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.
|Song||Group||Actual Ranking||My Ranking|
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