Following a very successful 2021, ONF decided to enlist into the military as a group to reduce the impact on their promotions as a group (i.e. the eligible members enlisted at the same time, as opposed to what commonly happens with other groups who enlist one member at a time causing long hiatus as a result). Commonly, military enlistment periods involve idols taking a break from the stage and other media (i.e. film, tv shows, social media). As a result, ONF’s comeback today is best described as unexpected. But I (and fans alike) are not complaining. ONF released the title track Your Song and the album Storage of ONF today, their first release since Goosebumps in December 2021.
Your Song starts off as an unsuspecting pop ballad. There was a peacefulness, calmness and ambience to the first verse which had already won me over. The synths used in the background of the first verse felt very appropriate for both ideas of Summer and the idea of a pop ballad. The vocals were got were stunning and Wyatt’s rapping was suitable for the pop aspect. One would expect the song to follow through with this pop ballad direction. But Your Song changes up the momentum, developing into a full fledge pop track with potential for choreography. They bring in guitars and a very refreshing pop vibe to the song, losing the balladry roots that started off the song. From there, the song continues with the changed momentum, giving Your Song a liveliness and brightness that just charms you. Also continuing to charm me are the vocals, which the group sound stunning. Wyatt’s vocals in the second verse impresses me (he needs to sing more) and I really liked the push the main and lead vocalists gives themselves during the chorus. There are no further dramatic changes in momentum occurs in Your Song, which I am glad is the case. The bridge brings a smile to my face with their harmonies and the simple ‘Na Na Na‘ sequences. They do touch on the balladry aspect again very briefly soon after, but Your Song reverts back to that pop vibe that the song grew to in the final chorus. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this release even if it isn’t what ONF puts out typically.
Even as a special release, ONF still manages to bring in that futuristic concept that has been part of ONF’s recent repertoire of videos (i.e. Beautiful Beautiful, Ugly Dance, Popping, Goosebumps). But there is no action or plot in this video. A completely different dynamic prevails in the futuristic world as a result of this. The song conveys the message that if there is a connection through music, we can meet by even transcending time and space (taken from SOOMPI). This felt fitting for the group’s current circumstances, as they are not together at the moment. But through music, they were able to reconnect – even if it was just virtually. I thought this was very clever and showcases a more thoughtful and heartwarming message. It makes me wonder what the group and their company have instore for us next, given that this comeback had to be thought of way in advance and it appears this concept is something long term).
Song – 9/10 Music Video – 9/10 Overall Rating – 9/10
The final album from 2021 that I will be reviewing is ONF’s Goosebumps, the group’s sixth mini-album. It follows a string of releases from the group in 2021, including Beautiful Beautiful (featured on their first studio album, ONF: My Name), Ugly Dance (featured on the repackaged version of their first studio album, City of ONF) and Popping (featured on their summer popup album of the same name). After the release of Goosebumps in early December, it was announced that ONF will undertake their military enlistment at the same time to reduce their hiatus. And by the end of the year, five members (excluding U, as he is not a Korean citizen) enlisted in the military, thus pushing the group into hiatus until (and I am guessing here based on the usual two year enlistment period) the end of 2023.
But while ONF is currently not releasing any music, they did leave us with Goosebumps, which features the title track of the same name and four other side tracks. Overall, Goosebumps was a terrific album that boasts high quality and enjoyable tracks. All the songs on here definitely throws me back to some form of ONF release, and has a unique tone that tells me that it is ONF’s album from afar. Check out the release below and let me know if you agree with my thoughts!
2. Whistle – Following the title track is Whistle, and it is a very creative and unique track on the lyrics front. Essentially, the members sing in a perspective a cat who is close by to their owner, who is actually a cursed human that is now being punished for their past actions in their human relationship with said owner. But they want the curse to end, and the only way for that to happen is for their lover to whistle. It is quite an abstract idea, but one that makes Whistle standout as a track. I like the sorrow, reflective and pensive tone the members take in this song, while I like the somewhat jazzy nature of the instrumental. There is a bit of bass and pop melody infused into the chorus, which makes it a strong centerpiece. But the best part of Whistle for me is the bridge, which had enough change to be different, but stay within the boundaries of the song. (9/10)
3. Fat & Sugar – Fat & Sugar is a return to the upbeat, vibrant and energetic energy that I associate with ONF. It takes a form of a funky hip-hop song that makes me groove along to the music every time I listen to the song. The chorus is extremely memorable, thanks to the repetition of the ‘I like bad things, Fat and Sugar, Fat and Sugar’. It does seem a bit childish (I remember passing over this song initially because of this childish tone), but it quite charming after many listens. I like the character they brought to the song through their vocals and rapping, which helped make Fat & Sugar so much more appealing than you think. (8.5/10)
4. Alarm – The album takes a turn with Alarm, this time entering ballad territory. It is a stunning piece. The verses were a bit typical and the instrumental is pretty standard for the ballad. But the stunning nature of Alarm comes during the chorus, where there is so much vocal layering. However, not once does it sound or feel overwhelming. It adds complexity to the otherwise simple track. Vocally, they sounded amazing throughout. The harmonies in this track are to die for. Talking about harmonies, the unexpected incline at the end of Alarm just makes the song even better! And of course, the swayable melody is also there. (10/10)
5. Show Must Go On –As mentioned in the introduction paragraph, this is ONF’s last album for a while. And a song titled Show Must Go On is very fitting for this hiatus. The direction that the song took us in was unexpected, however. But I love the fast pace nature of Show Must Go On and how it gives off and reminds me of the group’s title tracks. The fast pace nature also provides great energy and the chanting at the end is quite satisfying. It feels like ONF is going out with a big bang (in a way) with this release. (9/10)
ONFis nominated for a range of categories in the 2021 KPOPREVIEWED Awards, including Best Male Group, Best Music Video, Rising Star, Best Pop Song and Best Male Choreography (Group). Vote for ONF in these categories, and support your other favourite artists, songs and performances by clicking here.
Rounding out the past week was ONF, who returned with Goosebumps on Friday, the title of both the title track and their sixth mini-album. This release also rounds out a big year for the group, who has been actively promoting with releases such as Beautiful Beautiful, Ugly Dance and Popping. This will also be the group’s last release for a while, following the announcement that all the members (aside from U) will be enlisting into the military at the same time later this month. This is a big deal, as this showcase their group’s bond and will shorten their hiatus to the minimum (a first for a group facing military enlistment), allowing the group to hopefully relaunch back into promotions in about two years time. But until then, here is my thoughts on ONF’s Goosebumps (the title track).
Goosebumps is one interesting song. The best way I can describe to you is that is quite erratic. There is just so much going on in Goosebumps, with the song taking unexpected turns throughout. But yet, the song somehow is shaped together to become cohesive and whole. I find that to be remarkable and impressive. As a whole, Goosebumps, described as an alternative funk-based dance track with a powerful bass riff, was thrilling and fun, yet intriguing and fascinating all at the same time. The song kicks off with polished vocals from MK, and a funky instrumentation filled with bass and squealing synths. Wyatt and U’s rap-sing sequence follows over the same instrumentation, and was definitely memorable. We then are thrown into smooth territory with Hyojin’s soaring vocals, before launching into crunchy synths that make up the backing of the chorus. Personally, I felt like this was the weakest part of the song. I loved the monotonous ‘Goosebumps‘ repetition that kicks off each line of the chorus, but I felt the vocals that follow after were hidden away by the background, making it a bit hard to understand. I admit there is charm, but it isn’t as strong as the rest of the song. Wyatt returns with some cool vocals (which utilizes his deep tone well), before we are thrown back into an extended version of that smooth pre-chorus from the with MK, U and E-tion. The chorus returns, with the exact same instrumentation, but that deep and monotonous ‘Goosebumps‘ repetition at the start of each line is omitted. Instead, it is replaced by Hyojin and MK’s vocals, which was clearer and more audible over the instrumentation. I liked this version of the chorus. The members all come together for the bridge of the song, singing together a colourful and playful sounding sequence that is ultimately lead to the high-pitch autotuned repetitive ‘Lights On‘ peak. Personally, I found this to be a bit much, but it is getting better each time I replay Goosebumps. The best part comes after the peak, with everyone returning once again for a fun and funky chanty style rap sequence. I freaking enjoyed that part, and is pick for my highlight of the Goosebumps, before launching back into the second version of the chorus to close out the song, amped up by the instrumentation to be quite intense. Overall, Goosebumps is a fun song that seems all over the place at first, but it is actually pulled together nicely once you give it a go.
Per usual, I have no clue on what is happening in this music video. It seems like the members are in a different virtual world escaping those robots from Beautiful Beautiful and Ugly Dance, as they were closing in on the members. But it appears this secondary world is glitchy, based on the members appearing and disappearing, and the background keeps on changing. But this world is also dangerous, with computerised dragons, tentacles, action-packed scenes, a whole lot of guns and bullets. Like the song, it is pretty erratic. But I am sure there is a storyline somewhere that ties the three music videos together. As for the quality of the video, he people who made it has wowed me again, with amazing and detailed graphics. No wonder why ONF’s music videos have been a standout this year.
The choreography for Goosebumps is top notch! I wasn’t sure what direction they were going to go in with this performance, but it embraced the funkiness of the song, felt like it was fun and also quite intense. That whole ‘Lights On‘ sequence left me shocked, while the rap sequence that follows was definitely energy packed! Probably one of the best routines this year!
Song – 9/10 Music Video – 8.5/10 Performance – 10/10 Overall Rating – 9.1/10
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.
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)
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
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.
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
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.
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. Feedback – Feedback 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.U – I.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)
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
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 Worldas 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
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)
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).
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. Cactus – Cactus 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. Message – Message 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)
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
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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 Position
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!
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.
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.
Quasi una fantasia
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!
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.
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.
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.
Kill This Love
ONF & Pentagon
TOO & VERIVERY
ONEUS & The Boyz
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!