If you’ve been following this blog for a while now, you would know that the Mnet survival show Road to Kingdom took over several months of my life last year. I got really invested in the show as almost all of the groups on the show were groups that I was a fan of. I also won’t deny that I did get quite stressed as the elimination system took me on quite the roller coaster ride. However, I am very glad that all the groups on the show got to show us different sides of them, and they’ve been doing quite well after the show ended. I won’t deny, however, that most of my favorite performances were done by the winner of the show, The Boyz, who proved themselves to be masters of crafting a great storyline along with their great performances, and they just kept on getting better and better in every performance.
Now, finally, Kingdom is finally upon us, and I am nervous, excited and stressed about it all at the same time.
For me, as a viewer, Kingdom will definitely be a very interesting watch for me especially as this time around, I’m only really invested in two groups- The Boyz and SF9. I am also a fan of Stray Kids, but over the past year, I’ve become a more casual fan instead. I am also looking forward to seeing what Ateez brings to the table as it seems that they are another group who is really good at conceptual and big performances.
To be honest, I am a bit worried about SF9, not because I doubt their capabilities, (in fact, if they can pull off a “K.O.” like performance, they’ll definitely be a surprising dark horse), but because their international fan base is smaller compared to the likes of Stray Kids, Ateez and Ikon.
I was surprised that BTOB actually said yes to the show, but I’m very interested to see what they can do as I don’t know much about them and as I know they have great songs, but mostly the ballad type.
I don’t really know Ikon that well, and I only know two of their songs-“Love Scenario” and “Rhythm Ta”, so I’m looking forward to seeing what this other senior group will bring to the table.
The hype for the show actually began at the end of February, where the 100 second performances of each group were live streamed only once. After that, us fans had to vote for our group. For us international fans, we could vote on the app Whosfan.
They also had one member of each group perform on Mnet as well for a performance film. (Hands down, Taeyang’s performance was my favorite one here; and Kpop Twitter agrees given that everyone was talking about his performance after this dropped!)
Now, before moving on to the rest of the show….here is your spoiler alert warning! Beyond this point there will spoilers about their performances and the initial 100 second performance ranking.
The episode opened with The Boyz entering the set, which was interesting as they were also the first ones to enter during Road to Kingdom. However, this time, they looked more relaxed, as if they were just on vacation from the set and were happy to be back. Stray Kids entered next, followed by Ateez, BTOB, SF9 and then lastly, Ikon.
The Boyz and Stray Kids were friendly with each other, but after Ateez entered, things quieted down a bit as everyone got more nervous. BTOB’s Eunkwang, however, broke ice a bit by talking to everyone when BTOB entered.
Also, it is interesting to note that Ateez is the youngest group on the show, whole BTOB is the oldest group on the show.
After Ikon took their seats, the LED screen flashed the TVXQ logo and both Yunho and Changmin took their place as hosts to begin the show.
There, they explained the new evaluation system:
Group Evaluation: 25%
Expert Evaluation: 25%
Global & International Fans: 40%
YouTube & Naver Views: 10%
They also explained that the scores will all be added up, and that there would be four rounds in total. The leading team would also be granted the chance to have a reality show during the week of the finale, and that the winner of the 100 seconds performance would automatically get 1,000 points.
Upon hearing the criteria, I liked the fact that they added expert evaluations to the system, but I honestly wish it had a bigger percentage than 25%. I would be totally fine if they made the Global & International Fans criteria, which is mostly voting, 25%, and the expert evaluation 40%. However, it is what it is.
Afterwards, they showed the ranking of who each group expected to emerge as the winners. According to the groups on the show, they predicted that BTOB would place third, Stray Kids second, and Ikon first. Because of this, Ikon was allowed to perform last, and they were allowed to choose the first performers.
In the end, the order of performances were Ateez, BTOB, SF9, Stray Kids, The Boyz, and Ikon. The main theme of the 100 seconds performance was a song that they had a music show win in.
After the performances, the groups went their separate ways, and were informed of the results in their own respective agencies via a video recording.
They only announced three rankings out of six, while the 6th, 1st, and 2nd place will be announced in the second episode.
I will also let you guys know my own personal ranking in the next recap post as well!
Ateez- WAVE: Overture
Ateez is a group that I’m keeping an eye on given that I know that they are a very performance driven group. For the 100 second performance they performed “Wave”. I really liked that they presented a clear concept and storyline that really fits with my known image of them. When I think Ateez, I actually think of pirates thanks to their song “Pirate King”, but this drove it home. The pyramid with San holding up the torch was impressive. I thought that it was a good performance- it felt like it could have been more, but I’m still satisfied with what we got. This group also has great facial expressions, so I’m excited to see more of it! With Ateez, I know the group, and I love their discography, but I don’t know all the members yet, so I’m excited as well to get to know them more through this show!
BOTB- Beautiful Pain (Choir ver.)
This performance might have only been 100 seconds long, but it really felt like I was watching a full performance of theirs at a concert. BTOB’s live vocals are no joke, and I like that they chose to sing a ballad for their 100 second performance especially as it was very different from the other performances that night. I don’t really know much about BTOB although Peniel, Eunkwang and Minhyuk are familiar faces that I’ve seen on other shows, so I’m excited to see what they’ll bring to the competition. I only really know them as a ballad group more than a dance or more performance based group, so I’m excited to see what they can do. (If there are any Melodies reading this, feel free to suggest videos and other stuff so that I can get to know them more!)
SF9- Good Guy (The Glory)
I’ve been listening to SF9 for quite a while now, but it was only recently that I became a Fantasy, and started learning more about the members of this group more. Now, I’m proud to say that I can tell the members apart aside from my biases- Rowoon, Inseong and Chani. As the theme was a song with a win, their only choice was “Good Guy”, but I had no complaints about that at all! Plus, the boys looked great in suits, as they gave off a very elegant and classy vibe. The 100 second performance was good, and it showed us that they are brilliant dancers, and kudos goes to Taeyang who remained super professional and chill about things even though his body pack did come loose. It was a shame that Rowoon had to sit this one out, but I’m really looking forward to what SF9 will show us, because I know that they are capable of so many things. They are definitely a dark horse in this competition! (Also, can we have SF9 be in suits always? They really look like models!)
Stray Kids- Miroh
If you have been following my blog, there was once a time were I was a pretty big Stay. Now, however, I’m just a casual fan, but I do still enjoy their music and their performances. If I was to be honest, I think that the three groups that people think are going to be the natural rivals in this show are Ateez, Stray Kids and The Boyz; which I think is also a bit funny given that these three groups know each other to the point that they were joking around with each other, etc. Now, moving on to this performance- it was a really good and strong performance; a textbook strong performance for a show like this. They definitely made good use of the stage; I found the use of the green lights as eyes interesting; that flamethrower was definitely an interesting touch; and the stunts that Felix did were clean. I’m proud of Felix here given the fact that he was very nervous about everything as he hadn’t been doing well during rehearsals.
The Boyz- The Stealer (Epic Ver.)
The Boyz are definitely out to prove that they are the defending champions of this show, and not going to lie, this performance gives me goosebumps every single time. Once again, in just 100 seconds, they showed off their creativity, by giving us a performance in which you really couldn’t guess what was going to happen next. I mean, I don’t think anyone expected that they would start dancing contemporary style for a few seconds to a more classical arrangement of “The Stealer”, which gave me “Shangrila (Quasi Una Fantasia)” vibes. Also, can we talk about Sunwoo’s rap? That was so crisp and clean! Anyway, The Boyz has done nothing but out do themselves, so I’m excited to see how they up their game even more in this competition!
Ikon- Rhythm Ta (Kingdom ver.)
Even thought I don’t know much about Ikon, I really do love this particular song. Among all of the contestants, Ikon was the only group that performed looking like they truly enjoyed their performance and the stage. They looked like they were having so much fun! It was a very clean performance, and I enjoyed it very much! Also, I love how much of a free spirit Bobby is!
What did you guys think of the first episode of “Kingdom”? What did you think of the performances? What are your own personal rankings of the 100 second performance? Let me know in the comments below!