When Road to Kingdom was announced, I was over the moon. I loved Queendom and even discovered my ultimate bias group (Oh My Girl) through it, so a male version sounded great! Then they announced the lineup, and it contained some of my favourite current boy groups. Not only did this make me absolutely giddy with excitement, but it meant that I could see some of my favourite groups interact with each other! But as it is with most MNET shows, there’s always a catch. Though I understand drama attracts more viewers, the elimination aspect of the show really pissed me off. Add to that the fact that they promoted competition rather than moments between groups it felt more like a quasi- produce survival show with groups. Something that didn’t really sit right with me. This didn’t stop me from watching though, as I watched the performances on release and the rest of the episode once subs were out.
Thankfully, the performances we got were great all around. I don’t think there was a Destiny, but my top pick is probably one of my favourite performances of all time. So in honour of the shows final episode coming out next week, I’ve decided to rank all 23 of the shows performances from best to worst. While I do have my own biases, these rankings were based purely off how much I enjoyed both the performance and mix. I’m weighing each entry on a 60:40 ratio, with the quality of the mix accounting for 60% and the actual performance accounting for 40. So now that I’ve specified the rules, let’s get to the rankings!
*Be wary, Potential spoilers ahead!
23. Magnolia – TOO
I enjoyed the original version of Magnolia quite a bit but this performance was easily my least favourite. I liked the traditional vibe during the hook, but too much of the mix was marred with the momentum killing trap hi-hats to really leave a lasting impression. The performance and concept while cool, felt more akin to a more beefed up music show performance, especially when compared to some of the others on the show.
Best Mix moment: 1:04 when the first chorus hits
Best Performance moment: 2:35 – 3:00 That shot and concept is just really cool
22. Follow – Pentagon
Throughout the show I felt like Pentagon just weren’t living up to their potential, and this rather underwhelming mix of Follow was probably their weakest. I never really liked Follow as a song and rather than take its more inspired moments, Pentagons rendition felt more like a case of style over substance. At least the performance and use of props was cool! It gave the performance a needed larger than life appeal.
Best Mix moment: 3:00 – 3:25 The dance break was probably the only moment that really ignited the energy I was looking for.
Best Performance moment: 2:10 Loved the choreo and staging of this scene
21. ON – Verivery x TOO
Ok the Mix really let me down on this one. On is probably my least favourite BTS title track and the mix really shadowed that. I appreciated the performance and the large number of people really tried to make an impact, but it felt a little too “try hard” for my liking. While I know many loved this, it just wasn’t for me. Even the triumphant hook felt anti-climactic.
Best Mix moment: 1:45 – 2:10 This is what the whole mix should have been like! Would have been great to see a symphonic version of ON!
Best Performance moment: 3:33 The Sheer number of people on stage just adds to appeal
20. Hard Carry – TOO
Ok let me start off by saying that the styling for this stage was just atrocious. I get the concept here was meant to be “street” or as they were calling it “punky” but it looked more like they were trying to cosplay some homeless boys who got lost in a paint factory. And while I didn’t think much of the mix, that electric guitar after the first chorus was easily the highlight.
Best Mix moment: 1:32 – 1:42 That electric guitar solo stole the entire show
Best Performance moment: 3:30 – 3:35 The human basket ball concept was fun!
19. Kill This Love – Pentagon x ONF
Really cool concept, terrible remix. This stage has become a fan favourite and while I can see why, it did absolutely nothing for me. The vocals and charisma during this performance were easily the high point, but the actual music felt waaaaaay too lifeless. Hui is one of my favourite producers but I’ve disliked almost all his re-arrangements on the show. It also doesn’t help that Kill This Love is my least favourite Blackpink singles.
Best Mix moment: 2:50 – 3:05 The Only part of the mix that felt like a full realisation of the concept
Best Performance moment: There were a lot of great moments, but 4:05 was probably the moment that most will remember. Hui’s hanging was a close runner up.
18. Mansae – Verivery
Mansae is an absolute jam and while I don’t really think the remix lives up to the original, this performance was just really fun from start to finish. I’ll always be a fan of more upbeat material and that really helped this performance stand out for me. Verivery are also incredibly entertaining and their unique personalities really helped sell the stage for me. I just really wish the mix was better. It just felt way too lockstep for my liking.
Best Mix moment: 1:20 – 1:35 The electro throb here works much better than I thought it would! Sounds great!
Best Performance moment: 3:26 Kangmin’s “Wanna Walk With Me?” Easily one of the most iconic moments in the entire show.
17. Warriors Descent – Oneus
Another one where I like the performance much much more than the mix. I like Warriors Descent, but I don’t think its up there in the upper echelons of H.O.T songs with tracks Candy or We are the future. But I liked the remix! It retained aspects what made the original work, but changed it just enough to feel unique and fresh. But what really made this performance was the great story telling and choreography. It’s just not one of those performances I’ve returned to as much.
Best Mix moment: 2:28 – 2:37 Leedo’s rap break was probably the best exectued
Best Performance moment: 3:02 – 3:26 The slow motion fight scenes where incredible!
16. Very Good – Pentagon
Very good is one of those songs that’s just designed to be performed. I really liked the fact that they both kept rock influence of the original, but also introduced additional elements to make it their own. The one thing that really held it back for me though is that they just didn’t go crazy enough. Pentagon are one of those groups that know how to put up a performance, but they felt oddly restrained during this. That’s not to say that the entire group was like that, Jinho was great!
Best Mix moment: 2:00 – 2:08 Loved how similar yet engaging this build was. Loved Jinho’s vocals here.
Best Performance moment: 2:00 – 2:08 Yup, same moment. Jinho completley steals the show
15. Shine + Spring Snow – Pentagon
Easily my favourite Pentagon performance on RTK and thats probably due to the fact that they chose to perform two of their best songs. Shine and Spring Snow are both really fun songs and I thought that bringing them together was an inspired choice. Especially since we got a rock version of Shine! Something I never thought I needed. But what really brings down the performance was me was the whole enlistment thing. I get it’s a really emotional and powerful moment but it felt kind of unfair in the context of the competition.
Best Mix moment: 3:00 – 3:10 The anthemic, lighters in the air conclusion really hits the spot
Best Performance moment: 3:52 – 4:35 Spring Snow in the context of the situation acted as the perfect sendoff and was especially heartwarming
14. Gogobebe – Verivery
This was the weird one where I didn’t like enjoy either the mix or performance but still found myself completely invested. It was one of the few performances on the show that felt very carnivalesque, and I really appreciated that. Gogobebe was one of last years biggest growers and I think the remix did it justice. The Aladdin concept was also an inspired choice and resulted in a very entertaining display of both skill and personality.
Best Mix moment: (1:47 – 2:12) Just a really fun chorus
Best Performance moment: ( 2:18 – 2:24 ) That staff trick was really inventive
13. LIT – ONEUS
I thought this was great! I never thought much of Lit as a song but it’s an incredible performance piece. The boys performed the hell out of this track, with a mixture of traditional dancers, dragons, lions and pretty much anything else under the sun. The traditional instrumentation was nice and really helped this performance stand out. I just wish they had gotten rid of the trap influences and gone full traditional like Oh My Girls legendary Destiny, the performance that Oneus actually modelled this after!
Best Mix moment: (2:18 – 2:33) Love the rapid fire rap over the traditional instrumentation
Best Performance moment: (3:35 – 4:10) Nothing beats a well executed climax
12. Shangri-La (Quasi Una Fantasia) – The Boyz
I never really liked Shangri-La, but pairing it with Beethovens Moonlight Sonata was probably one of the smartest things they could have done. It’s completely unexpected but works so well. The performance was brilliant, stringing together a number of simple, yet incredibly affecting set pieces to great effect. The scene behind the curtain was just incredible and proves that The Boyz are the perfect performance group. The mix on the other hand, while solid just doesn’t hit me the same way as some of the others higher up on the list. But boy was this one beautiful performance.
Best Mix moment: 0:53 – 1:10 Brilliant Use of Moonlight Sonata
Best Performance moment: (3:20 – 3:44) Such a beautiful and inventive set piece
11. Wannabe (Sampling Paganini 24 Caprices No.24 In A Minor Op.1) – Golden Child
Another performance that sampled an iconic classical piece, Golden Child’s final performance was an excellent showcase of their immense skill. Although the first half of the performance feels a little too stock standard, Wannabe‘s unique arrangement and constant string influence makes sure it never becomes boring. But this performance really comes into its own when main vocal Joochan whips out his violin for one of best and most unique moments of the show. The rest of the performance is incredible, building to a mammoth climax that sends it off on a high.
Best Mix moment: (3:30 – 4:02) One of the best climax’s of any of the RTK mix’s
Best Performance moment: (2:57 – 3:35) Joochan’s violin. Nothing more, nothing less.
10. Danger – The Boyz
One of the most engaging performances on the show, The Boyz turned Danger, the perfect performance piece into a show stopping collection of flips, jumps and magical illusions. All while having an instantly enjoyable mix. It felt like I was watch a circus rather than a kpop performance and I loved it. The phantom thief aesthetic was also a fun one, which The Boyz executed with incredible finesse.
Best Mix moment: (1:43 – 2:10) Danger has an incredible chorus and the injection of brass only makes it better
Best Performance moment: (1:15 – 1:20) That was one of the sickest things I’ve ever seen.
9. Photo – Verivery
Hell yeah! I’ve always wanted Verivery to go full on horror show like their seniors VIXX, and the results did not disappoint in the slightest. Photo is one of my favourite b-sides of the year so far and the heavy metal remix only added to its appeal. It felt just as gritty, yet sinister enough to really sell the performance. This was also one of the only performances where I though the dance break didn’t feel out of place. It perfectly complimented the mix and felt like a natural progression. The way they created an entire performance around a bed was also incredible!
Best Mix moment: (3:45 – 3:55) I loved Photo’s original climax and the remix only makes it better
Best Performance moment: (1:10 -1:20) Easily the most unsettling part of the performance
8. Everybody – ONF
Everybody Is one of my favourite SHINee songs and when I heard that ONF of all groups were going to cover it, I was absolutely bursting with excitement. But at the same time I was also concerned. More than a performance, Everybody is a full on workout, requiring an incredible amount of skill and stamina to pull off. Thankfully, ONF absolutely smashed expectations with this dark, horror inspired remix. It managed to be both unique, whilst still paying homage to the original. The only thing I could have done without was that rather “unnecessary” dance break.
Best Mix moment: (3:30 – 3:45) Loved the mixing of the chorus and Wyatts rap
Best Performance moment: (3:00 – 3:30) Loved the throne set-piece
7. The We Must Love – ONF
Ok, this performance already gets points for having YooA in it. It was an inspired choice and really helped add greater depth and name recognition to this performance. But apart from that, I loved both the mix and the concept. We Must Love was one of my favourite songs from last year, and this remix really proved the strength of its melody. The fact that they also added Moscow Moscow into the mix at the end was a smart choice and was especially fitting to the overall theme. But standout moment was easily J-Us and YooA’s dance break which was just a great moment overall.
Best Mix moment: (1:48) When the electric guitar slams in
Best Performance moment: (1:29 – 1:47) J-Us and YooA dance break
6. Heroine – The Boyz x Oneus
Of all the collaboration stages, this was by far the best one. Not only did it feel like a real collaboration, but it also chose the best song. Heroine is easily one of the best songs of the past few years and this remix did it justice. But what really makes this performance truely brilliant was its theme. It promoted unity and friendship, the complete antithesis of what Mnet was trying to achieve with this show. That’s probably why it placed last. It felt like the most personal and effecting performance on the show and really hit hard. I loved pretty much everything about this performance all the way down to its Produce inspired finale. It’s incredible how fitting “the show must go on” line is.
Best Mix moment: (1:42) That moment when the melody from Heroine hits
Best Performance moment: (3:35 – 4:08) The Produce esque finale, Chills.
5. Be Mine – ONEUS
I consider Be Mine one of the best and most iconic Kpop songs of all time and the fact that ONEUS covered it automatically wins them some points in my book. And while it’s kinda funny they went with Romeo and Juliet concept (considering Infinite have a song called Last Romeo), this stage was a complete triumph. Although Be Mine has been covered numerous times, this was easily the best re-interpretation of the track I’ve ever heard. I liked how it started out on a quiet, sombre note but gradually got more powerful throughout. I loved the symphonic swirls present throughout the mix and the usage of props was excellent. Even the trap at the end worked well!
Best Mix moment: (2:07) You can’t go wrong with that incredible chorus
Best Performance moment: (3:12) The cutting of the family logos
4. T.O.P – Golden Child
I was worried for this performance. As much as I love Shinhwa, T.O.P is easily one of their worst singles and I had no idea how it would be re-interpreted in a 2020 setting. But boy did Golden Child exceed expectations. I should have had faith in my bias group to deliver and they transformed T.O.P into one of the best remixes of the competition. Growing from a serene string laden opening to a full out rocker, the performance made fantastic use of every member to create the perfect display for the groups talents. The build towards the climax is one of the shows most electrifying and the thrilling double time climax is just incredible. I would love a title track in this vein for their next comeback.
Best Mix moment: (3:47) I love it when tracks ramp up to such an incredible climax’
Best Performance moment: (0:19) Is just breathtakingly beautiful
3. It’s Raining – ONF
Another mix that greatly improved on the original, ONF’s rendition of It’s Raining pretty much blew the original out of the water for me. I loved the choice to implement that amazing sax riff from Complete into the mix and it worked wonders for the final product. This was easily the most deliriously enjoyable of all the stages, taking the Michael Jackson influence to near delirious levels. The climax was especially great, ending the performance on an undeniable high I loved everything about both the mix and performance and it was easily the pinnacle of ONF’s work on this show. A real showstopper. I really hope that they manage a breakthrough like their sister group. They really deserve it!
Best Mix moment: (3:35) Those heavenly backing vocals just take it to another level
Best Performance moment: (3:18) Wyatt doing that jumping kick while rapping is just so satisfying
2. Rising Sun – TOO
While looking at my placements, TOO fans must be understandably angry with me. Considering that 3 of their 4 performances found themselves in my bottom 5, you must think that I have something against them. I swear, its just because I thought those performances weren’t up to par! Not because I have anything against the group themselves! Their rendition of Rising Sun on the other hand is freaking phenomenal. Rising Sun is easily on the shortlist for greatest songs of all time and boy does this performance do it justice. I can tell that TOO went all out for this as the production value, performance and sheer energy present on this stage is almost incomparable. The Sun choreo was absolutely incredible and made perfect use of the groups large roster The mix, courtesy of producer TAK is also incredible, retaining everything great about the original while updating it to fit a performance setting. This was an absolute showstopper and is the greatest TVXQ! cover I’ve ever seen.
Best Mix moment: (1:21) When that first mammoth chorus hits
Best Performance moment: (2:20 – 2:35) That sun choreo was just *chefs kiss*
1. Reveal (Catching Fire) – The Boyz
When the original Reveal came out earlier this year, I called it out for having ‘nothing’ verses support a pretty strong hook. That opinion has only gotten stronger with time and while I gave the track a pretty good rating on release, it rank much lower now. Knowing this, you might ask why Reveal (Catching Fire) is sitting right at the top of the list. Well that’s because this rendition of Reveal isso not only an incredible performance piece but is also so much better than the original that the difference is staggering. Gone is the murky production and momentum killing hi-hats, replaced with instantly captivating percussion and soaring electric guitar. I mentioned in my review of the original how I could imagine it being a complete stunner with a sonic overload and boy was I right. It knows how to play to its strengths, transforming from a more restrained opening half to a killer double time climax that just explodes. THIS should have been the original Reveal and will easily become my staple version of the song.
That’s not to take anything away from the performance either, which was just incredible. The Boyz are incredible story tellers and The French Revolution was a great thematic choice. From the human painting to ships crashing, almost every set-piece was instantly iconic. This combined with their best and most incredible stunts combine to create not only the best performance I’ve seen on the show, but also one of the best performance I’ve seen EVER. Truely a masterpiece.
Best Mix moment: (3:30) When the beat transitions into double time *CHILLS*
Best Performance moment: (2:23) The Ships crashing, arguably the most iconic shot of the show