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Kingdom: Legendary War – Episode Three Recap and Ranking

Kingdom - Legendary WarWarning: This recap is not spoiler-free. Proceed at your own risk!


Other Recaps: Episode One // Episode Two


THE FINAL THREE PERFORMANCES

This week completes the first round of performances, with the final acts added to last week’s trio. And, the show wastes no time getting to the first performance, which means I’ll waste no time getting to my personal rankings! These are not based on anything beyond my own opinion.


ROUND ONE: MY RANKINGS

Disclaimer: I’m watching the full episode, not the unedited clips on YouTube. I’ll be embedding the full YouTube performances in these posts, but my ranking is determined by what was shown in the episode itself.


6. SF9 – Jealous (Now Or Never)


Putting SF9 last in the running order was an interesting move from Stray Kids, and one that I don’t quite understand. The group doesn’t strike me as the climax of a show like this, but that might just be my ignorance showing. Come to think of it… I’ve actually seen them perform live on two occasions (more than any of the other groups on the show), so I guess I have some point of reference!

SF9 debates whether to try something new or focus on their strengths. And, they opt to perform one of their representative songs. I think this is smart, because their group has a different color than their competitors, and that’s how they’ll stand out.

On a personal note, they get extra points for including Golden Child’s Bomin in their behind the scenes package. I can’t believe Bomin wanted to go near this series again, but it’s always great to see him popping up in any show he wants to be in! Also, who is this kid not friends with in the idol industry? I think he’s close with at least one member in almost every Kingdom group!

Back to SF9, the guys take us behind the scenes of a few of their individual schedules, asking coworkers about their strengths and what they should show as part of the competition. Of all the groups, I feel like this introductory video didn’t really reveal much about SF9’s concept. I’m worried that Kingdom will focus more on their height and looks than their creativity, while at the same time lavishing praise on how creative some of the other groups are. Oh, that MNET editing! Don’t we just love it?

They wring all sorts of drama from a particularly difficult jump stunt during the rehearsals of this performance. I’m sure the producers were just salivating as they watched Jaeyoon struggle with this moment.

As for the performance, I thought it was solid. I’ll always enjoy an orchestral arrangement, though I don’t know if this was the right song for that treatment. It stole most of the groove from the usually light-on-its-feet Now Or Never, slowing whole segments to a crawl. This allowed for some striking moments, and a greater sense of build than many of the other acts.

The arrangement improved as it went on and SF9 gave a great, dramatic performance. But in the context of this show, coming after so many over-the-top acts, it lacked some impact. I thought this was strong, but it’s not going to be one of the performances I remember most from this round.

5. The Boyz – No Air


Read my thoughts as part of last week’s recap.

4. BTOB – Missing You


Read my thoughts as part of last week’s recap.

3. Stray Kids – Side Effects + God’s Menu


After coming out on top during the introductory round, these guys have a lot to live up to. Like The Boyz, Stray Kids struggle to figure out how to live up to the precedent they set. And the fact that they pulled out my favorite song for their introduction means that they can no longer count on Miroh as a trump card. Yes, that’s my personal bias speaking 100%!

To choose the song for this round, the group consults with employees within their agency. To be honest, I’m sure all the groups are doing this, but Stray Kids centered the bulk of their behind-the-scenes package around a video conference with JYP employees.

As they were practicing for the performance, I kept getting distracted by the fact that the light fixtures in the JYP practice rooms are actually carved out to spell “JYP.” His agency is literally a fortress celebrating his own legacy, isn’t it? It’s so ridiculous. I love it.

Wooyoung from 2PM comes in to have a meal with the guys, and I swear this behind-the-scenes package has been running for at least thirty minutes by now. Maybe that length is a hidden reward for coming in first place during the introductory round? Or maybe it’s just the benefit of being from (whispers dramatically) JYP.

Or… maybe it’s my warped perception of time. Probably that last one, to be honest.

By the time the actual performance rolls around, that long-winded pre-show turns out to be worth it. The staging of this was great. The ever-changing set really gave it the look of a music video, and I loved how interactive everything was. I thought the audio arrangement drained some of the unique character from both songs, but they melded together seamlessly.

Stray kids were always poised to do really well on a show like this. They’re so creative, and that creativity was on full display this round. However, if you took away all the sets and gimmicks, I didn’t find this as impressive from a strictly audio standpoint. I don’t know that I’d want to listen to this mix on its own. It really hinged on the staging, which was excellent. So, I guess your opinion will come down to where you put most emphasis. In a show like Kingdom, staging is… erm… king. So, they probably chose wisely.

2. iKON – Love Scenario + Killing Me


Read my thoughts as part of last week’s recap.

1. ATEEZ – Wonderland


ATEEZ are technically the youngest team in the competition, but for whatever reason they don’t feel that way. I guess it’s due to how fast and intense their climb to popularity has been. They’re hanging out with the big boys, and certainly capable of it.

Leader Hongjoong also seems to take the lead when it comes to production and brainstorming, and much of the pre-performance clip focuses on this. Whenever one member has such a big role in this way, it always makes me nervous that they’ll burn out or become overly frustrated. Luckily, he has production team Edenary to bounce ideas off of. In fact, it seems like their whole agency has been divided into smaller teams to help with aspects of this performance.

The group decides to stick with their trademark pirate theme for this round, and part of me is hoping that concept will have its final hurrah as part of this show. I’m very eager for ATEEZ to move on to a completely different idea, even if their music doesn’t end up changing that much. I mean, I love pirates, and their Treasure series is nothing short of epic. I just think they have the potential to stretch themselves and do some really cool things in the future.

I’ve got to say, I was impressed by how this behind the scenes package actually focused on some of the work that went into the music arrangement. I’ll always embrace awesome arrangements more than visual aspects of a performance, so I appreciated the inclusion.

And, this was my favorite song arrangement of all the performances. It retained everything wonderful about Wonderland, but gave the track even more drama, befitting the Kingdom stage.

Some of the staging was a bit hokey, but that was totally fine for a theme as silly as pirates. Overall, I think it was smart to go with an easily identifiable concept and perform it in such a cinematic way. The huge Kraken tentacle was a showstopping highlight, and easily my favorite effect during this first round. I love how this was theatrical rather than angsty. It felt like a celebration of the song. It was just so much goofy fun! And then, they capped it all off with a way over-the-top vocal flourish from Jongho. This is my kind of ridiculous theatre. It’s an easy number one for me.


THE FINAL(ISH) RANKINGS

The mysterious experts ranked the groups like this:
5. BTOB/iKON (tie)
4. SF9
3. The Boyz
2. Stray Kids
1. ATEEZ

The teams also ranked each other, but the show didn’t linger on these scores. When everything was added together, here’s how the final ranking turned out:
6. SF9 (zero votes from the competing teams, poor things!)
5. iKON
4. BTOB
3. The Boyz
2. Stray Kids
1. ATEEZ

Of course, there’s still the fan vote to come, which means this ranking isn’t yet set in stone. Who do you think will come out on top when all is said and done?

29 thoughts on “Kingdom: Legendary War – Episode Three Recap and Ranking

  1. Your perspective is so different from mine. I respect your ranking; your reasonings do make sense. I think a lot of it does come down to preference (hence the name BIAS-list). I personally thought:

    1. Ateez (The remix was great and brought Wonderland to a whole new level, very clever to use Dvořá, just really fun and adventurous)

    2. SF9 (I loved the classical remix, their delivery was great with what they had, the stage was easy to follow. Felt cohesive and captivating. Lacked climax, needed more vocal to stand out. Side note: I feel like everyone (themselves, the other groups, FNC, and MNET) pushes for height/visuals and they are so busy being actors that the performer aspect of them begins to suffer.

    3. BTOB (Easy to follow and captivating, climax was great, this was really true to who they are. Lacked grander remix and transitions.

    4. iKon/The Boyz
    (iKon: Love Scenario >>> Killing me. Transition was good, would have preferred Killing Me sad musical too. Love Killing Me as a song, but this didn’t really click as much as I wanted
    The Boyz: Engaging, but the remix could be better. Hands were cool, but didn’t really enhance perf. Overall lacked cohesion to me.)

    5. Stray Kids (Loved their passion and dedication. The original (for both songs) is better than the remix, transitions were odd, the blanket and people with harnesses didn’t really connect either. Overall, it was just overwhelming.)

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  2. HOLD UP we have very different perceptions of this round! I’ve been waiting to read your write up though, it’s insightful & I love your snark towards mnet in sf9’s section, thank you for vocalising what i (and a lot of us here, i bet) have been thinking

    my list would be:
    1. Ateez
    how much someone likes a performance is subjective and all, but I’ll be surprised if people /didn’t/ like this one. It’s so unabashedly enjoyable and fun in a campy & musical way, and reminds me of Disneyland rides, so the theming is On Point!

    The song also mashed really well with the classical piece? like, it completes the sea shanty chant in the best way. Ateez’ round 1 performance is an easy 1st and I hope the fan ranking reflects this too.

    2. BTOB
    saeguk stages are just great. I know people have been complaining about how one-note the performance was, and how similar it was to their other performances, or how minhyuk’s sword dance was too jarring, and while yeah, I agree that a more traditional korean would be appreciated, what we have is still excellent.

    ( honestly, i agree with the thoughts and would put the group lower in 3rd if i didn’t dislike elements of the performances below as much )

    3. iKON = SF9
    both the segments of Love Scenario and Killing Me were fantastically remixed & performed (though mnet’s lighting and shoddy camerawork AND budget limits don’t show that as well), but I’m still not buying the transition, despite having watched it many times over the week. I’ll prefer a full musical performance of Love Scenario instead!

    I really liked sf9’s concept & performance, but their arrangement of the song stalls a lot of the momentum. This is so highly placed because I didn’t like the other 2 performances below. Mnet’s been pretty suspicious with their editing for sf9, it’s a relief to see others point it out too.

    5. SKZ = TBZ
    I didn’t like the staging of side effects & god’s menu, it looked far too busy and though there’re a lot of brilliant scenes, they compete with each other and the performance as a whole ended up pretty messy. Ironically, I like how the lads have arranged / remixed the song, the transition between side effects and gods menu was just good fun.

    Even so, i’m surprised at how highly you’ve put them (speaking as someone who’s a fan of them!), given that you’ve complained about similar issues previously irt: the boyz!

    The boyz also faced a similar problem: the 1st person POV was a great idea, but WITH the night walker concept? and the pink screen? and sunwoo rapping while hanging

    I’m sure the boys (both tbz and skz) are fantastic performers and practiced very hard for their stages — the performances are technically impressive and visually impactful, but they really should rethink the concepts from the beginning

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    • as a whole, i’m not a fan of how Kingdom seems to be leaning towards RtK’s “stunts = better performance” narrative, which has already been mentioned countless of times in this blog space.

      I hoped that the 3rd gen groups’ presence would have brought more diversity to the narrative, but the results aren’t reflecting that :/ ( though it’s gratifying to see BTOB in 2nd place for the inter-team evaluation )

      it’s just so painfully ironic that mnet fought to bring those 3 groups on the show, only to tell them that their performance style’s not rewarded (last?? for btob? in expert evaluation???)

      So far, episode 4’s teaser seems to be promising more of the same performance concepts, which is really bumming me out. I’m trying to reserve judgement until Round 2 performances are shown, but my hype’s definitely a lottttt lower than previously rip

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  3. Some notes, as I generally agree with the ranking, switch 2 & 3.
    * I counted it – the SKZ behind took 19 minutes; ATEEZ behind took 13 minutes; SF9 behind took 14 minutes. Took so long in my opinion (especially Stray Kids – I think it’s definitely a beneift of being in JYP) and this is why I never wanted to watch any Produce episodes in full.
    * the editing of the SF9 behind made me lowkey uncomfortable. I don’t even stan them but the sabotage being made to them *side eyes*
    * I do wanna ask – do you have any concepts in mind with regards to what you want ATEEZ to do conceptually? I would like to see a part 2 to your “If I Ruled the K-pop World” editorial that you’ve done a few years ago, but with the 4th gen groups included.

    Very glad to see you blogging about this show, as a sort of refresher/summary for the week’s episode.

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    • I’m so happy to see the disparity between those running times because they prove I’m not crazy!

      As for ATEEZ, I REALLY want them to tackle a cyberpunk concept. Style them like the biker gang from Akira:

      And give them a story/setting like this (without the overdramatic narration lol)

      Make the music a modern K-pop take on techno, and you’ll have my heart.

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      • That sounds absolutely incredible! I’d love it if the guys would do that. Take Me Home really could have been an outstanding showcase of the sci-fi concept, Anyways, I’ll hope for some Psy-Trance, Dense Electronics or more Synth Pop from them in the near future.

        There is just so much for them to do and for some reason they aren’t doing it!

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  4. I don’t know who these experts are or the logic behind making the groups choose only their top three picks collectively, but by ranking the more angsty/dark performances (particularly SKZ and TBZ this week) higher, I feel like it gives the groups and their management the idea that audience loves these concepts over more “funky/bright” ones. And I don’t think that’s what we want all the time, right?
    I’d love to see some one pull a It’s Raining-like performance in Kingdom.
    Also, MNET is clearly going to make the groups that bring in the most votes, views and social media presence (either SKZ, TBZ or ATEEZ) the winner. I’d be surprised if one of these three didn’t win.
    I started watching this show for interactions and good performances but the lack of the former is making me want to quit watching.

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    • I have the theory that it’s going to be either Ateez or Stray Kids (heavy lean on SKZ) cause MNET has a reality show at stake (I’m pretty sure that’s one of these rewards) and those groups would garner the most views but that’s just my conspiracy.

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  5. I actually liked all of the performances here, though not as much as Road To Kingdom. Those performances were just Top-Tier excellent and I didn’t find much competition here.

    6. Stray Kids – Objectively, it should be one of the best performances on this show. It had the stage presence and creativity Stray Kids put their name on, but there wasn’t any segment I particularly enjoyed honestly)

    5. Btob – This was also pretty good objectively, but same as Stray Kids. The vocals were top notch though and they delivered well in that department.

    4. SF9/The Boyz – There were some highlights here and there, but it was mostly neutral for me. But! I loved the organized stage here.

    2. IKON – Something about the guys charisma appeals to me immensely, I loved their presence and the arrangement of the songs. I think there could have been some over-the-top element which could have helped it.

    1. ATEEZ – Holy Shit! Currently, this is the only performance which lived up to the title of legendary war! Their presence was immense, the staging was a bit dirty but the guys energy offered a good support and the effects were just A+. There were surprises everywhere and This puts ATEEZ in a whole new spotlight for me, It was incredible!
    *Though I agree with them doing something entirely new.

    and like KRISTIN’s comment above, can you do a “If I ruled K-pop” part 2, but this time include groups such as ONF, Golden Child, Stray Kids, TXT, ATEEZ etc. etc.?

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  6. Oh wow, nice too see you really enjoyed iKON! Stray Kids were the worst for me this episode, I really didn’t like the way they arranged the songs nor the performance. It legit made me want to turn it off halfway through for some reason.

    SF9, on the other hand, were one of the best for me, I thought the performance was really interesting.

    The whole production and voting seems messy already and I’m honestly only watching the performances and a few clips I see online of the groups being friendly and so. Eh.

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  7. Watching these performances reminded the scandal there was before the beginning of the show. Some groups were aware of the budget cap being higher than the original one announced by mnet. But others weren’t.

    This is only speculation but both Stray Kids and ATEEZ stages seemed way more high budget than others. With this information I don’t know how to judge it. ATEEZ were definitely the best. I enjoyed Stray Kid’s performance even though the arrangement didn’t do much for me. As for SF9, the remix killed everything that makes the original song interesting.

    My top 3 would be ATEEZ > iKON > Stray Kids

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  8. Just out of curiosity, would you be reviewing ORβIT’s album? Their production quality has been suprisingly high for a group that basically had to start from scratch, after Produce Japan and all, and I feel like they’re JO1’s little sibling sometimes

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    • I might write about the group eventually, especially if one of their singles knocks me out. The new one’s alright, but so far I feel like Orbit is just doing a Japanese version of K-pop rather than bringing anything new to the table.

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  9. I’ve been rewatching the Road to Kingdom stages and my favorite ones were always the stages were I enjoyed myself (Oneus-Lit, Oneus/The Boyz-Heroine, ONF-it’s raining, Pentagon-Shine/Spring Snow, even though I always end up bawling at the end) or the ones with actually clear story lines or themes BUT with really awesome songs (the Boyz-Danger, Oneus-Warrior’s Descent, Oneus-Be Mine, Heroine also falls in this category and that’s why it’s my favorite stage). Like I’ve been quite disappointed with some of the remix’s on Kingdom. I don’t have a musically trained ear but the strings added to the start of SKZ’s performance were totally random, right. Like they didn’t seem to fit with the rest of the song and they interfered a bit. Like I still have some of the RtK arrangements on my playlist but I don’t see myself doing that for any Kingdom groups if they make them available.
    I’m absolutely turning into a broken record but I’m so done with the edgy stuff especially coming from Stray Kids. They’re by far my favorite group in the show but I knew coming in that I would not be rooting for them after the intro stage. Like you have a song that’s literally about cooking and you didn’t go with a restaurant musical theme?!? It’s right there waiting for you. Or they could have gone with My Pace and had an absolute blast or go back to their roots with a faithful arrangement of District Nine and recreated the mv breakout scene (still edgy but more different/creative). But noooo they had to suck the life out of their crowning jewel (I’m referring to Side Effects) and do some edgy “we’re being controlled by the expectations of others but we’ll break free but also this is some weird fantasy/dystopian” thing (at least that’s what I was able to parse from many rewatches and others comments). They have such great charisma and energy as performers and I’m just disappointed knowing that’s not being shown. Also for the love of god Changbin we all know you can rap there’s no need to stop rapping halfway through your line so we can hear the difference between you and the backing track, its jarring.
    Ateez on the other hand stole the fucking show. I mean that arrangement with the classical piece was *chef’s kiss* and the whole concept was awesome. This is how you do a storyline. Make it simple, visually clear, and easy to follow AND something new and interesting we haven’t seen before. Pirates. They were fucking pirates. I LOVE IT. Any performance that requires watching Pirates of the Caribbean for research gets a win in my book. Also, I had to raise a question to any of the commenters who know vocal technique but that one Ateez member fucked up his voice at the end of that high note, right? You aren’t supposed to come out of a high note with a scream?
    Okay so SF9 kind falls in the middle for me (I’d have kept them at fourth overall with TBZ and SKZ at 5th and 6th). Their stage was elegant and they had the best outfits (as a cohesive whole it goes to Ateez but individually their outfits were awful). I think I like Hwiyoung’s vest more than some of the other groups whole performances-that vest was gorgeous and I adore the gold detailing on the red. Loved the mirror thing and the part where they spin the dancers. I actually really like the way they interacted with the dancers-it gave them more of a purpose than to just fill out the stage with more bodies. The stage could have used a Venitian mask or two. I think they chose a good song but I would have loved if they did O Sole Mio. She’s one of my favorite SF9 song and she absolutely needs more love. I think the Boyz are going to perform her next week so we’ll see if they do her justice. I really hope they keep the OG choreo because it’s one part ridiculous and one part genius and I need to see 11 people plus dancers do it.
    Lastly MNET has to really fix its editing. They’re obviously doing the “fallen” group thing they did with Park Bom and Pentagon to Ikon and it’s really infuriating. And like what’s up with SF9? I think they’re pulling a Oneus on them where they’re the failed group we’re supposed to pity and who isn’t going to be able to break the ceiling and achieve the level of the other groups. Bruh I’m just here for interactions and cool performances, I don’t need the drama.
    Sorry for the rant I just have a lot of feelings about this stupid show and no one to share it with so I’m screaming it onto the internet.

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    • I just had a possibly brilliant idea: a great stage for Stray Kids would have been My Pace X TA(from the Go Live album) and now I’m even more annoyed about their stage selection.

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      • What possible visual concept could they do with this song combo? Also, are you buying their “we don’t want to be repetitive” story (that made them suck life out of Side Effects) that they’re trying to say?

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        • I guess that their performance may not have been repetitive in terms of what they as a group have done but it seems repetitive in the sense that it’s a similar style to a lot of things other groups are doing and even the style that they usually go for (this personal performance reminds me that one end of the year award show where they had a vampire concept). Monochrome, dark, “meaningful”, slightly menacing. I’ve seen it before. Now if they went with My Pace X TA it would absolutely be something new. It’s a faster paced song, I want to see some COLOR like multiple colors together at once not just monochrome and some black accents, and all of them dancing together(something about competition shows makes these groups think they shouldn’t dance together for most of the song). I don’t really think there needs to be like a strict storyline personally but they could have like a skatepark/graffiti theme? Think what TOO did in their last performance on RtK but better executed? Them actually skating would be a cool visual element that you don’t see often (though I think weeekly has skateboards in their most recent comeback). I just really want a fast paced, high octane, get out of your seats and dance concept instead of all this theatrically. At least once. If they really wanted to not be repetitive they’d lean into more fun, campy concepts (again restaurant musical to a God’s Menu/Back Door remix would have been awesome-and I mean like full on waiter’s uniform dancing on tables, cooking in a fake kitchen like the start of the GM mv)or they’d do a full 180 and do a really elegant, beautiful concept. I heard they’re covering BTOB and I’d love to see them tackle I’ll Be Your Man or Wow. I think they’re doing Thriller according to the rumor and that just means that we’re in store for the same old concept UNLESS they go full ridiculous Halloween getup. Movie would also be a good song to cover? And they could do scenes from famous movies/shows. I think I’ve gotten to that stage where I literally just want some goddam color and to feel something(anything).

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          • I’m thinking that Side Effects + God’s Menu could also be done with an Alice in Wonderland theme, sans Alice. There are the “Drink Me” potions for growing bigger and smaller, the Caterpillar with the psychedlic mushroom. The CHesire Cat. Add the tea scene with White Rabbit and Mad Hatter for the eating and cooking lines. Also the Knave of Hearts stealing the tarts.

            Adding “Through the looking glass” could expand to more imagery, perhaps as a sequel. All the running in place on a chessboard to go nowhere. More characters – Tweedledee and Tweedledum, Humpty Dumpty, etc.

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        • I wouldn’t know how to meld the music from TA and My Pace, but one could make a frame story and jump from one to the next.

          The frame TA could be a cut-down bus painted all 60’s hippie like a magic school bus, hop on hop on. Someone steers, someone pulls the stop cord, and then get off and
          = song jump= What do they see? =
          Nanananana this ain’t right … … …
          And then Back on the bus! Hop onto the next verse
          and repeat

          They could also do this with a pick a mix of interleaved songs so each time they get off the bus it a different song.

          The bus could like this, or a recreated stage version, but cut down at window ledge height so its like a convertible with no roof.
          https://www.alamy.com/stock-photo-painted-vw-hippie-van-at-ruby-blues-winery-naramata-bench-okanagan-79515368.html

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        • Also, Hellevator would go well with a Wizard of Oz theme. The part where Dorothy is stuck in the wicked witch’s castle. Get an actress to play Dorothy at the very end of that long stage except the lion tin man and scarecrow never get there this time. The vocalists are the lion, tin man, and scarecrow trying to defeat the witch and her minions to free Dorothy. Witch is a (boy) warlock who does the 2nd verse with the flying monkeys and the guards. All the rappers play bad guys.

          This time the witch wins. She happens to have an umbrella that she opens when the bell rings and the water is thrown. Tin man rusts. Scarecrow gets picked apart. Lion gets carried off. Add a few mean trees throwing apples too, sure. And a throne for the witch to sit on triumphantly, because this is Kingdom and everyone has a throne at some point.

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  10. I recently just found this out, but apparently ateez practiced for this perf in 2 days bc they were in the middle of their comeback promotions at the time. Super relieved with how their stage turned out in the end! :’)

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  11. My ranking for the week:

    1. ATEEZ
    2. iKON
    3. BTOB
    4. SF9
    5. Stray Kids
    6. The Boyz

    ATEEZ put on the kind of performance I watch this show for. This was hands down the best arrangement of the round. I personally thought the Kraken was over the top, but the section Seonghwa had with the rifle was absolute perfection. I feel like there was a ton of personality in here along with just excellent performance. Also as someone who became a fan at the end of the Treasure series largely because of the pirate concept, I am in no way ready for it to end.

    (Side note – I wonder how the discrepancy in the production budget between groups affected the evaluation. ATEEZ obviously had one of the larger budgets, whereas iKON’s was presumably smaller because their stage was much simpler. The groups I’m thinking had smaller budgets were all ranked in the bottom half by the experts.)

    I actually like SF9’s concept the most this round. The idea of stealing beauty is really interesting, & I thought they portrayed it well. The concept was incorporated into the choreography throughout in really unique ways, like taking the ribbons off. As I’m watching it again, I’m SO in love with the concept & execution. The only reason they’re not above BTOB is the song itself. The arrangement felt kind of stripped of personality, but I agree it gets better as it goes along.

    Stray Kids were at a disadvantage from the beginning because I’m not a fan of either of the songs they chose. I didn’t like their makeup either. Felix was the highlight of the performance. His tone is so unique, & he really sold his moments.

    I’m super excited to see them exchange songs next week! I’m also hoping for at least slightly less filler, although I doubt that will happen.

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    • Actually same, I don’t want ATEEZ to ditch their pirate concept. I love it, but I wish for them to do new stuff in their music.

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  12. I find it very difficult to try and rank the performances from this round because of the disparities in budget and stage production – it seriously baffles me how Mnet just… failed to inform three groups about the increase in the budget allowance? And considering we don’t know what the criteria for ranking was by the experts (though there are rumors floating around that they do consider stage production/design, which automatically puts the three senior groups here at a significant disadvantage for this round) I was very disheartened. Stuff like this helps no one – the senior groups don’t get a chance to adequately show off what they can do and it goes unappreciated, and the ZZZ groups are exposed to unnecessary criticism and hate 😦

    Nothing against the groups themselves (it’s all on Mnet honestly thanks to their colossal mix-up), they were all creative and Ateez in particular blew me away (might have to start paying more attention to them haha, they seem great). Anyway, musically speaking my favorite versions of the songs here would go Ateez > BTOB -> iKON > SF9 > The Boyz > Stray Kids, because I wasn’t too keen on the arrangement that the latter three went with in comparison to the original songs whereas on the other hand I felt Wonderland, Missing You, and Love Scenario especially retained their charm (and the Wonderland performance amplified it).

    Side note: The editing in this show feels very weird, especially in comparison to RTK and Queendom. I get that we can’t have too many interactions between the groups in the current situation, but spending so much time on each group alone and dragging out the pre-performance drama isn’t doing many favors I feel especially because they aren’t actually spotlighting aspects of all the groups’ unique talents (especially with SF9) and the drama is so cliche sometimes. I wish this was more… fun to watch :/ I’m still watching because I enjoy the interactions and I like this chance of getting to know some of these groups better, but sigh.

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  13. I’m sure nobody wants to read another Queendom comparison, but I can’t help but think that this show has suffered from not having a live audience to perform in front of (which obviously can’t be helped but nevertheless feels like it has a substantial impact). It’s all about fancy camera angles and tricks rather than really performing to hype up an audience and as a viewer it feels a lot less engaging (granted, I watched this episode half-asleep in bed so maybe that opinion is moot). This, probably, also plays substantially to the older groups’ disadvantage. I can only imagine how much fun, say, iKon’s Rhythm-Ta performance would be with a live audience.

    The lack of interaction on this show is also kind of disappointing–I honestly just want to see these people Talk to each other more. Even on Queendom’s horribly awkward manufactured drama segment where each group picked two other groups they thought placed below and above them, at least the voting was a lot less…impersonal when they were face to face explaining their choices. Hopefully that’ll change going into the song swap round, I suppose.

    Personal ranking wise, mine looks something like Ateez>Btob>iKon>the rest. Ateez are easily the best for actually creating a remix of a song that I’d listen to on its own. None of the performances were bad, but I really can’t be bothered about these moody doom and gloom stages anymore. Even just seeing the dim lighting makes me feel depressed.

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  14. Zero points for the production editor. The constant shifting between the actual performance and the reaction shots is way too over the top. The audience is never immersed in these grand stages because of the constant shifts between front stage and white(green) room and back. The constant ahs and whoas before something Big actually happens doesn’t highlight the Big Thing but does the opposite and detracts from the effect. The visual contrast between the darkness of the stage and the whiteness of the back stage is distracting. It breaks the fourth wall, over and over and over again. (They have uploaded the performance-only versions now, much later, but the damage is already done to me.)

    I am also pissed off that it is very clear that some groups have a way bigger budget than others. Way bigger. It is not really a competition, is it? I am not giving points out for this. It just isn’t fair to all the boys.

    I will judge based upon the arrangements instead.

    Full marks for the person who added Dvorak New World Symphony to our favorite Ateez pirate hip hop sea shanty. The best use of Dvorak since SNSD used the same chromatic progression in their debut song “New World”. (Yes, the cleverest songwriting ever, it takes a dark theme and somehow makes it into an effervescent pop song. Here is a “ballad verse” which shows off the melody better. ‘https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O_ZUmMzP5ts Here is a performance of that symphony conducted by the current wunderkindt of the classical world ‘https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jVDofBFtvwA)

    High marks for the clever splicing and dicing of Stray Kids God’s Menu with Side Effects. (If there was another fraction of a song in that mashup, then that too).

    Low marks for SF9 arranger which did nothing to elevate the song, it just switched it around a bit. SF9 have better songs than this one – or maybe they are saving them for future rounds.

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