Review

Song Review: Kingdom – Ascension

Kingdom - AscensionWhen Kingdom debuted last year, I couldn’t help but be impressed by their ambition. Not only did they have a unique concept, but their rollout promised seven albums – each centered around the lore of a different member. Coming from a small agency, I questioned whether they’d have the resources to see this plan through. But a year later, we’re already four albums in – more than halfway finished with this extended series.

As laudable as Kingdom’s ambition is, the songs themselves haven’t been all that great. Their albums tend to feature a killer b-side or two, but the title tracks feel swallowed up by their concept. Without the cool music videos or live performances to bolster their appeal, the songwriting doesn’t land as fully as it could. In this regard, Ascension (승천) feels like a small step forward. This time around, the theme is historical Korea, which means the track is stuffed with traditional instrumentation. It’s not the first time K-pop has dipped its toes in the past. At times, this production reminds me of something we’d hear on a special remixed end-of-the-year stage, complete with raucous climax driven by percussion. But, this style is always appreciated.

As usual, my hesitancy comes down to the song itself. There’s just not much to sink your teeth into. Verse one opens Ascension on a strong note, offering a dramatic melody that blends well with the instrumental. From here, the track stumbles into a dull chorus. It’s catchy and repetitive, yet trudges along without much energy. The cool production definitely carries these moments, but I’m not sure that’s a sustainable approach. Couple this with a few outstanding refrains and we could be looking at a very exciting prospect.

Hooks 7
 Production 8
 Longevity 8
 Bias 8
 RATING 7.75

10 thoughts on “Song Review: Kingdom – Ascension

  1. Since darling daughter subjects me to ONEUS Luna once a day, that is my recent gauge for incorporating traditional instruments and themes into kpop. This one here, it sounds grafted on. If we did away with the horn sound, we wouldn’t miss it much.

    The rest of the song is loud for the sake of being loud, because loud songs must be better, right? It starts out alright, but somewhere around the 1:30 1:40 mark, the song has reached its peak crescendo and then stays there. Not just volume, but the structure and intensity. By about 2:45 it is full out for essentially the rest of the song. Like an outro “once more with feeling” except “many times more with feeling”.

    Like

  2. I liked it a bit better than you did. I think the verses and pre-chorus are gorgeous, but ITA, they didn’t let the song build organically. Still, I can’t wait to see this in performance. Kingdom title tracks always take a minute to take hold for me. Can’t wait to see what the B sides sound like.

    Like

  3. Hehe…. for me undoubtedly Kingdom has been the most consistent of last year’s rookies when it came to their songs. Every single one of them has hit me 🙂

    Other groups had absolutely brilliant debut songs but the first comebacks ran more on the group’s charisma than the song. In that sense, for me Kingdom has captured my attention with every single cb and that’s why they are my fave rookies of last year.

    And I continue to be impressed with them. Besides the high budget MV, I do enjoy the song a lot. What I really like is how though this was supposedly a traditional approach like Karma, they did really well to make it feel completely different! They are doing pretty well at encompassing the mood of their theme with their song and that’s what gives them bonus points from me! Too many groups and songs have disappointed me where they have a certain theme but the song does nothing to make me feel that…. I think Kingdom is the exception.

    It’s funny that you think without the MV there’s nothing much because I feel the exact opposite really 😂 I think their songs do a good job of representing the MV and listening to it can give you the exact mood the MV wanted to convey! 🙂

    Btw… this was not criticism lol. Just some thoughts I had. Overall I think the vocals and raps were pretty good this time! Great verses and the chorus is catchy!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I always complain that Kingdom’s title tracks sound the same, and this chorus is really similar to the others, but for some reason it bothers me less this time. Maybe because there’s so much to look at in the MV, which is probably their most opulent to date. Where is their company getting the money??

    In terms of b-sides, I really like Blinder (fun, poppy, bright) and Illusion (moody synthy nighttime drive music like After Midnight by WayV). Hope one of them makes the Buried Treasure!

    Liked by 1 person

    • The video is full hanbok fetish in fine form. Yes.

      I don’t know how much it is to rent the sageuk sets for a day, complete with the keys to the costume closet. It seems to be a trend, which I do not mind at all. (says she who has used Jung Il Woo as Iljimae in my little avatar for years.)

      Liked by 1 person

      • If y’all are impressed by the outfits in this video, I think their teaser pictures for this release would be interesting too!

        As for the song itself, I think that the fact I would rather talk about the aesthetic concept says a lot about my feelings

        Liked by 1 person

  5. At this point I am so heavily biased towards Kingdom that I can’t even pretend that it wont effect how I feel about the song. That being said I do still really like it but I also agree that the chorus feels like it is missing something, particularly the first one. It is very catchy but feels slightly flat. The versus and the climax at the end are great though. Honestly I really dig the Pansori like vocal play at the end too.
    Overall the effort put into this entire comeback is stunning. From the outfits (which were apparently made especially for them by seven different Hanbok designers), to the MV, to the album design, to the choreography (which if you haven’t watched it fully you absolutely should because its awesome), they killed just about every single aspect I can think of that comes with a kpop comeback.
    Then you have the b sides and I think these just might be their best b sides yet. I have no idea how to pick a favorite.
    Honestly their so good overall I think if they could just find that sweet spot for the title tracks themselves, wherein they match the concept but are still solid songs all the way through they would be freaking unstoppable.

    Like

  6. They feel like a kpop version of epic cinematic music for trailer i used to listen back when i was younger.

    …That’s not bad tho, i still kinda dig it. They should appear in road to kingdom 2 or something makes an epic version of other groups song lol

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.