While I am still excited to watch “Kingdom” every week, my enthusiasm for the show is definitely getting a bit weaker, what with the fact that these groups film around thirty hours of footage straight and the fact that there are miscommunication issues between the Mnet PDs and the agencies of the Kingdom groups. I guess my waning enthusiasm is also due to the fact that at the end of the day, it will feel like a popularity contest given the fact that 50% of the entire score will be based on global fan voting and streaming, which, to be honest, is stressing me out quite a bit; but I definitely am appreciating all the work that these groups are putting in, and I am looking forward to some upcoming themes for stages, especially in the coming weeks.
From here on out, there will be spoilers!
Introduction Stage Rankings
Finally, this episode saw the complete ranking list. Here is the show’s list, and below it are my rankings.
1: Stray Kids
2: The Boyz
1: The Boyz
2: Stray Kids
As you can see, my ranking is pretty similar to the show’s ranking, except for the first two groups.
The Boyz’s performance was just pure art! It felt very much like a level up of all their Road to Kingdom performances put together, and even though it was just one song, it felt very different, new, and I was looking forward to seeing what would happen each second they were on stage.
Stray Kids is definitely the strongest contender against The Boyz in this competition. Despite Felix’s worries, this performance was strong in concept and in performance. A textbook great performance.
I’m not going to lie, I got goosebumps as soon as they started singing. What makes them different is that they are more vocally heavy as compared to the others, so I’m quite curious as to seeing them doing bigger and more performance based stages in the future.
SF9’s performance was a good strong dance number that highlighted their strengths as great dancers. Although I am worried about the smaller fanbase the boys have, I still maintain that this group is a dark horse in the race.
Ateez is VERY strong when it comes to concept, and although they are good and strong performers, their performance left me wanting just a little bit more. However, they are definitely a force to be reckoned with!
I loved Ikon’s energy on stage, and they were the only group that truly seemed as if they were having fun on stage. Bobby’s energy is something else, and I love how free spirited he is!
Round One- Theme: To The World
The second round’s theme was “To the World”. For this one, the groups had to choose a song that they wanted to show to the world, or choose a song that has a particular message that they want to tell people. As Stray Kids won round one, they were able to choose the order of performances for this round. The first three groups- The Boyz, iKON and BTOB, were the only groups shown in the episode.
Also, it turns out that for the first three groups, fans only had three days to stream the full version performance clip, and there will also be three voting days as well.
The Boyz-No Air (A Song of Fire & Ice)
To be honest, “No Air” is a fan favorite song, and a song that the group has also wanted to perform again. They even said that they regretted not performing it on “Road to Kingdom”. Then, the next dilemma that hit them was how to be able to top their previous performances, and this is where things get tricky for them, as they did a lot on “Road to Kingdom”. So, in the end, they decided to focus a little bit more on emotions, and what came out of it was a very creatively interesting and experimental piece that played to their theatrical strengths. In addition to this, they decided to get pretty method on the feeling of desperation my undergoing an underwater photoshoot beforehand. Now, Sunwoo has faced his fear of heights before for this competition, but going underwater was very different for him. However, I am glad that Younghoon stepped up and reminded me that he is in the “hyung” line, by going in with Sunwoo, and the results were great.
I thought that using the game POV thing was REALLY creative thinking, and I loved how they really made us of the LED screens to sell that illusion. I think that they were able to achieve what they wanted as I could definitely notice that their facial expressions were good; and I thought that that dance break with Juyeon was experimental, theatrical, and did give off a certain sense of panic and well, of having no air. I do think that the song arrangement wasn’t as good as, let’s say, “Reveal” (Catching Fire ver.), but it got the job done. Also, that double backflip that Eric did was amazing. (Kudos also to Sunwoo’s being ever the professional even though that rope he was hanging from ended up a few inches above the supposed height.)
iKON- Love Scenario + Killing Me
Even though I don’t know much about iKON I do know and love “Love Scenario” very much, so I’m very glad that they decided to use this song for this round. I also liked the fact that they kind of did a little survey before they settled on what two songs to use, including, funnily enough, some input from SF9’s Chani.
I absolutely loved loved the more funky version of “Love Scenario”, and I loved that they danced it in a more Broadway kind of way. Bobby is definitely an amazing performer, as he completely captivated me in those first few moments he had on stage! I thought that the transition into “Killing Me” was interesting, but for me, the momentum kind of went down from there. I think that I was still expecting it to continue on as a musical, so I guess it threw me off for a bit. However, it was a very good performance.
BOTB- Missing You (Theatre ver.)
I love that instead of being inside the agency’s meeting room to decide on the song they’ll use for the next round, the members of BTOB yet again decided to meet in Eunkwang’s apartment. I also love the fact that they decided on it while having pizza and beer. I also think that BTOB’s Minhyuk is really growing on me, as I was a little bit amused that he felt quite a lot of pressure during this round, especially as he had a little solo portion in this number, and because he was the one who had actually convinced the members to join.
I’ve never heard this song before, but I absolutely loved the traditional Korean elements that the song had. Minhyuk also did extremely well in the sword fight dance sequence he had, and them singing altogether as the song reached its climax and ending really hit home emotionally, especially as they mentioned that the title of the song can have a double meaning for its message- the fact that they are currently missing the two members who are doing their military enlistment now, and that they miss Melody as in person concerts can’t be done as much anymore.
Next week’s performances look interesting as well as next up will be Stray Kids, SF9 and Ateez!
Also, next week’s preview showed that the second round’s theme will be “Re-born” in which each group will cover another group’s songs.
What did you think of the first three performances, and what songs from each group would you like to see another Kingdom group cover?
Let me know in the comments below!