has that same kind of earnestness. I liked that the drama knew what it was and didn’t try to be overdramatic or symbolic. It just told a really good story- one of universal proportions and stayed its course. That is an accomplishment to behold in the K-drama world, isn’t it? I think I am going to have to watch it again, not stopping, right to the end!

    Even though I haven’t commented in a long time, I still am a big fan. I so appreciate your reviews and insightful comments!

    • phxajumma!!! :D So great to see you! HUGS! ❤

      It’s so great to hear that you’re so comfortable now with getting in there and sharing your thoughts and opinions with fellow fans. You are so sweet to share the credit with me ❤ But really, it’s your own courage at choosing to step outside your comfort zone. All I did was ease the journey a little bit, for you ^^ Thanks too for the encouraging words.. It’s so lovely to know that you consider yourself a fan! Makes me feel all important and stuff, heh. ;D

      Oh yes, I do love Dream High. It definitely has that freshness and earnestness that you mentioned. It’s a youth drama, yes, but it’s got so much heart that anyone of any age can enjoy it, in my opinion. It’s definitely worth a rewatch – I’ve enjoyed it each time I’ve watched it, and I don’t see myself ever swearing off it completely.

      Sounds like you really loved SLA! I’m just starting to watch it myself, and since I’m just done with E1, it’s early days yet. But I can definitely see why everyone loved it so :) When I do finish it and post my review, maybe we can swop thoughts on it :D

      • Totally will do that! Gotta warn you about that drama though. It got me burnt out about episode 11 and I had to take a break, get some air, then try it again. I used Witch’s Romance to get me through. SLA is not an easy watch, but a really interesting journey. Commenting on SLA is kind of like reliving my collage years (I was a lit. major.) It gets pretty deep. It has definitely strengthened my writing for sure.
        I totally don’t mind sharing the credit with you. I always give credit where it is due! It takes a village, and I need all the help I can get, ha ha!
        Can’t wait for my summer break so I can catch up on all your reviews, so expect to hear more from me in a couple of weeks. I am thinking of changing my moniker/name. I don’t like it. I thought it was cute at first, but I think I have been watching too many noona romances that I rather pretend I am not an ajumma anymore, so I will keep you posted on that so you still know it is me commenting.
        Keep up the good work :)

  9. One of the few K-dramas centered around high school that I have watched. Partly because they are usually too mean for my taste. However, I adored Dream High. I have always loved underdog stories and I relished how it wasn’t pradictable in the OTP department. I am thrilled with the way that it ended and I have a soft spot in my heart for every person in this cast (even the ones that really can’t act) becuase if DH. Thank you for the lovely walk down memory lane.

    • Aw! High five, Amy! I loved Dream High, and I wasn’t expecting to. I’m not much into kpop, and this show kinda centers around kpop, heh. But I have a lot of affection for the characters, and I loved how the character arcs were fleshed out. It never got overly complicated, and we got to know our characters in lovely heartwarming ways. I loved that about DH, that there’s an uplifting, warm feel to it. :)

      I actually think Shut Up Flower Boy Band is even better than Dream High. If you’re ever in the mood to meet Dream High’s slightly grittier, way cooler cousin, Shut Up will do nicely ;)

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