[Review] Shut Up 받고 Crazy Hot! – ONEUS

For me, the next release came out of the blue. I was not aware of that ONEUS would be returning to us with a new series, ONEUS Theatre. From what I can gather, this isn’t a formal comeback. Rather ONEUS will be release some old songs that the group that the group have not formally released yet, and will be seeking influences from famous movies for the music video. The first song in the ONEUS Theatre series is Shut Up 받고 Crazy Hot!. This new release comes after two comebacks from the group, No Diggity and BLACK MIRROR from earlier in the year.

Shut Up 받고 Crazy Hot! is quite a robust and hefty release. And it is releases like this that feels quite satisfying to listen to. Compared to the original (performed at their debut concert in 2019), this newer version of the song is more amplified and I find that it uplifts the song to be more energetic and aligned with ONEUS’ recent comebacks. It starts off with a playful vibe brought to us via some piano, which is over the top of some intense underlay. The piano is maintained in chorus, which showcases both intensity and that same playful vibe. The chorus is also chanty, and the combination of instrumentation and chanty style chorus produced a really fun and addictive centre piece for the song. I really liked how the blended in the chorus outro into the actual body of the chorus. It was an awkward segment in the original version, for me at least. For the verses, Shut Up 받고 Crazy Hot! diverts into two directions. The rappers maintain that intensity I mentioned before, allowing them to showcase a tough and edgy vibe via their deeper tones. The vocalists bring more of that lightheartedness to the song, via the pop tunes that form the background of their segments. It is interesting because I never find the two segments of the song too conflicting. And as the chorus of Shut Up 받고 Crazy Hot! shows, the two directions can be merged together very well. I also like how the bridge goes from being slowed down into a very bold and theatrical instrumental piece that concentrates the entirety of Shut Up 받고 Crazy Hot! with a few seconds. Overall, Shut Up 받고 Crazy Hot! is a great release in addition to their main title tracks.

The music video for this release is actually a performance video, rather than your standard music video. So the choreography would be the main focus. But I will talk about that in the next paragraph. As mentioned at the start of this review, ONEUS Theatre video’s will be based on famous movies. Shut Up 받고 Crazy Hot!‘s video is based on the Mad Max series. The video’s location (sandy desert) was great choice and I liked how the props and outfit did give off the Mad Max vibes. I also felt that it also really highlighted an edgy vibe for the group. I do wish they didn’t use the tan coloured add-ons. It doesn’t look good and felt tacky. I also wished the male dancers were not in such ripped shirts. It looked terrible and felt out of placed in this video, considering ONEUS and the female dancers wore outfits that were not ripped to shreds to the extent of male dancers. I also don’t like the use of the drones in this music video. Those shots were too fast and extreme for my liking. This might just be me nitpicking, but these were thoughts that I had while watching the video for the first time last night.

Choreography-wise, I think Shut Up 받고 Crazy Hot! had a great routine. It is a completely different routine to what they previously performed with. And I find this new version of the choreography does a good job of matching the energy of the song. The previous version felt dulled and lacked energy.

Song – 9/10
Music Video – 8/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 8.5/10

[Album Review] BINARY CODE (5th Mini Album) – ONEUS

I have returned with another album review. I made a list of albums I want to review and I still have a lot to catch up on – 17 to be exact. So I will return with another intensive album review weekend in a couple of weeks to help knock off some more album reviews (and it will be more intensive this time around)! But that doesn’t mean I will hold onto any until then, as it is back to the usual transmission of reviews. In this post, I will be reviewing ONEUS’ fifth mini-album, BINARY CODE, which features the title track BLACK MIRROR. It was released mid-May of this year, over two months ago (sorry once again for the long delays). This is the group’s first comeback since the release of their first studio album DEVIL and the track No Diggity at the start of this year.

BINARY CODE Album Cover

1. BLACK MIRROR (Title Track) – Click here to read the full review of BLACK MIRROR. (8.5/10)

2. Connect With USConnect With US is the extended version of the outro of the same name from the group’s first studio album. It doesn’t offer anything more than what we heard in the outro. And so my comments from that album review stands (i.e. pop-aligned, flowy and melodic). Regarding its placement on this mini-album, it feels like a step back. We got a strong and dynamic track to open the album. But following that track, I felt the album could have continued the momentum of the opener, and not with Connect With US (which should have been lower down on the tracklist). (8/10)

3. Polarity (울과 기름) – I think an up-tempo track would have a nice follow-up to the title track. And I feel that Polarity would have been a good contender. It bridges the space between the first two songs on the spectrum. It has a decent mid-tempo pop pace that brings down the energy from BLACK MIRROR, but also suits the pleasantry of the Connect With US. But I did think the start of the song was rather flat. But once we reach the chorus, the song had picked up and the ball was rolling, Polarity was a decent track. Nice vocals and rapping in the song, as well. (8/10)

4. Happy BirthdayHappy Birthday doesn’t make me feel like I have aged a year (which is a good thing – I feel old now, especially as I see groups with members born after 2000). I liked how this song turned out. I have a big thing for being unique and I feel that Happy Birthday fits that brief. It isn’t a straight-forward song, with the instrumentation taking you on a wild ride with the synths and textures that make up its background. It isn’t a consistent mix like most instrumentals, so there is always something different around every corner of this song. When it comes to the rapping, I liked how dynamic those sections felt. For the vocals, I really like the vocalists delivered the song’s title. The elongation of the title, and the tiniest tinge of vibration was quite cool and memorable. Personally, my favourite side track on this album. (10/10)

5. Valkyrie (발키리) (Rock Version) – I always had a feeling that a rock version of the track would appear. Just surprised it took over 2 years. Click here to read my full review of Valkyrie. (9/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.7/10

BINARY CODE Teaser Image

[Review] BLACK MIRROR – ONEUS

While I need to catch up on reviews for songs released many weeks ago, I also need to do some catching up on some new releases from this week. First up is ONEUS, who returned on Tuesday with their new single BLACK MIRROR. This new single is featured on the group’s fifth mini-album, Binary Code. This comeback follows ONEUS’ recent return with their first studio album, Devil, and its lead single, No Diggity.

BLACK MIRROR adds itself to the re-emerged trend in KPOP of groovy and funky songs. It also continues what was set up through the release of BBUYSEO (a digital single released by the group at the end of 2020 and featured as part of the Devil album). BLACK MIRROR ticks everything that is quite common in this class of songs, aside from the brass component that I enjoyed as part of BBUYSEO. I am a bit disheartened that it was left out of this song. But at the same time, I feel that BLACK MIRROR does a good job of maintaining that level of funk without using brass. Instead, the funkiness and grooviness comes prominently through the use of the deep rythmic guitars and disco-sounding synths. I particularly enjoyed the stripped back formula of the first half of the chorus (i.e. the ‘dudududu‘ part) and how it slowly builds back to the wholesome and upbeat vibes of the second half of the chorus, which felt substantial and fulfilling. The ‘dudududu‘ part was also super catchy, and in combination with the instrumentation, we got a really nice sleekness to the song. Once again, ONEUS showcases strong vocals and rapping throughout the song. I felt this was most evident in the bridge of the song, which had a vocal and a rap half. The latter half really caught my attention. Leedo and Ravn’s deep and raspy voices, along with the energy that really throw behind their delivery, gave the song that extra oomph I wanted. I wished their rapping parts earlier in the song shared more of that same intensity. Overall, I think BLACK MIRROR is an awesome song from ONEUS. I don’t think this is my favourite track from them, but I still find it enjoyable and filled with great energy!

What I really liked about this music video are the sets and the member’s outfits. The black and white sets look really stylish and simple. The light does wonders and really opens up the music video in a physical sense. I also like how the coloured sets don’t really give the video that vibrancy colour tends to beings to music video. Instead, it feels as if the colours in the sets are somehow blended with the other black and white, and you don’t really pick up on a difference. I also like the sets with the mirrors which the reflections are doing somehting else. Gave the video a sense of creepiness, which I thought was a nice contrast to their upbeat vibes! I also liked the outfits the members wore. They too tap into the black and white domain, but the white is more sparkly rather than straight white. Also this comeback is meant to have a Michael Jackson influence, and I feel that the outfits are the best example of this influence coming through. The black and white colours and the sparkly glove are all portrayed in some capacity in their outfits. Also the hats as well!

We got more of that homage to Michael Jackson in the performance. The entire performance defintiely screamed MJ in many ways, but I feel that the actual moves/poses were subtle. I wished those moves are a bit more explicitly shown (who doesn’t love a good full-on moonwalk?). However despite that thought pattern, ONEUS held their ground with their take on a choreography to suit those funky and groovy vibes. The ending sequence after the final chorus was definitely amazing to watch. Those bending knees made my ones hurt (and that is just by watching them). I also thought their charisma and stage presence really made it a captivating performance to watch.

Song – 8.5/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 8.6/10

[Album Review] DEVIL (1st Studio Album) – ONEUS

After 2 years in the KPOP industry, ONEUS joins the many artists who have made their comebacks in 2021 with a studio album. Titled DEVIL, ONEUS’s first studio album features 11 tracks, which includes an intro track, the title track No Diggity, the December pre-release single BBUYSEO and an outro track. And for the first time in a while, all 11 tracks will be reviewed! This album continues on from a busy year, with includes the A Song Written Easily and TO BE OR NOT TO BE comebacks and their participation in Road To Kingdom (I know, I keep on bringing it up). But that was last year and we are reviewing a 2021 album. So let’s continue on with the review.

DEVIL Album Cover

1. The Devil is in the Detail (Intro Track) – Introductory tracks tend to be instrumentals. But vocals are not uncommon. ONEUS’ introductory track for DEVIL falls into the latter category and it really gives us a taster of what is to follow in this album. Powerful vocals, strong rapping and quite an epic instrumental piece. It starts off as a smooth dance track, but slowly becomes quite choppy as it progresses along thanks to the trickling of EDM. (8/10)

2. No Diggity (반박불가) (Title Track)Click here to read the full review of No Diggity. (8.5/10)

3. Leftover (식은 음식) Leftover is a pretty straight forward pop track, though with a pitiful take on breakup as its lyrical focus. Don’t let its bright aura and playful tone convince you otherwise. Apart from that, Leftover is quite paced and consistent from start to end. ‘Pleasant at best’ is how I would describe the song. Nothing really sparked my interest in this song musically, aside from Ravn’s rap sequence which managed to briefly infuse some energy into the song. However, that fizzled out before the song could act upon it to potentially enhance itself. (6.5/10)

4. Incomplete (완벽하지 않아도 괜찮아)Incomplete is a return to form for ONEUS, following the previous song. It is a dance track, detailed with electric guitars that come off atmospheric. I also like how the additional rock band influence comes into play throughout the song and enhances the song a new level of dynamism. Though I feel this could have been taken a step further. I wanted something more along the lines of Ravn’s rap sequences throughout the song. If this was fulfilled, I think Incomplete would have potentially rivalled No Diggity as the title track. The vocal work from the rest of the members was also quite good. Overall, a strong showing from ONEUS in this song. (9/10)

5. Youth – I just love the pop rock vibes that Youth manages to exude, especially during the pre-choruses sequences. It just makes this song so much more powerful. ONEUS’ delivery in Youth is also expectational, with an amazing high note from Seoho, the falsettos in the pre-choruses, Leedo’s raspy vocals and so much more. Youth is so satisfying and so enjoyable. There is so much to like in this song. Hence it is my choice for hidden gem on this album. (10/10)

6. BBUYSEO (Pre-release Track) Click here to read the full review of BBUYSEO. (9/10)

7. Rewind (우리의 시간은 거꾸로 흐른다) – There is a lot going on in Rewind. Every few seconds or so, the song shifts its direction. Interestingly, it isn’t off-putting in any way. I actually like the journey it took me on. From the typical clock ticking to the dubstep to the other EDM influences during the chorus. It was definitely a roller coaster. That being said, Rewind packs a punch, was quite dynamic and showed off the members really well. I guess you could call it a ‘all-in-one’ package. (9.5/10)

8. Lion Heart Lion Heart’s best attribute was how aggressive it was. You don’t expect it in the opening sequence (I thought the song was going to be bland with that opening). But Lion Heart manages to whip itself around with a really abrasive and deep beat that accompanied Leedo and Ravn’s harsh rapping. It was quickly followed up with a steep incline to the chorus, before we are blast with powerful energy and synths in said chorus. There is more twists and turns in the song as it continued on, all returning to the same bombastic and intense chorus. It is another song that really shows me that ONEUS is at their best in similar high energy and powerful songs. (9.5/10)

9. What You Doing? – ONEUS answers the trending call to have a funky song on their album with What You Doing? I really like how sleek the first half of the chorus was, before honing home the funkiness in the second half. Unlike the other songs on the album, I did think the vocals were a little weak in this song. They just didn’t have the same level of appeal. But they sounded good. It is a different story with their rapping and the accompanying instrumentals. Definitely more appealing and attractive. (8/10)

10. I.P.U (눈부시게 빛이 나던 그날)I.P.U (I Promise You) is the closest ONEUS gets to a ballad on this album. Actually, the only similarity between I.P.U and a typical ballad would be the emotional heft you can feel from the song. The vocals definitely evoke some emotion within you as you listen to the song, Aside from that, I.P.U still has a lot of energy from its instrumental, which feels to fall into a band direction. I also suspect synths were used to make the song. Altogether it is a stunning piece. It is another 10/10 from me. (10/10)

11. Connect With US (Outro Track) – The outro track is very different to anything we have heard thus far on the album. Connect With US is more pop than anything, but I liked how there is some acoustics in it thanks to the guitar. It is also quite melodic and flowy, before a cut in transmission occurs at the end, finishing up both the outro track and album. (8/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.7/10

DEVIL / No Diggity Teaser Image

[Review] No Diggity – ONEUS

2020 was a big year for ONEUS in terms of promotions. They were definitely busy. The male group started off 2020 with A Song Written Easily and this was promoted whilst the group participated on Road To Kingdom. As part of the Road To Kingdom show, the group dropped their Come Back Home single, which was then followed up with TO BE OR NOT TO BE in August. And unexpectedly, ONEUS dropped BBUYSEO last month as a digital single. And while you would expect ONEUS to finally have a break of some kind, the group announced a 2021 comeback with No Diggity, which is the focus of today’s review. No Diggity is featured on the group’s first studio album, Devil, since their debut in 2019.

No Diggity is a very powerful song. We are teased with the powerfulness at first via the thumping at the start of the song. But this is just a teaser for what is to come. The song reverts to a more typical hip-hop based dance track, yet with a serious tone and explosive energy as it progresses. What I do like is how they kept that connection with the powerful nature by intensifying the instrumentation with rock vibes. The pre-chorus opt for a very KPOP direction. It was pretty plain and felt like music that I have heard before. On a more positive note, it did show off some vocal flair from Seonho and Leedo though. The chorus takes a turn with what would be accurately described as a noisy and expected drop. We all saw it coming and I don’t really know how to feel about that. I also didn’t enjoy the so-called lyrics to the first half of the chorus (they aren’t words!). It felt like a typical move, though it did show off the song’s intensity without much hinderance. Interestingly, when you actually get lyrics in the second half, you can’t hear much of it because they paired the member with the deepest voice (Leedo) in the group with the loudest instrumentation, which lead to the drowning out effect! Said member returns briefly at the start of the second verse with a really strong rap sequence. I appreciate that he was brought back after the chorus died down and that hint of a low growling effect in his voice. Let’s skip forward to the bridge (as the rest of the second verse/chorus was essentially the same as the first verse/chorus), which I think is where the song definitely wows and peaks for me. Firstly, we have strong vocals (i.e. a brief falestto from Keonhee and high note from Seonho). Remember that powerful energy at the very start of the song? Well, you get a rush of it here at the very end during the dance break and final half-chorus. It shows off their fierceness and intense profile in another thrilling section. Overall, No Diggity is defintiely a song you would want to check out if you want something high energy or intense. It just has a bit of a plainness issue in some parts.

The music video is definitely very bold and has a hint of colour, which I thought was pretty expressive. Based on the lyrics and the imagery in the video, I think the music video is about inner conflict for a lover. On one hand, the members wanted to be sweet (represented by the members in their white outfit). And on the other hand, the members’ inner devil comes out to play, showing each member in an insane mode (playing with flame throwers, getting up close and personal with a bear trap, donning the spiky mask etc.). I think the video also shows their transition to the more crazier side, as shown by the members as they are dressed in red. In the song itself, the more powerful rock sections are like the inner devils speaking, while the more melodic sections (pre-chorus and bridge) was when the more sweeter side emerges. So I think my theory is plausible.

Aside from the intense choreography which ONEUS definitely ticked with this performance, another thing that they nailed was the stage presence. I mean, they knew how to captivate us on stage with their performance with their facial expressions and charisma. And that along with the intense choreography drew me into the stage performance.

Song – 8.5/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 9/10
Overall Rating – 8.8/10

[Review] BBUSYEO – ONEUS

ONEUS is nominated in the Rising Star of 2020, Most Underrated Artist of 2020, Best Male Group, Best Concept and Best Music Video categories in the 2020 KPOPREVIEWED Awards. Click here to vote for ONEUS and your other favourite artists.

Earlier this week, ONEUS made a surprise comeback with a new single, BBUSYEO. This comeback is significantly different to any of their previous comebacks for its bright and lighthearted approach, contrasting with the group’s dark and serious toned comebacks. BBUSYEO also follows ONEUS’ other 2020 comebacks, A Song Written Easily and the more recent TO BE OR NOT TO BE (which has been nominated for Best Concept and Music Video in the 2020 KPOPREVIEWED Awards – Link to vote for them is above).

As previously mentioned. ONEUS opts for a more lighthearted and fun sound for BBUYSEO, miles away from any of their previous music. It is definitely unexplored territory for the group. I particularly like how the start of the song just gets straight to the point. There is no need for a build up or to fluff up the song. Instead, BBUYSEO starts off with heavily autotuned oohs and aahs that sounded quite funny to me, going straight for that lighthearted effect that has already been mentioned. Then the song gets straight to its upbeatness with the fast tempo backing of the verse, thanks to the use of funky guitars and a clapping beat. Here, there are strong vocals and raps from the members, with their delivery very much keeping up with the intensity and pace of the music. When we round on the chorus, it comes with no surprises that it is brass heavy. Firstly, brass instruments is the go to instrument group if you want something fun or infectious. Secondly, the verses hint towards the chorus with the use of some brass elements, but they were clearly not as prominent as in the chorus and were pretty much overlooked. The rest of the song basically follows the above, with the addition of a trap based rap sequence just after the first chorus, an amazing display of vocals from the vocalists of the group in the bridge (who do even more with ad-libs in the final chorus), and the new extension at the very end of the song to bring it all together. I feel that the song does lack strong hooks, however. ONEUS was clearly going in the right direction, but I felt the producers underestimated the power behind the brass in the instrumental and the hooks that they do have got somewhat lost in the instrumentation. However, BBUYSEO still comes together nicely as the group’s first bright track. While I personally do prefer ONEUS’ darker and serious tones, having a bright song like this once in a while won’t do harm to their discography.

As mentioned earlier, this new sound allows ONEUS to explore new concepts. And this is clearly observed in the music video. There were a lot of stuff being smashed throughout the video, which makes completes sense given that BBUSYEO translates to Break It in English. Bright colours and hilarious moments were heavily used throughout the video to convey the ‘not serious’ and lighthearted tone of the comeback. My favourite part has to be when Ravn punches the toilet door to reveal a posing and waving Hwanwoong, who ended up smashing the toilet. It is just a major WTF moment that made me laugh.

I am totally digging the energy that is coming from the members during the performance. They definitely give it their all and it really portrays the song really well on stage. I wouldn’t be surprised if this one is more intensive than their dances for their more serious/darker music. A lot more jumps and interactions with the camera is enable in this performance, which lifts up the dynamic nature of it.

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

[Album Review] Lived (4th Mini Album) – ONEUS

As mentioned earlier today, there is another album review coming. And here it is! The album that I wanted to focus on today was ONEUS’ fourth mini-album, Lived, which was released less than a month ago. At the forefront of this mini-album is To Be Or Not To Be, while ONEUS’ Road To Kingdom finale single, Come Back Home, was also featured on the release. In addition to the two tracks, there are another four (including an introductory track) which I will have a closer listen to below.

Lived Album Cover

1. Intro: LivedLived (the mini-album) opens up with Lived (the introductory track) and features lyrics, landing itself a spot in this review. It is a nice opener. Lived eases you into the album with a simple instrumentation. It is a style that we have heard before and it isn’t the most groundbreaking or suspenseful introductory track that I have heard. However, it is pleasant opener (even though the members do weigh up the worse of two options – dying and the fear of being wiped from their lover’s memories). (8/10)

2. To Be Or Not To Be (Title Track)Click here to read the full review of To Be or Not To Be. (10/10)

3. Dead or AliveDead or Alive continues the momentum from To Be or Not To Be. To me, Dead or Alive has this subtle funk to the verses, which I am digging. In addition to that subtle funk, the song has an epic dubstep chorus drop and guitar riffs throughout the verses to add depth and textures throughout the song. Interestingly, the two merges together to open the final chorus (which was really cool) and help set up a different climax form, which was extremely effective than your usual high or soaring note climax. I also really like the electric guitar riff solo we get just prior to the final chorus. As for the vocals and rapping, I give them a big tick as they sound so clear and crisp, even throughout the noisy nature of the dubstep chorus. Overall, Dead or Alive was pretty dynamic and definitely a track worth listening to on this album. (10/10)

4. Dizzy (혼란하다 혼란해) – We get more guitar riffs and a peppy form of modern hip-hop/pop in Dizzy. As soon as you play the song, you can register a much more cheerful and happy tone to the song, which stands out after two intense dance tracks. It is also super catchy and very addictive. I really like how they executed the title of the song at the very start of the chorus. It was bold and it almost felt like they were stomping their foot down, but with their voice. Their vocals and rapping made this happen and it felt like their strongest effort on this album, as there wasn’t much instrumentation for them to hide behind or bolster up the track for them. I wished the final chorus was more of all them singing. I felt that was appropriate, despite it being a pretty cliché move. We did get some, but they soon reverted back to one member singing. Aside from that one lacking element, Dizzy is a fun number to listen to. (9/10)

5. AirplaneAirplane continues that bright tone we got in Dizzy. However, the song falls into the pop realm, as opposed to the hip-hop like influence the previous song centred around. I personally think that Airplane is the best song instrumentally on this album. This is thanks to the vibrancy we get into the electrifying chorus. It is a pretty catchy instrumental hook and feels well-suited for the Summer season. Vocally, the members sound quite nice and the rappers add a further dynamic touch to the song. I would really like to see a live performance this track, as the song enables for a fun yet grounded performance suitable for ONEUS. (10/10)

6. Come Back HomeClick here to read the full review for Come Back Home. You will need to scroll down a bit for the review. (8/10)

Overall Album Rating – 9.2/10

Lived / To Be Or Not To Be Teaser Image

[Review] TO BE OR NOT TO BE – ONEUS

Giving off one of the most boldest impressions for a comeback ever, ONEUS utters one of the most well known lines in English literature for their comeback today. Ironically, ONEUS’ return with TO BE OR NOT TO BE is also a breath of new life to the group’s discography and story-telling, carrying on from their Road To Kingdom days, a show they participated in earlier this year to win a confirmed position on the upcoming and now delayed season of the Kingdom. This is also the group’s first official comeback since their A Song Written Easily comeback earlier this year.

ONEUS already has a discography full of powerful songs. But TO BE OR NOT TO BE overtakes, conquers and triumphs this discography without a doubt. Just with the initial listen, I was in awe with this new release. It had everything I had wanted and wished would come as the song progresses. The harsh and rough instrumental for TO BE OR NOT TO BE is a dramatic synth dance track, infused with rock elements at the right moments to give the song a much appreciated layer of textures. I also really enjoyed the brewing atmosphere that the song dives into for the suspenseful pre-chorus. The choppy melody that brings the pre-chorus to life is probably one of the best ‘on the edge of my seat’ moments of 2020. I also loved how the producers of this song amped up the final chorus, differentiating it from the rest of the song in a specticular fashion. It is what I desired for the final chorus as we got to it, dreading a return to the same chorus we had earlier (as this is what has been happening with a number of releases lately). Aside from the amazing instrumentation, the members blew me away with their amazing showcase of vocals and rapping. My favourite part has to be the pre-chorus that I had already mentioned, along with the ‘To Be Or Not To Be‘ post-chorus hook, which continued the choruses’ monentum in a subtle manner. I think that based on my prasies, you probably know where I officially stand with TO BE OR NOT TO BE.

Obviously matching the song’s atmosphere is the music video. I really liked the imagery and darkness. My type of atmosphere. Based on the story films for this comeback, the plotline of the story relates back to the Come Back Home video and fits into Greek mythology. I am not clever enough to break down the video to the fine details today (though this one seems interesting for a music video theory series). Some fans have already done the hard work in the YouTube comments. So below is one of the theories.

The music video builds upon this, though. We see the members being locked up (as stated in the second story film) and in the ‘light world’. As they had been locked up by Helios, their end goal is to free themselves. But the catch is told in the second story film. The members end up breaking the curse themselves by drinking the blood of the descendants (as foreshadowed, but I am not exactly sure what triggers this). They go back to steal the necklace from the first story film to regain their powers, their monarch title and to go back to protecting the people, who now need to suffer pain as a result to the their actions. Do note that this is just one of the theories and there can be many others. Another could be that while locked up, they were tortured by their memories of failed love and breakups, which lead them to breaking free and regaining their powers to ‘forget’ their past relationships entirely.

The choreography looks amazing. We don’t see much in the music video, as there was a whole cinematic storyline to tell. But the bits and pieces we did see looked amazing. It was powerful and definitely shows off an edgier and angsty side of the group that we haven’t seen before. Some of the formations looked really cool and some of the moves defintiely have a wow factor, such as that jump we see at the end (definitely something ONEUS had picked up and built upon during their Road To Kingdom days).

Song – 10/10
Music Video – 10/10
Performance – 10/10
Overall Rating – 10/10

[Special] Road To Kingdom Review – Finale

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


Finale

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


Come Back Home – ONEUS

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

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

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

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


New World (신세계) – ONF

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

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

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

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


Basquait (바스키아) – Pentagon

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

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

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

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


Checkmate – The Boyz

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

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

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

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


Beautiful-x – VERIVERY

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

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

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

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


And The Winner Is…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Your Song

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


Be Mine – ONEUS (Original Artist: Infinite)

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


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

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


Follow – Pentagon (Original Artist: MONSTA X)

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


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

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


Hard Carry – TOO (Original Artist: GOT7)

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


gogobebe – VERIVERY (Original Artist: Mamamoo)

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


And the ranking…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Collaboration

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


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

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


On – TOO & VERIVERY (Original Artist: BTS)

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


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

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


And the ranking…

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Song (2nd Round)

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


Wannabe – Golden Child

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


Lit – ONEUS

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


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

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


Shine & Spring Snow – Pentagon

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


Reveal (Catching Fire) – The Boyz

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


Magnolia – TOO

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


Photo – VERIVERY

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


And the rankings….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Song Of King (1st Round)

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


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

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


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

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


Everybody – ONF (Original Artist: SHINee)

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


Very Good – Pentagon (Original Artist: Block B)

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


Rising Sun – TOO (Original Artist: TVXQ)

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


Danger – The Boyz (Original Artist: Taemin)

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


Mansae – VERIVERY (Original Artist: Seventeen)

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


And The Rankings…

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

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

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

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

[Special] Road To Kingdom Review – Preliminary Performances

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

Preliminary Performances

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

Beginning – Golden Child

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


Phantom of ONEUS – ONEUS

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


Lights On – ONF

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


Road To The Throne – Pentagon

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


Sword of Victory – The Boyz

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


dysTOOpia – Too

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


Face It – VERIVERY

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


The Final Ranking…

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

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

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

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

[Review] A Song Written Easily – ONEUS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Bad Girl For You – EXID

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


808 – ONEUS

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


Fake & True – TWICE

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


My New World – CIX

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


Middle Of The Night – MONSTA X

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