Before the Kingdom final this coming Thursday we are here to review the six original songs BTOB, Sf9, The Boyz, iKON, Stray Kids, and ATEEZ released beforehand. Let’s see how we feel about them, before we are influenced by the performances.
BTOB – Finale
Lina: I am so glad BTOB went with something dramatic and it still is a great song to listen to without the performance I think. I mean you can feel that Finale was made with a grand performance in mind but I am still obsessed with the song itself? The chorus is bombastic and gives us all the dramatic BTOB vocals we all love so much. Changsub and Eunkwang are eating well during that chorus. But I also enjoy Peniel’s and Minhyuk’s deep and dark raps during the verses. I cannot wait to watch the performance on Thursday.
Una: Wow. This is how you create a majestic, dramatic sound for Kingdom. Finale is so nicely connected, it’s incredibly cohesive and every single part of it flows so naturally. It was expected of BTOB to come up with something so good but this is even better than I could’ve hoped for – this could’ve easily been a whole comeback. Changsub’s lower register in the beginning of the song is absolutely everything! The rappers made this very smooth and eerie at times while the vocalists tied it all up nicely into a proper unit. That bridge? Stunning, Minhyuk’s vocals with that instrumental? So, so good. BTOB really were one of the biggest stars, if not the biggest star, of Kingdom for me and it’s amazing to see them do so well. This obviously isn’t related to ranking which at this point don’t mean anything to me, but the fact that all of their performances were really, really strong. Good job guys.
PS. Go bless your ears with their best b-side also named Finale from Brother Act.
The Boyz – Kingdom Come
Una: While I feel like the overall opinion online puts The Boyz in the lower level of interest in Kingdom, they are still one of my favourite contenders and I think their performances were extremely solid during the competition, never straying into something that is too out of their style which I appreciate. Kingdom Come continues the sound they’ve established during RTK and Kingdom and it’s such a good song. I enjoyed it right on the first listen, there is something about it that reminds me of EXO’s b-sides and that’s always a compliment. The overall atmosphere this song sets is exactly my style. I’ll definitely listen to this even without the performance but I’m incredibly excited for it! I’m also really ready for the comeback whenever that comes.
Lina: This feels like a song The Boyz would be doing for Kingdom. It reminds me a lot of their RTK song Checkmate. It has the same energy and I can already see the bombastic performance for this in my head. The string instruments during the instrumental are everything to me. Sunwoo also has a pretty strong rap as per usual and the vocals during the chorus are pretty nice! This feels pretty appropriate for Kingdom and the final performance.
ATEEZ – The Real
Lina: Mingi. M i n g i. Mingi and have I mentioned Mingi? Oh, do I miss my boy and his amazing rap sections.
Anyway, I am glad that The Real feels very ATEEZ and sounds like their pre-Kingdom songs. I felt at first the song was a bit messy, but after a couple of listens I really enjoy it. The pre-chorus is fantastic, the chorus falls a bit flat with it being mostly instrumental driven but it still does its job and I am intrigued to see what the stage performance for this looks like.
Una: This isn’t really for me but I appreciate that ATEEZ stayed true to their recognizable energy and melody they’ve been developing since debut. Like Lina, I think the instrumental meets one repeated phrase chorus falls flat, especially after the really okay pre-chorus which doesn’t really make me want to listen to this a lot, especially since it sounds really loud as well. The Real isn’t a bad song per se but it just isn’t something that speaks to me although I’m excited for their performance!
PS. Speaking of The Real, it would be cool to hear ATEEZ do something more rock-oriented like N.Flying’s The Real for one of their future albums.
Sf9 – Believer
Una: This is definitely something you’d easily find on SF9’s previous albums as a b-side and I like that. It’s nice that groups are staying true to their style and sound despite the competition. Believer is a perfectly solid release, the vocalists really shining like they should. As much as they could’ve experimented a bit with this, making it a bit more hard-hitting, I totally vibe with that chorus and it’s something that is easily wormed inside your brain, based on the first listen even. Believer is catchy and enjoyable and sometimes, especially when you have artists shouting left and right, that’s exactly what you need. Excited for SF9 comeback which I’m pretty sure should be somewhere in July if all the talk online is true.
Lina: Believer is after BTOB’s Finale my favorite song for the final round. This feels so very true to SF9’s sound in general and could easily be a b-side on their albums. (I am so hyped for the comeback, which has to be soon we have to send members off to war soon after all…). Believer is sexy and sultry, it does miss a bit of BAMF but I’d rather have a coherent and safe song like this than what some of the others groups did. Zuho’s rap is so damn catchy, do I wish there was a bit less autotune? Probably. Do I still bop to this? Yes. Also, Inseong and Jaeyoon are just really shining vocal wise through Kingdom. I also heard Rowoon on this song, so we better get him for that final performance.
Stray Kids – Wolfgang
Lina: First of all, Why… Why.. are they barking? Wolfgang sounded like a mess already at the end of episode 9 during that tiny snippet, and it’s even worse than I thought. Wolfgang has its moments of the SKZ energy we like, Changbin’s rap? Yes sir! But why are they barking and howling and just yelling at me during the chorus. Seungmin is carrying the melody on his back. There is also way too much autotune. God I am scared for that performance… maybe at least it will make getting through the song a bit more bearable.
Una: If I catch Stray Kids putting autotune on Seungmin one more time I will go to South Korea and have a private chat with them about some things… On the other hand, Minho being a solid part of vocal line during Kingdom is everything to me. Get those lines and screen time boy! Changbin lowkey carrying the performances though.
So, um, surprise but I actually like this. Is it groundbreaking? No, but it’s structured so well and the verses are really strong. This sounds like a proper SKZ song that they would make outside the competition too. I know that the chorus is just them screaming Wolfgang and barking (Mozart tweets made me laugh so much), and yes, I can’t believe I’m actually writing this, but it kind of works. It could be because the verses and the pre-chorus set such a melodic, eerie vibe at times even only elevated by Changbin’s and Felix’s strong voices so I don’t even mind the shouting. The lyrics also make sense with the whole attitude the song is giving off and everything somehow goes well together. This is just another proof that music is subjective because you know I’d usually dislike songs like this. I’m also a big TXT fan so… it would be hypocritical to say I hate when people imitate animals in songs [looks away in feel like I’m your cat, I’m your dog].
iKON – At ease
Una: Oh no, what is that Teddy-like chorus instrumental… I was getting excited for the chorus to hit after the very suspenseful pre-chorus but then, one of the things I dislike the most. The verses of At Ease are actually pretty solid and manage to set a very hype atmosphere which then unfortunately gets absolutely murdered on the spot by the chorus. I agree with Lina that this sounds like a reject from one of Bobby’s solo albums which simply means that I feel like another sound would fit the group as a whole better. However, DK sounds so god and his voice this song the best, I loved his parts. Maybe with a different arrangement this song would be a really good one, because it definitely has a potential. I’m full of surprises but this is pretty alright overall, with less autotune and chorus-drops this would be quite solid. I’m full of surprises today apparently but considering the online reviewing community really disliked At Ease and Wolfgang, I’m definitely vibing with them a lot more than I thought I would.
Lina: Um, I am not too sure how I feel about this song. Especially since this is the first original song we have gotten after March’s fantastic Why Why Why. At Ease has its moments but I wish we could hear more of June’s vocals, and some vocal parts in general. At Ease is very Bobby rap heavy and feels like a reject from his album if I am being honest. I wish they’d done something more melodic yet dramatic and with the chill iKON energy. Not the song I like the least from these 6 songs but also far from my favorite. Also, what is that last chorus? It’s just messy as hell.
Lina: My Top Three without the performance would be:
1: BTOB – Finale
2: Sf9 – Believer
3: The Boyz – Kingdom Come
Una: My Top Three without the performance would be:
1: BTOB – Finale
2: The Boyz – Kingdom Come
3: Stray Kids – Wolfgang
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