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Reviewing and Ranking Road to Kingdom’s Final Comebacks (ONEUS, ONF, Pentagon, The Boyz, VERIVERY)

I’ve spent the past few weeks poring over the performances of Road to Kingdom’s competing groups. But to be honest, I’ve always been much more infatuated with music – the actual songs – than all the trappings that go along with them. That’s why, even though ONF didn’t rank at the top for me this last round, their It’s Raining mix will have the greatest longevity on my playlist. Taken on its own — with the lame pauses deleted (thank you, audio-editing software!) — it’s just so satisfying.

With this in mind, we come to the prelude of RTK’s finale. Each of the remaining groups has released a “comeback” single, though I doubt many of these will be promoted outside the confines of this show. It’s an exciting prospect, though I was mostly underwhelmed with the songs that spawned from Queendom. RTK’s offerings are a mixed bag, too, with a couple of definite standouts.

Past RTK Recaps: Episode Two / Episode Three / Episode Four / Episode Five / Episode Six / Episode Seven


5. ONEUS – Come Back Home

What an awful chorus! Like… way to take all the life out of your song, guys! The first forty-eight seconds of this point toward a Valkyrie-style banger (still their best song), but then the whole thing lurches into a messy mix of trap, dub-step and halfhearted melody. After an equally noisy second verse, there are moments of hope interspersed within the mix. The vocals are strong, but the entire thing feels so fractured. It’s clearly designed with a RTK-type stage in mind, and I absolutely hate that those constraints have infiltrated the song itself.


4. Pentagon – Basquiat

So, is this named after the famous artist? That’s certainly an interesting concept. The song itself feels like an extension of Dr. BeBe. I was overly harsh on that track when it was released, and I think Basquiat suffers from its same issues. Its chorus is just too shouty for me, as if singing it really loudly can compensate for the fact that there’s not a lot of actual melody to be found. This song is decent, though like ONEUS’s track, it’s clearly designed more for a stage show than listening on its own. You can practically see the dramatic entrance and lighting. The electric guitar at the end is nice, though.


3. The Boyz – Checkmate

In yesterday’s recap, I mentioned how I thought that The Boyz were an immensely talented group often let-down by their material. Checkmate feels like something from their latest album, and that’s not exactly a compliment. Its verses are unnecessarily murky and moody, including some irritating trap production. The chorus is better, hinging on a dramatic melody and airy, layered vocals. Stacked up against their best, most upbeat work (Right Here, Giddy Up, D.D.D), this doesn’t do much for me. But, I guess it’s relatively satisfying.


AND… WE HAVE A TIE!


1. VERIVERY – Beautiful-x

Working with the Full8loom production team (of WJSN fame), VERIVERY struck gold with this electro funk track. Of all of the songs, it feels the most like an actual single that they would promote outside of RTK. Its upbeat energy hearkens back to debut-era Seventeen, which has always been the route I’d hoped to see VERIVERY take. I’ll forgive the short trap-rap breakdown in the second verse. At least it doesn’t come right after the chorus, where every other boy group track likes to lodge it. Otherwise, this is a very solid dance track. The chorus is especially slick, with some great layered vocal moments.


1. ONF – New World

I’m very happy to see that ONF continue to work with Monotree’s Hwang Hyun. The guy is a production genius, and that’s on full display here. The instrumental is fantastic, driven by interesting synth textures and orchestral moments. It has a real sense of drama to it, obviously tailored directly to the RTK stage. But in this case, I think that works. ONF’s title tracks have always been a bit ambitious, and here they get to go full bore in that direction. I love the double-time, guitar-fueled conclusion, but really the whole thing is a tour-de-force. I don’t think I can choose between this and VERIVERY’s track. They’re so different from each other, yet both distill the essence and appeal of these groups in a compelling way.

18 thoughts on “Reviewing and Ranking Road to Kingdom’s Final Comebacks (ONEUS, ONF, Pentagon, The Boyz, VERIVERY)

  1. I ADORE New World. It’s like they took Why’s frantic second verse and made it into an entire song. And boy am I here for it! I really hope they release an mv for the song so it can add to ONF’s flawless singles run. Probably my soty so far.

    I still don’t know how I would place the other 4 but Beautiful-X is the bright funk that I’ve been missing all year.

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    • I dont agree with this rank.. i dont like much of thismsong and im not even a fan of this group but i heard all this song and i think that basquiat was the best song. I heard person say that it seem like Dr. Bebe so i listened dr bebe and i understand that it’s simply the leader style, its strong? Dont listen it. Like you have to judge the quality of the music and stuff like that. I think it’s as powerful as follow and very good.

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  2. My Ranking
    5. Pentagon: This song feels rushed, very rushed. Especially that chorus. It reminds me of Dr.BeBe and not in a good way. Overall another disappointment from a great group that NEEDS more producers! Rating: Oh God No
    4. The Boyz: I actually enjoyed the verses and thought they were fun and a little sinister. Though whta brings it down here is that boring one-note chorus that just deosn’t do enough to grab my attention. Rating: Meh
    3. Oneus: They put out a song that really caught my attention! Sticking to a heavy drmamatic theme that really suits them! The verses on this thing are amazing but the chorus ties it together oh so nicely. I love the emotione they evoke and overall a great track. Rating: 8.5
    2. VeriVery: It’s fun, its energetc, and that chorus is great! I love how the chorus pauses repeatedly and deosn’t kill the energy. It’s kind of like the chorus is blasting you with fun! Rating: 8.75
    1! ONF: Amazing Production. Amazing Chorus. Amazing use of starts and stops. Amazing use of vocals. Amazing progression. Amazing Finale. Amazing songwriting. Rating: 9.25!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Finally the original songs part. At first I wasn’t interesting with the show but being stucked at home made me pay attention to it and it was indeed pretty boring. I’m not really interesting in those entertainment shows in k-pop in general but it seems like I’m not the only one with this feeling if I refer to your reviews and how people replied to them.

    5. PENTAGON have the obvious worst song for me. This is loud, too loud. But they will be able to make a stage with a guy half dressed and heavy dark makeup staring at the horizon so they will be ok.

    4. I dont know what to think about The Boyz. I can definitely hear the early EXO inspirations but it sounds more like a failed attempt to create this sound. Maybe they don’t have SM’s money to make the song as grandiose as they wanted it to be, or they just thought it was enough secure the win.

    3. ONEUS. That’s a shame this song is inconsistant because when it’s good, it’s really good. But the central part of the song, aka the chorus, being the most disappointing one is the worst thing that could happened to the song. But once again, they will find a way to make it look epic on stage so they will be ok.

    2. I’m glad VeriVery are coming back to this genre. I hated Lay Back when it came out but if we skip the second chorus, it’s a good song. One of the biggest risers of the year for me so far.
    This is clever to show this side of them now, they will definitely not win the show so they can just use this last performance to show what they sound like.

    1. WM Entertainment know how to make very good songs in these shows. I mean, even outside the shows they are a good agency but two times they killed it in the finals. If I had to judge the whole show, The Boyz probably deserve to win but ONF set the bar high with this song against PENTAGON (lol) and The Boyz.

    Nothing to do about Road to Kingdom but did you see the Golden Child tracklist ? LEEZ and Ollounder produced one of the b sides and it’s enough for me to join the hype wagon.

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  4. After Lay Back and Photo (both of which I liked!) I was afraid the more energetic and bright releases from Verivery had been abandoned. So glad that I was wrong.

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  5. Boom! I Just realized while looking at VERIVERY that I cam maybe see a potential of SEVENTEEN there. And if 2020 were producing tracks like ONF then maybe the K-pop landscape would have been better. Seriously , New World beats Labrynth as my 2020 SOTY.

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  6. With their unlistenable pastiche, Oneus gave the word “tragedy” a brand new shade.
    Their quick-rise & quicker-fall path is something we have already experienced with Nu’Est, with the difference that there won’t be another Produce 101 to save Oneus from their fate.
    This said, my ranking:

    NOT CLASSIFIABLE
    Oneus, Come Back Home

    4. Pentagon, Basquiat

    3. ONF, New World

    2. Verivery, Beautiful-X

    1. The Boyz, Checkmate

    Without its chorus, Checkmate wouldn’t probably be my cup of tea at all, but the chorus is something that reminds me the early years of EXO and it means just “WOW”.

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  7. I knew this would be your ranking. Verivery and ONF’s songs are the only ones I like, so am looking forward to the performances. The rest are not my cup of tea at all, my description of each one (won’t say which is which): awful, bizarre and underwhelming.

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  8. For some unknown reason I kind of thought there would be slightly more of a consensus when it came to ranking the five singles in comparison to ranking the past three rounds. I was very wrong. That’s ok though music is very subjective, and everyone likes different things.

    Here is my ranking of the five:

    1) ONEUS- This song has proven far more polarizing then I would have imagined, some hate it, some love it. As for me I love it. Other than kpop my second most listened to genera of music on Spotify is what they call epicore. Which is basically big and grand sounding music that you would find in an epic fantasy film soundtrack, and that is exactly what the instrumental to this track sounds like to me. I absolutely love the intro and the percussion that runs throughout the length of the track. I love the vocals that somehow come off very light and soaring at points but also rich and thick at others. I love the push and pull effect the synths give the chorus. This track doesn’t have a straight inclination towards an ending climax, it rises and falls. I know that’s not for everyone, but I really like the flow it has. Honestly, I really thought I was starting to get the annoyance with trap music when TXT released Puma but I really don’t feel that with this one. I’m still working on how to pick out the individual genres within kpop music, but I am not very good at it. That being said even if I was good at it this song would still be my favorite. Maybe that means I like some kind of trap, I really don’t know. Oneus is my bias, they are my second favorite group overall, my first is SHINee. Yet even if they had released these tracks without the artists name attached and miraculously I didn’t recognize them, this song would still be my favorite. They also released a stunning two and half minute concept film that contains enough plot to actually write a series of epic fantasy novels and I have been in awe of it for the last two days. I’ve said it before but for whatever reason Oneus was made for me.

    2) ONF- I think I would have to listen to this song thirty times before I could really grasp what is going on but it sure feels ambitious. I think ONF in general have very unique instrumental segments in their songs. Their producers seem to hold a strong appreciation for strings and brass within the instrumentals of their tracks, and I feel like that kind of appreciation is rare in kpop. This song is definitely a winner and the bridge is by far my favorite part, it feels almost magically whimsical in the best way.

    3) THE BOYZ- I definitely think this song was made for Road to Kingdom. I enjoyed it and it has an almost slinky kind vibe to it. The chorus became increasingly catchy the more I listened to it and I could see myself listening to it for a while. However, I don’t think this particular song does a great job of highlighting the individual members. If anything, The Boyz have proved themselves as amazing performers through and through, I just wish I liked their actual discography more. As of now I have only saved two of their title tracks and I’m sorry to say that the rest haven’t really inspired me to dive in deeper.

    4) VERIVERY- This song is quite funky, I like it, and It falls perfectly within their existing discography. Overall though it doesn’t really pique my interest musically. If I was listening to this while doing some chore or task there’s nothing here that would make me pause and listen to it. To me It falls very much in line with their existing B sides.

    5) PENTAGON- Throughout this entire show I am sad to say Pentagon is the only group that didn’t grow on me. I really think they need a break and to maybe reevaluate who they want to be as a group. Nearly all of their stages came off as being very loud and it kind of felt like they were screaming at me the whole time. This song pretty much falls in line with that sentiment for me. It’s the kind of song that that would pique my interest at first but very quickly wear itself out. Evidently its already starting to grate on me a bit.

    Overall Oneus and ONF’s songs are the only two here that I think will stick with me, but I still look forward to seeing all of them perform in the finale. We shall also finally crown the winner/winners and for that bit what I look forward to the most is seeing all of these boys get away from mnet for as long as they can. Oh, how nice that would be.

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  9. 1. VeriVery. The moment I heard it, I was in love. This is like straight from the 2013 SHINee era/2016 VIXX (Dynamite) era, I even forgave them for the trap parts, it helps that I’m a sucker for chromatic chords (the post-chorus).
    2. ONF. I put them second because I have mixed feelings about the first two choruses, but whenever the guitar came in I absolutely loved it.
    3. PTG. I didn’t actually feel it at first, but when the electric guitar came in I was okay. It’s like their ‘Follow’ cover. Would skip the 1st half and go straight to the 2nd half.
    4. Oneus. Hated the parts after the chorus. Chorus was really not my cup of tea.
    5. The Boyz. I was so excited when I heard the intro but when the song actually started I groaned in pain. I expected a ‘Jackpot’ (Block B) or ‘ViViD’ (Heejin), like something jazzy and retro. I’m so disappointed in this song.

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  10. I agree 100% with your review – Beautiful-x and New World were also the clear standouts to me upon the first listen. Beautiful-x is the significantly better, upbeat cousin of Checkmate, and the song never loses its energy. I am in love with that opening of New World, cinematic and grabs your attention immediately, and when it transitions into Hyojin’s part and starts sounding like an anime OST….whaaaat?! Each section is so different, yet they come together so well and stands out among the other formulaic songs of today. I’m so intrigued as to how ONF would design the stage for this song.

    Checkmate and Come Back Home were so disappointing. Checkmate sounds like any other song on the market today, and the chorus was so one note that its boring and forgettable. It sounds like a filler track that any boy group would have on their album. Come Back Home had such good verses…..aaaand the chorus came in like a wrecking ball and killed the momentum that the song built up. That chorus is terrible, and as good as the main vocals’ voices were, they sounded like goats drowning in a sea of autotune during the chorus.

    Basquiat is better than Checkmate and Come Back Home purely because it wasn’t terribly boring like Checkmate, or had an outstandingly unbearable chorus like Come Back Home. However, it is disappointing that Pentagon still chose to come out with something like Basquiat when they have done Very Good and Follow….eeehhh its just repetitive at this point, sounds like any other song that Monsta X would have done.

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  11. The songs from these dom show as usual, at least makes for a standout b-sides songs. Was planning to wait for the songs on the actual stage but, this reviews made me check it out anyway. Ranking times:

    5. Oneus – Come back home

    Decent build up, not so decent chorus. Hey, at least it will work out for them! This song got the best positive response out of them all.

    4. The Boyz – Checkmate

    Slinky chorus, everything else is a bit of a bore.

    3. Pentagon – Basquiat

    Sonic sequel of Dr. Bebe first 10 seconds, me likey. I won’t mind pentagon having more anthemic style comeback, and that wooseok post-chorus helps seal the deal.

    2. Verivery – Beautiful-X

    Ah yes, i did talk about wanting more electro funk did i? That “Who. I. Am.” Gotta be the catchiest moment of all these songs.

    1. ONF – New World

    This like a better version of their debut song. I love how dreamy it is and that high note in chorus, damn. It’s just the perfect combination of eurobeat, and orchestral strings before it morphs into a final boss theme with the guitar joining in at the end. Probably my second favourite songs from them after complete.

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  12. I actually really liked checkmate. The exo vibes from it were crazy like this could be a bside on overdose or something. And the chorus definitely had mama vibes. Obviously I’m biased since those two are my ults but ive just been playing it nonstop and contrary to everyone else I think it has a unique sound and less of a loud overbearing instrumental than most of the reveal album.

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    • Come Back Home just feels so absolutely right. Maybe the chorus isn’t it, but Leedo’s vocals, Seoho’s damn high note being raised four times, riding right off to Ravn’s damn rap is a ride and a half. They won’t win. I know they won’t, but holy hell do I wish they would.
      Hui, for the love of god stop flexing your damn vocals! Basquiat feels a damn well like Lion by (G)I-dle, in the sense that they’re coming out swinging, whether you like it or not. It’s loud. And it’s supposed to be.
      Checkmate is mysterious and dark, fitting right into Reveal. It’s almost scary in it’s tone, and the voices hold a type of sexiness that pulls a person completely under. I might not know the Boyz well, but damn.
      Now New World! My love of ONF has risen so high during this show. I absolutely love this song with all my heart, and I’m so proud that ONF are getting so much more recognition as well.
      Verivery’s new song is a weird spot for me, I love how funky and fun it is. But it also feels more like a b-side than a title track. I absolutely fell in love with Verivery during this show, especially Kangmin – and though I don’t know how to feel about the song, I do know I need to get into Verivery more.
      Don’t mind me, I just absolutely love these groups so much, and screaming about them feels right, you know?

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  13. VERIVERY’s track is easily the most enjoyable to me. Harkens back to some of VIXX’s old b-sides (and hey, Full8loom actually worked on VIXX’s last album LOL). Jellyfish groups usually have solid music imo.

    I’m happy to see VERIVERY finally retracing back to their retro roots, because THAT is where they shine – not this grimdark stuff they were trying to do with Lay Back. VERIVERY needs fun and energy. I hope this final stage is their best because the song deserves it.

    TBZ song sounds like it was constructed purely for the stage rather than for listening. I’m sure the final performance will be mesmerizing in one way or another because they’re working with a great team, but the song by itself feels meandering.

    Pentagon’s song is indeed very similar to Dr. BeBe, which is to say – full of yelling and attempts at being bad ass that don’t allow Pentagon’s strengths to shine. It doesn’t work for me and I’m tired of Hui screaming at me.

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  14. I’m still going to throw this point out there: there’s absolutely NO reason that every group competing on the show shouldn’t have reached this stage and had this opportunity. Especially when it comes to original songs, you have no idea when there could be a major upset. Just think of all the months or seasons in K-Pop where people expected the top groups deliver the best song of the time period but it wound up being an underrated 2nd tier or below group that hit it out of the park. The eliminations for RTK were pointless. If they wanted to make this a “one group makes it to the main show” set up, every group should have been in the competition until the very end.

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