It was a suspense-filled two weeks as the six teams of Kingdom took on their second-round challenge. Fantastic cover performances and camaraderie amongst the groups were definitely the highlights, and the end-of-round leaderboard rankings left fans (and artists alike) shocked and speechless! Join me as I share all the unbelievable moments from the recent episodes of Kingdom!!
Spoilers are forthcoming – you have been warned!
Following their round one placement, the teams had the opportunity to see commentary from the professional judges to aid in preparing for their upcoming stages. The mood between groups varied from jubilant to questioning as they were meet with a variety of critiques. ATEEZ received praises for their clear concept and uncomplicated stage. And iKon also garnered compliments for their song arrangement plus simple and balanced performance. Stray Kids were told their frequent transitions took away from their performance as a whole.
High expectations from Road To Kingdom winners The Boyz left some room for disappointment with Kingdom judges. BtoB impressed with the Asian-infused rendition of their song; however, the reviews noted that their storyline wasn’t strong enough. Finally, SF9 did see positive notes for the mood and splendor of their stage, but low marks stemmed from the lack of a central highlight. With the results of these evaluations in mind, the teams moved on to tackle the next round!
Round two’s theme was RE-BORN. The mission: choose a fellow Kingdom group to swap with and perform a reimagined version of a track from their discography! Leaders from round one, ATEEZ, were allowed to pick their partners for the exchange first and they delightedly chose iKon. Stray Kids selected BtoB, much to the surprise (and panic) of their vocal-heavy seniors! And remaining teams SF9 and The Boyz were paired up. Would the groups be able to successfully navigate this exciting challenge?
SF9 took to the stage first! After determining that their group was better suited for a more serious song, rather than many of The Boyz’s lighter and school-boy-themed tracks, they ultimately decided on ‘The Stealer’. Preparation for the stage included acting lessons from theatre and movie actor Jung Sung Hwa, as well as professional action school classes to help bring their storyline to life. Before taking to the stage, SF9 felt encouraged and confident that their dynamic, noir version of ‘The Stealer (The Scene)’ would be well received by The Boyz and the viewers alike!
Next up, The Boyz brought their rendition of ‘O Sole Mio (The Red Wedding)’ to life on the stage. Feeling disappointed with their placement after the first round, several members met with fellow Road To Kingdom competitors from Oneus, ONF, and VeriVery. This cheerful mini-reunion with their industry peers and friends encouraged and helped them confidently focus on their stage presentation. With a desire to express the fervor and love within the tango, they supplemented their arrangement with sections from the Moulin Rouge OST and Schubert’s ‘Erlkönig’. Although their passionate performance was applauded by SF9 and the other teams, a prop malfunction left them feeling regretful that their stage this time had fallen short of perfection.
iKon delighted in the opportunity to chat with ATEEZ while awaiting results from round one, peppering their star-struck juniors with questions and exchanging phone numbers! So when it was time to prepare for their cover stage, they boldly picked a song they could infuse with their own hip-hop stylings. Complete with a rewritten chorus and raps, the stage for their mash-up performance also pulled inspiration from the movie of the same name. ‘Inception (iKon ver.)’ was truly a unique arrangement – only iKon could take the angsty original and bring their signature hyped-up dance party at the end!
Eager to defend their 1st place ranking, ATEEZ brainstormed over which iKon track to choose. As humble fans who have performed iKon songs pre-debut and during monthly evaluations as trainees, they were very excited to tackle this challenge. Although ‘Rhythm TA’ has been covered dozens of times over already, ATEEZ were confident that they could not only pay their respects but bring their own colors to create a memorable stage. Titled ‘Rhythm TA (The Awakening of Summer)’, HongJoong once again infused classical music, from Vivaldi, and also added Latin-flavored stylings during his rap section. With influences from the Spanish drama La Casa de Papel (aka Money Heist), their performance conveyed them as rebels seeking to awaken those who have been emotionally oppressed by way of music and dance. Mission success for ATEEZ came by way of iKon’s praises – the sunbaenims were impressed!
As the remaining two teams took to the stage, all eyes were on BtoB as they tackled their song switch. Their focus was to maintain the message of their chosen song, but bring out their own strengths during this performance. After a hilarious reconnaissance call to Stray Kids, in which they teasingly hung up on their hoobaes not once but twice, BtoB began constructing their cover of ‘Back Door’. Beginning with a rock riff and bringing in elements of trap and funk, BtoB’s version of this Stray Kids favorite followed the members as they prepared backstage for a live show – from dressing room door to the stage. This fantastic performance had everyone on their feet by the end, enthusiastically jumping and singing along!!
Stray Kids wrapped up this round by taking on a challenge of their own. Members BangChan, Han, and ChangBin (collectively known as 3Racha) have been the primary writers for much of Stray Kid’s discography and they chose to re-work the vocal-heavy ballad ‘I’ll Be Your Man’. They kept their stage fairly simple, but turned the visuals and tone of the story darker and more desperate. BtoB member EunKwang was floored by rapper Han’s strong singing voice! IN’s nerves caused him to falter briefly during his sections, but the performance as a whole was so gripping that silence descended at its conclusion. Everyone was visibly moved.
Rankings have been a bit challenging to keep track of with this show! Video tracking and global fan voting votes from round one were shown to viewers during round two – Stray Kids took first place for both categories. However, a combined voting tally for the first round has not been completed and shared with the teams or viewers as of yet.
For round two, ATEEZ once again snagged first place with the professional judges! And, in a shocking turn of events, Stray Kids fell to last place in pro-judge rankings!! Participants and viewers alike were STUNNED. After the addition of the peer evaluations, ATEEZ succeeded in hanging on to the number one slot. They were followed by SF9, BTOB, iKon, Stray Kids and The BOYZ. A truly unexpected shuffle in the rankings!!
Fangirl Commentary Time!
I’ll be honest, it was tough to choose favorites this week! I was so proud of SF9 and their stage – they really came together and had a great performance! Their happy smiles after the stage said it all.
I was finally engaged for the first time with The Boyz’ ‘O Sole Mio’. They did a fantastic job weaving their storyline and the tango choreography. It’s too bad that torch didn’t stay lit, but honestly, I kind of enjoyed the silhouette of the dancers that the darkened stage offered instead!
When it came time for iKon’s stage, my anticipation was high. And I think I felt a little let down actually. The rewritten chorus departed from the original too much and I kept feeling pulled out of the song. I understand what they were trying to go for, but it just fell short for me.
On the other hand, ATEEZ killed it once again! Not only did they give a clear story to the non-ATINY viewer for ‘Rhythm TA’, but they also added so many details that built upon the ATEEZ universe storyline as well. I’ve rewatched it several times and keep seeing new things. And while I don’t believe they will ultimately win this competition, they are very effectively utilizing the Kingdom stage for self-promotion, lol!
BtoB surprised me the most and I absolutely LOVED their stage this round – they got the number one vote from me!! I never expected they could rock a Stray Kids song like that – it was FANTASTIC!!
I really enjoyed the storytelling and stage from Stray Kids as well. So I was COMPLETELY floored when they placed sixth with the professionals! WHY??? I really want to know what criteria the judges were looking at to score the RE-BORN stages because there was no way they should have been last!!!
Well. . . another round, another batch of amazing performances, and another week on the Kingdom roller coaster! I need to know what y’all thought – drop down and chat (or rant) with me in the comments section!!
Until the next stage. . .
Dramas with a Side of Kimchi