Review

Song Review: Kingdom – Excalibur

Debut group Kingdom started teasing their fantasy concept weeks ago, and my attention was instantly piqued. I love a dramatic, theatrical concept that goes beyond the typical “bad boy” posturing favored by many groups. I think this is especially important for a debut group, who need to establish their niche right away. Kingdom promise a multi-album story arc of magical, medieval intrigue, and they’ve got the cosplay outfits to back it up. But, do they have the music?

Excalibur isn’t perfect, but I love its ambition. The song bases itself upon many of todays trendy flourishes, yet melds them to a bombastic brew of orchestration. The verses wisely opt for a resounding stomp, and though this switches up a bit during the tricky second verse, it’s never at the expense of Excalibur’s cinematic atmosphere.

The real fun begins during the song’s pre-chorus. It builds in an expected manner, but brings in church organ to create an overpowering rush of sound. After an impressive flourish of vocals, this theatricality continues into the chorus. While I’ll never be a fan of future bass’s lurching nature, it’s used pretty well here. The slabs of aggressive synth blend with a hearty performance that layers Kingdom’s voices to build a resonant texture. In keeping with the song’s concept, Kingdom come across as a veritable idol army. A wobbly dance break makes for a fun (if jarring) bridge, and clears the air before Excalibur’s hulking chorus makes one final return. It all gets a little noodly at times, but if their agency can laser-focus on the strengths of this sound, we could have something very special on our hands.

 Hooks 8
 Production 9
 Longevity 9
 Bias 9
 RATING 8.75

39 thoughts on “Song Review: Kingdom – Excalibur

  1. I am not taken with this song. To me it sounds like a pick-a-mix grab bag of the Seriously Serious Theming theme that is going around these days. Substantial cosplay indeed. Its like they rented the whole shop, including some leftovers from Road to the Kingdom.

    The only thing of interest to me is that descending by half notes, that C-B-Bb-A line “Look at me now”. The rest of it sounds like a lot of songs out there. The wubble wubble bass sound at the very start of the break and the rest of the break with airy vocal ad libs is also interesting for about 10 seconds.

    Mid 7’s at best for me.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I can easily see this being a disliked song. The vocals sound off and weak in the entire first half and the pre-chorus just feels empty and lifeless. But I think that’s the charm of it. This is one of those songs which I shouldn’t like but I just end up loving. Although I’m an extreme fan of EDM, I feel refreshed when I hear songs that don’t follow generic EDM builds and just have a feel of their own. I also love how the title of the song comes at the peak of the chorus instead of being placed in some random section which is repeated like 8 times just to get it in your head.

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  2. I definitely don’t like this nearly as much as you but that dramatic chorus is great, they definitely have potential, especially if the next releases end up having a tiny bit better production cause this was a bit too disjointed at times. The concept is so cool, though, I love the music video. *-*

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I was worried an Arthurian concept would be cringey, And I was not wrong. I say that as someone who loves everything King Arthur. I also find it to be an incredibly noisy song, like a lot of metal and a church organ fed through a meat grinder. This is just the beginning for them, though, so who knows how they could develop.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I am kindof blown away by the concept! It’s something else! I love that they went all the way with it – like a big themed costume party. This might be too cheesy for some, but it’s the kind of theatre and spectacle that I want from kpop (my initiation song was Fantastic Baby, after all).

    This is also the reason why I usually try to listen to a song first without watching the MV. I can’t disconnect the two here, the song is enhanced for me by the dramatic imagery. The prechorus is great, the chorus keeps up the drama – nice. No idea how this will age for me though.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Welp… I guess it’s just you and me riding the Excalibur train!

      But like you, I have no idea how this will age. My love of theatricality in K-pop has me excited now. Will I be as thrilled in a week? Honestly, I’m not sure (which makes my longevity “9” rating a little suspect, doesn’t it? haha)

      Liked by 3 people

  5. Great concept and video, good chorus, but an overly convoluted way of getting to it. Most people seem not super into the song but love the visuals. Honestly that’s probably preferable to a great song and typical visual when it comes to breaking a kpop artist: This’ll take them much further, I can already imagine screengrabs from this being shared and it getting labeled as one of the best kpop debuts/concepts.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Can someone telle these companies to stop teasers in k-pop. I heard about this group one month ago, then we had something like three weeks of photo teasers, then nothing for a week, and finally the debut song. Is a whole month really needed to hype up a comeback. Even though I feared that the King Arthur thing would be too much for me, I was at least interested in the idea.
    But then one month passed and I didn’t care anymore the day of the release.

    It’s not the first time it happens to me and I’m annoyed by this trend. Do we really need three concept photos of each members ? A character Teaser ? What is a Mood Sampler ?

    The song is fine. It seems like they had many ideas but never reached the full potential of any. It doesn’t help that none of the vocalists seem to be strong enough to make some parts of the song standout.
    However it’s a good debut. That’s not a group that will be forgotten until I search for their last song when they’ll announced their next comeback. Which is a good thing in an oversatured market

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    • There are way way too many teasers out there these days. Every group has (number members x 3 teasers each) + (whole group constant). Just release the damn thing already.

      Even Shinee is putting out “mood samplers” these days.

      And sometimes the teaser doesn’t have the actual song in the teaser, so really its about the visual. I swear there are more stylists in some kpop companies than musicians.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Seems like kpop as a whole is not really all about the music (anymore?). Is that a bad thing? I don’t know. I would gladly join in complaining about the teaser overload but I’d be such a hypocrite – I loved the Shinee Mood Sampler.

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  7. I am someone with no sense of shame so I love the Arthurian concept, however cheesy it may be. Like someone else said, I love the theater and spectacle in K-pop. I also like the song well enough, too, although I admit the concept elevates it a lot for me – it’s about on par with other groups’ debut songs for me in terms of offering a lot of potential for their future sound, even if they don’t capitalize on that potential entirely in the song itself. I do admit I wish they hadn’t relied quite so much on the “trendy flourishes” and gone just as hard with making the song sound more medieval/Arthurian as they did with the MV – I was hoping for something like EXO’s MAMA, I guess – but I was pleased to hear the chanting and the organ. Overall, a good debut and I’m excited to see where they go!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. After watching Golden Child’s cinematic music video, I feel a bit let down by this one (especially after watching the cool MV teasers)…but that’s probably me having too high expectations (Burn It is a masterpiece in my opinion). I think the Excalibur music video would have been ten times better if there was a little more storyline. The song was meh for me, but I’ll definitely check out whatever they put out next!

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  9. OMG WOW, i did not expect this. One of my wishes for kpop in 2021 was to hear an epic hans zimmer-esque type song, and although this isn’t exactly that, it feels kinda similar and I LOVE THAT. I must say the instrumental is kinda weird and doesn’t exactly go the way i wish it did but there are some absolutely fantastic moments. I wish they gave more of that sound that was played in the cinematic outro, it’s rly epic and powerful. Regardless, this was an amazing listen.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I’m just echoing everyone else but this is basically NCT and E’last had a baby but it’s the 5th century AD and the Britons need to fight the Saxons. I’m all here for wonky themes but as much as the video tried to push them in a new direction (I’m still not over that poor member with the awful bowl cut) the song just wasn’t enough. They should have really leaned into the drama and Arthurian nature of it rather than trying to mesh that with angsty, moody boy group trends that just dragged the song down. Like come on if you’re going to commit to the concept, then also commit in the song. Poor guy had a bowl cut for no reason

    Liked by 2 people

  11. It’s so interesting to see the clash of Asian and European influences here!
    We have a Korean group doing a concept from an English legend, and while there was a lot of European influence there was definitely some Asian fantasy elements in there.

    As for the song, a lot of the sections felt… isolated from each other? The use of organ was lit, but I found the dance break and the section right before the chorus to be a little too quiet and meandering. Still, it’s a strong debut. I’m definitely keeping an eye on Kingdom in the future!

    Liked by 3 people

  12. The song was all over the place and I wish they found a way to bring the drama of the chrch organs into the future bass produciton during the chorus. In fact, just give me more organ, please. A really messy, but interesting debut. They’ve definitely made their mark

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  13. This isn’t related to the song (I will definitely check it out) but goddamn I would give anything for a group to do a gothic masquerade concept 😩

    Also ONF and Sunmi teasers 👀

    Like

  14. It’s like the songwriter thought of a really cool ascending build-up for the verses, and then chickens out at the chorus and decided to do a regular edm dance music for it.

    Still, looking forward to this group. Just one big drop at the chorus for their next song with similar styles and i’ll be sold.

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  15. Vocals are awful (and if they barely hit a note in a studio version, I can’t guess what to expect when they’re going to sing live), and the instrumental sounds like an early 2000 midi ringtone. Even the video, although it’s definitely not low budget, has a very cheap look & feel.
    Teasers really got me in the concept and the hype, but the disclosure is a complete mess.

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  16. So MUSIC WISE, I think it’s very well done. I had time to listen to the whole album and it feels very cohesive. I listened to the album all the way through. My favorite b side is Picasso.

    The music video however…the cheap look of it ruined the song for at first. I just could not follow it for the life of me.

    However, I’m glad I listened to the song outside of the MV. It does much better when not paired with it.

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  17. I’m quite curious to see where this goes. Their image and concept already has me taken. I love the vocals but I can see where others come from when they say aspects feel all over. I think they’re trying to settle which should have been done before but I’m quite excited to see where this all leads. Their newest mini album seems to imply there might be 7 or so for all the members. This seems quite unique so I hope to see them succeed.

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  18. I really enjoyed this actually, because it took me surprise! that being said I felt like the actual group itself maybe didn’t have the experience/skills to quite pull off this song like I wanted. The concept was there, but there were parts of the execution that felt very wobbly to me (particularly parts of the rap).

    Liked by 1 person

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