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Kingdom: Legendary War – Episode Nine Recap and Ranking

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


Other Recaps: Episode One // Episode Two // Episode Three // Episode Four // Episode Five // Episode Six // Episode Seven // Episode Eight


‘NO LIMIT’ ROUND

We’re back with the rest of the No Limit round performances (and Han’s goofy hat). Last week, I took a look at iKON and Stray Kids, and their stages will be folded into this week’s ranking.


MY RANKING


6. Stray Kids – Ddu-Du Ddu-Du x God’s Menu

Read my full thoughts in last week’s recap.


5. iKON – Pretty Savage (ft. Lisa from BLACKPINK)

Read my full thoughts in last week’s recap.


4. The Boyz – Monster

The Boyz decide to cover EXO’s Monster, which doesn’t seem to be performed by idol groups that often anymore. In fact, apart from Growl, EXO songs in general don’t seem to be covered as much as they should be.

The guys spend a lot of time on the foot work, which needs to be incredibly accurate and in-sync. Part of me wonders if they would have been better off creating new choreography rather than replicating an already iconic move.

Either way, there’s no doubt this group works seriously hard. The practice room footage looks like they’re going to war, complete with grunts and chants. Younghoon sits this one out, recovering from injury. And apparently he’s not the only one, as next week’s finale will be missing a couple of the members. I guess these are the moments when having so many people in your group really pays off. Still, it seems like these guys are always getting injured…

Another thing that pays off is practice. When it comes to the performance, The Boyz are perfectly in-sync, as advertised. The staging is quite simple this time, but they make good use of rolling platforms to divide up the space and add vertical interest.

Yet despite highly polished moves and impressive intricacy, I felt like this performance came across as oddly flat. The problem had little to do with The Boyz themselves, and more with the staging (or lack thereof). It just felt a bit unambitious compared to the other groups, like a really cool, really expensive choreography video.

Of course, the one exception was the giant snake that wriggled out toward the end, revealing Sunwoo from its mouth. This was one of the most ridiculous entrances I’ve seen on these kind of shows, but definitely memorable! Other than that, there were often too many people on the stage, which drowned out the power of the choreography. It felt like a missed opportunity.


3. BTOB – Blue Moon (ft. Miyeon of (G)I-DLE)

Unlike the other groups, BTOB decided to perform a b-side of their own. Apparently, it’s a song that fans have requested, though I’ll admit I’m not familiar with it despite having heard all of the group’s albums.

I’m not a big fan of jazz, and that may play a part in my ignorance surrounding Blue Moon. But, this genre allows them the perfect opportunity to stage their performance as a musical. Much to my disappointment, they trot out the old La La Land reference, as if no other musical has existed in the past century.

Still, I’m happy the guys decide to go full-on stage show with us. They even enlist a military band and actors to fill the stage to make it feel more movie-like. Miyeon of (G)I-DLE happens to be one of these actors, keeping with the theme of inviting agency juniors onto the show for added hype.

I really appreciated the storytelling and staging of this performance. Yet again, it did a great job showcasing these guys’ considerable skills. And, they managed to keep the energy and transitions quite brisk without devolving into an incomprehensible mess.

Unfortunately, the song itself does nothing for me. So, that blunted the overall performance to a certain extent. If they had given a completely different track this same style and staging, I think BTOB could easily have been closer to the top. Still, I’ll gladly take this over the shout-a-thons from last week, even if I got a little bored during a few points.


2. ATEEZ – Answer (ft. La Poem)

ATEEZ choose one of the best songs of last year: their early-2020 hit Answer. To me, it’s hard to go wrong with a song of this caliber, but if Kingdom has taught us anything, it’s that the groups love to fuss with things that were fine to begin with.

During discussion of the song’s merits, I was happy to see the group point out the fact that Answer’s melodic core is one of its strong points. Seriously, I need ATEEZ to rediscover their love of more melodic title tracks. Their choruses and pre-choruses pack such a punch, and they’ve been largely absent for the past year or so.

The guys look back at pre-pandemic footage, including a concert from early last year. Nowadays, it’s so surreal to see concerts with a full audience, isn’t it? I mean, in the grand scheme of things it hasn’t been that long since we were able to gather in crowds without hesitation. But, it almost feels like some long-lost alternate reality. I can’t wait until fans can fill music shows and concerts again!

This performance is meant to encapsulate the group’s journey so far, and that’s actually one of the more straightforward concepts this round. The staging calls back to past music videos, which is a nice treat for fans. But to be honest, I care much more about the music than the imagery. Luckily, ATEEZ mix up the song by sampling Beethoven’s Ode to Joy. And if Answer wasn’t already epic enough, this symphonic influence takes it to another level.

There’s a heavy dose of rock added to the mix as well, which complements the song’s power. Despite all these additions, this version wasn’t markedly different than the original, and the first half lacked some impact.

But, Answer saved its coolest inclusion for the finale. Operatic quartet La Poem brought incredible drama to the climax. Without their presence, this probably would have gotten a lower ranking. But, I’d watch and listen to the last moments of this performance over and over again. Seriously, bring more opera into K-pop! This was so cool and so over-the-top.


1. SF9 – Move

You simply can’t go wrong by choosing SHINee or Taemin, and I think this is probably the best song selection SF9 have made the entire competition. Their motivation behind this choice is to show something even sexier than the stages they’ve already unveiled. It’s an interesting niche to aim for, and I wonder if this will be their thing when it comes time for their next comeback.

Incidentally, they attempt to tie the word “sexy” to their past singles. I’m not sure it works for all of the songs! If anything, it just reminds us all how awful the styling was during the Mamma Mia era…

For Move, SF9 aim for a more subtle, restrained form of sexy. Apparently, this includes singing with 70% air and 30% voice, along with the occasional panting. That’s even more air than JYP uses!

Preparation also includes a phone call with the Taemin himself, who gives some inspiration behind the concept. He tells Chani to have a “mean heart,” which is pretty funny considering the source. Taemin is like the smiliest idol around!

As for the performance itself, I absolutely loved this. It’s easily the best thing SF9 have done this whole series. The concept was so different for them, but also completely unique within this round. That alone made it stand out in the best possible way. The choreography was excellent, and the bright colors (and lack thereof) on stage really spotlighted each moment in a simple, straightforward way that helped draw and maintain interest.

I also loved how the song itself wasn’t just a straight cover. They added new elements to flesh it out in unexpected ways. I could have done without the noisy dance breakdown, which interrupted the smooth sexiness that powered the rest of the track. A more unique, daring instrumental would have worked better during that portion. But, the entire performance moved at such a great pace — languid but never boring. Rather than bombast, it gave us focused charisma.

Honestly, even with that jarring breakdown, this was right up there with the strongest performances of the entire series. Just very, very cool.


FINAL RANKINGS

We end the episode with a series of three rankings: expert, group and a combination of both.

Expert Ranking
5. ATEEZ / iKON (tie)
4. BTOB
3. The Boyz
2. SF9
1. Stray Kids

(I’m seriously side-eying that number one choice…)

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

(The correct number one choice, thank goodness.)

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

Next week, we finally get to see the stages for the groups’ original songs. Before that, make sure to check out my ranking of the songs themselves!

14 thoughts on “Kingdom: Legendary War – Episode Nine Recap and Ranking

  1. Yep, yep, yep. It’s kind of weird how 3 of my favourite songs are covered in the same episode, but I’ll take it anyways.

    For me, rankings go like this.

    6. iKON
    5. BTOB
    4. SKZ (My bias got it up here, along with the pressure cooker)
    3. The Boyz
    2. SF9
    and by a LAAAAAAAAAAAAARGE margin……
    1. Ateez

    I never thought you could make Answer better, but I guess rock and opera singers can.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. that Stray Kids stage was terrible. the only good thing to come out of it is Felix’s abs, and Bang Chan and Ryan Reynolds’ interaction.

    Like

      • Um….I think people will understand that they are saying it from their opinion. They aren’t insulting any of the members nor are they dismissing the hard work they are putting in.

        Like

  3. I decided to do a rating system to see who were the overall best performers in this entire series (for me atleast) and I was genuinely surprised who it ended with.

    Episode 1: 1st. IKON Rhythm Ta – 8.5/10
    2nd. Stray Kids Miroh – 8/10
    3rd. ATEEZ Wave – 7/10
    4th The Boyz The Stealer – 7/10
    5th Btob Beautiful Pain – 7/10
    6th SF9 Good Guy – 6.5/10

    Episode 2 and 3: 1st. ATEEZ Wonderland – 9.5/10
    2nd. SF9 – 8.5/10
    3rd. The Boyz – 8.5/10
    4th. Btob – 8.5/10
    5th. IKON – 8.5/10
    6th. Stray Kids God’s Menu + Side Effects – 7/10

    Episode 4 and 5: 1st. Btob Back Door – 9/10
    2nd. The Boyz O Sole Mio – 9/10
    3rd. Stray Kids I’ll Be Your Man – 8.5 /10
    4th. SF9 The Stealer – 8/10
    5th. ATEEZ Rhythm Ta – 7/10
    6th IKON Inception – 6/10

    Episode 9: 1st. SF9 Move – 9.5/10
    2nd. ATEEZ Answer – 9/10
    3rd. Btob Blue Moon – 9/10
    4th. The Boyz Monster – 9/10
    5th IKON Pretty Savage – 6/10
    6th Stray Kids Ddududu – 5.5/10

    And with these four performances, I was left with my final ranking:
    6th – IKON – 7.2!
    5th – Stray Kids – 7.2!
    4th – SF9 – 8.1!
    3rd – ATEEZ – 8.1!
    2nd – The Boyz – 8.3!
    1st – BTOB – 8.3!

    Weirdly enough…this matches my rankings for the Kingdom Songs!
    WHO KNEW?!

    Like

  4. Haven’t watched them all yet, but I really hate those breakdowns in the middle of the songs (I really don’t know how I ended up being a ELF), so I was a bit disappointed with SF9’s song. The rest of the song was really good.
    So far, my ranking would be something like this:

    4. Stray Kids
    3. The Boyz
    2. iKON
    1. SF9

    As I really classical music, and I liked ATEEZ’s performance on the, I think, second round, I suspect I’ll like this one too.

    Like

  5. For me:
    #1 BTOB Blue Moon, I’m a sucker for jazz and men in dress shirts (somehow without realising it I’ve because very attracted to Seo Eunkwang?).
    The stages I like watching best are the ones where the performers seem to be having fun. You could see the joy in this one. Peniel’s piano was funny enough that I didn’t mind how it slowed the momentum.
    I haven’t seen LaLaLand so I wouldn’t have realised it was referenced if it wasn’t for all the comments. And the power notes at the end! I love wild ad-libs in live stages!

    #2 SF9 Move. I’m a Shawol so they had me at the song choice. The dancing was cool, tieing in the original choreo without copying it move for move. There were a few jarring moments that killed the energy for me, mostly the finale in the rain… why?

    #3 Ikon Classy Savage. Once again, I like it when you can see they are having fun, this one grew on me over the last week.

    #4 Ateez Answer. Love the original song, but the storyline was seriously lacking for people who aren’t into their back story. And I hate Ode to Joy with a burning passion, it is one of the most over used and overrated pieces I have every had the misfortune to play in an orchestra. It’s stuck in my head again and I just want it out!!!

    #5 Stray Kids. Cute concept, ordinary music. Glad Chris got a fun interaction with Ryan Reynolds and Hugh Jackman out of it.

    #6 The Boys Monster. This would have been a great music show performance, but Kingdom gave them the chance to do something you can’t do anywhere else and they didn’t take it.

    Big shout out to Bobby for being the best reaction fairy. I don’t love Ikon’s music, but I’d love to be their friends. I wish the younger groups could find the same fun in this show that BTOB and Ikon seem to, SF9 in particular seem seriously stressed out and I feel really bad for them.

    Like

    • It’s still 1st for me but I was mystified by the ending of SF9’s stage in the rain too. I was like… what???? And then the reaction shots where the other boys were like, “Wow, they really thought outside of the box for this one.” Okay…..?????

      Like

  6. I’m going to be the smarty pants here and say that although Ode to Joy was a pretty good choice, the Hallelujah chorus would have been a better choice. Everyone has done these in a rock style, but Ateez’s other song “Horizon” has that vocal sample, and with a few minor modifications could be alle-le-le-leleuia, so they could have morphed further into that song.
    (La Poem are Forestella’s hoobaes, btw.)

    My other cranky wise ass comment – BTOB Blue Moon – the piano man. Except he wasn’t playing the piano.

    Otherwise, most of the rest of the performances felt like upscale versions of those year end music shows – the MAMA’s and such. I don’t have a ranking.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m gonna be honest, i watched the hell out of the stray kids performance as well as the btob one this round. didn’t really care for the others.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. My opinion was more or less the same as the show’s rankings…

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

    Maybe this is just my bias/Stay-ism talking, but I’m kind of mystified by your ranking skz last! Mostly because in your previous review you seemed to be less impressed with IKON than with them. Is it just the gun thing that bothers you? Personally I really loved their stage and was totally transfixed by it, whereas IKON lost my interest very quickly. I understand the perspective that says it was sort of a chaotic mess, I guess, but they sustained the energy throughout and entertained me much more than ATEEZ, for example, and I think that’s why they were ranked so high.

    For me, the bottom two are ATEEZ and IKON for more or less the same reason: I feel that they were both overshadowed by their featured artist. A feature is a difficult thing to manage on a show like this. After ATEEZ’s performance, I really couldn’t remember a damn thing except for the opera singers, which is why I can’t rank it any higher than this. Because I’m not supposed to be evaluating opera singers. Or Lisa.

    The rest of them were all really close, I thought that the top 4 all gave amazing performances. But SF9 and specifically Yoo Taeyang deserve this first place. By the way, I loved Blue Moon and hate BTOB’s finale song, so suffice it to say we have very different tastes lol

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Finally got around to watching it, i think my opinion is:

    6. Stray Kids

    The rap part was fine but, i feel like the beat drop part was made worse tho. And the prop all seems impressive but, when you realized they didn’t do anything with it with the rice cooker, and truck part it just seems to serve as wallpaper which is a shame. When they did the illusion with the smaller truck is fine tho.

    5. The Boyz

    They didn’t do much with the song, and 2 dance break for one performances is…too much for me. The golden snake is highlight tho. That’s what i’m talking about when i want the prop to be more involved in the previous rank. And i was hoping the snake would swallow everyone when it turns back, pity it didn’t happen.

    4. Ikon

    I think they made the song slightly better and the lisa feat is pretty impactful. Best part is the YG chant last verse even though it’s a bit overused for their artists.

    3. SF9

    The song was smooth and damn, the decisions to change the iconic dance moves is bold and they pulled it off really well. The rain scene seems to leave the other groups surprised but, i thought it’s a tad bit anti climatic. They should have danced in the rain for more sexiness or if it’s dangerous i dunno why they don’t just make it rain after they finished dancing

    2. Ateez

    It was good till it turns excellent at the end. La poem is the best featuring of all these dom shows by far. They adds so much texture to the last part and i loved every seconds of it.

    1. BTOB

    Didn’t know the song before the show and ends up loving it. The story was simple and with dramatic and humorous twists that i really liked which makes it stands out as a standalone performances. It was just great without any missteps.

    Like

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