[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

[Album Review] Go Live (4th Mini Album) – ONF

Album reviews will be released daily for the next week so that I can catch up on album reviews and make up for the past week of album reviews that I did not write. 

Today, we will be having a dive into an album review from the start of October. I know that seems like a fairly long time ago, given how we are now at the end of November. But it is a very important album review as all the songs are rocking. ONF released GO LIVE on 7th of October and it features the title track Why (link below). While trying to plan my schedule of album reviews, I was initially going to bypass this album. But upon a closer listen (and I am glad I did), I realized that this album should be skipped. Let’s find out why (pun unintended).

onf-golive-2
GO LIVE Album Cover

1. Why (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Why. (9.5/10)

2. Asteroid (소행성) – When I listen to Asteroid, I keep on getting throwbacks to Complete, which is what I consider to be their best title track yet. It might be the slight brass we get in the instrumental or the combination of brass and upbeat elements from the chorus that reminds me of that past track. With that in mind, I think there is enough in this track to be a contender for lead single position. It is a fun song that has great energy and feels memorable. I think the vocals are fantastic and the lyrics/melody are quite addictive (so does the ‘No~” repetition). I like how smooth the rapping felt but I think the song would have been enhanced with a more impactful and intense rap sequence. (9/10)

3. All Day (억x억)All Day is a track you would want to put on when you are driving with friends. It just has that inclusive feel that makes it ideal for that setting. The chorus and post-chorus hook feature all the members singing together, which is where the inclusive feeling comes from. The rest of the song is rather light and upbeat, making it perfect for a car ride. The rapping does take it up a notch by making the song a little more explosive towards the end. I liked the development of this track and it is another fun song to listen to. (9/10)

4. Moscow Moscow – How sleek does Moscow Moscow sound? It is my pick of ‘hidden gem’ status on this mini-album, which already contains a handful of amazing songs. Moscow Moscow is like a smooth ballad-like dance track. It is a very captivating track as I don’t think any other KPOP group has ever attempted a song of this nature. There is a subtle level of intensity, which I think makes the song very interesting. And it never develops into a ‘hard-hitting’ track, keeping smooth and calm for the entire 3 and a half minutes run. The song also draws out their vocals and rapping skills, which adds to the success of the track. The latter was exceptionally well done by Wyatt, who voice goes down low impressively. (10/10)

5. Twinkle Twinkle – ONF ends the song by incorporating the widely known nursery rhyme, Twinkle Twinkle, into this song. When you look over the translations of the song, you find the song to be quite cute and sweet. Miles away from the version of ONF we got in Why. I like the beat in this song and even though the song is directed towards me, I can’t help bobbing along and smiling throughout the track. Wyatt departs from his usual hard style of rapping by making his part a little more fun, while the other members sound quite nice and lively. I also like the bright colour that comes from the song. (9/10)

Overall Album Rating – 9.3/10

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GO LIVE Teaser Image

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[Review] Why – ONF

Two major comebacks kick off this week’s comeback rush. The first group is ONF, who is returning with Why. This is the group’s first comeback since the release of We Must Love (released earlier this year). Since then, the group underwent a lineup change after it was revealed that Laun had left the company and the group. From what I can remember, this was announced while the group was confirmed to be preparing for this comeback and I think its pushed the release to a later date as a result. The group have also embarked on an Asian tour as well.

I think Why follows on from We Must Love. A few aspects are different but some are quite similar. While the preceding track was a lot more vibrant in sound, Why felt a lot more heavy and almost held back. I do miss that punchy feel that Complete and We Must Love gave. But despite that, the latest release does have that electro-pop dance style that the group tends to go and I think this was a good move, particularly since I found the past tracks to be very memorable. I thought the vocals were very well polished and I liked the different rapping sequences just before each chorus. Each sequence is different and this gives off a different flair each time. There is a sense of matureness to their song and this is something that makes the group stand out time and time again (for me personally). I also like how the instrumental was keeps changing but it felt liked it was tied together quite well. I did like the energy that the chorus gave the song but I felt like the chorus could have been a step more memorable. This would have made the track perfect for me.

I am not exactly sure if I am meant to watch the teasers that came out in preparation for this comeback (The Signal episodes) in order to understand the complex storyline that is featured in this video. But things got confusing quite quickly. It seems like that is a bit of betraying in the video and also some virtual reality. My guess they all used to be friends but due to the loss of some using virtual reality (which all placed them in different alternative worlds), each member was turned against one another. I think if the scenes were a lot slower, it would have been easier to decode some additional details to aid the interpretation of the video. I do find it interesting and I want to know more about it (maybe a music video theory post?). Everything looked serious and I liked how their use of greyness in the video portrayed this.

Why has a very intense and strong routine, which aligns with the group’s past comebacks. The chorus had a particularly memorable routine, with their moves both snappy and punchy. I also like the lift up they do just before the final chorus, as that looked quite cool.

Song – 9.5/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 9.1/10

[Album Review] We Must Love (3rd Mini Album) – ONF

ONF made their return to the stage last week with We Must Love. Their mini-album for this particular comeback also share the same name and is the focus of today’s review.  After their impressive mini-album from last year (You Complete Me), I thought it would be nice to have another look at an ONF album. And I quite glad I did because this is another impressive album to add to their discography. Continue reading for my thoughts on the individual songs on the album.

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We Must Love Album Cover

1..We Must Love (사랑하게 될 거야) (Title Track)Click here to read the full review of We Must Love. (9.5/10)

2. Ice & Fire – Despite being opposites in real life, Ice & Fire comes together to become a very slick song. It is vocally-centred, with the many falsettos showcasing the group’s potential. The song features a very trendy and appealing instrumental that was one half of the reason to why I was drawn to this song. It feels subdued compared to a standard dance track and it results in a smooth vibe, which in turn goes extremely well with the vocals. I also liked the melody of the track. It is refreshing and opens my eyes (or ears in the case of music) to the group even more. (10/10)

3. Yayaya (별일 아냐)Yayaya opens up with strings with what seems to be a bit of tango influence. The pre-chorus switched the song to a modern electronic dance sound, before the chorus returning to show a mixture of the two genres I have identified thus far. I think this is a winning combination as the song sounds amazing. I liked how the vocals stayed within that tango influence regardless of the changes. But what really caught my attention was the rapping for this track. I think the deep voices were wonderful and the way it started off was amazing. It is another track that stands out for all the right reasons. (9/10)

4. Happily Ever After (첫 사랑의 법칙) – I think the track is very passable. I am going to be straight up with the reasoning. It just doesn’t seem to blend in well with the rest of the songs on the album and it feels like it was intentionally hidden between two amazing songs. That being said, there are nice vocals and harmonies in the song. The song also features good rapping. The instrumentation makes way for the song to be similar to a ballad but also allows some choreography to be thrown into the mix. (6.5/10)

5. I DoI Do start off in a similar manner to Happily Ever After, so I had my concerns as the song started to progress through. But it gradually builds up into another dance track that instantly grabs my attention for the strong contrast between the verses and chorus. The verses are much softer, while the chorus goes for a harsh and rough EDM instrumental. But I think we can all agree that from the bridge onwards, the song gets so much better. The autotuned rapping gives the song a unique rough texture and the drop back to the final chorus is one-of-a-kind, ending the song in a way that makes me want to go back for more. (10/10)

Overall Album Rating – 9/10

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We Must Love Teaser Image

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[Review] We Must Love – ONF

After their release of an absolute favourite, Complete, ONF has returned with We Must Love, their latest title track. It has been 8 months since the release of the previous track, which has set the bar extremely high in regards to the high quality of the title tracks for the group. Since their last promotions, the group have been relatively quiet with the exception of their Japanese debut back in July 2018 with the Japanese version of On/Off.

We Must Love is not a relatively quiet song, however. In fact, it is a dance track with smashing instrumental. It doesn’t necessarily pop as much as Complete but it has a show-stopping chorus which I am already hooked to. The instrumental for the chorus is staggered in a way that is unique. It is quite profound and the combination with the vocals from the main vocalists definitely makes it a highlight. I also like the piano featured within the verses, which made them feel very different from the chorus. The vocals here are equally as amazing as the chorus. On top of that. I also enjoyed the squeaky post-chorus instrumental hook, which provided the song with energy. But my absolute favourite part of the song has to be the rapping. I thought the instrumental in this section was perfect. I really enjoyed the dramatic buildup and it really highlights the rapper’s voices. We Must Love is a must love song, based on how much I have enjoyed it so far.

I find the music video quite confusing as all the members are all over the place. And I think time travel might be an element within the storyline of the video. The members used to all be part of this group in this futuristic place. But one of the members (the guy wearing the aqua jumper) uses a wrist device to travel to a different time era, to which he runs into himself at the local train station, identifiable by the barcode tattoo. I assume the other members too travel to this other time period in search of the missing member but instead run into his old self, who doesn’t recognise them. That’s my take on the video but I am not too sure. It is still a good video with amazing scenery shot in the video. It is also filmed in Hue, a beautiful city in Vietnam.

Interestingly, the performance video for their comeback has already been released. This is highly unusual due to the fact that the performance video is usually released either a few days or weeks after the actual music video release. But this gives us a great insight into their performance, which looks amazing. The dance break looks really cool and the synchronisation of the performance really makes it stand out even more.

Song – 9.5/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 8.5/10
Overall Rating – 9.2/10

[Album Review] You Complete Me (2nd Mini Album) – ONF

For those who notice, there are a select number of artists for whom I will always write an album review for (usually, they are my favourite artists). However, I do give all albums that I can find a listen to see whether they have anything worthwhile to talk about. In my recent hunt, I identified ONF’s 2nd mini-album, You Complete Me, as one with high potential. Hence, why I am writing an album review today (it is also one of the late ones, apologies for the lateness).

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You Complete Me Album Cover

1..Complete (널 만난 순간) (Title Track)Click here for the full review of Complete. (10/10)

2. Fly Me To The Moon – The song follows up nicely after the title track. It has potential and I see how it attempts to ease us off the high energy from the title track. However, I personally think the track could have been more cohesive if the song was a little more intense. I was really impressed with the rapping in the song, with Wyatt’s deep voice very unexpecting but extremely fitting. I thought the chorus had a good hook. But my favourite bit has to be the bridge, with the slowdown for another Wyatt rap section and the saxophones delivering some flair to the song as well. (8/10)

3. Good Morning (아침)Good Morning is a sweet ballad, fitting for the Summer season. There is a nice melody and the harmonies were quite good. I particularly like the final chorus when ‘everyone’ is singing together, which is something I am liking more and more nowadays. I put ‘everyone’ in quotation marks because I don’t think the rappers participated in the song. And while it was an enjoyable song, when you look at the entire album, this song fails to standout, in my opinion. (7/10)

4. fifty fiftyfifty fifty started off quite soft but knowing that there were some electronic elements in the song, you could tell it was going to build up to become a dance track. And if you thought the verses were promising, then you will be speechless with the chorus, which kicked the song up a notch by providing intensity and energy. Vocal work (particularly the high note) and the rapping were also quite good. My only complaint against the song would be that borderline annoying ringtone sound played throughout the entire song. Other than that, it was a promising song. (9/10)

5. Incomplete (나 말고 다) – Seeing the title of both this song and the title track are opposites, you kind of expect the same thing between the two. And that is what we get. Incomplete is a lot slower and soothing, despite there being a subtle upbeat atmosphere that prevents it falling into the ballad domain. I like the tropical influence during the second half of the chorus and the husky vocals that the song uses. Another element of the song that must be discussed is the lyrics, which are quite saddening (expressing their differences with the rest of the world). Altogether, this song becomes the hidden gem on the album. (9/10)

6. 86400 (스물 네 번) – The group finish off the album with an orchestral ballad. Everyone knows how much of a sucker I am to this type of song, so it definitely ticks the appeal box for me. It features breathtaking vocals, which are shown throughout the entire song. Even Wyatt (the deep voiced rapper) sings through his part! I really liked the build-up of the song and thought the bridge was amazing. The lyrics of the song seem to be reminiscent of memories of a loved one but I am not 100% sure. (9/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.7/10

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You Complete Me Teaser Image

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[Special] Personal Favourite Songs from the First Half of 2018

With the first 6 months of 2018 officially over, it is time to look back at my personal favourite songs from the first half. Last week, I recapped the top songs from the Weekly KPOP Charts. But some songs that I personally liked didn’t really make that list. So here are 15 songs released over the last 6 months that are my personal favourites AND continually listen to (irrespective of the charts and the reviews – as opinions do change).

[Review] Complete – ONF

With the recent news that the supposed male group formed through YG Entertainment’s MIXNINE was not going ahead, a number of the groups associated announced their long-awaited comeback. ONF is the youngest boy group under WM Entertainment, who made their debut last year with ON/OFF. After a 10 month period, the group has returned with their second mini-album (You Complete Me) and the title track, Complete.

I really liked the song for a number of reasons. Complete was extremely energetic and upbeat, which really gets to you (in a good way). From the start, it felt like we were thrown into a very active and enjoyable party. The song takes on the tropical route but it has some elements that make it unique. Starting off with the chorus, I really liked the vocals within the first line. That already won me over to begin with (I am easily pleased) and I enjoyed expecting it every time the chorus was due to occur.  But what really kicks the song up a notch is the brass tune that really bumps the energy up. Honestly, it was quite un-expecting. However, it made the song stand out for me and I enjoy replaying the song just for that part. I pretty much liked the muffled effect that brought the bridge into play and the EDM drops just before the final chorus, while also maintaining that same tune. Overall, the song is pretty much A+ and this is exactly why I will continue coming back to it.

I am not exactly sure what is going on in the video. It seems to be just shots of the guys having fun. But I wasn’t sure where the crashed plane parts were meant to fit in. Despite that however, the music video does help enhance the song. I don’t know because visually the video doesn’t account too much (from what I can interpret from it). It might be because the editing for the video is done so to match the song perfectly, which is why I think it does a really good job at complimenting the song.

I like how there was still a playful routine within the strict boundaries of the set moves in the performance. And while the members look physically tired here, the group definitely enjoys being on stage. I really liked the footwork when the brass hook kicks in and the start of the final chorus (connection from the bridge). Really nice performance, overall.

Song – 10/10
Music Video – 8/10
Performance – 9.5/10
Overall Rating – 9.3/10

[Review] On/Off – ONF

It is time to turn on our listening devices as, ONF is entering the Korean music scene. They come from WM Entertainment, which is the same company that brings us B1A4 and Oh My Girl. The 7-member boy group officially debuted on the 1st of August (last Tuesday) with their mini-album, which shares the same title as the title track, On/Off.

On/Off is a pretty good song but it leaves me with mixed feelings. Some of these parts I find quite nice, while some of them aren’t that appealing. That is the major issue with songs that usually mash multiple styles together. Just this song does keep it consistent and that is one thing I am thankful for. I totally dig the vocals parts of the song. They blend nicely together and felt the most consistent overall. Actually, the first half of the track, I was pleased with the overall sound. The chorus was catchy and attracted my attention. It is the second half that gets me having second thoughts about the song. There was a nice build up but the raps leave that build-up hanging (i.e. there was no drop, which left me feeling quite frustrated)  and it makes the rest of the song feel disjointed, while completely changing up the fun vibes that came from the song (though the fun vibes were later returned to). The raps were decent but my main issue with the song was how they were placed into the song. But overall, it was a nice song for a debut that attracted my attention with its upbeatness and vibrant colour.

I haven’t watched the music video for their debut yet (I know, I am crazy!). So essentially, everything I write here will be my first impressions. I literally have no idea what storyline they were going for. Something about space was the most I got out it. The guys were aliens and attracted the attention of Earth, who sent a pretty human astronaut? I honestly have no idea! Watching it a few times and I am still confused. For a brand new group, the video was amazing in terms of visual quality. The sets looked cool and interesting. The vibrant colours and the smiles that you could see on the member’s faces reflected well with the song.

The choreography was pretty cool Once again, nothing mind blowing but it went well with the track. There were some highlights, such as that ending routine. Though it was impressive. But what impressed me more was the fact regarding how in sync they were with each other.

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