Song Review: Kingdom – Karma

Kingdom - KarmaKingdom’s February debut proved to be polarizing, but I think everyone could get onboard with the group’s high-concept visual. Excalibur introduced Kingdom’s world view, and the guys promise to release a series of albums to further develop that lore. It’s an ambitious plan for a rookie, but I applaud them for trying something new.

I enjoyed Excalibur quite a bit, though I haven’t returned to it much since February. New single Karma will likely have more broad appeal, incorporating traditional instrumentation in a cohesive way. But, its lurching sound just isn’t for me.

“Lurching” has become a Bias List cliché, and I apologize for that. But, it’s the best word I can use to describe music like this. Across the few decades, the endpoint for pop songwriting has changed so much. Songs that used to be targeted to the dancefloor or radio are now often crafted to appeal to digital platforms and youtube videos. This has its benefits, but sometimes makes it harder to enjoy the music itself.

For me, Karma is this kind of a song. Coupled with a cool video, the music makes an exciting soundtrack. But taken on its own, there’s not much to grab onto. I love the woodwinds that open the track, and am happy that they stick around into the verses and chorus. But, the melody feels flat and unmemorable. The chorus harnesses a shout-along energy that sounds dramatic but lacks any sharp hooks. Too much of Karma drones on like this, failing to find its knockout moment. That’s too bad, because the production is quite engaging at times.

 Hooks 7
 Production 8
 Longevity 7
 Bias 6

20 thoughts on “Song Review: Kingdom – Karma

  1. .
    In theory I should like this, as hanbok is just so cool.
    In practice, the song itself feels so very last year, or even last last year.
    So I shall split the difference and enjoy the video while I listen to another song.

    Liked by 1 person

    • 100% not kidding, I just tried this with the Knowing Bros “Hanryang” and it was freaking perfect other than how “Karma” is about a minute too long.


  2. I don’t mind it. It’s not anything outstanding and certainly not as great as Excalibur, but I like the general direction of their music. It feels kinda fresh.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I actually can get down with future bass choruses…”We Must Love” by ONF, a true favorite.
    But the melody here is not strong enough. I thought Verse 2 was incredibly busy and a bit messy. Didn’t really enjoy it, unfortunately!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m surprised this was rated very low, I actually really liked this one.

    Maybe the unique instrumentals are convincing me too easy, but the melody is fine to me? Not super polished, but nothing bad. Not hook-y, but I really enjoyed my listen from the get go. Even the hi-hat heavy section had a hint of the background instrumentals that I kind of like it. Even loved the small lull of symphony before the climax. That said, thee climax is also unpolished but it felt powerful to me.

    It’s like my 7th listen, and it’s definitely going onto my playlist. Or well, with how much I’m listening to it, Youtube algorithm will keep it suggesting it to me and I will end up just casually clicking and listening.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The one thing I appreciate about Kingdom is that they go big or home. I really like this song because of this even if not all the parts fit together. The melody is fine to me and while the woodwind instruments are doing a lot of the heavy lifting, there is enough of a core here for me to really like it!

    On b-sides though, I really like Warning which is this funky bass thing though I know that didn’t really have a chance of getting promoted. The intro and instrumentals are pretty as it was last time and you’d like Eternity if you’re into ballads.

    This is my first time commenting here. I always appreciate hearing your thoughts on songs even if I disagree at times!

    Liked by 4 people

  6. I was still a silent lurker back when Excalibur came out, but I agreed with you on that one and actually really enjoyed it (even now, I still give it a listen when it pops up on my playlist). I’m not sure how I feel about this one yet. I’m always a sucker for the use of traditional instruments (and the outfits! Omg those are great!), but I agree with others here that the melody just isn’t quite strong enough to bring it to the next level. There’s nothing bad about it per se, it just isn’t that standout. I do see this one growing on me though, but I definitely wouldn’t give it another chance if I didn’t like the woodwinds so much. All that said, I am so excited to see where these guys go next… it is pretty hard for new boy groups to catch my attention but they definitely have!

    Liked by 3 people

  7. I’m surprisingly one of the apparent few who really enjoyed Excalibur and I’m really impressed with the styling and the next one’s for dann, for a European vibe I guess. The concept’s great but the song though dramatic not as great as the former


  8. Nope, no closer to liking them than I was before. To me this is a turgid mess. I can’t hear anything clearly – it’s all jumbled up. And what is that weird musical shift that happens. I don’t know what it is – a shift into minor? I don’t have the musical language, but suddenly it sounds like really off church music for a few bars. Maybe it’s an organ. Anyway, for me it’s just an unpleasant assault on my ears.

    Liked by 2 people

    • That’s an interesting flip of the phrase, and goes to show how important individual taste and preferences are. Lurching and Towering are like two different prisms to see this style through!


  9. I am really surprised that everyone has a problem with the song’s melody, I will say this- I love the chorus.

    From the music video to the lyrics, I can conjure up a fantastic story in my mind. With tales of betrayal and The Protagonist becoming a blood-thirsty dictator. It’s an incredible story, with loads of potential.
    And then I just realize I am thinking about Attack On Titan…

    But Seriously, I have no idea why I find a connection between both of these….and that may be the only reason why I love this song. I can look past it’s many flaws and think about E R E N.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Out of the seemingly endless onslaught of rookie boy group debuts in 2021, only two have caught my attention so far. The first being Mirae and the second being Kingdom.

    While the actual music is overall the most important aspect of a group, I would argue that perhaps the second most important aspect is a groups overall concept or style. From day one Kingdom was set up with what might be the most ambitious concept I’ve ever seen, and I can’t help but be completely smitten with all of it. That not to say I don’t like their music, I liked Excalibur and I think I like Karma even more. I am especially happy with the intensity behind Karma’s final chorus, and I have always been fond of traditional instrumentation. Also, this mini album overall is clearly a step up from their first, Warning and Magical are particularly good.

    However, I really have to hand it to GF entertainment on this one. I think so far, they are managing the overarching “Kings” concept quite well. In such an oversaturated industry it is hard to stand out and grab people but with Kingdom you already have a sense of what you’re going to get in terms of style. I also love the teasers at the end of their MV’s that lets you know what is next. It is a great way to keep people invested. Its like a book series or a tv show, even if you were not into their last release, you are still kind of inclined to check out the story’s continuation. I sincerely hope Kingdom succeeds because I very much need to see where this story leads.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I can’t believe a debuted K-Pop group can be that untalented. They’re not “rookies”, they’re actually “beginners”: a bundle of boys who accidentally found the Willy Wonka golden ticket to visit a studio and record a song.

    I guess they work much better as “Expectation vs Reality” memes, and if I were their producers I really would reboot their career (?) that way.


    • If this is what it means to be “untalented” then I wish I could be half as “untalented” as them.

      Also, I am not really sure what legitimate critique you are trying to make by calling them beginners as opposed to rookies as those two words are in fact synonymous.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Yeah, I would actually be interested to read an elaboration of what OP considers beginner vs. rookie. I can’t say that the KINGDOM guys stand out as particularly untalented – my main complaint with them is that their music hasn’t grabbed me, which I put on the production team, not the members. Yes, a debut should have something that stands out, but they’ve got that covered with their concept. Individual members of rookie groups don’t necessarily need to stand out this early in, though it’s certainly a plus to have a Changbin or Dosie or that charismatic deep voice guy people seem to be noticing in JUST B even if his name escapes me at the moment (Lee something something?). None of the members of MIRAE or GHOST9 stood out to me right away and those are probably my two favorite rookie groups. Their debuts were great because their team offered a full musical and performance package that let them show their potential without overextending themselves.


  12. I have to completely reverse myself. I decided to listen to it again. This time I turned the volume waay up, and suddenly everything I found irritating sounded majestic. Then I did the same thing with Excalibur and by george that sounded great, too. It’s like listening to a hard rock Phantom of the Opera.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. My thing with Kingdom so far is that their concepts and styling grabs me more than the music! I love how they went hard into Asian fantasy this time around. It was a visual treat for sure, but I’ll have to give the song a few more listens.


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