At one point when discussing his groups’ concept during this night’s episode, VERIVERY’s Dongheon mentioned “night hags.” I thought to myself: “Why, that’s the perfect description for what I briefly became after watching episode three’s ranking!”
I’ve pulled myself back from the brink of last week’s rant-a-thon. That ranking disaster, coupled with some convincing internet rumors, quickly transformed Road to Kingdom from my most anticipated 2020 K-pop event to an exercise in unnecessary frustration and disillusionment. But, that’s kind of been 2020 K-pop in a nutshell. Hell, that’s been 2020 in a nutshell! So, go on with your bad selves, MNET.
Ever the glutton for punishment, I’ve strapped myself down to watch episode four. Fists clenched, nerves frazzled, and teeth grit. I’m here.
This week’s theme was “My Song,” but it might as well have been “classical music meets horror show,” as most groups chose some piece of the two as inspiration for their reinterpretation. I guess brighter performances don’t win competitions. Maybe that’s why they’ve become an endangered species within the K-pop boy group realm.
No rankings or elimination tonight – thank god – but I’m already preparing myself for upsetting news next week. Why can’t they all just be performing for one another, followed by hanging out and getting to know each other’s stories? Come to think of it, I used to watch a Swedish show with that exact concept years ago, and it was delightful!
MY PERSONAL RANKING
7. TOO – Magnolia
This concept was decent, and it was certainly well-performed, but this just wasn’t for me. The mix sounded too much like the generic boy group fare I often complain about, with way too much trap. But, I liked the costumes! And for a just-debuted rookie group, they really are impressive.
6. ONEUS – Lit
Full disclosure: I’ve never really liked this song that much, and that probably has something to do with my feelings on the performance. It was fun, and I really liked the theme and staging, but I felt like there was too much going on and the guys kind of got lost in the parade of performers constantly flowing in and out. I mean, there’s no way that a spectacle like this couldn’t look cool, but it didn’t leave much of a lasting impression once it was over.
5. Pentagon – Shine / Spring Snow
4. ONF – We Must Love / Moscow Moscow
I liked this. The guitar and orchestra mix really worked, and the clock was a cool bit of choreography. It reminded me of an end-of-year performance. What holds it back for me is a lack of dynamics. I felt the same energy all the way through, so there wasn’t really a climax or moment that made this stand out.
3. Golden Child – Wannabe
Putting my bias aside, based on the first half of this performance I was honestly prepared to rank them lower. The staging felt too standard and forgettable. But, then the violin came out. As a fan, I’m so happy that Joochan had the chance to showcase this skill. From here on out, the performance caught fire and the rearrangement really stood out. RTK is a performance-based show, so this won’t do them any favors within its confines. But, this is the audio recording that I’ll most want to listen to. They really know how to unveil a gradual build, which makes the finale all that more impactful when it hits.
2. VERIVERY – Photo
There was some really inventive staging and choreography here, and I loved the heavy metal remix of the track. Photo’s a great song anyway, and it was a smart choice with the concept they were going for. Speaking of concepts, I find horror performances like this to be a little silly, and tonight’s stage devolved too far into Halloweentown for me at times, but it was very clearly presented and sustained my interest all the way through. Most improved, for sure.
1. The Boyz – Reveal / Catching Fire
The Boyz were made for a show like this, and they know how to use the stage better than anyone else. I don’t like Reveal as a song at all, but this arrangement greatly improved upon it. And, this performance had their most impressive stunts yet. The “ships crashing” flag moment was a stunner, but so was the opening vignette with the picture frame. Just really good, creative story-telling,
Lots of switching around in ranks this time, huh?