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7 boy bands to compete in ‘Road to Kingdom’

(CJ Entertainment)
(CJ Entertainment)
Mnet’s new idol competition show “Road to Kingdom” has been unveiled, before its official premiere on April 30.

Seven boy bands will go against each other and showcase their charm through various performances.

The viewers will vote on their favorite team and stages, and the final winner will have a priority to join the subsequent show “Kingdom.”

Teaser clips of the bands’ first performances were released Monday online along with a preshow preference poll, open until Sunday, for fans to show support. The result will be aired on the show, though it won’t be reflected as extra points in the actual competition.

“Road to Kingdom” is a spinoff of “Queendom,” aired last year. Six popular girl groups performed their songs and covered others to determine “the real number one.” The show was initially criticized for instigating rivalry in the already competitive K-pop industry, but later was appreciated for allowing the bands to show their hidden talents and skills. 


Here is a quick introduction of the participants in order of their debut date:

Pentagon

The oldest band in the show, Pentagon debuted as a 10-piece group in 2016 and received the spotlight for its diversity. Hui (leader), Jinho, Hongseok, Shinwon, Yeo One, Kino, Wooseo are Korean, while Yan An is Chinese and Yuto is Japanese.

Seen as a total package, members boast impressive vocals and dances while being also adept at acting and foreign languages. It went through some ups and downs, as member E’Dawn left the group in 2018 after his relationship with HyunA went public and Yan An was absent onstage since his injury in 2017. But this year, the band made a strong comeback with their first full-length album “Universe: The Black Hall,” featuring 11 tracks of which the members wrote the lyrics. It will most likely participate as an eight-piece group in the show since member Yan An wasn’t shown in the teaser.

ONF

Having debuted in August 2017, the six-piece act has a unique setup. It consists of two subunits, each with its leader: “ON” team with Hyojin (leader), E-Tion and MK and “OFF” team with J-US (leader), Wyatt and U. “ON” consists of the team’s vocalists and plays sentimental, upbeat tracks, while “OFF” gives powerful, dance-oriented performances with rap. The band had also included member Laun who played the role of “& (and),” switching between the two units and connecting them, but left the team last year citing personal reasons. Since the release of their debut album, aptly titled “On/Off,” the band participated in survival audition program “Mix Nine,” where member Hyojin ultimately ranked second. For the idol competition, ONF appears to be staying true to their worldview as they gave two contrasting performances in the released teaser.

Golden Child

Debuting a couple of weeks after ONF, Golden Child is a ten-piece act consisting of Daeyeol (leader), Y, Jangjun, TAG, Seungmin, Jaehyun, Jibeom, Donghyun, Joochan and Bomin. Produced by Woollim Entertainment. The band was the label’s first boy group in seven years after Infinite; and coincidentally, leader Daeyeol is a brother of Infinite’s member Sungyeol.

Having made an impactful debut with title track “DamDaDi,” Golden Child was included in Billboard’s “10 Best New K-Pop Acts in 2017.” But they went through a yearlong hiatus, unusual for a rookie band, in 2018 after former member Jaeseok left the group for health reasons and the release of their third mini-album. When they came back in November with their first full-length album “Re:BOOT,” they completely revamped their looks with a more mature, charismatic twist. They also held their first solo concert, performing various tracks from their debut till present, and plan to continue showing their diverse musical spectrum in the show.

The Boyz

So far with the most preshow votes, the 11-piece band consists of Sangyeon (leader), Jacob, Younghoon, Hyunjae, Juyeon, Kevin, New, Q, Juhaknyeon, Sunwoo and Eric. The twelfth member Hwall departed from the group in October 2019 due to health concerns.

Since their debut in 2017, the act has gained both domestic and international attention and held concerts in 12 cities across Asia and Europe. They recently released their first full-length album “Reveal” which aims to show a more mature, masculine side of the group.

During the album showcase, leader Sangyeon said they had gone through the biggest transformation since debut, and that they hope to show their growth continuously onstage. The act also planned to have their first solo concert here in March, but it was canceled due to the coronavirus epidemic. Before the fans are dismayed, however, the band announced its participation in the show and amped up the excitement through their choreographed sword dance in the teaser.

VERIVERY

The seven-piece band, consisting of Dongheon (leader), Hoyoung, Minchan, Gyehyeon, Yeonho, Yongseung and Kangmin, debuted on Jan. 9 last year. Nicknamed “creative-dol,” the act is famous for their wide array of talents. For their latest mini-album “Face Me,” they took their own concept photos and designed the cover art. And not only that, they often plan and direct their music videos, referring them as “DIY music videos” write and compose their songs, come up with the choreography and film videos for their social media. The act plans on releasing two other albums after “Face Me” as a part of the “Face It” series, which will contain stories of how the boys overcome their limits after failures, heartbreaks and feeling lost and make an unprecedented leap of growth.

ONEUS

Having debuted on the same day as VERIVERY, the six-piece act is also known to write and compose their songs. Consisting of Ravn, Seoho, Leedo, Keonhee, Hwanwoong and Xion, they don’t have a leader unlike other idol groups. It is because they believe each member is an expert in their field and can lead each other at need. Their strong sense of teamwork and togetherness is reflected in the band’s name as well as their albums’ titles -- “Light Us,” “Raise Us” and “Fly With Us.” The members particularly pride in their individuality as well as harmonic synergy they produce, often comparing themselves to a rainbow “that emits beautiful light when colors are put together.”

Too

Having debuted on Wednesday, Too is a 10-piece act put together from Mnet’s audition program “To Be World Klass.” The group consists of Jaeyun (leader), Chihoon, Donggeon, Chan, Jisu, Minsu, J.You, Kyungho, Jerome and Woonggi. The band’s name stands for Ten Oriented Orchestra, with each member representing one of the ten fundamental values from ancient Eastern philosophy. Though there has been some criticism that Mnet might be pushing for its own group, and skepticism on whether the group deserves to compete with veteran groups like Pentagon, there is no doubt that it is not new to competition. It will be exciting to see how they stand up against others.

By Kwon Yae-rim (kyr@heraldcorp.com)
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