I am a big fan of KINGDOM. In a K-pop landscape that can sometimes be filled with sameness, KINGDOM offers something truly different and creative. Their royal concept, depicting each member as the ruler of their own distinct kingdom, offers an opportunity for dramatic visuals and soaring melodies. And as a continuing series, each comeback pieces together one grand, epic story.
Recently, the group was the target of a very loud minority of netizens. And only then did I find out that they have received some unfair criticism almost since debut. I don’t know if it’s because I was immediately drawn into them and their concept that I had no idea. But it’s really sad that a group as talented and creative as KINGDOM unfairly receives vitriol online. Especially when they are, frankly, brave enough to try a different and fully realized concept when the safe option is to do more of the same in K-pop.
For anyone just starting to get to know KINGDOM, starting with their first album and working their way from there would be good. But also starting with their latest release is fine as well.
Part VI in the series features member Mujin taking the throne. And the album again features a diverse mix of tracks. There are grand, regal tracks like the title track “Dystopia” and their title tracks so far. But there are also songs that can be considered a bit more “mainstream” and familiar. That the group can effectively deliver these different performances is really their strong suit.
After the intro sets the tone, title track “Dystopia” once again fuses traditional Korean sound with a modern, dance-pop energy. Like their previous title tracks, KINGDOM are able to deliver a captivating performance that involves vocals, dance and just pure charisma.
“Song of the Wind” also infuses a modern pop ballad with a traditional aura. It is a perfect track to follow “Dystopia” and transition to the rest of the album. You can definitely hear this song as an OST of a Korean period drama.
The next track “Elements” is a wonderful surprise. It is one of the songs that I would categorize as “mainstream” and modern. Similar to something you might hear from other K-pop groups, but still uniquely KINGDOM. What I love most about this track is the line “You try to be like us / We are the reference.” It is probably one of the cleverest and most rousing lines I’ve heard in a song in a long time. That swag is something I haven’t necessarily heard in a KINGDOM song so far as they have either presented their regal titles or lighter pop fare. But it’s just another example of KINGDOM’s diverse talents and what they are capable of.
“My Wave,” meanwhile, is the kind of pop song that they have included in each of their releases so far. The brighter, midtempo pop track best shows the group’s ability to deliver a versatile performance.
The closing track (aside from an instrumental of “Dystopia”) “Love is Pain” again fuses together the group’s unique concept and style with modern K-pop. The pop-dance track highlights the group’s charisma and it’s definitely a song you would love to see performed live.
Overall, History of Kingdom: Part VI . Mujin continues KINGDOM’s excellent string of releases so far. Their epic story continues and it is definitely a must-experience journey.