[Special] Road To Kingdom Review – Finale

Welcome all to my very special review to Road To Kingdom. I may have been very silent about the recent series. But I have been eagerly awaiting each performance to appear on YouTube after broadcasting on Thursdays to see what Golden Child, ONEUS, ONF, Pentagon, The Boyz, TOO and VERIVERY have prepared for us. In this special review series, I will be going through the actual rankings that came about from the first three rounds, short reviews of each performance and how I thought the rankings would go! This post will only cover the finale of the show. Please remember, these are my thoughts only. Feel free to comment your ones below.


Finale

Like the Queendom finale, the remaining groups released new songs a week ahead of the final episode to compete for the secured spot on the upcoming Kingdom series. With these new songs come new stages and concepts never seen before. Like usual, I will be focusing on their new songs, concept and performance to see which group had the superior performance and the title of Road To Kingdom winner.


Come Back Home – ONEUS

Come Back Home starts off with a grungy and angsty rock vibe, before settling on a subtle form of dubstep for the chorus (a bit typical, if I were to be honest). There is also a strong dance beat mixed within the song that reminds me of ONEUS’s other title tracks such as Valkryie and Twilight. The final instrumental break at the end of the song carries the same vibes as the choruses of those mentioned songs. I really liked the rapid drum beats at the end of the choruses, which offsets the paced nature of the chorus (which was a unique drawing point). I also really Leedo’s parts in this song, going from a dark and deep rapping voice to smooth vocals for the bridge. Seoho’s high note is also commendable.

The roles in which ONEUS plays in this performance, concept-wise, are protectors of the young child. The backup dancers played the evil people who rose from the dead to kill the young child. The VCR that starts off the performance adds context to the performance, but it doesn’t add much substance. Likewise, I did think the presence of the child for the performance did very little.

The actual choreography was really good. I really like the Leedo and RAVN dynamic that the performance focused on. At one point, Leedo and RAVN also played each other’s shadow. I also like their visual effects by using the big screen. The group does a few stunts in this performance, but I did wish the stage lighting was a lot better to see this more clearly. I did like the suspenseful ending when all the members disappeared.

Song – 8/10
Concept – 6/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 7.6/10


New World (신세계) – ONF

New World kicks off with a rapid beat and dramatic flair that really captured my attention from the very first second. It is the one song leading up to the final episode that I continually replayed and enjoyed. Like ONEUS’ track, I felt New World compliments ONF’s discography. It was dynamic and captivating, all common descriptors to ONF’s songs. The chorus was very memorable with that ‘Higher‘ delivery being my favourite part of the song, which also adds a tinge of light into this otherwise intense sound. I also liked the lead into the final chorus from the bridge, as this part was very powerful and makes sure to grab your attention, just in case the earlier sections didn’t work.

The performance started off with a whole cinematic montage from their past music videos. It seems like the performance’s concept is unlocking the doors to the New World, which is shown through the emphasis of keys in the opening montage and also the presence of keys in the performance.

With such a good song, it already has that edge. And the group did an amazing job in extending this edge and making this a very captivating performance. The entire sequence of them using the keys to unlock the silver box was very captivating, though Wyatt slamming the box though made me feel uncomfortable, just based on the way the box landed on the ground. I just wished the performance reflected the change in tempo speeds, which would have made everything feel more natural.

Song – 9/10
Concept – 9/10
Performance – 9/10
Overall Rating 9/10


Basquait (바스키아) – Pentagon

To me, Basquait felt like another version of Dr. Bebe at times. While the other groups have performed songs that complimented their existing discography, Pentagon is the only group on this list ‘replicate’ an existing song, which doesn’t come off well. That thought aside, I did like how the song didn’t rely on EDM or electronic synths to become a dance track, instead opting for rock elements to give that angst and grungy vibe throughout the entire song. I also think the vocal and rapping work from the members are on point. The song does lack a memorable hook or moments, which doesn’t help the song gain an advantage.

I am unsure what their concept is, but Pentagon looks like they have been part of a rebellion with their ripped up outfits. They did have a VCR at the start of the performance, but it doesn’t shed much light on the concept. It does, however, look like they were running from someone but ended up being captured.

And that is where we start off the performance. I really liked how the stage theatrics really helped make their performance a lot more epic and captivating to watch. I liked their use of props and how their dance moves seemed to pack a punch, which goes hand-in-hand with the assumed concept. I do need to say that Hui nailed his high note, which sounded extra epic on stage. That alone adds a tonne of leverage to the performance, helping them boost the song’s appeal by a great amount (which was pretty much needed).

Song – 6/10
Concept – 7/10
Performance – 8.5/10
Overall Rating – 7/10


Checkmate – The Boyz

The Boyz’s Checkmate isn’t the strongest song in the bunch. But I liked how the song seems to be fixated on the idea of a fast tempo in terms of both their instrumental and some of their vocal melodies. I also liked the use of the piano in the instrumental, which gives the song a very unique vibe, in comparison to the rest of the other songs. I also enjoyed some of the vocals moments, such as that ‘Royal Royal Catch A Royal‘ and the equivalent in the second verse. I am unconvinced that this is the best track of the bunch (as suggested by the results of the finale – spoiler alert, they won), as it took a fair amount of time for me to get into.

Concept-wise, the start performance revolves around the crown that The Boyz had focused on since the first round. To have the crown feature in all their major performances where possible is quite clever and really intrigues me. But for those who are joining for the first time (where have you been), the group also has a chessboard concept.

Amazing performance. The start was epic, with the passing of the crown and Sunwoo falling from that height into the mattress. I like the one-take camera work for the first verse. Everything that happened during this first verse looked really cool, as a result. The group was also the only group to dance on the audience side of the stage (i.e. where the other groups are sitting the performance). The use of the dancers to doing that tutting like action just before the bridge was really cool and the use of that box on stage somehow blew my mind. Oh, and their dance moves were really fluid. Everything on that stage was just captivating to watch.

Song – 7/10
Concept – 9/10
Performance – 10/10
Overall Rating – 8.3/10


Beautiful-x – VERIVERY

I commend VERIVERY for going with the most brightly energetic song out of the bunch, which does help them stand out from the competition. This is a risky move, given that the industry does prefer male groups with a dark concept than these youthful ones. Beautiful-x has a strong beat that had my foot tapping along. There is also a bit of funkiness to the song, which makes it very fun sounding. I liked the vocal melodies, particularly around ‘Nal Wihae‘ (‘For You‘) part of the chorus, but I wished that the rapping was a little dynamic, which I think would have supported the song. It, to me, felt like the most forgettable part of the song.

The group goes with that high school concept, which is pretty unoriginal. The entire montage at the start was boring and failed to excite me to keep watching the performance. The fact that they kept on confessing their love by putting items in the one locker felt cheesy.

As the performance progressed, things got a lot more interesting. It does look like your typical KPOP stage performance, as the moves looked quite typical at best. I really like the basketball routine and also the band scenes (though it did look somewhat cheesy as well). The cheesy note could also apply for the ending as well.

Song – 8/10
Concept – 5/10
Performance – 7/10
Overall Rating – 7.1/10


And The Winner Is…

Road To Kingdom crowned The Boyz as the overall winners of the entire show. That was based on digital points of the new singles from its release date; the accumulated points from the first three rounds; view counts from the performances on online platforms and fan votes! Unfortuately I don’t have access to all of that information, so I will be basing my pick for overall winner based on the rankings I have given to them thus far, including the ones above.

With that being said, the group whom I think should have been crowned as the winner to Road To Kingdom is ONF, with The Boyz coming runner up. It is a bit of a reversal, as ONF were the runner up in real life. To see my version of the final rankings, they are in the table below.

Final Ranking PositionArtist
#1ONF
#2The Boyz
#3Pentagon
#4VERIVERY
#5ONEUS
#6TOO
#7Golden Child

And with that, I have completed my review for Road To Kingdom. A lot of work was put into this, but it was quite fun. Now I just need to return to the usual posting schedule, which I haven’t really adhered to while working on this review series. With The Boyz confirmed for the upcoming Kingdom series, who else do you want to see on the show? For me personally, I want to see Stray Kids, SF9, ATEEZ and NCT as part of the lineup. That will definitely be very exciting! Let me know who iswill be on your version of Kingdom in the comments section below!

Preliminary Round – Preliminary 90 seconds Review & Rankings
1st Round – Song Of King Review & Ranking
2nd Round – My Song Review & Ranking
3rd Round Part 1 – Collaboration Review & Rankings
3rd Round Part 2 – Your Song Review and Rankings

[Special] Road To Kingdom Review – Round 3 Part 2 ‘Your Song’

Welcome all to my very special review to Road To Kingdom. I may have been very silent about the recent series. But I have been eagerly awaiting each performance to appear on YouTube after broadcasting on Thursdays to see what Golden Child, ONEUS, ONF, Pentagon, The Boyz, TOO and VERIVERY have prepared for us. In this special review series, I will be going through the actual rankings that came about from the first three rounds, short reviews of each performance and how I thought the rankings would go! This post will only cover the second part of the third official round (i.e. Your Song). Please remember, these are my thoughts only. Feel free to comment your ones below.


Your Song

Each remaining group had the ability to choose a song that was performed in this second part of Round 3. The song chosen by one group was allocated to the group they were paired with in the first part in Round 3. The scores from this part of round 3 and the preceding part were combined to determine which group would be leaving the competition next, ahead of the finale. Like in the previous round, I will be focusing on their arrangement, concept and choreography.


Be Mine – ONEUS (Original Artist: Infinite)

What I really liked about ONEUS’ version of Be Mine is that it doesn’t mess around. The melody remains as it is. It is just modernised to be fitting for a 2020 competition. They don’t add anything that would have taken away the nostalgic factor and hence this makes their stage a really good version of the original to just listen. I love that they did use violins in this version. I always thought Infinite’s classical remixes of their songs were the best and this was very appealing to my taste on a personal level. I feel that the rapping was a weak point in this arrangement. They did feel a little foreign to the original song. But as it is ONEUS’ version, they had every right to infuse some of themselves in a way into the song. For the stage, they took on a Romeo and Juliet concept. They opened the performance with a musical sequence from the play that just about everyone knows. On stage, we see the part where Juliet is dead and Romeo discovers her body. It is followed by the actual performance of the song. Keeping true to how they approach their arrangement, the performance doesn’t have anything too crazy in terms of stunts. It was a rather clean performance and they knew when to add some oomph to the performance to make it feel strong. What was cool was how they draped that piece of fabric with the two coat of arms of the houses over the page and RAVN cut it in half with a pair of scissors and walking through it, symbolising that nothing will keep the star crossed lovers apart. The performance ends with Romeo about to drink the poison and Juliet just waking up. The way they ended it gave the performance a cliffhanger, despite us already knowing what was to come afterwards.


It’s Raining – ONF (Original Artist: Rain)

Without a doubt, ONF’s stage was the strongest of the bunch. It is the performance from this round that I continue to come back to ever since it aired. The group chose a very well-known song but managed to make it their own. The original version is very sexy and mature in many ways. ONF’s version turns it into an extremely upbeat track and infuses likeable energy into it that really grabs your attention. I liked how the song retains famous inhale and exhale sounds. I also like how they incorporate the Complete saxophone into the song. It is a fun little nod to themselves in a song that pays homage to Rain. It also helps with the funky element that they have int their song. I found their ‘Rain, Go Rain, Its Raining‘ version to be extremely catchy and it made it fun. I also like that killer line that ends to the performance. ‘It’s raining, I’m crazy‘. That was awesome. For the performance, the group incorporated a Michael Jackson concept. Their outfits do that wonderfully and that dance break mid-way into the performance had all the familiar Michael Jackson moves. I also liked how they started off their performance with a reflection of their Road To Kingdom journey and how that opening piece with Hyojin was revisited partway into the performance so that the opening sequence made sense. For the performance, I enjoyed all the dance moves. I really liked their use of curtains, which added a really cool stage element to the performance and how it hid the members/dancers, allowing to them to enter into the performance in a dynamic fashion, matching the energetic style of the song.


Follow – Pentagon (Original Artist: MONSTA X)

Pentagon intensifies MONSTA X’s Follow, an already intense song. I did not know it was possible and this just intrigues me to continue listening to their version. Interestingly, it isn’t their instrumentation that is intense, but rather their delivery of the song that had that intense charge to it. What I also love about that despite it being amped up, I don’t find the performance to be overwhelming, which is a good thing. Their arrangement started off with an exotic-sounding sequence that sets their Egyptian concept in place and also foreshadows the intensity of the performance (that just keeps on growing as the song progresses). We then tick over into what sounds like a hip-hop based verse, before settling on an EDM pop sound. I was a little confused with this change in sound. I would have liked for them to continue that hip-hop sound as it sounded quite interesting. Nonetheless, the track nails the EDM pop sound, opting for a completely different range of synths to the original song. The dance break sounded awesome. I also really enjoyed the growling sounds the members executed, which added an animal-like side to their cover that just makes it so much more intense. Hui’s growl at the end of his high note, Yuto and Wooseok’s rapping just sounded so much more powerful. I really like the set for their stage, which really help further the concept. My favourite part has to be when the sarcophagus was opened to reveal Shiwon in it. Their entire dance break after Hui’s high note was probably my favourite part of the choreography (including Hui’s part of the dance break). I also liked that ending, with Wooseok walking back to the throne and the ‘glory music’ playing in the background.


Quasi una fantasia (Shangri-La) – The Boyz (Original Artist: VIXX)

After their stages in this show so far, it is very different to hear the group to start off with something so pretty sounding like what they did here. But don’t worry, they bring their signature intensity back for this stage later on. In fact, I really liked the contrast between the start and how far they manage to develop the song once it ended. I also liked how they bridged the two sections. Following the pretty sounding first verse, they went with a classical piece, before proceeding with the chorus which is where their arrangement slowly started to build. I really liked the percussion and EDM in the instrumental that followed, which is what gave their version the intensity that I have acknowledged earlier. In a way, The Boyz managed to make VIXX’s Shangri-La into an even more captivating and dynamic song. The group went with an Oriental concept, focusing on cherry blossoms for a large portion of their performance. I really like the flower they formed with their skirts (not really sure what to call those pieces of fabrics). They definitely added a pretty element but pushed the boundaries by wearing them and using them in this performance (especially since everything is quite masculine and powerful in a ‘strong sense’ in the competition so far). I liked the idea of the screen in which Younghoon walked behind and how it was used to form a tree. I also liked how his branch had nothing on it and as it went down the line, the branch started to flourish. This performance is definitely unlike their previous ones, but it was still captivating to watch.


Hard Carry – TOO (Original Artist: GOT7)

When I heard that Hard Carry was going to be one of the performances covered in this round, I was overjoyed. Hard Carry is my favourite GOT7 track ever. It was a powerful release and it left a strong impression on me. TOO’s version of the song is questionable for me. There were some good moments and I liked how they ‘translated’ the song into a hip-hop based sound. I personally don’t mind their direction for this song and would have been great if they somehow brought the intensity of the original over. Instead, their version came off as toned down and weak, which isn’t a great thing. I would have liked more of that rock sound that followed the first chorus. It had what I was looking for and would have been a great element to continue throughout latter dance breaks in their performance. It isn’t all bad news as I enjoyed their rapping and vocal work. I also enjoyed how they all contributed to the chorus, especially the final chorus, which I believe ties their performance and concept together nicely. For their concept, the group went with a street style. This fits in with their hip-hop sound quite well. I also liked how urban the stage and visual effect on the screen looked. Their outfits are edgy in a way that also fits their youthful image. Unfortunately, there was something that I didn’t really think suited their performance. Take the ‘all smiles rock’ sequence that followed the first chorus. It just looked weird and just didn’t go well with their intense dance portions of the performance. It looked a little playful when they were doing something so edgy. I did like it when they turned the lights down and had the fluorescent colours on their outfits glow. That looked cool. The dancing, for the most part, looked quite cool.


gogobebe – VERIVERY (Original Artist: Mamamoo)

VERIVERY was assigned gogobebe, which is originally by my favourite female group. It is the only song by a female group in this round. I liked how they brought in that foreign musical flair that suits the Aladdin theme they had on stage. They combined it with some modern synths to give it that oophm and energy that made it a fun stage. Take the final moments of the chorus. They added definition by bolstering the beat, and in turn, helped that part become quite dynamic. If I were to compare the two versions, VERIVERY’s version is definitely more enjoyable as it explores more of that fun side of the song, which is obviously required to be done for an appealing stage. They had a huge dance break in the middle and I liked how they kept that musical colour to it. I would have thought they went something extreme and be considered ill-fitting to give the performance that edgy feel and/or allow the group to sneak in some crazy moments into their choreography. As mentioned, the concept was Aladdin. Their outfits were quite nice and the stage props were cool. I was quite disappointed with the rug. I wished it wasn’t just on the floor, because this just cheapens the performance in my point of view. I liked how they had the lamp, but there was no reference to the Genie. It might have been a hard idea to pull off. But since they included Jafar into the performance, I am sure they could have added the Genie in some capacity. As for the dancing, I thought the entire performance looked great. I really liked how Jafar’s cane was floating about just before the dance break. Unfortunately, the cane was also the flaw of the performance, as Hoyoung dropped it at a critical moment. It was something I waited to happen on the show, as all these performances cannot be as perfect as they seem. And they recovered well and pulled off the performance without any other hitches.


And the ranking…

For this round, I agreed with the show on how they ranked their first and last place. ONF came out on top with such a cool performance, while TOO just felt short with their rendition of Hard Carry. It is the rankings in between that I did not agree with. Actually, I ranked the middle rankings in the opposite manner to the show. To see how it turned out, you can view the table below.

PerformanceArtistActual RankingMy Ranking
It’s RainingONF#1#1
Quasi una fantasiaThe Boyz#2#5
gogobebeVERIVERY#3#4
Be MineONEUS#4#2
FollowPentagon#5#3
Hard CarryTOO#6#6

As mentioned earlier, Round 3 was an elimination round. By combining the scores of the Collaboration and the Your Song rounds, the show ended up eliminating TOO for the competition. And my rankings also conform to that decision. For the rest of the rankings (which are irrespective of the performances in the Song Of King and My Song round), view the table below!

RankingArtist
#1ONF
#2ONEUS
#3Pentagon
#4The Boyz
#5VERIVERY
#6TOO

And that wraps all the rounds. We are left with five groups – ONEUS, ONF, Pentagon, The Boyz and VERIVERY. And they are off the finale, where they release and perform a new song just for the Road To Kingdom viewers. Whoever is victorious in the finale will go on to participate in Kingdom, as the first prize is a confirmed spot in the next show! To know my thoughts on the finale, you gotta check back this coming Monday! Until then, here are all the links to the previous posts.

Preliminary Round – Preliminary 90 seconds Review & Rankings
1st Round – Song Of King Review & Ranking
2nd Round – My Song Review & Ranking
3rd Round Part 1 – Collaboration Review & Rankings
Final Round – FINAL Review & Rankings

[Special] Road To Kingdom Review – Round 3 Part 1 ‘Collaboration’

Welcome all to my very special review to Road To Kingdom. I may have been very silent about the recent series. But I have been eagerly awaiting each performance to appear on YouTube after broadcasting on Thursdays to see what Golden Child, ONEUS, ONF, Pentagon, The Boyz, TOO and VERIVERY have prepared for us. In this special review series, I will be going through the actual rankings that came about from the first three rounds, short reviews of each performance and how I thought the rankings would go! This post will only cover the first part of the third official round (i.e. Collaboration). Please remember, these are my thoughts only. Feel free to comment your ones below.


Collaboration

At the end of the last round, Golden Child was eliminated, leaving 6 groups in the competition. In this round, two groups would pair up and would need to cover a song of their choice. Not all members were required for the stage. For this round, Pentagon joined up with ONF, VEIRVERY joined hands with TOO, leaving The Boyz and ONEUS to share the stage. The scores from this part of round 3 and the following part were combined to determine which group would be leaving the competition next, ahead of the finale. Like in the previous round, I will be focusing on their arrangement, concept and choreography.


Kill This Love – ONF & Pentagon (Original Artist: BLACKPINK)

I remember watching this performance for the first time after it had aired and not knowing which song was being covered at the time. I only recognised it was Kill This Love once it reached the chorus. I totally liked the intense and powerful route that this arrangement took, completely straying away from the original version. The guys made it very sensual when it came to the chorus, which I thought was memorable. Their concept took on a horror with a twisted romance and I enjoyed all the little details in the arrangement that gave it that profile and character. While the song was successful thanks to the vocals, I feel that the rappers really had the shining moments in this stage. Wooseok with his neck cutting left a deep impression on not only myself, but the rest of the competition. Wyatt’s deep voice gave the first verse some impact, while J-US’ interpretation of the ‘We must kill this love. It is sad but true‘ left me speechless. These alone were very memorable over the other performances. As for the performance itself, I thought it was fantastic. It was eerie, mysterious and had a suspenseful edge that left me wanting more. We have a female ghost, whom all the members are attracted to. Not in a romantic sense, but rather an addictive sense. The members looked insane, broken or terrifying throughout the performance because of this love. All of this makes perfect sense for the song choice, come to the think of it. The performance ends with Hyojin successfully getting back to the female ghost, but it turns out that it was all in his head (and hence the twisted side of the romantic story). The dance breaks were epic and their performance looked like they all came from one group. My favourite part has to be Hongseok being pulled from under his clothes and Wooseok’s neck cutting motion that I had already mentioned. Captivating performance, overall.


On – TOO & VERIVERY (Original Artist: BTS)

Unlike the cover of both Kill This Love (above) and Heroine (below), it was quite obvious from the get-go that TOO and VERIVERY was covering BTS’ latest track, On. This entire rearrangement of On takes on a militaristic character, which fits in neatly with the original song. You can hear parts of the original song in the background, which was the main give away at the start of the cover. I just wished with the chorus, they put a unique spin on it, instead of amplifying the original. That really would make this performance extremely strong. Take the second verse for example as they did with what I had wanted. I really liked their use of classical instrumentation and how they built on it as it progressed through that verse. It was a different direction to the original and it gave this collaboration some unique points. Without a doubt that the performance took a military based concept, which looked really cool. Some of their outfits looked a little bulky though, which I don’t think would have helped them in a performance sense. But that is only a minor concern. As for the choreography, damn it was good. They used a lot of the original choreography for the choruses, which made sense given that they used the original choruses. But their energy they gave during the choruses made the routine look really good. A military concept will definitely have the term ‘synchronisation’ associated to it. Their synchronization was truly scary during the chorus and once again, they look like one group. And while I am speaking about synchronisation, we need to talk about the dance break that follow the second chorus. They marching/turning that kicked it off and the fluid dance moves that followed made it a powerful routine that wowed me.


Heroine – ONEUS & The Boyz (Original Artist: Sunmi)

The final collaboration performance takes on Sunmi’s Heroine. As mentioned above, you don’t really know what song they are covering until after the rappers finish doing their thing at the start. The new arrangement kicks off with a ballad-like sequence, where the rappers rapped about their dream and how sorry they are to their loved ones for taking this hard path. Heroine‘s melody comes through during the first vocal sequence, but they continue the ballad-like atmosphere. We slowly get a buildup to the second verse, where the arrangement becomes more of that pop track we all know of. As the stage progresses, they infuse a club beat and drop to the performance which really captivates me, that is both powerful and memorable. For the stage’s concept, I found it very unique that they portrayed the life and journey to becoming an idol. We kick off with hopes and dreams that the rappers were rapping about, followed by training and auditioning. More training occurred afterwards until they were ready to debut. The makeup and wardrobe preparations were made and everyone got to dance on stage. This only gets us up to the end of the second verse. For the bridge, we get fans chanting each of the group’s name (including Golden Child, who were eliminated last round). All the other groups were touched by this. We see two members (sorry, I couldn’t catch their names/faces) sitting on the stage during this sequence, but only one of them rejoins the other members, while the other member walks off stage. It is said that the member who walked off stage represented all the idols who came and disappeared, which I thought was very thought evoking. At the end, we see all the team’s logos on the screen and the two groups hugging and smiling, showing us that they are all together in this journey in becoming an idol. The dance sequences were quite good and paired extremely well with the music. Hwanwoong’s solo moment really stole the show for me. But it is the concept that really makes this stage memorable and impactful.


And the ranking…

This collaborative round was really good and showcased awesome stages, some of which are probably the best in the whole competition. And it comes down to the all exciting ranking. Remember that the scores from this section of Round 3 and the next section of Round 3 were combined to eliminate another group. But that is discussion for the next post in this series. As for my ranking, I picked ONF and Pentagon to be the top stage, while TOO and VERIVERY was chosen as the weaker collaboration (but it does not mean their performance was bad!). For the actual rankings and where ONEUS and The Boyz sit on my ranking, you can see it all in the table blow.

SongArtistsActual RankingMy Ranking
Kill This LoveONF & Pentagon#1#1
OnTOO & VERIVERY#2#3
HeroineONEUS & The Boyz#3#2

And that wraps it up for the first part of the 3rd Round. The second part of the 3rd Round is dubbed ‘Your Song’, where the groups got to choose any song to perform. Check back on Thursday for that post!

Preliminary Round – Preliminary 90 seconds Review & Rankings
1st Round – Song Of King Review & Ranking
2nd Round – My Song Review & Ranking
3rd Round Part 2 – Your Song Review & Rankings
Final Round – FINAL Review & Rankings

[Special] Road To Kingdom Review – Round 2 ‘My Song’

Welcome all to my very special review to Road To Kingdom. I may have been very silent about the recent series. But I have been eagerly awaiting each performance to appear on YouTube after broadcasting on Thursdays to see what Golden Child, ONEUS, ONF, Pentagon, The Boyz, TOO and VERIVERY have prepared for us. In this special review series, I will be going through the actual rankings that came about from the first three rounds, short reviews of each performance and how I thought the rankings would go! This post will only cover the second official round (i.e. My Song). Please remember, these are my thoughts only. Feel free to comment your ones below.

My Song (2nd Round)

As part of the third and fourth episodes of the competition, the participating groups had to choose of their past songs and rearrange it for this round. The stakes are high in this round, as the rankings and points from the 1st and 2nd round together would determine which group would be eliminated from the competition. I will outline my thoughts on the elimination that occurred and who I thought should have been eliminated the end. Like in the previous round, I will be focusing on their arrangement, concept and choreography.


Wannabe – Golden Child

The original version of Wannabe is already quite sleek. Yet, their rearrangement somehow is more sleeker. They sampled Caprices No. 24 by Paganini, which is a stunning and well-known violin piece (just watch Joochan played it on the violin during the performance). The rearrangement of the song incorporates and emphasises the instrumental melodies with the use of orchestral instruments. And while this is very intense already, they add electric guitar riffs to top it off. With regards to the concept, it seems like their aim to reach for the white violin which is above the group while they perform, though its significance is unknown. Only the start and end of the performance seems to focus on the suspended white violin. I wished they somehow presented the significance of the white violin on this stage to give us some context (I think they tried to, but it wasn’t obvious). The rest of the performance is detached from the violin. The start is very dramatic and I really liked the ‘under and over’ moves they do. It looks complicated and well timed. As they kept the melodies of the original, the original choreography was also included neatly into the performance. I liked how intense and powerful the choreography was that accompanied Joochan’s violin solo. Actually, all the new elements in their performance can be described in the same way. This is definitely a step up from their 1st round performance.


Lit – ONEUS

What I really liked about this version of Lit is that ONEUS didn’t try to reinvent it. Instead, they kept true to the original and emphasised the folk elements of the original version. For the most part, the two version sound quite similar and that could potentially be a downfall to the stage. But instead, they made everything more defined and dynamic, giving an extra surge of energy to the original version to get to this version. And they just continued with the momentum as they progressed in the song, which makes the arrangement very appealing for me (just listen to Seoho’s rap sequence). As for the stage concept, it seems like ONEUS is playing on the ‘Kingdom’ part of the show. The folk elements lends very well to historical Korean times (when there were emperors etc.). A very recent adaption of this era in media is the Netflix Korean zombie show, Kingdom (see the pun? – I also highly recommend Kingdom, if you like zombies and horror). The peak of the performance incorporates zombies, which I thought was a genius and unique idea. And this allows them to intensify their choreography and also execute a wardrobe change, though I had a feeling it was coming based on their robes. I also thought the presence of all those traditional Korean elements on stage made it look cooler and set the overall tone of the performance. The concept alone stands out, the ending was bomb and this stage a strong contender.


The We Must Love (We Must Love & Moscow Moscow) – ONF

Intensifying the song seems to be the route everyone is taking. So far, the intensification is quite unique between performances. ONF’s rearrangement of We Must Love incorporates an orchestra and combines it with the electronic components of the original We Must Love. It then flows into a rock sound, before settling on an amplified version of the original. I particularly like Wyatt’s rap sequence, which is followed by MK’s vocals. That section purely thrived on intensity and ended up being the most powerful moment. The performance closes with a bit of Moscow Moscow, which I believe helps bring the story on stage to a close. Regarding the stage’s concept, Yooa (from Oh My Girl) features as the ‘puppet master’ that has kept the group under her control. I think she is has somehow casted a spell over the members (I feel that this is what that section of Moscow Moscow alludes to), as every time she leaves, the other members find themselves going back to her. This is just my take on the story and it might have missed some points, as I have kept it brief for the more important parts of this review. The choreography. While there isn’t any crazy stunts, I find the performance to be very graceful during the more ‘quiet’ moments of the stage. Take that beautifully executed start with Yooa in the middle and the members ‘waking up’. I also liked the solo sections, as there is always something going on aside from the choreography (i.e. conducting, masks, interaction with the backup dancers etc.). Wyatt’s and MK’s section mentioned above was particularly strong, along with the clock formed by the back up dancers and J-US and Yooa’s partner dance in the middle of the performance. Another strong showing from ONF.


Shine & Spring Snow – Pentagon

Pentagon departs from their particularly strong performance from the last round and brings a more fun and lighthearted feeling to this round. And there is a particular reason for this, as it allows the members to incorporate an emotional send off to Jinho, who performed with the group for the last time before enlisting in the military. I don’t understand Korean well, but I have to admit that I have tears in my eyes every time I watch this. It shows you that bond Pentagon has managed to form with one another, something that not many groups have. Essentially, that is the concept of the performance. The Western cowboy theme at the start threw me off, as I didn’t expect it to precede Shine. I liked how they bolstered the instrumental for Shine, which made this a strong performance in its own way. Shine was cut short to allow the members to say goodbye to Jinho via the big screen (and cry on the side), before the group returned with a ballad-y opening and subsequent energetic ending with Spring Snow. It seems that the members performed live (I am unaware of the rules regarding to lipsyncing on this show), but I just want take a moment to applaud Jinho for singing effortlessly while crying in Spring Snow. That is a very good talent to have. As for the choreography, they incorporated the original dance into it (tick), while also reinventing it by mixing it up with luggage (big tick). Their use of the luggage was quite fun and added a nice new element to the performance.


Reveal (Catching Fire) – The Boyz

It seems like the use of classical and rock instruments to amplify a song is the trend in this round. The Boyz choose Reveal as their song choice. For me personally, I felt like was a weak song to choose, as they have other more dynamic and strong songs, such as No Air. The good news is, The Boyz proved me wrong. The arrangement starts off with a soft orchestral instrumentation, accented with deep thumps. The first verse ends with the impression of an epic drop, but instead we are treated to a fake drop. I don’t mind this as it just adds to the suspense of the performance. From the start of the second verse, we enter and gradually build to an epic drop that is the second chorus. It truly felt like we entered a war battle with this drop. But I note that this isn’t the intense form. That is withheld for the final chorus and closing segment of the performance, which features a faster pace of those deep thump and rock elements I mentioned at the start. For their performance concept, the crown they stole is stolen by another person. The entire performance seems to be preparation for battle to get the stolen crown back. And it is an epic (recurring word here!) performance. From the start, some of the members are part of a picture frame. Very peaceful but also very ominous. While they moved about when they were in focus, they remained frozen in the background of other shots (like an actual image), which eagle fans noticed. Other standout moments has to be when the two structures crash into one another (i.e. the second chorus) and the entire final chorus/closing sequence.


Magnolia – TOO

TOO is very limited with their song choices, as they just only made their debut recently. Balance is the key for this arrangement. The rappers who had the bulk of the verses added a little intensity and ‘dark energy’ through a mildly hip-hop approach. The vocalists have the cleaner sections of the song, showing off their vocal skills a bit. For the dance break, it seem like there is struggle between these two fractions in the music. J.You’s section (for reasons I will discuss later) appears heavenly sounding and very different to the two fractions. When the two fractions collaborate for the final sections of the performance, there is a much more profound sense of intensity that wasn’t apparent earlier in the performance, which helped bring a cohesive feel to the performance. It appears the concept also relied on balance. The rappers were part of the darker side, while the vocalists were part of the lighter side. J.You played the role of a God or angel, essentially bringing the two fractions together when they kneel down at the very end. J.You also holds a scale and it is balanced throughout the performance, providing further proof of this concept idea. The choreography was quite good. It becomes intense and shows off more of their capabilities after J.You’s solo part. The fighting scene was well choreographed that J.You was able to walk through with the balanced scales and had his eyes closed the entire time. I just wished the final moments of that sequence where he opened his eyes to ‘kill’ the fighters ended with him doing some urgent stomping, as his light walk felt weak for someone who just killed by opening his eyes. But the killer point of this performance is when Chan ‘kills’ Woonggi by twisting his neck. That definitely leaves a strong impression on the viewers!


Photo – VERIVERY

VERIVERY is the only group to choose a side track, rather than a title track. That is a very interesting decision, as Photo wouldn’t be well known. But it is a risk VERIVERY is willing to take. VERIVERY amplifies and intensifies their performance using rock elements, skipping the classical side of the intensification process that other groups had. The whispering moments in this arrangement was really cool and this adds a further level of intensity to the performance. They had an EDM-based dance break towards the end that allowed them to show off their dancing capabilities before returning to the intense whispering and familiar melodies of Photo. Even though they managed to amplify a weak choice, it doesn’t mean they nailed it. A lot of riding on their stage and they knew they had to make it powerful in a unique fashion. It is only this way does a choice of a weaker track is forgotten. Well, VERIVERY did just that with a horror-based concept. We start off the performance with Kangmin whispering the lyrics on a bed and the hands of two other members coming from under the bed, like a ghost reaching out for you while you are sleeping. The performance is injected with a blast of energy thanks to the introduction of those rock sounds and everything on stage looks chaotic for a moment. The performance settles down for a bit, before delivering the most frightening sequence of the entire performance. When four of the members and 7 of the dancers sit/stand on the bed, a female ghost appears in the background. You may not notice from afar (which makes it scary), but the camera zoom rights in on her, effectively scaring you regardless. Another scary part has to be just before the second chorus, where there are members twisting heads and being pulled for the bed. The group synchronises and showcases very sharp movements during the choruses and for the dance break. The ending brings back that chaotic touch, just before Kangmin wakes up from a dream. For a moment that looks like the case, but another member creepily stands behind him, telling us otherwise. I loved this concept.


And the rankings….

This was a very hard round to pick out a ranking from. Each performance was unique and I would gladly listen to these new arrangements of their tracks any day. But I have come up with an order, as promised. VERIVERY nailed their performance with the horror concept and earns the number one rank. The seventh place rank unfortunately is given to TOO. Not because their performance was weak or didn’t hit the brief, it is just I felt everyone else had a stronger performance.

PerformanceArtistActual RankingMy Ranking
RevealThe Boyz#1#4
LitONEUS#2#5
The We Must LoveONF#3#2
PhotoVERIVERY#4#1
Shine + Spring SnowPentagon#5#3
MagnoliaTOO#6#7
WannabeGolden Child#7#6

At the end of the second round, the group with the least points when combining the first and second round points was to be eliminated. Golden Child came in last under this system and hence was eliminated from the show. This was quite harsh, especially since we were only unmasking their potential. The good news is that an early departure allows them to make a comeback sooner, and that will happen tomorrow! Unfortunately, I also said I would be choosing a group to leave the show. And that doesn’t really bring any good news to any group. While I just mentioned speak of their potential, I have some bad news to share. Based on my rankings, Golden Child would have left my version as well. The ranking after the two rounds is below.

RankingArtist
#1VERIVERY
#2The Boyz
#3ONF
#4Pentagon
#5TOO
#6ONEUS
#7Golden Child

Sorry that I wasn’t able to bring any better news to all the Golden Child stans out there. If I had my way, no group would be eliminated. I am excited for Golden Child’s comeback tomorrow and can’t wait for their new release (the teaser/highlight medley looks and sounds promising)! Also check back tomorrow, as I will be posting the fourth part of the Road To Kingdom review series (i.e. Round 3 Part 1 -‘Collaboration’).

Preliminary Round – Preliminary 90 seconds Review & Rankings
1st Round – Song Of King Review & Ranking
3rd Round Part 1 – Collaboration Review & Rankings
3rd Round Part 2 – Your Song Review & Rankings
Final Round – FINAL Review & Rankings

[Special] Road To Kingdom Review – Round 1 ‘Song Of King’

Welcome all to my very special review to Road To Kingdom. I may have been very silent about the recent series. But I have been eagerly awaiting each performance to appear on YouTube after broadcasting on Thursdays to see what Golden Child, ONEUS, ONF, Pentagon, The Boyz, TOO and VERIVERY have prepared for us. In this special review series, I will be going through the actual rankings that came about from the first three rounds, short reviews of each performance and how I thought the rankings would go! This post will only cover the first official round (i.e. Song Of King). Please remember, these are my thoughts only. Feel free to comment your ones below.

Song Of King (1st Round)

We enter the second/third episodes of the show and the 1st official round of the show. This round is where the groups pick a song by a more well known and experienced group to cover. For my comments this time around, I will focus on the music rearrangement (relative to the original songs), concept (use of stage, props and visuals) and choreography. As this round contributes to the group’s ranking, I will be writing a bit more than above so you have more of an idea to how I felt about the stages.


T.O.P – Golden Child (Original Artist: Shinhwa)

When it comes covers in KPOP, most old school KPOP tends to be the default choice. Golden Child’s choice of T.O.P (by Shinhwa) has its benefits and drawbacks. It is a well known song and if covered innovatively, they could ride on the song’s back to the top of the ranks. But since it is well known, many people would be more critical of a poor version of it. Golden Child’s execution seems to be a little lacking. While they seem to have a unique angelic concept going on, I find the performance and arrangement stayed in its slow state for longer than expected. I didn’t mind its slowness at the very start as it fitted with the concept, but I wanted the song and performance to pick up a little sooner. The performance and song starts going in that direction that I desired once we get to TAG and Bomin’s section of the performance. We get a a blast of edginess and energy, through Jangjun’s rap sequence. And the final chorus of the arrangement feature electric guitars that really pump up the energy. And they also incorporate the infamous melody. Choreography wise, I really enjoyed the dance break towards the end of the performance (i.e. with the fans and back up dancers). I also applaud them for their inclusion of the original choreography, as well. I also enjoyed the white and black feathers that dropped from the ceiling, which really helped bind the everything together visually.


Warrior’s Descendant – ONEUS (Original Artist: H.O.T)

Similar comments can be made about ONEUS’ choice of song. The song is quite well known, so it has those same drawbacks and benefits. The arrangement of their version really helps makes the performance quite strong. Right from the start, we are thrown a rap sequence that is very textural and ‘loud’. The cover also takes on a modern hip-hop vibe, which I think goes hand-in-hand with their high school rebellious concept (reminds me of BTS back in the day). I also liked that they made the entire song more dynamic than the original. The stage looked great, setting the scene. We see Hwanwoong being bullied and he (along with the other members of ONUES) exact revenge of the bullies in a fight scene. I wished the desks and props were a little more well used to show off an epic performance. What we saw felt a little too ordinary. The backup dancers executed most of the stunts in the choreography, so I don’t know if these should be counted. But that entire fight scene (along a few others stunts here and there) were performed nicely with the members. The final moments of Hwanwoong falling to his knees was a little terrifying for me. Namely his facial expressions. I don’t want to be rude, but I felt it was a little too exaggerated for this performance.


Everybody – ONF (Original Artist: SHINee)

This is a choreography that everyone should be scared of. To this day, Everybody is one of my favourite performance, namely for the helicopter move that wowed everyone when it was performed in the past. I liked how mysterious they made the song sound at the start with the help of that orchestral hymns opener. The arrangement built up using more of that orchestral touch before transforming into a rock track. The song then settles on dubstep (but also revisits some of those other sounds as it progressed forward) and continues to get even more dramatic. It is a bit of a ride, but it was a very powerful and angst journey. Their vocal work whilst performing this crazy track earns them praise. Can I also just point out how Wyatt brings a completely different and unique vibe compared to everyone else in this competition. The question is how ONF can one up that helicopter move. Well, the most obvious answer to do more than one helicopter. And that is exactly what they do. They left the hardest part of it to the fellow dancers and I am not too sure how I feel about that. We all know how dangerous the move is, but I wanted to see the members go that extra mile for the wow factor.


Very Good – Pentagon (Original Artist: Block B)

Pentagon waste no time when it comes to Block B’s most iconic song, Very Good. More specifically, the rock version of Very Good. Correct me if I am wrong, but Pentagon definitely amped up the rock sound and played towards their strengths performance wise. This version also allows the members to show off their strong stage dynamic in a way that really blows me away. Vocal work and rapping was top notch (and is something that I would love to see more of in their discography in the future). The performance itself takes on a grungy and angsty concept. It kicks off with Hongseok’s abs. I mean Hongseok escaping his handlers, just before the rock kicks in and the performance officially starts. We continue to see glimpse of Hongseok’s abs throughout the performance. I mean, a really rocking choreography. There is something about about Wooseok going mad that just visually looks so right and it fits right into the performance. Hui jumping on top of the angled fence was a really cool moment as well. Dance wise, I feel that Pentagon really stepped it up and showed a lot of character in this performance.


Rising Sun – TOO (Original Artist: TVXQ)

This modernised arrangement of Rising Sun is probably one of the best for this round. It made the famous song crunchy and extremely dynamic to listen to. I really liked the use of electric guitars in this arrangement, giving some definition to their take on the song. Vocally, this song proved that this male group is one to look out for. The rapping did the exact same thing. I just wished they kicked off their careers with a song of a similar fashion like this arrangement. Stage wise, how epic did it look when those drapes dropped from the ceiling. The lighting also looked spectacular. But this is obviously a dance competition as well, and their moves are spot on. The opening sequence looked really cool with that circle of members in the middle doing their tutting like arm movements. They follow up with more circles, with the members pairing up to lay on top of each other’s legs (there is a lot of skill there already!) in a circle and then all members contributing to a circle on the floor. The dance break that featured into the middle of the performance looked amazing, especially when that member stood in front of those drapes held by backup dancers and did a grand reveal of the members dancing in the background. Another circle followed with the members using their arms to look like the sun and a killer high note that wowed me. And the performance closes with a very intense rock sequence that looks very powerful. Big praises from all directions.


Danger – The Boyz (Original Artist: Taemin)

The Boyz put a faster tempo to this iconic song. They kept the melodies that Taemin had in the original, so the song appeared very familiar (as I find it hard to tell if it a Danger cover if it did not have its original elements). And they also made the instrumental sound a lot fuller or filled in. But I am going to stop talking about their arrangement of the song. I can’t hold myself back. I need to talk about the performance. You know I love to see a story line inserted within a music video. And a story line of stealing a crown in this performance keeps true to the song. We are shown the crown at the start of the performance in its glass case. And we are shown a little distraction trick, which I believe signifies the performance as a distraction technique (note: you actually see the crown during the performance in the background, so it appears that the members steal it at the last minute). The performance is a wonderful distraction. I am still in awe with their stunt at the beginning, where one member used the backs of four other members to do an epic climb and jump! The trust between the members alone must be very strong. The use of props was really cool as well. The chairs were used at the start as a distraction itself while one of the members fell from the table and another was pushed onto it. The table was well used at the end as the members ran and slide to the crown. And everything else in between looked really polished and well executed. What more can I say?


Mansae – VERIVERY (Original Artist: Seventeen)

VERIVERY turned a very fun sounding song into an even more dynamic track (something that I thought was not possible). Best part of this entire changed style has to be that ‘Groove It‘ sequence just before the choruses. That was unique and epic all at the same time. I have to be honest, there were a lot of parts that were very similar to the original. But VERIVERY put their own spin on it. Especially when it came to the high note section. There is also enough in the new version to give the members an opportunity to perform. For their stage, they used a sea concept, with the members visiting VERRERDISE. The flags they used at the start was used to form waves and added a fun component to the performance, keeping true to the song. I also wonder if the stage sprayed water onto them. It looked misty and I think water would fit well with the concept. As for the performance, they retained a lot of SEVENTEEN’s dance moves. I felt some of it was unnecessary, such as the basketball ring. The could have related that to the sea concept, which make the performance look more cohesive. They had their own moments to perform some of their stuff as well and those sections looked really cool, such as when everyone lined up and did a domino line of what seems to be a air kick lie down move. Excuse my poor description, but I don’t know how else to describe it.


And The Rankings…

This was a very fun round. All the performances in this round set the bar quite high for what is to come in the later episodes and in the upcoming Kingdom season. As for my ranking, I had to give it to The Boyz. They wowed me and I keep on going back to watch the performance because the arrangement of Danger is so appealing. As for the ‘wooden spoon’, that goes to Golden Child for the reason I explained above. For the rest of the rankings, you can find them in the table below.

SongGroupActual RankingMy Ranking
DangerThe Boyz#1#1
Very GoodPentagon#2#3
EverybodyONF#3#4
Rising SunTOO#4#2
T.O.PGolden Child#5#7
MansaeVERIVERY#6#5
Warrior’s DescendantONEUS#7#6

That brings the first round to an end. All the groups are safe for now, but the next round features an elimination and I will definitely share my thoughts on as well! Check back on Monday for my thoughts on the second official round (‘My Song’).

Preliminary Round – Preliminary 90 seconds Review & Rankings
2nd Round – My Song Review & Rankings
3rd Round Part 1 – Collaboration Review & Rankings
3rd Round Part 2 – Your Song Review & Rankings
Final Round – FINAL Review & Rankings

[Special] Road To Kingdom Review – Preliminary Performances

Welcome all to my very special review to Road To Kingdom. I may have been very silent about the recent series. But I have been eagerly awaiting each performance to appear on YouTube after broadcasting on Thursdays to see what Golden Child, ONEUS, ONF, Pentagon, The Boyz, TOO and VERIVERY have prepared for us. In this special review series, I will be going through the actual rankings that came about from the first three rounds, short reviews of each performance and how I thought the rankings would go! This post will only cover the first episode (i.e. preliminary performances). Please remember, these are my thoughts only. Feel free to comment your ones below.

Preliminary Performances

In the preliminary performances , the groups were limited to 90 seconds to showcase their skills. The rankings in this set of the performances do not impact their ranking throughout the series, so it could be seen as a trial round. The performances are inserted below and I will briefly talk about my thoughts of each performance before getting to the all important rankings.

Beginning – Golden Child

Using a dramatic opening and Shrillex styled instrumentation, Golden Child wows us with a side that we have never seen before. This performance is very different to the visuals and energy we have seen in their Wannabe and Without You comebacks, which were darker and edgier than any of their previous releases. Much more intense and more powerful. I really liked how they connected with one another in this performance. Their stunts looked cool, but it didn’t have too much of a wow factor. My favourite part is when the two members shot each other and the other members fell onto their backs.


Phantom of ONEUS – ONEUS

ONEUS fuses things off with an eerie performance using masks and the intensity of the well known Phantom of the Opera. They then bring in one of their songs, Twilight. I liked how they kept their original choreography in this performance, fusing it all the other theatrics. ONEUS shows off some impressive stunts and dance moves, including the climb and sudden drop of Hwanwoong, and that smooth turn they do on the dance floor while sitting.


Lights On – ONF

ONF probably had the most intense music overall from the preliminary round. They had samples of We Must Love and Why in this performance, allowing them to incorporate some of those choreographies into the 90 seconds they had on stage. But it seems that ONF went a step further with this idea, incorporating a bunch of their past choreographies (including the ones of the songs they haven’t sampled). That is very impressive. Not only that, but they nailed the intensity and synchronisation elements of their choreography.


Road To The Throne – Pentagon

Pentagon begins with a short sequence of their most popular song to date, Shine. While that is lighthearted and fun, this performance was quite the opposite. In a matter of seconds, Wooseok is driven insane with scary masks. We are then met with strong choreography from the other members. The only negative thing I have to say in this whole section is that I feel Pentagon wasted a great deal of the 90 seconds with the Shine opener. I did like the throwback, but I think they could have found a better use of those few seconds at the start.


Sword of Victory – The Boyz

The Boyz kicks off their Road To Kingdom with an exotic sounding instrumental, which allows the group to play with some elegant moves. That is the one word that kept on revolving around in my head while watching this performance. That being said, there were a few crazy highlights that I can’t get over. That opening sequence where Changmin jumps up to a high height to grab the flying sword and Juyeon doing some tricks with a bouncing sword blew my mind.


dysTOOpia – Too

TOO is the newcomer out of all the groups in this competition. They too also included their only well known song, Magnolia to the performance. But they are the only group who put a really rocking dance break in between the two sections of Magnolia, which was rather unique. The opener really showed everyone that they aren’t to be messed with. Then they followed that up with a new routine, which I thought was impressive undertaking. They did keep the later Magnolia section as per this original choreography, but I personally didn’t mind that given everything that came before it.


Face It – VERIVERY

I get a military type of vibe from the performance thanks to their outfits and stomping vibe in the instrumental. Interestingly, there was very little stomping. The performance is something a lot fiercer and darker than what we are used to when it comes to VERIVERY usually. Despite that stomping vibe, I liked how the instrumental piece provided different textures, which allowed members to show off a variety of moves that fit smooth and rough sound textures. Quite clever, if you ask me.


The Final Ranking…

And now we come to the rankings. Probably he most important part of the show. ONF really wowed me with their performance. I felt they were the most creative and really showed off their performance skills to the other participants. And so I ranked them #1 in this preliminary round. As for the dreaded #7 place? That unfortunately went to Pentagon. Their performance felt pretty weak in comparison to the rest and it seemed like they didn’t put their best foot forward. For the rest of the rankings, they are in the table below!

Performance TitleArtistActual RankingMy Ranking
The Sword of VictoryThe Boyz#1#2
Road To The ThronePentagon#2#7
Lights OnONF#3#1
BeginningGolden Child#4#3
Face ItVERIVERY#5#5
Phantom of ONEUSONEUS#6#4
Into the dysTOOpiaTOO#7#6

And that is it for the preliminary round. Short performances, but definitely enough to get those exciting vibes going. Check back tomorrow for my thoughts on the first official round (‘Song Of King’).

1st Round – Song Of King Review & Rankings
2nd Round – My Song Review & Rankings
3rd Round Part 1 – Collaboration Review & Rankings
3rd Round Part 2 – Your Song Review & Rankings
Final Round – FINAL Review & Rankings

[Review] A Song Written Easily – ONEUS

ONEUS received the honorable mentions in the KPOPREVIEWED Awards for 2019, after a massive debut year consisting of their debut track, Valkyrie, and comeback tracks, Twilight and Lit. Now, the group is back to tackle 2020 with their first single, A Song Written Easily. This comes after the group released their first original Japanese single (808), their Korean fanmeet and Japanese concerts. And just recently, the group has been confirmed to be participating in the TV show, Road to Kingdom (the male version of Queendom). Given how good Queendom was, I will be watching the male version for sure. But that isn’t until the end of April. So until then, lets break down ONEUS’s new song.

Described as a Moombahton dance track, A Song Written Easily seems to take a step back into typical dance music territory, particularly since their last comeback track (Lit) was slightly unique for its heavy usage of traditional Korean instruments in a dance track. But regardless of the direction in which the song steps in, ONEUS manages to do a pretty good job with A Song Written Easily. I found the song to be very refreshing, thanks to the wide reach that the synths employ. None of the synths feel tight or restricted, hence the revitalizing appeal of the song. The track also employs whistling in the instrumental. The melody that we hear the whistle in is reflected in the synths during the chorus and I thought that there was a beautiful feel to it. There is an easygoing vibe, despite the song being a dance track. I wouldn’t be surprised if I find myself humming to the melody after more replays. Both vocals and rapping were impressive in this track, in my opinion. The vocal work sounds pretty good, pairing well with the instrumental. The rapping is the more interesting front, providing the song with an added layer of texture.

The refreshing vibes that I mentioned in the song were translated into the music video. I love the breathtaking and stunning nature shots that featured in this music video. For those who are wondering where this video was shot, I am reading that it was shot in New Zealand. Despite the music video looking stunning, the song is actually a little heavy on the heart. The members sing about how easy a song came together when they thought of their former lover, after everything they had been through. Based on the interpretation of the music video by Soompi, the flowers depict new beginnings and the member’s interaction with the flowers (seen in the teasers) show how they faced hardships in their relationships and how they overcame them.

It seems like due to the ongoing health pandemic, many artists won’t be doing any live showcases for the time being, which is always my first look of the choreography. We do see bit in the music video and I like what I see. I find everything pairs well with the music. There is a bit of intensity and boldness in the choreography, which I haven’t picked up yet in the other components of this comeback.

Song – 8/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 8.3/10

[International Song Review] EXID, ONEUS, TWICE, MONSTA X, CIX

Welcome to the very first International Song Review post. This segment will replace the Japanese song review that I publish sporadically on Saturdays. The segment will also allow me to cover more of those Japanese releases, which was an issue I previously had (I used to post once a week and this would mean some releases won’t be reviewed until many weeks after – which is the case for all of the songs to be reviewed today). On top of that, I wanted to keep up with the KPOP advancement into the Chinese and Western music industries, a niche that I was not reviewing as I could not dedicate more time. By putting these all together, it saves time and it allows me to cover more songs. The artists I will be focusing on today include EXID, ONEUS, TWICE, MONSTA X and CIX.


Bad Girl For You – EXID

Bad Girl For You is a very different song from any of the Korean releases. The group’s Korean releases have this level of vibrancy that I feel is noticeable absent from this track. Instead, the song has this mature and sensual feel to it that I think is very suitable for EXID. I liked how the instrumental is very toned down and almost quite eerie. The chorus has a heavier beat to it, which offsets the song from becoming plain and boring. Their oval work complimented the style, which was definitely a nice fit to the song. I do find the use of that laser shooting synth a little random and doesn’t fit well with the rest of the song. The song may not seem much at first, but after many listens, you will be coming back for even more. For the music video, I liked the use of the 5 colours (green, blue, yellow, red and purple) in the background and how each colour is usually concentrated to a particular area of the set. It helps give the video a minimalist feel. The choreography is also quite nice but not really memorable.


808 – ONEUS

I think 808 is a smashing song. The sound of the instrumental was posed in a manner that really caught my attention. I love the strings that feature in the instrumental, along with the intense style they had adopted from their Korean releases. There is an epic vibe to the song, but they do it in a manner that masks it. You think you are getting another typical song, but you will be blown away by the song’s sound. The song is vibrant and definitely knows how to bundle a bunch of energy in a fashionable sense. The vocal work was good and the rapping gave the song a little more edge. The music video looks really artistic. I am not sure if these are music video sets or whether the group filmed their music video in some sort of modern art museum. It looked very cool. The performance looked good with cool moves. Just not memorable like EXID’s performance.


Fake & True – TWICE

I was blown away with Breakthrough when it was first release for its mature and edgy style, something that was a little foreign for the very pop-based and cutesy TWICE. And it seems like Fake & True continues the momentum and extends TWICE’s reach into this new territory. I thought the brass in the chorus was very nice and the rest of the instrumental was very energetic and vibrant in a way that suits the group. I also liked the synths that they employed throughout the song, especially for the dance break bridge. I did think the chorus was a little one-dimensional as it repeated the title of the song all throughout and felt a little awkward. The vocals were good but the rapping in this track was epic. It was also nice to see Mina as part of this November release, as well. The music video was pretty typical for TWICE but I thought it did a really good job of showing off their visuals. The choreography was also very nice and continued that mature vibe that I really enjoyed as part of their previous Japanese comeback.


My New World – CIX

My New World is CIX’s debut track into the Japanese music industry. It is also an extension of their KPOP works, with the group’s intense sound definitely channeled and presented in this song. I like how eerie and dark the song sounds. The dance style is very well suited for CIX, given that this is their title track style for their comebacks in the KPOP industry so far. I also like the kick of energy that the song gives during the chorus, which contrasts neatly with the shout-y style of vocal works. The rapping that dominates the second verse was also extremely promising and intense. I also like the piano that featured very quietly over the top of the dance instrumental. I think the music video shows the members on a new world. Other than that, I am not exactly sure if the video is showing anything else worth mentioning. Their dance sets looked really cool, with the floating stairs and the moving lights. The choreography is very intense and reconfirms that when it comes to the dance side of the industry, CIX might be a group to look out for.


Middle Of The Night – MONSTA X

The final song on today’s reviewing agenda is Middle Of The Night and it is also the very first Western song that I am reviewing on my blog (I am not including English versions that I have done reviews for in the past). Middle Of The Night is different from the rest song on the list as it is also an R&B track. A song that I can finally understand as well. Hahaha… I can really say much else but to tell you to check out this song below as everything felt flawless. It is one of those songs where the main complaint was that it was over so soon! The vocal work was superb from very member. I really love that Jooheon finally got to showcase his vocals that he previously showed off during a performance of Versace On The Floor. The music video was shot with every scene is interlinked with the previous and next scenes. I think that this was a really good way to show off the smoothness of the track. There is no choreography for this song, so this finishes the review.

[Review] Lit – ONEUS

2019 has seen the debut of multiple groups, some more promising than others. ONEUS is one of those that fall into the promising category. Boasting Valkirye and Twilight as kick-starters to their careers, there is a lot of expectations for the group. And it seems Lit (the title track) and Fly With Us (the mini-album title) will continue this momentum. The group has also launched their careers in Japan, debuting with the Japanese version of Twilight.

Lit stands out for one reason. It incorporates Korean folk into the dance track, which isn’t anything new. But it is kind of rare in the industry, given how electronic music is undoubtedly dominating the industry at the moment. I find the song interesting in that sense as it gives the song a different profile to what we have been hearing. The use of the traditional instrumentation (I am not exactly sure of the instruments used) was quite heavy at the start and as the song progressed along, we got more of that electronic influence. Despite that, however, the traditional instruments still managed to maintain its dominance in the instrumental. Minus the traditional sound, I found the rest of the song to be rather plain. Given the song’s direction, the members ended up doing a lot of sing-speaking. And while that probably gets a few people to engage, the constant change between that mode and just usual vocals made the song feel a little disjointed and cut the flow on numerous occasions. I also found the song to be less dynamic than their previous tracks, which was a little disappointing. Overall, it is something different and I applaud the members for doing this.

With the traditional sounds, it seems like the music video had only one option. That is to incorporate some of that traditional style into he music video. Not exactly sure if it was because of this new direction, but the video is a lot more colourful, which is a side of ONEUS I haven’t seen. To see the members be engaging in a non-serious way was a little odd for me, I have to admit. But at the same time, I thought it gave the video a fun tone and made the video appealing. The closeups were nice and the choreography shots looked cool. I wasn’t as impressed with some of their outfits, particularly that white pastel colour set. It didn’t look fitting with the set.

Given this traditional theme (I really should stop using this word in this review), I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the moves in the choreography were of this influence as well. But there was a lot of typical modern moves. The choreography also seemed to also give off a fun vibe. I also liked the moments in which the song got a little more intense, as the members managed to kick the choreography up a notch to match.

Song – 7/10
Music Video – 8/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 7.5/10

[Special] Top 10 Personal Favourite Songs from 1st Half of 2019

As I have been mentioning over the past 2 weeks, I reflect over the 1st half of 2019 through two posts. The first post is the recap of the Number 1 songs from the Weekly KPOP Charts for the period between July 2018 to June 2019 and this was published last week. The second post is my pick for most favourite songs from the first half of the year. This is irrespective of the charts (or any charts for that matter) and reviews, as sometimes my favourite songs don’t reach the top. I have listed 10 songs below, in no particular order, which I believe represent the best of the best that 2019 has offered to us so far.


Boogie Up – WJSN (Cosmic Girls)

Q&A – Cherry Bullet

Woowa – DIA

Side Effects – Stray Kids

The Fifth Season (SSFWL) – Oh My Girl

Zimzalabim – Red Velvet

Valkirye – ONEUS

No – CLC

Sunrise – GFriend

L.O.V.E – Park Ji Hoon


I wanted to add a few more but think limiting myself to 10 would probably be best, otherwise, I’d be copying and pasting majority of 2019’s releases onto this page.

Do you agree with my picks? What about your favourite tracks of 2019 so far? Comment down below!

[Album Review] Raise Us (2nd Mini Album) – ONEUS

It is another weekend full of album reviews. We started with ONEWE yesterday to wrap up my two days of band focus. And today, I thought we return to look at their brother group’s latest album. For those who don’t know, ONEUS and ONEWE are newly debuted boy groups from RBW Entertainment and they are referred to as brother groups (which seems the case for some of the members split across the two groups, as I have recently found out). ONEUS recently returned back in May with Raise Us, their second mini-album, which features the title track, Twilight.

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Raise Us Album Cover

1. Time (Intro Track) – Starting off the album is Time. While I don’t usually listen to intro track for the purpose of an album review, this one is one of the few occasions where vocals are included, so I placed it onto the review list anyway. While this doesn’t kick the song off in an upbeat or energetic manner, the almost 2-minutes introductory track had a very elegant sound and smooth tone to it. I like the focus on the vocals, which were superb here. My favourite part has to be Leedo’s vocals. His rough voice shined the brightest in this song, contrasting well with whoever was singing alongside him at the time. (8/10)

2. Twilight (태양이 떨어진다) (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Twilight. (8/10)

3. English Girl – To me, English Girl is ONEUS’ answer to a Summer track. All the elements just scream the hot season and the track is a refreshing reply to that scream. The song is for international fans, where the guys admit that their English skills aren’t that great but there are always other ways to communicate and express feelings. While I find that to be very considerate of the group (i.e. to consider their international fans), I am going to be straight forward with another aspect of the track. The use of English has exponentially grown over the years. So to hear poor pronunciation is a little disappointing from an international fan’s standpoint. I don’t think it is necessarily a major issue to actually impact the score but I think given how far KPOP has come, the proper pronunciation would have been an expectation. (8/10)

4. BingBing (개와 늑대의 시간) – Personally, I find BingBing to have very memorable instrumental. That is thanks to the whistling (or flute instrument) that starts off the song and features in the post-chorus instrumental breaks. The rest of the track falls into a mainstream category, which doesn’t sound like it that impressive overall. However, I did like the track a fair bit. I really liked the melody of the track, especially during the chorus. The vocals and rapping were also superb in this track. While it is a dance track, I don’t find it heavy or loaded, which is a nice change. There is a level of intensity to the track but it maintains a level of lightness throughout as well. (8.5/10)

5. White Night (백야 (白夜))White Night is the closest thing to a ballad on the album. It has a very nice R&B ballad instrumental, which is a major appeal factor for me. The piano that features throughout the song has this impactful feel to it, like how an emotional ballad would use a piano to invoke emotion or leave you haunted by it. And while I see this ballad-like, I can imagine some choreography to accompany it, similar to what BTOB has done with their ballad comebacks. But the thing that I am most impressed with within this track is their vocals. They were so soothing, captivating and wonderful. Each member shined in this track, confirming their vocal capabilities. (10/10)

6. Now – Ending the album is a return to an upbeat track. And it is a damn good track. The chorus is explosive and has major club vibes. I personally would put this music on if I wanted to dance because the chorus gets you into the mood just to do that. My pick for the highlight of the track has to be delayed drop before the first chorus. It was a very suspenseful and unexpected slowdown just before the actual drop, which made the drop so much more dynamite. The vocals and rapping were on point. The track ends the album on a good note and definitely leaves me to think about what is to come next from ONEUS! (10/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.8/10

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Raise Up Teaser Image

recommended red round grunge vintage ribbon stamp

[Review] Twilight – ONEUS

Apologies for the lack of reviews once again. I have been very busy and I am making some time today to squeeze in two reviews to just not fall way behind on the new releases. Returning today is ONEUS, a new male group who made their debut earlier in the year with Valkirye. Hence, this is ONEUS’ first comeback ever since their debut and their new title track is named Twilight. In related news, ONEUS’s band counterpart, ONEWE made their debut a few weeks back with Reminisce About All.

I personally find Twilight to be a nice continuation from the group’s debut track. I just find that it lacks some energy when it comes to the verses, which result in them not being not as memorable as the other parts of the track. I did find the guitar-based instrumentation in the verses to be interesting to an extent. They do set a moody tone to the track, which I think is the element that keeps Twilight in line with Valkirye. The choruses incorporate a more upbeat and trap-like instrumental. I found this to be, obviously, the more dynamic section of the track. But it wasn’t the most memorable section of the track. That is awarded to the pre-chorus, that the song opens up with. The combination of the thumping in the background and the tiny bit of raspiness goes a long way. I also like how one of the vocalists and the rapper combine their voices together towards the end of the pre-chorus to create an ultra rough and impactful section of the song. That really stood out for me. The rest of the vocals and raps were quite good, as well.

I really like the building they shot the video in. While I am not always a fan of these classy styled buildings, the way the director shot this video really made the castle-like building stand out. It is absolutely a well-appreciated changeup, especially since they were in a box for their debut music video. I am personally not sure if there is a story embedded in the video for not. It seems like that is the case with how serious and how they interact with various components in the video. I see that they played the backflip card in the video and I thought it was a little cliche, especially how many male groups have a member (or two) capable of doing the exact same thing.

But the backflip did showcase some fierceness in the music video. And I feel like that fierceness was brought along to the choreography as well. I think the fast-paced section of the chorus is definitely a decent example of the fierceness. I also like that slow spin move that did during the bridge of the performance. That was quite cool.

Song – 8/10
Music Video – 8/10
Performance – 9/10
Overall Rating – 8.2/10

[Album Review] Light Us (1st Mini Album) – ONEUS

Apologies that this album review is 2 days late. I had some unexpected things to take care of on Sunday (when this was originally intended to be published) and this caused things to become a little out of place on Monday. But despite that, there will be two album reviews (this one and the ‘past album review’) coming out today. ONEUS’ is RBW Entertainment’s latest boy group, who made their debut last week with Valkirye. Given their amazing title track, I decided to check them out, which resulted in this album review.

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Light Us Album Cover

1..LIGHT US (Intro Track) – I usually don’t review the introductory track. Simply because it is usually an instrumental piece. But LIGHT US contains vocals, so there is that to at least to comment on. I like the classy feel the track has. Adding the pretty cool vocals and that rough texturized voice from the rapper, it is a very nice track to start off with. (7/10)

2. ZigZag (삐뚤빼뚤) – This, along with the title track, pretty much got me wanting to write an album review. This one is so damn good. Opening the song is the main hook of the song (just in a completely different edited and electronic filtered voice). But it, along with it in normal vocals, is super addictive. The chorus is equally as catchy. Within just a few listens, I was already humming along. I liked how crisp the vocals were and those raps were just right! Overall, an absolute favourite for me. (9/10)

3. Valkyrie (발키리) (Title Track)Click here to read the full review of Valkyrie. (9/10)

4. Red Thread (붉은 실) – The song started off as a ballad. There was a sense of stillness from the instrumental, quite slow moving. You do expect the song to gradually build up but the chorus was rather unexpecting. I personally find it capable of fitting some nice choreography and it felt like it contained some dance influences. But while I do think that, the song does allow the members to focus on their vocals and raps. The delivery and all was just magnificent. (9/10)

5. EYE CONTACTEYE CONTACT is probably the song that is closest to a trend at the moment. It is quite bright and vibrant if I were to use words to describe the song. It features an EDM-based instrumental that I quite like. The song has nice vocals and the rapping gave the song a hip-hop influence, which once again was quite likeable. I did have a slight thought that the song was borderline on the repetitive side as the same drop was used throughout the song and there weren’t really any new additions to give the song a ‘changeup’. (7/10)

6. HERO – Like EYE CONTACT, HERO is an EDM-based song. But the words I would use to describe it isn’t similar to the previous song. Instead, I would pick words such as serious (due to the lack of vibrancy as compared to the previous song) and weighed down (the instrumental felt heavier in this song). For the most part, I thought the song was rather passable as I didn’t really connect with the song, no matter how many times I go back to it. What I did like was the rapping during the bridge and the vocal ad-libs during the final chorus. But apart from those elements, I am not too crazy about this song. (8/10)

7. Crazy & Crazy (ㅁㅊㄷㅁㅊㅇ) – And that last line leads perfectly into this song. The Hangul, which you can see next to the English title of the song, is just the consonants of the word ‘Crazy’ in Korean. That is rather unique and drew my attention to the song. The song has this darkness to it, which I think was well done. The hip-hop influences were also quite dominant, creating an enjoyable and engaging atmosphere. I just wished the instrumental could have been a little wilder to really give the song a hype or lit feeling. But other than that, I did like this song very much. (8.5/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.2/10

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Light Us Teaser Image

[Review] Valkyrie – ONEUS

It is always exciting to look at new debuts and see what they have to offer. While it isn’t technically the first debut of 2019 (A review is coming soon!), ONEUS’ debut is still one of the first of the year. ONEUS is a 6-member male group under RBW Entertainment (which also houses Mamamoo and VROMANCE). The group is made up of Ravn, Seoho, Leedo, Keonhee, Hwanwoong, and Xion. We have previously seen the group with their collaboration with ONEWE, an upcoming band under the same company.

Their debut title track is titled as Valkyrie and there are two meanings to the title, which are both referenced in the lyrics of the song (taken from SOOMPI). The first is in regards to the mythological creature Valkyrie (more on this in the music video section). The second is in regards to the way Valkyrie is pronounced in South Korea, which is similar to the Korean equivalent of ‘Light It Up’, where the member describes their lover as a beacon of light. But I think the elements in the song were more interesting. The instrumental features this cool guitar rhythm, which I think makes the song sound so elegant and very addictive. But the song is two-faced, with an electronic changeup for the chorus which gives the song some edge and definitely adds onto that addictive nature. And we can’t wrap up this section without reference to the amazing vocals and rapping.  The rappers, in particular, caught my attention as they gave the song that extra roughness which definitely goes perfectly with the edgy sound they were aiming for.

The meaning with the mythological creature (mentioned above) is seen more profoundly in the music video. The Valkyrie is represented by the light in the music video (which goes hand-in-hand with the other meaning), awakening the members to travel to Valhalla (the afterlife). Throughout the video, you see the members being rather bored with their lives on Earth and I think are hoping that they will be picked to go to Valhalla in order to seek the Valkyrie, which may also be their lover. At least, that is my take on the video. I really like the dark side of the video and the very unique sets that they have. The spikes looked really cool and that back-ending scene really stole the show for me.

And that back-bending move is also seen in the choreography. Just the member doing the complicated move (sorry, I don’t know their names yet) is supported by other members. But still looks cool. I also liked the footwork they did during the lone guitar moments in the song and they made the chorus look quite explosive.

Song – 9/10
Music Video – 10/10
Performance – 10/10
Overall Rating- 9.5/10

 

[Review] Last Song – ONEUS & ONEWE

We return to ROOKIE WEEK  today with a release from ONEUS and ONEWE, whom are debuting as two different groups under RBW Entertainment. ONEUS is a 6-member group made up of Ravn, Seoho, Leedo, Keonhee, Hwanwoong and Xion. ONEWE is a 5-member boy band made up of Yonghoon, Harin, Kanghyun, Dongmyeong and Cya. Some of the members may look familiar as some of them partipcated in Produce 101 Season 2, The Unit and MIXNINE. A few days ago, they dropped a single together (the first release of their debut project), titled as Last Song, which I am sure will not be their last song.

I like this song for its simplicity and pleasantness. Last Song leans towards what I think we could expect from ONEWE but it could go either way as a band track or a dance track. I think the best way of describing this song is that it eases you into their sound, rather than going all out with a power dance or band track, which is a great way to give us an opportunity to learn about them and their sound. While the song is nice, it does lack some things. I would like to have heard some more powerful vocals and raps that could have given us a little taster to what is to come but what we got here goes back to that pleasant feeling. When they sing together (or at least some of the members), it showcased union and I thought was rather nice. I feel like the song could have been a little more memorable, as this is a critical factor in newly debut groups. But overall, I wouldn’t mind putting this song on every now and then and listening to it.

The music video shows that the song could have been a dance or band track. There is a small snippet of choreography, as seen through their ‘practising’ on the stage.  The rest of the video shows the members road to their debut. Through busking activities and ‘flash mobs’, the group is given multiple opportunities to get their name out there and I hope it pays off. There are also some solo shots of each of the members outside, shot almost like a photoshoot and it looks like they are looking forward to the future, which fits in with their debut project. Not technically a video that I would go back to but it was fitting for the song.

Song – 7.5/10
Music Video – 7/10
Overall Rating – 7.3/10