K-Pop and K-Dramas: Why ATEEZ’s Stages Dominate

Promotional image of (Top) Choi Jongho, Choi San, Kim Hongjoong, Kang Yeosang, (Bottom) Song Mingi, Park Seonghwa, Jung Wooyoung, and Jeong Yunho. Copyright goes to ATEEZ and KQ Entertainment.

Hey! Hallie here!

I know we talk about BTS more often than any other K-Pop group on this blog, but ATEEZ deserves some praise after their recent accomplishments. They are currently competing on a Korean show called “Kingdom: Legendary War” (All except Mingi who is still taking a break for his mental health). The show is hosted by Mnet and allows groups to show off their abilities and get a little more publicity in the process. I haven’t been able to watch this when it airs, but as a fan of ATEEZ I’ve been keeping my eye on the results of each round in the competition. And ATEEZ is dominating the stage. They’ve been consistently staying at the top of the competition and even won the last round. And you don’t have to wonder why. Between the energetic dancing, the amazing vocals, and the mind-blowing storytelling, ATEEZ has already moved past the title of “rookie group”. They can now go toe-to-toe with Stray Kids, which I’ll talk about more in a bit. To see exactly how impressive ATEEZ is, let’s look what they’ve brought to “Kingdom” so far.

Round 1:

I’m going to hop right into round 1 because their introductory stage was good, but also so short that there isn’t much to say. Their round 1 performance incorporated the same feel of their introduction, keeping with the pirate theme ATEEZ has adopted as part of their brand. As you could probably guess, the entire stage was made to be a pirate ship and each member was dressed in appropriately piratey attire. This performance began with an anonymous man dressed in black walking through the pirate ship and into the captain’s quarters to deliver an hourglass, ATEEZ’s symbol, to Hongjoong. From there the group proceeded into a variation of their song “Wonderland”, which is definitely one the most badass songs they have in their arsenal. The first half of the song was a great intro to all of the members. They all received small choreographed pieces on different parts of the ship. Hongjoong, of course, started out with rallying the members together as captain, but we also got to see things like Wooyoung acting as lookout and San steering the ship. I should mention that throughout all of this, their voices were insanely steady considering how energetic their choreography always is, and, as usual, their choreo was on point. Halfway through the performance the stage transformed, allowing the giant tentacle of a monster to emerge from the back of the stage. Here we got some more individual dancing, and an incredible Seonghwa moment where he led an entire group of backup dancers with accompanying guns and then shot and killed the monster at the back of the stage. Then Jongho stole the show with his incredible voice, hitting a note I was not aware was possible to hit. The performance ended with another impeccably performed dance break and the sails of the ship unfurling to emphasize how incredible the performance had been. It is completely unsurprising they won this round.

Round 2:

This round required competing groups to pair off with each other to perform one another’s songs. ATEEZ was given the opportunity to choose who they paired off with first as a result of winning first place in the last round. They chose iKon, who they have become closer with during the competition, and decided to perform their own version of the song “Rhythm Ta”. Once again, this performance was like an entire movie. Some members of other groups seemed to recognize several of the scenes in this performance as a tribute to “Money Heist”, but as I am not familiar with it, I can’t really speak to that. What I can say is this performance instantly pulled me in with its heist concept. The first shot of ATEEZ showed them inside some sort of vehicle. After a few seconds the vehicle appeared to crash and the lights went out. When the lights came back up, all the members were in creepy black-and-white masks. This performance gave me some serious Gotham villain vibes. All of the backup dancers were in these masks and the entire performance saw the members throwing them around as Gotham villains tend to do to their expendables. At one point San even dragged out a dancer who was tied to a bomb. There was a lot of huge dance breaks with the many, many, backup dancers, and even a floor dance from San who used the floor to mimic climbing a rope and hitting a button to open a giant safe. Hongjoong emerged from the safe to rap while everyone wreaked havoc in the background. After another perfectly performed dance break, Hongjoong got up on a pedestal to deliver a speech of rebellion to the masked criminals, during which a blimp flew in over his head. Then Jongho ended the performance with another insanely belted note. The very end of this performance shows the brilliance of ATEEZ, however. Hongjoong is seen in a black jacket and a black hat, the same attire the anonymous man was wearing in the first performance, stealing the hourglass from a glass case. In other words, ATEEZ decided to connect both of their performances through their storytelling.

The Drama:

I have to mention this because one of the reasons this season of the show is blowing up so much is the inevitable drama competition shows like these stir up. One of the groups competing is Stray Kids, which is a group that obviously has a giant fan base. This started controversy from the beginning. While Mnet was pleased a group with such a large fanbase was joining the show, fans of other groups became concerned that the fan voting segment of the show would be completely taken over by Stray Kids. And these fans were right to be concerned. So far Stray Kids has won every fan voting segment by a landslide. But something else is also stirring up drama. Stray Kids fans have been frustrated that the show has been giving Stray Kids relatively low marks for their performances, placing them towards the bottom of the rankings regardless of the fan vote. These frustrations, and speculation that Mnet rigs these competition shows, has started a fan war between Atinys and Stays. Stays have been accusing ATEEZ of being undeserving of their ranking in the competition, and Atinys have fired back with attempting to sue Stays for spreading hate.

I have nothing against Stray Kids or Stays. Stray Kids isn’t one of the groups I follow, but they’re definitely talented. That being said, I think this fan war is ridiculous. It might be because I live in America, where all of the competition shows are completely rigged, but I don’t see what reason there is to attack ATEEZ. All of the groups are there for the same reason. To get publicity. And they’re all succeeding. Every single one of them. While I’m proud of ATEEZ for pulling themselves to the top of this competition so early in their careers, I wouldn’t care if they were at the bottom of the rankings. Because ATEEZ is turning heads with their performances alone and winning or losing this competition won’t change that. The same goes for Stray Kids. If you, as a Stay, are proud of what Stray Kids is accomplishing, keep voting for them and sending them your love. Whether they win or lose doesn’t matter. And ATEEZ has NOTHING to do with Stray Kids’ current ranking in the competition. Just because they are at the top as of right now doesn’t mean they have anything to do with Stray Kids being near the bottom. As for Atinys, threatening to sue an entire fan base is ridiculous. The best way to support ATEEZ right now is to vote for them and encourage them, not to engage in pointless fan wars. In other words, no matter who you’re voting for, support who you want and leave the other groups alone. As for me, I’ll be over here awed by ATEEZ’s talent. (Voting is still happening for round 2, so if you can, vote!)

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

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