Last week I gave my thoughts on each and every performance on Road To Kingdom. It’s been a show that I’ve actively been watching since its premier and while It’s no where near as good as Queendom, it’s been an enjoyable 7 episodes. And while I do hate the fact that they pushed competition over group bonding (which was in my opinion the best part of Queendom) the performances and group dynamic were all around solid. The same could be said for the ‘comeback’ singles we are getting for the finale. While the songs we got for Queendom were somewhat underwhelming, each of these songs feel like they could be perfectly serviceable comebacks. In my opinion there isn’t really a weak link among them, with my top pick already in contention for my favourite single of the year should it be given a supporting mv. Now enough of me rambling, lets get to the reviews!
5. Basquiat – Pentagon
A sonic sequel to their Dr. BeBe from earlier in the year, Basquiat is a bombastic rock themed anthem. Normally I would love a track in this vein but the chorus is just way too shouty for my liking. It also doesn’t help that the song its based off has become probably my biggest rating mistake on the site. That’s not to say that Basquiat is a bad song, it just feels more like a performance piece than a song. I like the healthy dose of rock guitar and the final minute is great, but of the 5 songs this is probably my least favourite. Although I know it will lend itself to a great stage performance.
4. Checkmate – The Boyz
The Boyz took home the trophy for my favourite performance on the show with their incredible remix of Reveal and it’s because of that I was incredibly excited for Checkmate. And while it doesn’t come close to any of their masterful re-arrangements, there are things that make Checkmate a decently worthy addition to the groups singles run. The verses are really what let it down, hinging on a rather dull trap assisted beat. However, the pre-chorus and commanding militaristic hook singlehandedly make this track. The entire arrangement here reminds me of 2016-era EXO, which can never be a bad comparison. It might not be the kind of track I wanted from The Boyz but it’s pretty good!
3. Come Back Home – ONEUS
The most divisive track out of the 5, Come Back Home is one of those songs that you either love or hate. I’ve seen overwhelming love for the track from fans and critics alike but I’ve also seen a lot of people criticising the fragmented structure and let down chorus. And while I understand both sides of the coin, I’m one of those people who’s leaning more on the positive side. Come Back Home is no show stopping masterpiece, but its dramatic nature is exactly what ONEUS excell at. The verses and climax are easily the tracks strongest moment, musically harnessing the epic fantasy like aesthetic they were aiming for. It’s all exhilarating stuff and would have placed higher had that chorus not brought the track down to a lurching crawl.
Beautiful-x – Verivery
Of all the groups on RTK, Verivery were probably the group that left the least amount of impact on me. They were consistently great but kinda ended up in the middle of the road without a clear cut narrative that Mnet were trying to push. But regardless of that, the electro-funk of Beautiful-x is a breath of fresh air in a landscape dominated by dark brooding concepts. That’s probably why it’s been the least digitally successful track of the 5. It’s a wonderfully fun dance track with the catchiest hook of all the tracks. It recalls the glory days of SHINee and debut era Seventeen to great effect and helps remind us the power of well executed electro funk. It might just be the favourite thing they have ever released! More groups need to be releasing songs like this. Great stuff and might just be the one with the most longevity on my playlist.
New World – ONF
This is just incredible. Absolutely amazing. Monotree’s Hwan Hyun has been with ONF since their debut and New World feels like the culmination of the best aspects of all the groups past title tracks into one show stopping single. The track traverses so much ground over its near 4 minute run time that it’s almost too much to take in upon first listen. It sounds like they took Why‘s frantic second verse and transformed that into its own full length track and it’s just brilliant. And just when you think you know where it’s going to go next, the soothing melodic bridge comes before building to the years most exhilarating climax. Hyojins high note just slices through the silence and the combination of the electric guitar and percussion going into double time is goosebump inducing. It’s a track that fits perfectly within the groups wheelhouse without sacrificing what makes them so incredible. Their best song since Complete.
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