For the past several Kingdom comebacks, I’ve found myself more enamored with the group’s b-sides than their title tracks. Their high-concept series seems to put emphasis on performance pieces rather than songs that stand well on their own. This remains true for new single Long Live The King (백야), but there are enough musical goodies thrown into its arrangement to make this an easy standout in their discography.
Sometimes, songs can be too fussy for their own good. Rather than lean into their obvious strengths, they shift and drop and try to do too much at once. Long Live The King is guilty of this and would greatly improve with some generous tightening. But, ambition is part of Kingdom’s schtick. I can’t fault them for trying to do as much as they can in four minutes’ time. I just wish the song would linger on some of its strongest moments. The funky beat that emerges during verse one is so good. We could’ve had an entire song built around it. But, it disappears in seconds – replaced by lumbering percussion that feels far more generic.
Luckily, Long Live The King is anchored by a memorable chorus. The arrangement varies here as well, and the track is at its best when it goes full bore. I love the pummeling percussion that underlines much of this centerpiece. It feels as if the group is throwing everything they have at us. The energy is galvanizing. But, this drama makes King’s missteps even more obvious. Like so many other K-pop tracks, its second verse is inert and jarring. Thank goodness it’s brief. And, the song hits where it counts, delivering a thrilling climax that sends us out on a high.