A K-pop group’s title track isn’t always the best song on their album, even if it’s the one most people will hear. Sometimes, b-sides deserve recognition too. In the singles-oriented world of K-pop, I want to spotlight some of these buried treasures and give them the props they deserve.
K-pop’s concept-driven promotion can be a double-edged sword. In fact, I wrote about this very topic last year! In Kingdom’s case, their concept is both their greatest asset and their biggest roadblock. The historical fantasy schtick is what first drew me to their music, but it limits the style of title tracks they can release. Karma certainly fits the Kingdom aesthetic and storyline, yet I don’t think it’s a great song. In contrast, Warning is an instant standout that boasts the album’s hookiest chorus. But, it doesn’t feel in keeping with the group’s concept.
I’m already feeling a bit exhausted with the ‘minimalist bass loop’ territory K-pop has embraced this past year or so, and if Warning’s hook had simply relied on its initial groove, I wouldn’t be writing about it now. But, after dipping into that familiar drop, the song fleshes out and unveils a funky, standout chorus. Kingdom bring a ton of personality to the refrain, chewing on every lyric with a ferocious energy that really helps sell the track.
It’s all quite silly, and that’s what I like about it. Yes, the Renaissance Fair cosplay is fun and dramatic, but it’s satisfying to hear the guys cut loose on a song with more freewheeling momentum. If only we could locate a dance club in their historical fantasy land. Might we coax them into Ye Olde Discoteque?