Review

Buried Treasure: Kingdom – We Are

Kingdom - We AreA K-pop act’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.


Kingdom are slowly proving themselves kings of b-sides. I haven’t liked either of their two past title tracks, but each album has included its share of standouts. I really do enjoy the group’s concept and world-building. I just wish their titles felt more like songs and less like performance pieces. SM Entertainment used to skirt this line well. It’s more than possible to meld a fantastic song with a fantastic concept.

We Are (and the almost-as-good Burn) don’t lend themselves to medieval spectacle, but the grooves are great. This track opens with a herky-jerky synth sound that feels quite familiar, but quickly grows more interesting as the first verse goes on. There are satisfying vocal tones and textures here, and the serpentine melody gives them plenty of space to shine. The songwriting feels both unpredictable and natural, which can be a difficult balance to strike.

It helps that We Are is anchored by a dynamic rhythm. The production becomes fuller and more thrilling with each passing moment. What opens as a future bass inspired instrumental somehow morphs into full roller-rink bliss. That the track accomplishes this without any jarring transitions is a minor miracle. Its final third is particularly addictive, taking retro influence with a fantastic funk beat. Sadly, I don’t see Kingdom’s concept allowing them to release a title track of this genre. It’s a shame, because the guys really thrive when performing songs like this.

 Hooks 8
 Production 9
 Longevity 9
 Bias 9
 RATING 8.75

9 thoughts on “Buried Treasure: Kingdom – We Are

  1. Nick, do you have a Buried Treasure for Part 1: Arthur as well? I really liked Night Air off of it. I agree that there’s something lacking with the title tracks…I can’t imagine them without the performances attached, and they all sound similar to me despite being different melodically and incorporating instrumentation particular to each concept. Maybe it’s like they all follow the same formula? I really wish there was a way for this group to break out.

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      • Excalibur is also my favorite title as well and I would also agree that its my least favorite album. However I am also going to have to agree that Night Air is a true gem and one of my most replayed B-sides of the year. It’s definitely a stunner in my book.

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  2. Ivan’s Mini contains my least favorite title track (although it has already grown on me) and my favorite collection of B-sides from the group yet. I think I would have to say Burn is my favorite but its close. We Are and Fallen Star are both fantastic as well and even On Air has its moments.

    As for Kingdoms concept I have thoughts/ideas. Obviously their first seven release will be stuck firmly in medieval fantasy land as each release introduces one King character at a time, that is a given at this point. Here’s what I am hoping for going forwards. I hope their 8th release after they have finished their introductions is their first full album and covers their seven characters meeting up in either a clash or uniting of kings so to speak. A kind of worlds colliding kind of moment (i.e., The first avenger’s movie.)

    After that here is my idea for how they could explore different territory moving forwards as a group. Each of their characters are very loosely based on real kings who came from very different places and eras in time. That being said I propose they use their world building magic to throw in an element of time travel. Yes, they are certainly more fantasy based than science fiction, but fictional magic can be used for time travel just as easily as fictionalized technology can. This addition to their overall concept could allow them to explore a whole new realm of styles. Modern kings, futuristic kings, hell I’d been down to see an attempt at prehistoric kings. Theoretically they could jump all over the place and explore new musical styles along with that without abandoning their King identities. Honestly embracing a little fish out of water wackiness in a more modern concept could be awesome. While I personally adore renaissance fantasy and the heavy theatrics of their current style (and I am sure they are currently building a fanbase of people like me who also enjoy this style), no fan/fandom wants to see the same thing done twenty times in a row. Hell, I am sure the group themselves don’t want to get stuck in a concept rut. I am sure they are going to want to branch out into to new styles and I firmly believe it can be done with abandoning their overarching lore. As I said we are living in a fantasy land with Kingdom and even more so than in science fiction, a fantasy land allows for almost anything because as long as you don’t set any preconceived rules for yourself you don’t have to play by any. The only rule they have set so far is their king identities, other than that the world that live in is open to manipulation and change. The next member up in their intro sequence is even called the king of change. So, whether it’s through time travel, inventing new worlds altogether, or any other form of magical mischief there is still plenty of room for expansion.

    GF entertainment please feel free to steal this idea.

    Overall though I am already super impressed by how far they have come in such a short time. I loved their overarching concept from the get-go, but I had serious doubts that they would be able to maintain it, yet they are already proving me wrong on that front, which has made me super happy. It seems clear that the people behind them are very passionate and dedicated to this concept so however they move forward after their introductions are over, I imagine it will be done with care. So even if it doesn’t match what I would personally like to see from them I am still betting it’s going to be good.

    Yeah sorry that was long but I had thoughts.

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    • Real cool idea! Nonetheless, a lot of people would get upset as these kings they are based on are national founders, and you don’t mess around the history of patriotic icons without backlash. You effectively lose the Japanese fans, and the Koreans and British potentially too. If they do it, they’d have to carefully tightwalk.

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      • I completely agree with this. Personally I don’t nitpick such stuff but I am aware they are definitely walking on thin ice by using real kings as representatives.

        All the kings are not even completed yet and if I’m being honest I’m a little scared for Jahan’s turn. So far the boys have completely impressed me with the presentation of the themes but it is true that the second they diverge, even a little bit, all the wolves will be on them.

        While slowly moving towards a modern timeline could help with their song styles it wouldn’t be wise keeping in mind the historical and cultural aspect.

        Personally I don’t see why they need to do a modern sound for their title when their b-sides are addressing that perfectly. You can either be consistent or try for ever-changing styles and for Kingdom the latter does not make any sense at all. They are going for a fantasy-esque vibe in their songs and I would much prefer they stick to it as long as their storylines are relevant to that period.

        They are doing their best really by alternating the European sound titles with the Non-European sound titles and are really trying hard to convey a different mood in each (Excalibur – Passion & Aggression, Karma – Gentle and Melancholic, Black Crown – Dreamlike and Creepy)

        In the end it comes down to preferences again that’s all lol. Karma attracted a certain crowd. Black Crown and Excalibur attracted a different crowd. But the running historical kings theme being common is what is actually keeping all the different crowds engaged. I don’t think letting that go would be a good option at this point in time 🙂

        Sorry for long comment and just my opinions really 🙂

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        • So far, I do think they have managed to remain very respectful of the sources they are drawing from, but I definitely see why there could be concern about how they handle their king identities going forward. In particular I see what you mean about Jahan’s introduction, and I am glad that they have left him for last in the intro sequence, so they have more time to do the research and really think it through.
          Overall, though as long as they manage to remain respectful of their cultural source material, I do still think a bit of expansion upon their world is possible. At least from my perspective their characters seem to be pretty loosely based on their actual counterparts and are delivered with a heavy dose of fantasy. On top of that at least two if not three of their sources are based on mythical kings rather than real people. And even for those who are based upon real people like Ivan (who I believe is based on Ivan the terrible) it seems so far that their characters are loosely inspired by that person rather than meant to directly emulate the actual historical figure.
          As for bringing them into the modern era (if they wanted to) I still think it could be done respectfully. For example, modern iterations of King Arthur already exist in pop culture. There are also at least a few Kdramas and Cdramas that include bringing historical rulers to the modern era. Time travel involving actual historical figures has also been done before. Perhaps the time travel notion is silly but overall, it was just a fun attempt to theorize how they could keep things fresh after their intro series is complete.
          In general, I am not suggesting they abandon their historical roots at all, merely that because they are so fantasy heavy and only loosely based on those figures that their world building could evolve over time even if their characters don’t change.
          So as long as they continue to be respectful of their sources and wade through the potentially problematic elements carefully, I do think there are several very interesting routes they could take. I know Kingdom are potentially treading on a fine line, but I really want to see them succeed given they bring something truly new and unique to Kpop. So however, they do it I hope they do it well.

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  3. This is a complete mid-tempo skater’s delight, right in my wheelhouse. heh wheelhouse.

    I actually liked Excalibur the least, but its cheesiness grew on me. Next is Black Crown, and best is Karma – love those descending harmonies. Their b-sides are strong, but what’s even better to me are the title track instrumentals. They have a wonderful pop-prog feel to them, perfectly at home on an Alan Parsons Project concept album or something. I actually refer to Kingdom as the Alan Parsons Project of Kpop at time.

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