Low-Key Royalty: Underrated Bops From “Road To Kingdom” Contestants
Who’s excited for Mnet’s “Road to Kingdom”? If it’s anything like last year’s “Queendom,” the show will be a chance for viewers to see new sides of their favorite groups while also getting to know acts they aren’t as familiar with — and likely picking up one or two to stan along the way. You probably know some title tracks from PENTAGON, ONF, Golden Child, The Boyz, ONEUS, VERIVERY, and TOO, but if you want to learn more about the groups before “Road to Kingdom” premieres on April 30, then what better way than to listen to their underrated songs? Here are our picks for the hidden gems in these kings’ crowns: b-sides and lesser-known tracks from the seven groups in “Road to Kingdom,” in order of their debut!
“Let’s Go Together”
PENTAGON debuted in 2016, making them the veteran group among the “Road to Kingdom” contestants. Unsurprisingly, their discography is deep and varied, and while the group has gotten the most attention for its more playful hits like “Shine” and “Naughty Boy,” they really “shine” for their versatility — as well as their pure talent. “Let’s Go Together,” a b-side off their “Positive” EP, showcases the guys’ polished vocals: highlights include Hui’s smooth chorus and Jinho’s high note near the end. Plus, it’s almost impossible not to listen to this song without smiling, and the lyrics’ message of encouragement is perfect for any time you’re feeling down!
Mixing their classic mischievous style with some sizzling hot-weather vibes, “Summer!” is not only super super catchy but also playful and slightly sexy. It may be a summer track, but this b-side will keep us warm all year long.
“We Must Love”
ONF has produced consistently quality tracks since their 2017 debut with “ON/OFF,” and their signature electronic pop sound has matured well since then. “We Must Love” is the only title track on this list, but it’s here because it’s actually astounding how little attention this song got for being so. good. The deliciously dramatic pre-chorus is arguably the best part of the track, but the beat on the hook makes this definitively one of the most underrated songs of 2019.
“Fly Me To The Moon”
ONF’s albums have a little something for everyone, and their b-sides range from sweet ballads to sexier vibes. “Fly Me To The Moon,” off their 2018 EP “You Complete Me,” is a lighthearted and breezy track with a fun performance video to match!
“I Only See You”
Golden Child has broken significantly from the cute concept of their 2017 debut with “DamDaDi,” and has achieved equally impressive results with the mature sound on their title tracks starting with 2019’s “WANNABE.” Released in 2018, the artful “I Only See You” is a b-side that bridges these two styles. In addition to its sweet chorus, we also love the rappers’ verses (and of course, the choreo) on this track:
The influence of rock music in “Crush” gives it a kick that we just love! We can safely say we’re crushing on Golden Child in this high-energy track, so check out their live performance:
The Boyz has released an impressive number of singles since their debut in late 2017, starting with a youthful sound that they’ve more recently branched out from, especially since the darker vibe of their 2019 release “TATTOO.” Their b-sides feature some easy listening as well as some lit tracks that make us excited for what the guys have in store for the future (and on “Road to Kingdom”!). “Get It” starts out deceptively chill before opening up into a chorus that is surprisingly lit, sexy, and catchy.
“Shake You Down”
The guys turn up the intensity even more in this b-side from their recent album “Reveal.” “Shake You Down” goes hard and showcases the rap talent in the group!
ONEUS has made waves with their singles since their debut in 2019 with “Valkyrie,” and from that dark concept to the playfulness of their more recent “LIT,” their title tracks have tackled a bunch of different sounds to great success. The group also has a ton of depth to their discography for being so new to the scene, and this includes the moody “BingBing” with its almost haunting whistled chorus:
“Hide and Seek”
We also love the b-side counterpart to their recent single “A Song Written Easily“: “Hide and Seek” is a more playful complement to the wistful title song, and equally worth a listen!
Another group that has only been around for a little over a year, VERIVERY has embraced an impressive variety of sounds ranging from the chill fun of “Tag Tag Tag” to their surprisingly sultry newest release, “Lay Back.” “PHOTO” is a b-side off the same EP as “Lay Back,” and it shows a different take on this breathless, sexy sound that we hope to see more of on “Road to Kingdom”!
A b-side from their second EP “Veri-Able,” “Love Line” is infectiously cheerful, incredibly catchy, and will probably have you smiling for no reason. Plus it really highlights the guys’ vocals, so give it a listen:
“Don’t Fear Now”
Formed out of Mnet’s survival show “World Klass,” TOO has gotten a lot of attention for their recent debut with “Magnolia.” As a true rookie group, they only have a few tracks to choose from, but our b-side pick from their debut mini-album “Reason for Being: Benevolence” is a youthful contrast to the sexy title track. Listen to the lively “Don’t Fear Now” below, and if you want more of the TOO members, you can check out some of their covers from “World Klass” — their version of IU’s “BBIBBI” is a good place to start!
Hey Soompiers, are you excited for “Road to Kingdom”? Which of these groups’ b-sides are your faves? Tell us which groups you’re rooting for, and which you’re excited to learn more about!
hgordon stays up way too late on weeknights marathoning K-dramas and trying to keep up with the latest K-pop releases.