[Review] Black Crown – KINGDOM

Yesterday, I finally got around to reviewing KINGDOM’s July release, KARMA. Just almost 5 months late. But don’t worry about their next review! As promised in KARMA‘s review, I will be looking at KINGDOM’s comeback, from yesterday, today. It is titled Black Crown and is from their third mini-album since debut, History Of Kingdom : Part Ⅲ. Ivan.

Black Crown opts for a similar foundation as their previous title tracks. But there is a bit more to this song, thanks to the additional few types of synths used in the foundation. It isn’t a great deal to make this song better, but it is enough to set it apart from the pack. What does make Black Crown better is the use of the choir chanting and the orchestral instrumentation. They definitely gave the song flair and very epic energy that makes it hard to miss on your playlist. There are also some other influences in the song. There is a bit of sampling of a ballet track of some sort throughout. which complimented the orchestral flourishes Black Crown had. It also added a bit of a creepy vibe to the song. Black Crown also had some dance synths embedded in the song (hear the very brief synth just heard at the start of the final chorus). I kind of wished they explored this side more, as could have taken Black Crown to the next level and help differentiate the track from their previous titles even more. Unfortunately, the rest of the song is a bit disappointing. The vocals were good, though I am not keen on the non-memorable melodies and shouty delivery of the chorus. Third time around, I am getting sick of it this chorus style from the group. Honestly, and this applies to the entire song, the producers really need to start exploring new genres for the group (or their producers need to be changed). There is a lot of consistency between the releases thus far, and if this continues, I fear that any appealing factor the group has will be dulled and the songs will become forgettable. Overall, I liked Black Crown‘s added elements, but the rest of the song is lacking and falling into a repetitive pattern with the rest of their main releases.

It appears that GF Entertainment has use a large chunk of their budget in their previous music videos. This unfortunately left Black Crown looking very cheap and low-budget. I would have preferred the music video to not have any green screen scenes, as they were the cause of the cheapness. I would have been fine with the ruin sets, and the story involving the two versions of KINGDOM, as they fight for the crown/protect the crown (depending on which side you are on). It also appears like the idea of the crown has awaken the evil side of member Ivan. As expected, the video focused on the King of Snow member (Ivan), who according to KPROFILES is named after King Ivan IV (Ivan the Terrible). That would explain the snow (Russia has a lot of snow) and the ballet sample in the song (Russia is quite known for their ballet). Based on the ending of the video, we will be focusing on a Korean emperor. Based on KPROLFILES, the emperor in question is ‘Dangun, the legendary founder and king of Gojoseon, the first Korean kingdom’, and the member in the centre of this is Dann.

I think the only negative aspect of the performance has to be the amount of people on stage. There was so much dancers, it kind of muddled and made the performance messy for me. But aside from that, the start of the choreography looked very cool. The dragging of the female dancers was a really nice way to get them off the stage. The lifting of the members throughout the choreography added an artistic touch to the performance, as well.

Song – 7/10
Music Video – 6/10
Performance – 7/10
Overall Rating – 6.7/10


Before I zip ahead to review KINGDOM’s comeback tomorrow, I thought I take a time to finally review KARMA, the male rookie’s first comeback that occurred back in July of this year. For those who missed it, KINGDOM is a new seven-member male group under GF Entertainment who debuted at the start of the year with Excalibur. After KARMA, the group made their second comeback in their careers with Black Crown today, which I will review tomorrow.

I feel that KARMA is a bit of an improvement for KINGDOM. But I do think the song is still in lukewarm waters and hasn’t grown on my much since its release mid-year. I found the base of KARMA to be pretty much similar to Excalibur (i.e. the EDM in the chorus felt the same and the powerfulness of the song in on par with their debut song). It isn’t necessarily a bad thing for this song, but I guess was hoping for something a lot more different to what we have already from them. But that is only the background of the background. I was actually quite satisfied with everything else. I quite like what the producers did in the foreground of the song. I am referring to the traditional oriental influence that KARMA has, and I quite liked its ongoing presence in the song. Again, it isn’t original, but it definitely adds a memorable factor to the song. My only critique here was to tone down the powerful dominance of the plain EDM in the chorus, just so the traditional elements could also be heard more cleanly. The mention of improvement at the start of this section of the review also extends to the vocal elements. I thought the vocals were a lot more dynamic this time around, even though someone sounded slightly screechy. The rapping in this song had a very cool factor to it, which I quite liked. Overall, a definite improvement. I haven’t listened to Black Crown just yet, but I hope it is another step in the right direction for the group/

In my Excalibur review, I did mention I was worried they were going to redo the same music video for each king that the members are supposedly based on. While it seems like they essentially did just that for this music video (with focus on the Chinese Emperor, Chiyou), it actually came off as a stunning visual piece and I am not bored of it. Maybe by the last king, I would be bored. But for now, I will backtrack on that comment. Overall, this was a really captivating video. I loved the traditional elements that featured in the video, from the sets to the outfits. The members definitely look amazing and aesthetic in their traditional gear. I am definitely looking forward to next king (possibly the Snow King, based on clues from the ending?). On a side note, I am not keen on their choreography outfits. They looks bulky and tiresome to deal with.

Adding to the traditional feels, I really liked the use of the fans in the performance. They added both a wow factor and a pretty element to the routine. I also liked the moments in which the members were being carried, namely the bridge of the song and the ending. Not only did they add height to the performance in the literal sense, I felt it was a fitting way to end the performance, given their regal concepts.

Song – 7/10
Music Video – 8.5/10
Performance – 8.5/10
Overall Rating – 7.8/10

[Review] Excalibur – KINGDOM

As mentioned in the last review, I will be focusing on two new debuts from this week. I have already covered TRI.BE’s debut single in the mentioned review. Today, I will be focusing on a newly debuted male group, KINGDOM. They are a new group under GF Entertainment and is made up of seven members (Dann, Louis, Chiwoo, Arthur, Ivan, Mujin, Jahan). Dann and Arthur were previous members of VARSITY. An interesting and unique concept with the group members is that their stage names are based on historic kings from across the world. KINGDOM made their debut on Thursday with the single, Excalibur, and the mini-album, History Of Kingdom : PartⅠ. Arthur.

There seems to be a bit within Excalibur. For some songs, that could be a compliment. But in Excalibur‘s case, this description is not as positive as it could have been. Let’s break the song down, starting off with the members. While Excalibur does show that the members can perform, it felt overly ambitious at the same time. Some of the vocal work felt strained, while other parts could have been more polished to feel cleaner and clearer. I also felt the vocal department didn’t offer anything new to the industry, which leaves them less memorable to me. Nor was there anything impressive to wow me. The rapping faired a little better. But overall, there was a consistent plainness that came from the members. Similarly, the song doesn’t have much of a strong hook. There were good moments within the song, but they were brief ‘moments’ and nothing like what a ‘strong hook’ should be like. Those good moments are mainly there due to the instrumentation. I felt that the producers managed to showcase an epic vibe within the sound of the song quite well. But unfortunately, the epic vibes were pretty much concentrated during the pre-chorus, where the background inclines using organs and gripping energy. It is also quite unfortunate that the producers reverted to a very plain use of EDM for the chorus. There was so much potential for the chorus to be so much more dynamic. The bridge is a bit more interesting, using a wobbling-like synth effect which I haven’t heard of before. I also liked how it grew faster, which was very different. Overall, Excalibur was ambitious that didn’t feel like it was well-executed. There were some positives about the song that I was glad to still enjoy. But it seems like the song’s negative aspects outweighs its positives.

The visual concept behind this group might be one of the biggest positives of the debut as a whole. As the mini-album is centered around King Arthur, the main character for this music video is Arthur himself. Furthermore, the song is titled after King Arthur’s infamous sword. So clearly this makes the most sense. You can see each member representing the king that has been assigned to them by their stage name throughout the video. All join forces to defeat whoever is trying to kill Arthur and all pay their respect to King Arthur at the end of the video when he finally sits on his throne. While I did like the visual concept, I am not keen on their outfits. They seemed overkill and felt like the stylist got too carried away with the chains. I also would like to see whether they will focus on each king/member in their subsequent releases. It will be interesting to see a different story being told, especially after they went with the most obvious story of a king battling to reclaim his throne. I am hoping they don’t repeat the same story another six times, just revisualised to fit the background of the king in focus. It does seem like we will be seeing the Chinese king, Chiyou, in the next video based on the ending.

KINGDOM made the plain EDM chorus turn into a powerful piece thanks to the choreography. That is quite a feat! On top of that the performance looks quite good. The choice to use swords and so many backup dancers really paid off, even though both sound very risky. It helps bring the visual concept to life on the stage, expanding the comeback in a very clever manner. However, them posing with the swords at the end felt a little corny for my liking.

Song – 5/10
Music Video – 8/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 6.5/10