Warning: This recap is not spoiler-free. Proceed at your own risk!
Other Recaps: Episode One // Episode Two // Episode Three
THE AFTERMATH AND THE RE-BIRTH
Following last week’s ranking, the groups head back to the respective agencies to celebrate or lick their wounds, depending on their outcome. BTOB thinks their performance lacked story, while ATEEZ can’t wait to share their victory with their fans. Poor SF9 are just despondent. But, I guess their last-place finish sets them up for a comeback. With eliminations off the table this year, I don’t think the guys need to be too concerned about the rankings. It all plays into the storyline, either way.
The groups finally get the reviews from the mysterious “experts” – an entity seemingly composed of music critics. This only makes me wonder if any of them ever read The Bias List. Gosh, I hope not!
The second round is called “Re-born.” The teams will choose songs from their opponents’ discographies and re-interpret them. This is the sort of challenge that a show that Kingdom should be about. I love watching groups dissect each other’s songs. I bet so many idols covet songs by other groups, wishing they had the opportunity to perform them.
For this round, the groups are paired up as such:
iKON and ATEEZ
Stray kids and BTOB
The Boyz and SF9
The choosing of these pairings elicited my favorite quote of the season so far:
“Oh no, my cartilage!” – BTOB’s Changsub, 2021
Provided this isn’t a mistranslation, I honestly don’t even know what that’s supposed to mean. Is he afraid he’s going to have to get a lot of extra piercings? Honestly, I kind of prefer it to be an out-of-context exclamation, suitable for any occasion.
ROUND TWO: 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.
3. SF9 – The Stealer
SF9 will be covering a song from The Boyz’ catalog, which isn’t too far outside their comfort zone. The two groups share some overlap in style. They opt to go with The Stealer, which was one of my favorite songs of last year. But, I worry that it’s not too far from SF9’s own sound, and may just come across as generic.
They decide to go with the concept of film noir, which has also been done to death. To help, they get some acting practice, even though several of them are already professional actors. This ‘lesson’ involves scowling like gang members, which only makes me want a full-on West Side Story concept. Unfortunately, Kingdom is much too serious for that. It is a “legendary war” after all!
The behind-the-scenes package spends way too much time on this acting lesson, and the results are pretty dull. Lots of serious faces and slow walking. In other words, they’re learning to do what they already know how to do. It’s pretty much what every boy group does.
As for the performance itself, it’s what I expected. I’m not sure I’d call this “noir” as much as straight-up gangster film. Honestly, I’m not a huge fan of guns being such a central focus of a performance, and they look particularly silly in the guys’ hands while executing the choreography.
But, the least interesting part of this performance was the music itself. The point of this round is to reinvent a song, but I don’t think they did that here. Sure, the instrumental used some new sounds, but it followed the same tempo cues as the original. Except, it slowed to a crawl more times than necessary. Basically, they drained a lot of the life from this dynamic track. The song almost got lost amidst all the choreo breaks.
On the plus side, I like how they infused the performance with action movie stunts. There were some cool moments, but it was too self-serious overall. Way too many weapons. (On a related note, I find it so strange that the knife prop had to be blurred out, yet SF9 could brandish flamethrowers and guns and even shoot someone dead on stage.)
In short, this revealed nothing new about SF9, the song, or boy groups in general. I really want to get onboard with these guys through Kingdom, but this is not gonna do it.
2. iKON – Inception
iKON covering ATEEZ is an interesting prospect. The groups share enough connective tissue to make it work, but they’re quite different from each other in some key ways.
iKON are coming across really well on this show, and the behind-the-scenes chat between them and ATEEZ is the kind of fun interaction Kingdom should be about. I don’t know why MNET is so hesitant to linger on these lighthearted moments for longer than a minute or two. Queendom’s best episodes barely featured performances at all. Fans want to see these idols interact and be friends. It doesn’t always have to be about competition.
Funny enough, iKON’s behind-the-scenes package spends a lot of time talking about ATEEZ rather than themselves. I appreciate the lightheartedness and humor that the guys bring to this show. They don’t seem like they’re taking this as seriously as some of the other groups, and I mean that as a compliment. Yes, they’re putting on great performances. But, these are not being framed as life or death endeavors. For me, self-deprecation will always be an attractive quality in a group.
They decide to perform Inception, and theme it around dreams and surreal imagery. They’ve got some heavy duty props this time, which isn’t something I usually imagine when it comes to iKON. Their charm is more about how they bring personality to the stage. But, I think this is an interesting challenge for them.
I’m not a huge fan of the musical changes they made to the song, but I appreciate the fact that they tried to re-interpret it through their own style. Instead, the star of this stage was the inventive set that helped convey the surreal imagery they were going for. I also thought that Bobby’s solo was a standout moment, even though it felt more like iKON than “iKON doing ATEEZ.”
I also enjoyed the simplicity of this stage. I mean, sets were literally folding in half, so it’s not like they were just standing in a white room or something. But, there was a cleanness to the staging that was easy to follow. With that said, if you were to remove the visual components entirely, I don’t think I’d want to listen to this mix of the song on its own. Of course, the music itself is only a small part of the Kingdom experience.
1. The Boyz – O Sole Mio
The group starts out by trying to replicate SF9’s legendary rotating dance. I still remember the first time I saw them perform that on a music show. It’s such a cool bit of choreography, and I don’t think it received nearly enough attention from the general public as it should have. Predictably, The Boyz are a mess trying to learn it.
To help them decide which song to sing, the guys consult some of their Road to Kingdom competition: namely ONEUS, VERIVERY and ONF. I’m a little salty that Golden Child wasn’t invited, but I’m sure they’re happy to permanently wipe Road to Kingdom from their memory.
Each behind-the-scenes package with The Boyz makes me want to invest in good therapy for the members. I really hope they’re taking care of themselves. They seem to be so burdened. Going through a tough show like this two years in a row must be exhausting.
Ultimately, the RTK reunion becomes more about the other groups propping up The Boyz’ self-esteem. But somewhere between the edits they chose O Sole Mio to perform in this round. I think is a smart decision. Not only is it different from anything the group has done before, but it’s one of SF9’s strongest and most iconic songs.
Kicking off with a flurry of explosions and a tango in a birdcage certainly alerts us to the creativity on display. One thing you can always count on from The Boyz is innovation when it comes to staging.
I loved the tango mix of this song. It added a drive that was absent in the original. I wish the entire instrumental kept up this energy, as it too often lulled in order to provide opportunities for rap breaks and dance breaks and all the other breaks that K-pop stuffs into every performance whether it should be there or not.
But, the stage had focus when it came to color and mood. It reinvented the song in a way that made total sense. I don’t know that it rivals their best performances in Road to Kingdom, but it was certainly the most exciting stage they’ve given us yet this year. It was also nice to hear some power vocals from them during the climax, as they’re usually more focused on dancing and stage craft.
Of course, after the performance was over, all they could focus on was the staff/scepter prop that wouldn’t light up. Honestly, if they hadn’t mentioned it, I wouldn’t have even known that was supposed to happen. Stop being so hard on yourselves, guys!
EVEN MORE RANKINGS FROM LAST WEEK…
At the end of the episode we finally get a peek at the remaining ranking categories: Online Performance (ie: streaming) and Global Evaluation (ie: popularity contest)
1. Stray Kids
5. The Boyz
1. Stray Kids
6. The Boyz
This is not what I had anticipated at all, and surely reactionary to the results from the experts and the group evaluation. SF9 seem to have garnered sympathy from fans, while The Boyz’ voters may have assumed they were already safe.
One thing is not surprising, though. This is Stray Kids’ competition to lose. They’re scoring high on all metrics.
“Kingdom: Oh No, My Joints!” is likely a more accurate tagline for this show. Thanks Changsub.
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Ah, was “cartilage” an awkward translation of “joints”? That would make much more sense haha
“Fans want to see these idols interact and be friends. It doesn’t always have to be about competition” This statement perfectly sums up how I feel about any of these shows. I love it when groups are allowed to interact and honestly, who doesn’t? Some of my favourite moments in K-pop have been interactions between groups like SNSD x 2PM, SHINee x SNSD, TWICE x IZ*ONE. Just wholesome moments that everyone can enjoy.
In terms of the performances from this episode, The Boyz are the only ones who really left any sort of impression on me. I’m really looking forward to next week’s episode because Stray Kids (my frontrunners for this show) are performing one of my favorite BTOB songs. I do agree that this is Stray Kids’ competition to lose. Barring any huge surprises in the remaining episodes, I’ll be quite surprised if they don’t win it. Anticipating the jumps in popularity for these groups. Fully expecting Stray Kids, ATEEZ and The Boyz to sell well over half a million copies of their immediate comebacks following the end of the show.
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My ranking is quite different from this though.
1. iKON honestly surprised me with the live mics (although yes this is Live MR not all Live). The reason why this is #1.
2. SF9 did quite better because of their fight choreography and the rock ending of the song even though it had so much unnecessary sections. If they did a full on rock song then I would have scored this higher. The rap is better though than TBZ.
3. THE BOYZ did fair decent job with SF9. I mean the song isn’t really good but they still made it kinda interesting.
If it was the songs though maybe I can agree on your comments. The Boyz really found me gravitating towards their new concept of O Sole Mio but it just wasn’t there for me.
Also these music critics are pretty much like older Academy members based on their comments. I really didn’t understand any of their complaints and they should have complained about the performance not about abstract ideas or the artists being too much. BTOB really nailed last week’s rank.
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OK. I rewatched all the performances again. Song-wise, THE BOYZ’s interpretation was better than all of them. It managed to capture what SF9 wasn’t as you have said. So THE BOYZ > SF9 > iKON. I agree.
The Boyz really did so well, I loved the performance.
Honestly, we aren’t getting nearly as much friendship throughout these few episodes and I’m kinda bummed.
I personally disagree with your rankings. To me, SF9 had the biggest improvement, yes I agree they probably could’ve done something out of the comfort zone, but I feel like they used their strengths really well this time, compared to the first few weeks. I really liked SF9’s Action scenes and I enjoyed the song as well. I also liked the boyz’s performance as well just maybe not as good as their past ones. Ikon is actually the one I’m not a big fan of, I didn’t like the remix and I really like Inception. Unless ATEEZ, Skz or BTOB performed something better, SF9 is the winner to me, but this my subjective opinion.
SF9 > The Boyz >> Ikon
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this show is a popularity contest bc no matter how good the performance is certain groups are bound to win it bc the silly percentage put for global fans voting. not even a solo voting, it’s a voting that requires fans to vote 3 groups like then obviously groups with the biggest i-fandom has nothing to lose. it honestly sucks because it takes away all the fun like rtk’s system makes more sense compared to this (also it’s said that the pd for kd is different from qd and rtk, example of his past work is smtm8 which is easily its most boring season so)
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Para mi sf9lo hizo excelente, fue a lo seguro y lo demostró, tanto con su carta segura como es Rowoon de el visual y perfeccionista hasta las coreografías multifaceticas Chaini y los demás chicos, en segundo lo dejaría a BTOB me gustó también y IKON lo dejaría en tercer lugar
Okay the Boyz are great but whoever is editing them is making it seem like they’re in a life or death situation and it makes their behind section a bit unpleasant to watch. Like we’re always telling delusional fans that kpop isn’t that deep but someone needs to tell these guys that their careers aren’t going to implode because they didn’t set one prop on fire. I think SF9 got a redemption in terms of editing because they keep highlighting their closeness and the members cheering each other on (and Youngbin really emphasized himself as a leader last episode) and I want to see more of that for TBZ. As much as I loved seeing Oneus and ONF members, why are the Boyz the only one without a practice segment? Like Ikon and SF9 showed us the practice process along with whatever filler was deemed necessary but maybe TBZ don’t want to spoil it? Their whole section was just filler and I Barkley payed attention and just had it as background noise for my sewing. Idk I just want to see them doing what they do best instead of lamenting their faults. Come on MNET you ruined a perfectly good boy group. Look they have anxiety.
In terms of ranking I’d put Ikon last because I do not like that remix. Everything was great until the chorus and then I was completely turned off. Like I respect them making it their own sound but I am quite selective when it comes to my Ikon songs and they’re always hit or miss. This arrangement was unfortunate a miss but that’s just due to personal taste and not a reflection of the quality of their sound. I really liked their stage though. They do a good job of keeping their stage interesting but not drowning in it and like I’ve never seen the movie and it made perfect sense what was going on. So I think that’s one good way to integrate pop culture into your stage-pick one well known thing(well at least in the States, I can’t speak for audiences elsewhere in the world) and then use the most basic calling cards of that piece of media. Moving buildings, tops, the floor flipping up that’s basically just the trailer of Inception.
Next is TBZ. Okay so I’ve seen the Red Wedding scene and I’ve been around enough GoT fans to get the context but like how does their stage have any connection with it besides being red? Not even one severed head! Okay I’m glad they didn’t actually have a Red Wedding theme but it seems unnecessary to have it there. The stage itself was great but it seemed a little suffocating maybe because of just the intensity of the red lighting(SF9 had this problem last week too where the red drowned them out). Loved the dancers (their outfits where amazing and the detail of having their faces covered by vails *chef’s kiss*) and the cage idea. But oh my god the stage was almost ruined for me by how crooked the chairs where during I think Kevin’s part. Like when we said they don’t need to pay attention to all the tiny details we didn’t mean that. We’re they packed their in a rush? Was it too dark? Hmm the choreo change was nice and fit their tango thing especially on the first chorus but the use of the jackets as flags like in the og choreo would have been a great part to keep in. I’m really glad they highlighted their dance because it’s one of their strengths and really makes them stand out (that’s why Danger was an incredibly stage-and it has yet to be topped by them). Okay the fire thing would have been nice if it worked (it would have made the flaming arrow they “shoot” at the end be less random) but it wasn’t a big deal. If no one had said anything I wouldn’t have noticed. I do think that maybe this is a lesson in us not needing to set so many things on fire? Also the Boyz have 11 members but it really seems like they need to rebrand to “Juyeon, Sunwoo, and the Boyz” cause those are the only members getting a spotlight. Q is also a main dancer (but he does have a tendency to smile a lot and I guess that kills their vibe) and I’d love to actually SEE New hit those notes instead of just playing it in the backtrack and have them dance to it. Juyeon does his job well but his acting can be, how do I put it, a bit much? Like there was one part near the end of their performance where he reaches down and opens his mouth and he’s trying to look intense but he just looks a little crazy. Really takes you out of the moment.
Okay I think I’m going to have to retract every statement I’ve ever made about edgy boy groups and too many props because SF9’s stage was my favorite and I’m a bit confused. Like I feel like the Boyz was more inline with my personal style(and O Sole Mio is a goddess so she’s pretty hard to fuck up) and Ikon’s stage presence and singing was the best(I might bump them up to second just because of how clean and engaging their stage was-they have a set style of performing that they don’t deviate from that which I respect) but Taeyang in the cropped fur coat just stole the goddamn show. Like this man just moves so distinctly. Their story was really clear, the fight scenes were impeccable, the way they moved in and out of the sets was so smooth, the outfits were great, and I loved the scene with the umbrellas where Hwiyoung gets stabbed. I wonder if that was influenced by Yunho’s Thanks mv? Also poor Hwiyoung keeps getting attacked in these stages. Like let the poor man finish his single line before you kill him off. The guns were unnecessary but also I’m writing from an American perspective in which gun violence is very much a problem and for other parts of the world like Korea it’s probably not seen as such a real part of life but more as a movie trope. Idk man it was engaging and all the little gimmicks made sense and were clear and the song was solid (especially the final part, add in guitars and you’ve won me over). SF9 really came back from last place with a vengeance and I think this stage was a bit of a threat directed at the other teams. Like this is what we do when no one votes for us. We have our blurred out knives at the ready so choose wisely. And it’s nice to see that MNET wasn’t able to find any drama from them to blow out of proportion this time.
Also I tried to do some math (which is quite shocking for me) by multiplying the rank each group got in each category by the percent it was worth and got a rough estimate of what I think the final scores are for round 1 and to no ones shock Stray Kids are first (again they’re almost definitely going to win) but surprisingly the Boyz got last. Which makes sense with the disappointment of their No Air performance but I still feel bad for them. The ranking was SKZ->ATZ->BTOB->IKON->SF9->TBZ but that might not accurate given that I used ranks and not points. But whatever the ranking I hope these teams and their fandoms realize they’ve all won already. The only reason why any of them are there is to get more fans and establish themselves (or reestablish in the case if BTOB and IKON) as a group to watch out for and so far they’re all succeeding in that. I mean hell I went in being a Stray Kids fan and I just spent the past two days listening exclusively to BTOB’s and SF9’s discography.
One of my main complaints about The Boyz’s performances lately is that it seems too focused on a few members. Q is one of my favorite main dancers because when he smiles while he’s performing he looks like he’s doing his favorite thing in the world. He had some really excellent moments in RtK, but nothing of note so far in Kingdom, which I think is a shame. I really want them to have a stage where they can just enjoy singing and dancing.
I’m not sure how much stock we can put into the global votes as a true reflection of preference. Since you have to vote for three groups for your vote to count, word on the street (Youtube comments and twitter) is that some fans are voting for their faves and then throwing the two other votes to the teams that are the “least threatening.” I think this is more common for fans of the younger Z groups. So, another hypothesis is that The Boyz and Ateez are low because their performances have been strong and only their fans are voting for them. SF9/BTOB/IKON get a bump because they are less of a threat based on the expert rankings and fanbase. I think SKZ has the a strongest voting fanbase, so they end up on top.
Obviously this isn’t all of the fans, and I hope that’s the case! I’m just glad that there aren’t any eliminations based on this so we can all continue to enjoy their performances.
Interesting. These vote for favorites always have a way to be gamed, no matter how the rules are set. Voting for this group, and with the two remaining voting for not them and not them. I can believe it.
Fun fact: last year Super Junior won two Billboard polls, the first for best boy band and the second for best fandom. How? First everyone including non-ELF piled on whoever was 16th seed against 1st seed BTS in round 1, before the Army knew the poll even existed. Then ELF counter voted against all One Direction acts and BeyHIves Swiftys Ari’s and the like, which got not just SuJu but EXO and MonstaX and a couple other kpop groups into the 2nd and third round. Then we all switched to counter vote against the other kpop groups for whoever were the low seed groups we never heard of, so it was not an all Exo-L-ELF final because that would suck. Though we all still voted with Shawol, just because. None of this was coordinated on any boards or tweets, because we ELF are too old for that, it was all just instinct and an occasional Facebook status post.
It’s sad to see fandoms resorted to this type of strategic voting instead of just vote based on whose performance they like
I feel like musically, TBZ seriously did the best. They captured the idea of the game of thrones red wedding concept well and the remix was (in my opinion) better than the original sf9. I have played it so many times without realizing it. I hope they get top 3 for this round.
For iKon and sf9, they both did pretty good, but I must say, I did not like the remixes that much. However, sf9 had great expressions and their story was well conveyed, and ikon always did the ikon move and enjoyed their stage. I think my ranking would be 1. TBZ 2. IKON and 3. SF9, but 2 and 3 are very close!
In terms of global voting…why does it account for so much ._.
SKZ’s fandom is larger than the other ones, so I believe they have a clear advantage in it, so mnet should consider making it count for less (saying this as a huge skz stan)
I agree with your ranking. I was the most excited for the ATEEZ/iKON swap. I LOVE Inception’s chorus, so I was disappointed that it barely made an appearance in iKON’s performance. That being said, watching the stage after their package & with subs really sold me on the performance as a whole. It’s definitely not my favorite musically (although none of the remixes this round have been particularly memorable for the music this round), but it’s a great stage with a clear concept that’s well-executed. Plus, iKON are bringing their A game performance wise. Their stage presence, even when it’s intense, still just seems so comfortable.
The Stealer is not on my list of favorite The Boyz songs, and that does affect my ranking. This remix is also not my favorite. There are so many songs I wish SF9 had chosen instead. Bloom Bloom would have been incredibly fun and refreshing. I think it was a good choice to stick to their strengths and add acting to this performance. I would love to see them use that skill in the rest of their stages, although hopefully to convey different emotions. This wasn’t too dark/violent for me, but it just felt a little out of place, like it was too dark for the show. The action scenes were cool, but overall I feel like this was the weakest all-around performance.
This is the best stage The Boyz have shown on Kingdom. My favorite moments were when they were dancing as a group and using the fire stick prop. (I also never would have known it was supposed to light on fire if they didn’t mention it.) Using the mirrors to make it look like there were more dancers was really clever. I personally want to see them go back to the simplicity of their Danger stage, where they’re dancing really well and using props innovatively. 3:45 to the end reminded me of that, and I loved it. They’re such GOOD dancers, and their numbers can be such a huge advantage in big scale performances like this.
I think The Boyz have a lot of pressure in your hands. They represent all members of RTK, not just The Boyz. They doing dangerous moviments I don’t see any other group doing somenthing uau! We don’t know whats happening, somebody notes they have fans and for The Boyz desapointed them is worse think for an idol? Felling pain, don’t sleeping, don’t thinking just doing. Sometimes with afraid.
Think about it!
Cue the foghorn. Bwaaahhhhhhhm.
First of all, the title of the episode threw me off because I kept expecting to hear Ghost9 “Reborn”, which I listened to more than I will admit.
SF9 = No points from me. Boys waving around guns, nope nope nope. Also they got rid of the awesome bass line from the original, the one that mimics Michael Jackson “Bad”, minus points for that.
iKon = To watch the performance, the guys look young again, very contemporary and whatever this generation is called. To listen to it, notsomuch. I didn’t realize how trappy hip hoppy the song was, perhaps it is this rearrangement, in any case, yucko for me.
The Boyz = Oh, a tango. This met expectations for a kingdom-style performance. It didn’t occur to me until now that this song mixes Italian with Spanish, but whatev..
Okay I feel like Ateez is gonna slowly turn it up over the course of the competition. A little nervous for Stray Kids…I hope they won’t focus entirely on dazzling show stunts and make sure to add in personality and song structure.
But on the other hand I DO realize kingdom is all about the SHOW, but still I like me a good arrangement 😭
I had some issues with the site or my server. I wrote a super long comment/ review but it didn’t get posted and then I couldn’t re-post it because it kept showing there was some duplicate comment from me on this page. And now my comment is gone and I don’t have the energy to retype. Especially since I didn’t really like the music at all this episode. In a nutshell, the Boyz were ok, SF9 and Ikon were meh. Ikon’s behind the scenes are good though and the members are quite fun and I love their attitude.
So this was it.
For me it was SF9 > iKON >> THEBOYZ.
I didn’t like O Sole Mio performance. The tango idea was good, but I really didn’t like the song, probably because the original song is one of my favourites from SF9. So, for me, they would be last place.
iKON was really fun to watch. The song is not something I’d listen to, but watching this is good.
As for SF9, I liked it. I only listened to ‘The Stealer’ once and didn’t like the song, but I liked it here. Performance was good, almost like an action movie.
None of the performances were exceptionally good. I think the next 3 will be better and I’m really looking forward to ATEEZ and BTOB. I’m kinda afraid of what Stray Kids may do with Pray, but hoping for the best here