[Album Review] SUMMER POP-UP ALBUM [POPPING] (1st Special Mini Album) – ONF

Next up on the album review blitz is ONF’s summer special mini album, SUMMER POP-UP ALBUM [POPPING]. Featured on this mini-album is the title track Popping and four other new songs from the group. This new mini-album follows ONF’s first studio album earlier in the year, ONF: My Name, which is headlined by the title track Beautiful Beautiful. They also returned with a repackaged version of the studio album, retitled as City of ONF and lead by the title track Ugly Dance. It has definitely been a busy year for the group, but I am sure fans and casual listeners of the group are enjoying this abundance of releases.

SUMMER POPUP ALBUM [POPPING] Album Cover

1. Popping (Title Track)Click here to read the full review of Popping. (10/10)

2. Summer Poem – Like the title track, there was a lot going on in Summer Poem. The very start of the song felt like an acoustic ballad before the first verse emerged with bouncier pop sound. The chorus concentrates that pop sound with a slight Latin-like tinge. The bridge goes for a sweet slow and tone down, before they ramp up to the final chorus with electric guitars and rapid synth beats. The final chorus begins with an anthem-like approach, before the song wraps up with a similar acoustic sound as how it started. Phew! Amazingly, Summer Poem was cohesive and actually flowed from one end to the other without being disjointed. If I were to be critical about something in Summer Poem, it would be bout the hooks – I wished they were as catchy as the title track’s. (9/10)

3. Summer Shape – ONF shakes up the album by going with a slow jazz number with Summer Shape. A complete change in sound following two bright tracks. For me, the song sounds quite nice, but I find it a bit slow for my personal taste. I do think it was an ideal track when you just want to kick back and relax after a long day with a beverage in hand. It is incredibly soft and highlights a different sound than what I remember ONF for. (7/10)

4. Dry Ice Dry Ice is a mix of EDM and reggae, which is a pretty interesting and original combination (from what I can remember). It might be an odd combination to read in words, but ONF successfully pulls off Dry Ice in a coherent and flowy manner. I really like the burst of intense EDM that we get throughout the song, adding energy and impact to the song. The reggae, on the other hand, holds back the EDM and adds an interesting colour to Dry Ice. I noticed barely audible voices in the final burst of EDM at the end of the song. Not too sure if this is intentional and can’t make out if it is just ad-libs, but it is an interesting touch nonetheless. (9/10)  

5. Summer End – The Summer album ends with a song appropriately titled Summer End. The soft pop instrumentation coasts along and brings forth a smooth exterior to the song. The vocals in Summer End make the track sweet and the harmonies warm up the song quite well. Personally, it isn’t my cup of tea. But overall, a pleasant ender to the album. (7.5/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.5/10

SUMMER POPUP ALBUM [POPPING] Teaser Image

[Review] Popping – ONF

Also making their comeback today is ONF, with the release of a new single and special mini-album, both sharing the same name, Popping. This is their third comeback of the year, following Beautiful Beautiful in March and Ugly Dance in May. I am super pumped for this comeback, especially since it follows what I consider to be some of ONF’s best work since their debut in 2017. So without further ado, I am going to get stuck into the new release and see if Popping lives up to the standards set by the group!

Spoiler alert – they do! Popping brings forth a very familiar atmosphere. I find it reminiscent of most of their comebacks. The instrumental reminds me of the really addictive Beautiful Beautiful, while the vocals brings me back to ONF’s earlier works, such as ON/OFF and Complete. It is quite an interesting feeling, as it has been a while since I have heard a song bring me down memory lane like this one. To further add to that already very appealing factor is a catchy melody and hook that just makes me reach for my mouse and take my cursor to the replay button every time the song finishes. I really like how chirpy and strong the vocals in this song are. They bring a very cheerful tone to the video, one that cannot make me stop smiling. I also really like the moments they chant along with each other in the chorus, bolding and defining the vocals already there to make them even more impactful. I do wish the song had a more substantial rap sequence, as I feel like this would have given the song a bit more dynamism. But what we got was still amazing nonetheless. Back to the instrumentals, instead of the brass we heard in Beautiful Beautiful, the producers of Popping changes up the song with flutes of some kind. I quite like this. It keeps the song in the realm of one of their most successful releases this far, but also maintains individuality. Overall, Popping is an awesome song that I think rivals the likes of ONF’s boldest and my personal favourite hits from the group.

But wait. Despite the song being so cheerful, the music video leads us on a different direction. The message I got from the song was that no matter what bad things happen, you can return to the happy memories. In this video, the bad event is everyone dies. The start where they are watching past videos felt like they were preparing for this mission. I am not too sure what the mission is, but there are a lot of elements throughout the video that are from their past videos. But I would need to go back through the videos to link them back to this one (no time for that). Instead I will focus on what happened in this video. The members venture off into space with MK and J-Us being astronauts, and the rest of the members staying behind at command centre. The misson goes array, though J-Us was the sole survivor but is alone on the cold winter planet. One of the spaceships they were on (there two ships) was infiltrated by the robots from the Beautiful Beautiful video. U sacrfices himself to distract the robots, while E-Tion was the one to ensure that no robots could get through the doors (i.e. he had to seal it with U out in the open). Despite that, bombs were hurled at the spaceships and blew up the spaceships, killing everyone on board (MK included). At the end of the video, we see Hyojin come in dressed in black and reaches out to end the video. I believe he killed his alterego, who somehow survived the explosion and was reaching out to Wyatt. I guess this means evil Hyojin (from Sukhumvit Swimming) was behind this attack and was the antagonist of this story. Also regarding J-Us at the end, I am not sure what he discovered. Aside from the plotline, the grand scale of this video (budget, quality, sets, production) is just another reason to watch this video.

To top off the already amazing nature of this comeback is the performance. It is energetic and super fun, reflective of the song’s tone and colour. I also really liked the swing of the various moves and the wholesome feel that comes from the performance. It make this aspect more appealing to watch and enjoy.

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

[Special] Personal Favourite Songs from 1st Half of 2021

Within a blink of an eye, another 6 months have passed. 2021 was still an awful year with lockdowns, isolation and the pandemic still dominating news headlines. I feel that these events, amongst other things, has really slowed me down this year. But at least, KPOP was on the pleasures that I still had to get me through these last 6 months.

A lot of albums and a lot of songs were released, per usual, in the span of the first 6 months of 2021. And I am still playing catch up with some to write reviews for! I will get there eventually! But in the meanwhile, I thought I share with you 10 KPOP songs that are my personal favourites from the last 6 months (in no particular order). Why 10? Well, it is an even number and I just couldn’t decide on a few, so I went with a couple :D. (Please note that this is irrespective of my reviews – songs can grow on you over time!)

Let me know if we shared similar taste in 2021 so far? And if we don’t, then comment below what your favourite songs of the year are! I would love to see what you all have been enjoying.

[Review] Ugly Dance – ONF

After Tuesday and yesterday’s intermission from the week, I return to the usual broadcast of reviews for new releases. Today’s review revolves around ONF’s latest release, Ugly Dance. The group returned with a repackaged version of their first studio album, My Name: ONF, and the title track Beautiful Beautiful back in February of this year. It was a very successful comeback for the group with Beautiful Beautiful reach the number one spot on SBS MTV’s The Show, the first time the group has ever reach the number one position on a weekly music show. A month ago, it was announced the group would be return with a repackaged version, which has been retitled as City of ONF, and is headlined with the title track Ugly Dance.

The most intimidating task in the KPOP industry is finding a song that exceeds the standard set by the artist’s best performing and sounding song (to date). For ONF, they successfully one-upped New World with the release of Beautiful Beautiful this year. And now, all eyes are on Ugly Dance to see if it can do the same. It might be the entire reason to why Ugly Dance starts off with a throwback to their previous title track with the song’s main hook. However, Ugly Dance gives it to us in a remixed form, making it to be more orchestral sounding. This is an amazing twist to the really catchy hook from their previous song and it also fits in perfectly with the orchestral approach that parts of the instrumental of Ugly Dance opts for. But that is only the based on the instrumentation that is used to create part of the the background of their new song. The other part takes on a funky hip-hop style, which seems to align with the colourful energy we got from their previous song. Together, Ugly Dance is a very powerful and epic sounding song. In regards to the vocals, ONF really shows off their vocal chops in this song from what I can hear. The instrumentation in this comeback is quite loud, so they really had to ensure they stand out on top of the loud background, And ONF does just that. Everything felt solid and very straightforward on that front, as well. The high notes at the end were probably the most obvious examples of that. For Wyatt’s rapping, his deep spoken tone was very surprising. It felt dynamic despite it coming off as spoken. His deep tone was also very stylish and cool. What I enjoyed the most about the song are the hooks. The ‘1 and 2 and 3 and 4‘ was probably my favourite one as it added a lighthearted and playful vibe to the song. The vocal melodies for the chorus were also quite memorable. The most important question is, however, did Ugly Dance surpass Beautiful Beautiful? My gut (at the present) unfortuately says no. I feel that Beautiful Beautiful had it all, but it edged in front thanks to the colourfulness it brought to the table. But if it is any constaltion, Ugly Dance is defintiely there as one of ONF’s best!

Also lacking colour is the music video for Ugly Dance. The music video isn’t shot in black and white. Rather, it feels quite muted, thanks to the sterile, hospital room-like aesthetic and plainness of the white box ONF got as a set for this music video. They tried to insert some colour in the video (i.e. the alternating black and white outfits; the green borders up top and for the doors; the members’ hair colours), but none of this was really a splash of colour that the video needed to not be as dull as it ended coming off as. It is a bit disappointing, given that the video is the first in KPOP (as far as I can remember) to be shot in 8K. I also didn’t like how the outfits would sudden change between the black and white. It seemed like a bit much for me. But I did like how the music video sits within the same world as the Beautiful Beautiful music video, based on the start. I also liked how the music video captured ONF’s more lighthearted side, with their smiles and interactions playing a part in making this video more appealing to watch.

The choreography for this comeback was a blast! I enjoyed the whole package and the performances so far have been replayed multiple times! Their smiles really give off a playful vibe in the choreography, making the extremely powerful routine a little more lighthearted. And hence, I found the routine to be fitting for the song as a result. I also liked how they inserted elements of Beautiful Beautiful into the routine.

Song – 9/10
Music Video – 6/10
Performance – 10/10
Overall Rating – 8.3/10

[Album Review] ONF: My Name (1st Studio Album) – ONF

Finally, I am crossing off another album off my ‘Coming Soon’ page. The main attraction of this album review post is ONF, who recently released their very first studio album since their debut back in 2015. The album is titled, ONF: My Name and it features Beautiful Beautiful as the title track, My Name Is as a pre-release track, the English version of Beautiful Beautiful (which I have chosen not to review), a 2021 version of Lights Up (which I have also chosen not to review as it is on part of the physical version of the album) and seven other new songs. This won’t be the last time we will be seeing ONF in the immediate future, however, as WM Entertainment has confirmed ONF will be returning with their first repackaged album last this month. In the meanwhile, here are my thoughts on ONF: My Name.

ONF: My Name Album Cover

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

2. My Name Is (Pre-Release Track)Click here to read the full review of My Name Is. (9/10)

3. Thermometer (온도차) (ON Team Version)Thermometer is brought to us by the ON team, which includes Hyojin, MK and E-Tion. Thermometer is a very pleasant-sounding ballad that ticks the swaying criteria that you may know I have for this particular genre. It brings out the vocals of the three members. It isn’t the album’s standout song, but it is still one worth listening to if you enjoy your ballads. (7.5/10)

4. Secret Triangle (비밀) (OFF Team Version) – The OFF team features J-Us, Wyatt and U, and they bring us Secret Triangle. Secret Triangle is the better of the two unit songs on the album. You might think it is because it is more upbeat than the ballad that preceded Secret Triangle, but you are only partly right. There were some really good moments such as the dynamic descending drop, Wyatt’s deep tone rap-speaking entrance (which led into the equally as awesome rap sequence from Wyatt), the whisper-like vocals that started off the bridge courtesy of Wyatt and U, J-US high note, and the rock-influenced closing sequence. (9/10)

5. The Realist The Realist has that synth pop vibe that you would associate with The Weeknd. And that is an amazing feeling, as The Weeknd has really amazing songs (see Blinding Lights as an example). I also feel that The Realist would have been a really great alternative for ONF as their final song on Road To Kingdom. What I really like about The Realist is that ONF are the vocals. The really sleek and sly whisper-like vocals in this song really amplify the synth pop instrumentation. I really like the vocals at the ending as well, which have this sensual yet punchy feeling to complete the song. The electric guitars really helps concentrate everything towards the end, adding a layer of oomph to the already strong song. (10/10)

6. On-You (Interlude)On-You returns the album to the bright and cheerful tone that the album started off with in Beautiful Beautiful and My Name Is. To me, the energy at the start of the song felt contained and plain. It was only until the second verse when Wyatt and MK were rapping did I become interested in this interlude. And then everything else following (despite it being a replication to the first verse and chorus) felt more playful and enjoyable. Aside from the song’s ‘turning point’ for me, I also enjoyed the ending when all the members sung together. (8/10)

7. Trip Advisor (누워서 세계 속으로) Trip Advisor is another upbeat and bright song to fit in with the group’s brighter profile. Trip Advisor, to me, is very enjoyable and features a lot of really good elements. The instrumental has brass (many ticks as a result of this inclusion) and a retro feel-good vibe which I find very appealing. The vocal work from the members show off a lot of technique and skills. Trip Advisor also has some really addictive and fun hooks, which helps tick off the memorable box on my criteria list for a really great song. (9/10)

8. FeedbackFeedback also fits into their brighter profile. It is a sweet sounding R&B track that brings out their vocals. I didn’t find anything interesting in this song, apart from a clear and strong melody. But that, compared to the rest of the album, doesn’t make Feedback a strong song. But Feedback was still enjoyable. (7/10)

9. I.T.I.L.UI.T.I.L.U (I Think I Love U) is another ballad on this album. This one is more straightforward and typical of the ballad genre. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it is a bad song. I.T.I.L.U’s backdrop is this stunning orchestral piece. It had everything you would want in an orchestral ballad instrumentation. On top of this background are powerful vocals from the members. Each member, to me, shined really brightly in this song. I also really liked how they, one-by-one, kept on repeating the Korean word for ‘Forever’ at the end of the song. (10/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.8/10

ONF: My Name Teaser Image

[Review] My Name Is – ONF

Due to some last minute changes, I will posted the promised ONF album review a day late.

As promised for this long weekend, I will be tapping into some of the releases that I have yet to review yet but have flagged on my Coming Soon page that I will be reviewing. For this particular post, I have selected My Name Is by ONF, in preparation for their upcoming album review for their first studio album, titled ONF: My Name, which I will be posting soon. The music video for My Name Is was an unexpected drop two days prior to the release of the album and Beautiful Beautiful (the album’s title track) as far as I could remember, as we didn’t get any news of a pre-release for this album.

But My Name Is was a welcome surprise, especially with how fun the song ended up being. You might need to have watch the music video for My Name Is to really grasp what the lyrics of the song are about. Essentially, the members took turns in their own sections to introduce themselves. It was quirky, but definitely enjoyable. And it is also interesting to hear such a carefree and light tone to the group, since their past title tracks have predominately been intense EDM based songs. I enjoyed the lighthearted nature of the instrumental mix. Nothing from the strumming and plucking of acoustic guitars to the horns that gave the chorus a substantial backing to the pop instrumental underlay felt like a huge commitment (this is a compliment!!). Everything worked together to give us that lighthearted tone. What I also enjoyed about the song are the vocals. For the most part, each members vocalised their part. Even Wyatt, the resident deep voice rapper, did his share. It brought a nice playful colour to the song, as I expected for more rap or sing-spoken delivery in the song. Overall, My Name Is was enjoyable, fun and a unique personalised song that reintroduces you to the group. There is something for everyone in this song, regardless if you are a long time fan or just hearing of them for the first time.

The music video was very inviting and casual. Fitting for the song, the video was shot in the same sets as the Beautiful Beautiful music video. Just everything in this video feels fun and lighthearted like the tone of the song. Their smiles and interaction (i.e. Wyatt and MK’s awkward hug) throughout the video really emphasised this. I also really enjoyed the handdrawn visual effects that were added to the song. They added a bit more to the casual side of the video, which made the video even more enjoyable.

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

[Review] Beautiful Beautiful – ONF

ONF is the next group to make their return to the stage with a new song. It is titled Beautiful Beautiful and follows the pre-release single, My Name Is. Both songs are featured on their first studio album, ONF: MY NAME. The release of this album also makes ONF join a growing number of artists to return with a studio album this year. We last saw ONF through their Sukhumvit Swimming comeback last year and their still incredible New World Road To Kingdom single. Yes, I am still raving about that song. Let’s see if Beautiful Beautiful has what it takes to replace the title New World holds for me.

Beautiful Beautiful kicks off with post-chorus that is undeniably catchy. The “Brrram ppabam…” repetition from the very first second sets up the song quite nicely and gives hint at how fun the next three minutes and so will become. When the song actually kicks into gear, it takes on a wonderfully energetic and exciting retro profile. It brought me a smile to my face and I had a little boogie in my chair. The really upbeat energy and splash of colour that you could hear in this song is quite impressive and felt quite refreshing. The sudden switch to between chorus and bridge actually worked really well. Usually I am not a fan of this tactic and am an advocate for transitions. But here, it fitted in with the retro sound. I really like how strong their vocals are in the song. They really made sure they could be heard over the song’s quite dominating instrumental. I honestly cannot pick out a standout member because they all sound fantastic and deserving of the title. But more so, I cannot choose because they (as a group) decide to drop the acapella version of their post-chorus hook on us within the bridge. I just really liked how flawlessly the producers weaved that into the song. Very clever and it paid off for me. The last thing I wanted to touch on was the hooks. As already mentioned at the start of this section. they are super addictive and catchy. Altogether, all the elements of Beautiful Beautiful make it a perfect song. I don’t think it can replace New World as my new ONF song to rave about however. Both are distinctly different. So I have decided to make them both my favourite ONF songs to rave about!

ONF takes us into a futuristic world, where it looks like they are outlaws trying to make a positive change. There also seems to be the side mission of rescuing J-US, who has been captured by the robot authorities and is detained in a virtual prison. Hyojin is the one in charged of that side mission, while everyone else is hacking their way through the world (as it is the future) to make that positive change. I am not sure what that change is, but it is most likely to spread the message of the lyrics (to be proud of oneself). I felt a Thunderbird-like presence in U’s solo parts with the flying rocket ship, Their outfits in the choreography scene gives off that same feeling as well. It really brings back memories for me (does anyone know what Thunderbirds is anymore? Or am I showing my age?). I really like how elaborate the landscape was and all the post-production that was added to the video. It definitely looked cool. I also appreciate the lighting, which went extremely well with the bright energy of the song. Overall, a really cool and interesting video to watch.

Once again, the choreography brings forth that energy that I really enjoyed in the song. They managed to strike a fine balance between making the choreography fun and infusing their usual powerful performance style that we all associate ONF to. And you can tell that they really enjoyed it. I also liked how the performance felt freeing and it not constricting. There was a strong sense of harmony between the members for this routine as well.

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

[OST Review] 2020 OST Review – Part 1

It has been a long time coming, but I have finally decided to make a start on reviewing a certain type of song that I barely looked at in the past but have wanted to write about for a while now – OST songs. OST (otherwise known as Official Sound Tracks) have been a big part of KPOP. Many of the idols we know and love have gone onto being big name actors, whiles others have had to the privilege to sing some of the most famous tracks to some of the greatest drama scenes of all time.

I personally feel that there is a misconception that OSTs are usually just ballads, but I want to prove that wrong. Furthermore, there will be a Best OST category in this year’s KPOPREVIEVED Awards (hint hint). So I have picked five OSTs throughout 2020 to review and introduce to you here (and over a number of posts). Note that I have not watched all of the dramas, so I will be reviewing the song itself – like how I write my song reviews.

Give You My Heart – IU
Drama: Crash Landing On You
Release: 15 Feb 2020

I kick off this segment with the unstoppable IU. Every song she releases, regardless of whether it is her actual songs off her latest album, a digital single or an OST, it rises to the top of the charts. This was also the case for Can’t Give You My Heart. It is a ballad and one that you can’t really do anything whilst listening to it. Or else you will ‘miss it’. The background is made simply of classical strings, piano and acoustic guitars. The main highlight within the background is this really nice whistling that gives it an almost folksy profile and helps separates it from the other ballads that dominates the OST category. The other half of the song is IU’s beautiful voice, that without doubt captivates the listener with her soft voice. The melodies that she brings to the song helps make this ballad ‘swayable’, which is my self-made indicator of a good ballad (since I don’t have much music expertise myself). I really liked that acapella moment we get during the bridge, which essentially floored me. And how they brought the instrumentals back for the final sequence was really stunning. Overall, captivating and riveting to listen to. (10/10)

Hello Stranger – Stray Kids
Drama: Pop Out Boy!
Release: 16 Jul 2020

Stray Kids changes up the OST playlist (literally) with a more intense and energetic style of music that stands out for being different from the rest of the OST realm. Hello Stranger brings forth the group’s usual style of dance music, with rock and hip-hop influences that gives additional dimension to the song. And this is simply because the song was composed by the group’s main composing team. That being said, the song does also draw some similarities to other OSTs. Most relevantly, the song is much more melodic than what Stray Kids have put out this year promotionally. This makes complete sense, as rapping could be a bit much in a drama scene where you want the writing of the drama or the acting to be the main star (and not the background music). I did like this shift in focus for the group though. It allows the group to show off more of their vocal chops in a different manner from a ballad or R&B song, but rather something of their upbeat style. I find that Hello Stranger could have easily been released as part of their latest albums. While it is executed differently by the members, the song would blend in well with the rest of the albums. I only have two complaints. The first (which isn’t really a complaint, because the song does go for a substantial amount of time in reality) is that it felt like a blur. The second would be it sudden ending, something that I still haven’t gotten used to. (9.5/10)

Sweet Night – V (BTS)
Drama: Itaewon Class
Release: 13 Mar 2020

After that little detour, V (from the widely popular BTS) bring us back to the ballad front with his OST addition to Itaewon Class (probably one of the biggest dramas of the year). This is his second OST song. His first was a duet with fellow member Jin for Hwarang (which he was also part of the cast for). V impresses with Sweet Night on a number of fronts. Firstly, the song is a track written completely in English by the artist himself. That is definitely a feat in itself for anyone who’s first language isn’t English. Secondly, his husky vocals were so good to listen to. We need more of this husky voice – something that I have mentioned on my blog before when reviewing his solo tracks on BTS’ albums. However, listening to his voice is one thing. Unfortunately, I found it slightly difficult to make out some words given that the huskiness was so strong. I was only comfortable in acknowledging that it was a English track once I saw that people were praising him for his efforts and on media sites (gotta fact check everything in this day and age!). That is my only complaint with the this particular song. Thirdly, while V does get all the attention – the female vocals that harmonised with him and complimented his voice added more layers to the song, making Sweet Night more than just husky vocals and acoustic guitars. But nonetheless, it was a soothing and swayable track to listen to. (9/10)

Not A Sad Song (이별 노래가 아니야) – ONF
Drama: Love Revolution
Release: 22 Oct 2020

ONF’s first OST as a group is a pop track, brought to life by drums and electric guitars. The opening eight seconds make it seem otherwise. But after that piano centric introduction, we are blasted with that mentioned pop instrumentation, which I enjoyed. I feel that the song almost had this musical approach to it, which would have been fantastic to see be brought to life conceptually in the drama. I haven’t checked out the drama, so I have no idea. But the music video suggests that my wishes didn’t come true. Like what the song’s title suggest, this is Not A Sad Song. It is quite upbeat, full of energy and sunshine. It feels perfect for a teenage romance drama (which Love Revolution would be categorized as). I liked that the members sing the chorus together, which instantly boosts up the song’s appeal. I feared that the pop instrumentation that they had going on would be a bit cliche for my liking. But them singing together to really bolster the melodies and match the song’s blast of energy (courtesy of the instrumentals) when we get to the chorus worked really well. During the verses, their solo parts were quite good in itself. I liked how they still managed to fit in a part for Wyatt. As mentioned before under Hello Stranger, an intense rap sequence would not have been a perfect fit for a drama, especially a teenage romance drama which should be light. His style is usually more intense, but it was tweaked well enough to allow him to fit in a softer manner. Overall, a pleasantly upbeat track to listen to. (8/10)

Something – Kang Daniel
Drama: Backstreet Rookie
Release: 19 Jun 2020

I hope that I have showed you all that there is more to OSTs than just ballads. That being said, ballads still do make up an overwhelming portion of the OST market, so I will save some other non-ballad OSTs for next weeks post. I end today’s segment with Kang Daniel’s first OST. It is also a ballad and it taps into the more typical nature of the genre (i.e. classical and acoustic instrumentation). I did like the melody that Kang Daniel brings to the song, which gives the song an even smoother appeal. His voice is a lot softer and raspier than usual, which instantly gives Something a delicate profile. I do find this song is quite consistent and I wished there was more to the song to give it some depth and exciting energy. While this is fine for a romance drama and it doesn’t make the song boring as much as it would to other songs, this is seems like the style of OST that everyone is familiar with and would generalise the entire market as. Not that this was a bad move on Kang Daniel’s part, as the song manages to showcase the singer in a new light for me. Overall, Something was dreamy, soothing and calming to listen to. (8/10)

[Album Review] SPIN-OFF (5th Mini Album) – ONF

Oh, an album review on a Saturday? Isn’t this a surprise? Just catching up on the backlog of reviews!

Road To Kingdom was a blessing for ONF, earning them recognition of their performance skills. And after a brief break after the show wrapped, the group returned with their first release since the show. The release comes in the form of their fifth mini-album titled SPIN-OFF and features the title track Sukhumvit Swimming. Alongside the title track is a special version of New World, which I have previously reviewed and praised when it was first released as part of the suite of singles from the groups that made it to the Road To Kingdom finale. The mini-album also features five other tracks, so have a browse below to see if there are any songs you like (and see which ones I enjoyed).

SPIN-OFF Album Cover

1. Sukhumvit Swimming (Title Track)Click here to read the full review of Sukhumvit Swimming. (8/10)

2. Belle Epogue – ONF diverts from their usual dance-centric sound to an upbeat R&B vocal-centric track. We have heard this side of ONF before. But it always nice to revisit it, especially on this mini-album. The main draw point of Belle Epogue are the vocals. There are really good harmonies between the members and the backing vocals. Wyatt surprises me with his ability to go from a soft rap-sing approach to a more intense rap sequence that we expect from the rapper usually. Everything from the instrumental to the melodies in Belle Epogue is quite classy and pleasant to listen to, fitting with the idea that the world looks different after falling in love. (8/10)

3. Geppeto – The members express their desire to go out into the real world and to find out about themselves, bidding goodbye to Geppeto (who was the father of Pinocchio in the fairytale story). And they do so with a more upbeat and groovier number that fills like an appropriate follow-up track to Sukhumvit Swimming. I find everything in this song to be quite vibrant, catchy and fun. Their vocals and melodies feel quite wholesome, while the rapping adds flair to the song that fits ONF’s profile. But it is the instrumental that really grabs my attention with this song, providing likable energy. (9/10)

4. Good Good – Next up on this album is Good Good, which takes the vibrant nature of Geppeto and amps it up a few levels, which results with a playful tune fitting for Summer. I also find the song to be quite pleasant, as the members go with an easygoing vibe. That doesn’t compromise the catchiness of the song, as I find the melodies, energy and atmosphere of Good Good to be quite memorable. All the members surprise me in this track with their rapping ability (and vocals – but these weren’t the scene stealer for me). ETion managed to push ahead with his fast paced rap tempo, while MK’s autotuned rapping was an interesting addition. Hyojin’s rap sequence was extremely well done, while J-Us, Wyatt and U each had good rhythm and nailed their sections. Actually, let me rephrase that. ONF nailed this song. (10/10)

5. CactusCactus is a mid-tempo ballad-like track that puts the focus on the vocals of all members. It is a sad song, as the members reflect upon a mutual breakup that they had just gone through. They mention that both parties need time and that hugging now would be similar to hugging a cactus. I liked how the vocals throughout the song reflect this mutual breakup. You can hear the emotions of the heartbreak in their voices, but they also give off the impression that they are smiling while relaying the lyrics to their former lover, to let them know that everything will be okay. Aside from the vocals, the song is also driven by beautiful and soothing acoustic guitars that adds a layer of delicacy to the song. (9/10)

6. MessageMessage is a fan song for Fuse and was previously released in the form of a music video six months ago. I personally do not have much else to say about this song, but that isn’t a bad thing. Once again, it is quite pleasant to listen to. It starts off in a similar manner to a ballad, but it unexpectedly develops into a mid-tempo track (but still retaining that vocal focus that a ballad would have). Here, the vocals are the main focus again, with the members presenting their fans with really nice melodies and harmonies to bring a bit of warmth to the listener. (8/10)

7. New World (SPIN-OFF Version)Click here to read the full review of New World. (9/10) (You will need to scroll a bit to get to the review)

Overall Album Rating – 8.7/10.

SPIN-OFF / Sukhumvit Swimming Teaser Image

[Review] Sukhumvit Swimming – ONF

Also releasing new music today is ONF. The 6 member male group from WM Entertainment returns for the first time since coming in second place on the recent competitive season of Road To Kingdom earlier this year. This is also the group’s first comeback since the release of the underrated Why in October of last year. The title of their new single is Sukhumvit Swimming and this is featured on the group’s fifth mini-album, Spin Off. More on that album at a later date (hint hint). For now, here is my review for their new single.

Sukhumvit Swimming is nothing like what I had expected. Unlike in my previous review I had just posted where I had no idea where my expectations were coming from, I had clear expectations for this comeback as I was basing it on their epic New World single that served as their final track on Road To Kingdom. That was undeniably aligned with the rest of their single discography. But just because it wasn’t what I had expected, doesn’t mean that it is a terrbile song. Sukhumvit Swimming is much lighter track. It is definitely more pleasant, easy on the ears and more fun sounding, featuring elements of reggae, trap and future bass in the instrumental. The instrumental knows when to amp up those elements to give it that slight intensity and edge. I would have preferred more, given that is the ONF style that I like best. But obviously the song did not go overboard otherwise it would have thrown the song off balance. Apart from that, the song has a really nice melody that is easy to get into and I can see the hook catching on more and more as I listen to the song (it has already taken an effect on me). Their vocals are quite good, complimenting the lighter and less abrasive instrumentation. I find the song gives us some variety in their tones and voice. Take Wyatt’s rapping as an example, it was also held back and not as fierce in the past in this song. But it sounds a lot more classy and refined here, which I don’t think the group would have been able to show in their more intense tracks. Overall, Sukhumvit Swimming lacks the epicness that we know them for, but I find it offers another side to the group.

The music video is quite bizzare. It seems like they are taking the fun profile of the song and amp it up. What is happening in the music video is very interesting and I would replay the button continually (if I had time) to make sense of this video. It seems like each member is taken to a different world (New World connection?) thanks to Wyatt. Other than that, I have no clue what the music video is trying to show. The good news is ONF fans (Fuse) have been busy making sense of the music video, as well. This is a theory that I pinched from the YouTube comments that made sense to me.

As you can tell, the music video is quite confusing and the above theory is incomplete. There are a few more theories in the YouTube comment, so have a read to see which one is plausible. I really liked the visuals of this music video. It also seems like WM Entertainment recently invested in a green screen, given that it is used here and in Oh My Girl’s Nonstop music video as well. In this video, the usage of the visual effects were pretty good and does not disappoint.

I like that the performance carried on that fun profile that I mentioned earlier. The fact that they started the performance with a bottle flip pretty much confirms this. None of the moves were that impressive, but they all definitely complimented the lighter style that the group was going for. I personally would have liked them to go with something a little more epic looking, given that they have built a name for such on Road To Kingdom. But what we got was still enjoyable to watch.

Song – 8/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 7.5/10
Overall Rating – 8.2/10

[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