Mnet’s competition show “Kingdom: Legendary War” ended right before summer began, just about a year after its predecessor “Road to Kingdom” wrapped up in June 2020. And in the wake of these two shows, the groups that competed on them have been slaying the K-pop scene with fantastic new music and a whole host of other activities. In fact, nearly every “Kingdom” and “Road to Kingdom” group made a comeback this summer, and they have all been so busy with activities that it’s hard to keep track! To keep you in the loop, here’s a rundown of all the highlights from this summer: the groups’ title songs, special releases, K-dramas, and variety shows that you’ll want to check out.
Starting off with the most senior group (and the most recent comeback), BTOB subunit BTOB 4U just made their return with “Outsider”! Building on some of the concepts and strengths they honed in stages for “Kingdom: Legendary War,” the members brought not only their signature powerful vocals, but also a memorable performance for the song’s cinematic music video. “Outsider” is edgy and unique, with a message about breaking free from the ordinary. It’s also a glorious comeback considering that earlier in the summer, one-fourth of the 4U subunit was hospitalized with COVID-19. Thankfully, Minhyuk has recovered, and was even commended by the World Health Organization for sharing about his experience. The members have also been keeping busy with variety show appearances: Minhyuk covered Red Velvet – Irene & Seulgi’s “Monster” on “The King of Masked Singer” in August, and Eunkwang performed a moving rendition of Gummy’s OST “Snow Flower” on “Immortal Songs.”
While iKON did not release new music over the summer, Jinhwan revealed in an interview for Marie Claire that the group has been working on their next album following their release of “Why Why Why” in March. However, in the meantime, members Chanwoo and Yunhyeong have maintained an active presence on YouTube! Chanwoo has posted weekly, including reaction videos to the group’s appearance on “Kingdom,” and Yunhyeong has made vlogs of his cooking and bike ride adventures (the latter of which are often to try foods). Check out Chanwoo’s table tennis tournament with the other iKON members and Yunhyeong’s tour of iKON’s dressing room below, while we await iKON’s next comeback:
SF9 turned up the heat this summer with their ninth mini album “Turn Over” and its sexy title track “Tear Drop,” a subtly intense single with a super aesthetic music video (as befitting for this group of visuals). While they haven’t skimped on the music this summer (shoutout to Taeyang and Hwiyoung‘s cover of Justin Bieber’s “Peaches”), the members have been more than active in the acting world as well! While Chani and Hwiyoung acted in “Imitation” alongside ATEEZ members, Dawon took on the role of the cutely pesky younger brother to Park Bo Young‘s character in “Doom at Your Service,” which finished at the end of June. The role is quite a change-up from his sexy image on stage! Of course, fans of the group know that all the members have goofy sides, and these are very much on display in their variety show “SF9 Center,” which they continued to release throughout the summer:
Watch Dawon in “Doom at Your Service”:
While Jinho and Hui serve in the military, the active members of PENTAGON have been delighting fans with a variety of activities. In June, the guys released their fourth Japanese extended play, with Japanese versions of their hits “Daisy” and “DO or NOT” — including performance versions for the latter, like the video below! In August, the group’s three maknaes, Yuto, Kino, and Wooseok, released the insanely lit yet playful “Cerberus.” The trio explained that each of them took on a distinct villainous character in the music video for the track, which is named for the three-headed dog that served as guardian of the Underworld in Greek mythology. As if that weren’t enough, Hongseok has been acting opposite Red Velvet’s Yeri in the fantasy romance thriller drama “Blue Birthday”: it’s a tale of love, tragedy, time-travel, and second chances that you won’t want to miss!
Start watching “Blue Birthday”:
Our “Road to Kingdom” runner-up continues to capture hearts with their uplifting music as well as their cute, good-natured personalities! Following the success of their February hit “Beautiful Beautiful,” the group’s summer release “Popping” is a feel-good bop that’s bound to put a smile on your face. ONF also proves once again that they are a group with depth, as the b-sides on their “POPPING” album are all worth a listen (or a watch, like their live performance of “Dry Ice“). Another way the guys are making us smile this summer is with their first ever reality show, “Dive Into ONF.” When these six goofballs are taken on a trip and made to compete against each other in all sorts of ways, what kinds of chaotic and hilarious situations will unfold? There’s only one way to find out:
Golden Child came back with their second full album “GAME CHANGER” in August, and title track “Ra Pam Pam” is an emotion-laden dance track with a breathtakingly cinematic music video to match! In true GolCha style, the album’s b-sides are absolute gems as well, and thankfully the group has also gifted us with content for these tracks, winning hearts with their sweet live vocals on “I Know” and charming with a dance performance for “Fanfare.” Golden Child also embarked on a fun variety show this summer, in which the members must break into teams and compete to make their own music videos for each unit song on their new album. “MV Competition” is a boisterous blast to watch, so make sure you don’t miss it:
In July, THE BOYZ released the digital single “Drink It” through the K-pop platform UNIVERSE, and the dark, vampire-themed music video showcases all the power that earned this group so much success on both “Road to Kingdom” and “Kingdom”! Equally addicting yet totally different in concept (the duality!), the group’s summer hit “THRILL RIDE” has won its fair share of music show awards and charmed its way into our hearts. Finally, THE BOYZ has dropped practice videos for all their “Kingdom” stages, so you can see just how much hard work went into each and every one of their amazing performances for the show.
Another group that has released their practices for “Kingdom,” Stray Kids has given fans no shortage of content this summer! Where to begin with the official “Kingdom” winners? Hyunjin marked his return to activities with an incredibly sexy dance cover, and the members have continued with releases through SKZ-PLAYER and SKZ-RECORD (the group’s two platforms for extra songs and covers) — the hilarious vampire-themed MV for “Tonight I Turn On the Lights” is a must-watch. The group released the mini-series “SKZ Song Camp: Howl in Harmony” in which the members form three teams, each one creating a song within the show’s five episodes. And finally, of course, Stray Kids made themselves heard with their second full-length studio album “NOEASY” and its title track “Thunderous”!
It’s also been an incredibly busy summer for ATEEZ. The group especially wowed “Kingdom” viewers with their live vocals — so how awesome was it to see Yunho, San, and Jongho collaborating with the famed a cappella quintet Pentatonix in August? “A Little Space” is a charming bop that will be warming our hearts into the fall! It’s also not the only collab that ATEEZ gave us this summer, and their release “Be My Lover” features Kim Jong Kook for retro summer perfection in one adorable, sunny MV. But the group’s activities don’t end there (do these guys ever rest?), because their new Japanese single “Dreamers” became the theme song for the popular animated show “Digimon.” We also can’t forget that Yunho, Seonghwa, Jongho, and San all showcased their acting chops in the drama “Imitation” through the first part of the summer. Who better to act in a drama about the lives of idols than idols themselves? Finally, we got to say a very big “welcome back” to Mingi, who returned from his hiatus in July, and are eagerly awaiting ATEEZ’s upcoming comeback on September 13!
You can watch ATEEZ members in “Imitation” here:
VERIVERY released their sixth mini album “SERIES ‘O’ [ROUND 2 : HOLE]” in August, and the title track “TRIGGER” and its MV are every bit as mysterious, experimental, and cinematic as we’ve come to expect from this group since “Road to Kingdom”! Plus, as VERIVERY shows in their performance video, their choreography remains as insane and knife-like as ever. Beyond that, the group has continued to release episodes of their variety show “VERIVERY Land” (which you can start here) and has been creating fun covers for their “VERIground” series that allows them to show off their vocal and dance skills. Of note is Gyehyeon’s cover of EXO’s Baekhyun’s “Bambi,” and this cute group version of Pink Sweat$’s “At My Worst”:
After releasing “BLACK MIRROR” in May, ONEUS has been giving us a steady stream of amazing content through “ONEUS THEATRE” and “US RECORD,” projects in which they showcase performances and covers, respectively. These releases have shown the incredible variety that the group has to offer, from a playful version of BTS’s “Butter” to Leedo’s gorgeous rendition of 2NE1’s “Missing You,” to the insane performance video for their previously unreleased track “Shut Up 받고 Crazy Hot!” But it doesn’t stop there: the group put a Taekwondo spin on their 2019 hit “LIT” for a breathtaking remix and martial arts-inspired video. They also released their own captivating rendition of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” with a performance you won’t want to miss:
TO1’s “Son of Beast” dropped shortly before summer, but that hasn’t stopped many of us from listening to this track all season long. Throughout the past few months, the group has also created covers and dance practice videos that are well worth a watch, especially for the quality b-sides off their mini album “RE:BORN,” like the badass “Spicy Flavor” and sweetly summery “Surf” below! These performances are a perfect reminder of the amazing depth of talent that this rookie group has, and the breadth of concepts that they can pull off. The group also just started their own mini variety show called “TO1’s Cider,” which promises to hold us over until their next comeback with plenty of hilarity and riotous antics!
If you haven’t already (or if you have), check out “Kingdom: Legendary War” here:
Hey Soompiers, which “Road to Kingdom” and “Kingdom” groups are you a fan of? Let us know what you think of their summer releases and activities in the comments!
hgordon stays up way too late on weeknights marathoning K-dramas and trying to keep up with the latest K-pop releases.