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Here’s Why You Need to Watch ‘Kingdom: Legendary War’

The boy group edition of Mnet’s idol-survival program is gearing up to be this year’s hottest reality show as six major K-pop groups battle it out for the winning title

Rolling Stone India Apr 01, 2021

THE BOYZ on 'Kingdom: Legendary War'

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One of the most anticipated South Korean reality shows of 2021 has finally arrived. After the massive global success of its preliminary qualifier round in 2020 Road to Kingdom, Kingdom: Legendary War is the much-awaited follow-up to 2019’s Queendom. While its predecessor was a competition featuring several of K-pop’s biggest girl groups, Kingdom will see boy groups take the stage.

Inspired by classic idol-survival programs, this year’s celebrity competition–spearheaded by South Korean TV channel Mnet–features six wildly popular groups: ATEEZ, Stray Kids, BTOB, iKON, SF9 and of course the winners of Road To Kingdom, THE BOYZ. With K-pop gaining global recognition, Kingdom offers viewers the perfect opportunity to see their favorite groups put their best foot forward. The competing idols are challenged to reimagine their hit songs through never-seen-before stages and work on new records–including covers of tracks by their peers and seniors in the industry. The show aims to give viewers a deeper understanding of each group’s unique styles. 

Fans, both Korean and international, will significantly determine the fate of the groups through voting. Though this season will not have any elimination rounds, fans, participants and a panel of experts will have the opportunity to weigh the strengths of each group based on stage presence, choreography, vocal abilities and more to create weekly rankings, determine performance lineups and crown a final winner at the end of the season. The show is hosted by K-pop veterans TVXQ.

In a press conference held earlier today, Lee Young Joo, the producing director of Kingdom, explained the voting system. “In ‘Kingdom,’ one winning team will result from a competition between the six teams,” Lee announced, adding, “They will be given points based on voting by competing teams (25 percent,) expert panel score (25 percent,) domestic and global fan votes (40 percent,) and video score (10 percent.) The team with the most points wins. Global fans votes were included in the criteria for an objective evaluation and we have invited 30 experts to the panel to vote. Please watch the show to find out about the rules for the final live broadcast. This time, there are no eliminations. The six teams each have their own styles, so it makes no sense to eliminate any of them. They are all creating legendary stages.”

The first episode was nothing short of exhilarating. Each group performed new renditions of their own hit tracks, giving Kingdom’s audiences as well as their competitors a glimpse of their individual creativity, style and artistry.

Meet the teams:

ATEEZ

Known for their off-the-charts energy, ATEEZ opened with a power-packed performance of “Wave: Overture.” Following their debut storyline of pirates from an abandoned ship, the group leveraged vigorous dance breaks and cinematic effects to weave a compelling performance to highlight their booming vocals and stellar coordination. They took it up a notch by presenting it all in a one-take shot.

BTOB

With over eight glorious years of unmatched hits, BTOB are the most senior group in the competition and know exactly how to wow a crowd. The members delivered a breezy, nostalgic version of their 2018 track “Love Then Pain.” With almost no choreography at all, the lo-fi rendition showed off BTOB’s extraordinary vocal range and hair-raising harmonies, leaving their fellow competitors just as awestruck as the audience.

SF9

Famous for their elegant, sleek performance style and visuals, SF9 graced Kingdom’s stage in crisp suits as they swayed to their 2020 R&B-house track, “Good Guy.” Staying true to Kingdom‘s appeal, SF9 transformed the song into a fierce, dark synth-led number to match their perfectly synchronized choreography. 

Stray Kids

Stray Kids unleashed raw, beastly personas with their reimagined gothic-synth rendition of 2019’s “Miroh.” The group effortlessly blended elements such as earth and fire to heighten the visual appeal of their feral performance, shocking everyone with pyrotechnics, immersive stage effects and acrobatic choreography.

THE BOYZ

As the winners of Road To Kingdom (which saw participation from seven groups to score a spot in Kingdom: Legendary War) THE BOYZ are one of the strongest contenders this season. The 11-member group gave viewers a taste of their versatility with a theatrical, gothic-manic makeover of their 2020 EDM-led track “The Stealer,” blending powerful hip-hop moves and contemporary ballet seamlessly. 

iKON

iKON, who recently embraced a more suave and mature persona with their comeback “Why, Why, Why,” decided to go back to their roots with a modified version of their 2016 hip-hop single “Rhythm Ta.” Opening with a dance break, iKON put forward a swag-heavy performance to match the addition of trap and woodwind instrumentals, oozing confidence all the way.

Stream ‘Kingdom: Legendary War’ on Viki to watch the action unfold. Watch the trailer for next week’s show below:

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