Ever since the outstanding 2020 MAMA performances of The Boyz, ATEEZ, and Stray Kids announcing the upcoming airing of Kingdom, I have been literally counting the days to the first episode. THEN, it was revealed that BtoB, iKON and SF9 would also join the three 4th Generation teams to battle it out for the title. With such a talented line-up I just know each week’s episodes are going to be amazing AND intensely nerve-wracking!! I can’t wait to fangirl over all the fantastic stages – join me, won’t you?!
The first episode of Kingdom: Legendary War aired this past Thursday and being the crazy Kpop fan that I am, I stayed up waaaay past my bedtime to catch the live broadcast! Seeing industry sunbaenims BtoB performing alongside up-and-coming maknaes ATEEZ made for a thrilling watch. Thankfully this program, unlike its predecessor Road to Kingdom, is not conducting elimination rounds. Though there will still only be one winner crowned ‘king’, each of the six groups will continue to perform against each other over the next 10 weeks without having to exit the show. HALLELUJAH!! I don’t think my poor ahjumma heart could have handled kicking ANY of these accomplished groups to the curb! Instead, we will witness each team challenging their own capabilities and stretching the boundaries of their already expansive repertoire. Brilliant!
Hosted by TVXQ’s U-Know YunHo and Max Changmin, the introductory episode allowed viewers to watch the teams meet and see just what they were bringing to the table. The requirement for the first stage? A song that ranked #1, with a previous music show win. The groups participated a pre-show ranking, with iKon winning the coveted finale spot for the ‘Meet & Greet’ performance round! This also gave iKon the benefit of picking the team that would open the show… and so we began!
The maknaes ATEEZ took the stage first! They chose their summer song ‘Wave’, but morphed it into a dark and tormented version. Their compelling theatrical style performance and steady live vocals made for a powerful opening stage. ATEEZ bring a level of polish and intensity that is years beyond their recently shed rookie status.
ATEEZ chose Kingdom sunbaenims BtoB to perform next. BtoB brought their legendary vocals and surprised the other teams with a choir style remix of their ballad ‘Beautiful Pain’. The talent of this group was apparent in the absolutely gorgeous harmonization – in 100 short seconds, they proved that you don’t have to have complex dance moves to be a top performer!
Next up, SF9! I think we can all agree that SF9 is an underappreciated group of all-rounders. With their model-like looks, strong voices, polished dances, and multiple acting members, their specs sheet is intimidating. They claimed the stage in stylish suits and wowed with a dance break to their winning song ‘Good Guy’. Don’t underestimate the power of SF9!
Stray Kids followed with their stunning performance of ‘Miroh’! From intricate wolf tattoos, fire and knife props, and multiple jumps leaps and flips to their signature powerful raps, it was a larger-than-life stage that left viewers speechless. Along with the largest global fan-base of the six groups, Stray Kids are very powerful contenders!
The Boyz, having won the title in Road To Kingdom last year, brought all their confidence to the Kingdom stage opener. They made full use of the expansive stage to showcase their crisp precision, ability to transition through multiple dance styles, and acrobatics during their stage for ‘The Stealer’. Their performance skills are top-notch!
And last, but not least, the icons iKON took to the stage! Their impressive list of past wins allowed them to pick from numerous songs and they chose to revive their hip-hop roots with a remix of ‘Rhythm Ta’! Their signature dance styling and engaging raps were on point! And maybe it’s because this is their fourth competition program appearance, but iKON just looked so comfortable on stage – they were just having a blast performing and that made for a fantastic ending stage!
In true competition show fashion, the rankings after the stages for this first episode were both anxiety-inducing and only partially revealed! Pretty sure this show is going to end in major cliff-hangers every week – you’ve been warned! My excitement though is undeterred – I can’t wait to see what exciting new stages await us in episode 2!
And Now … The Totally Biased Fangirl Commentary
Everyone performed SO WELL – it’s really hard to pick favorites from this first episode!! The thing that struck me the most was the camaraderie that is already building – the older groups are cracking jokes and keeping the atmosphere light and the fanboying going on amongst the younger groups as they watch their sunbaenims perform is pretty cute!
I’m sad that there are several members missing on this program, either away to the military, currently on hiatus, or having parted ways with the group. But at the same time, I feel it gives most everyone an equal footing as they rework their songs and choreography to adjust for those missing members.
All this being said, this fangirl is an ATINY through and through! And while I can appreciate and applaud all the fantastic stages forthcoming in Kingdom, I will be completely supporting my pirate boys, ATEEZ, over the next 10 weeks!
Curious about any of these teams? I’ve put together a playlist that includes each group’s debut stage, winning stage song used in Kingdom performance, and most recent MV release – check it out here!
Catch all the subbed episodes of Kingdom: Legendary War on Viki here! Who are you rooting for? Did any team take you by surprise? Come fangirl with me in the comments below!!
Dramas with a Side of Kimchi