YouTube K-pop battle series: Stray Kids, Ateez, iKon, The Boyz, and others fight to become top boy band of their generation

Six K-pop group are preparing to fight to be recognised as the reigning boy band of their generation on an upcoming music competition show.
Kingdom: Legendary War launches on April 1 on South Korean cable broadcaster Mnet, bringing together BOTB, iKon, SF9, Ateez, Stray Kids, and Road to Kingdom champions The Boyz.
It will be the third Mnet show featuring K-pop acts competing against one another in recent years. It follows 2019’s Queendom – which girl group Mamamoo won after facing off with Park Bom, formerly of 2NE1, AOA, Lovelyz, Oh My Girl and (G)I-DLE – and 2020’s Road to Kingdom – which saw The Boyz defeat Pentagon, ONF, Golden Child, Verivery, Oneus, and Too for a spot in the 2021 programme.
During the previous instalments of the series, the groups were able to showcase their artistry beyond their typical wheelhouse, revealing new sides to themselves and gaining the attention of a wider audience beyond their typical fandoms.
Previous seasons featured the groups performing their own songs, cover versions and producing new music, and it is expected that Kingdom: Legendary War will feature similar challenges.
The upcoming show is hotly anticipated by K-pop fans worldwide, as Kingdom: Legendary War – like the earlier instalments – will pit more established, senior acts against newer ones. BtoB are the most senior act competing this year – the band debuted in 2012 and are known primarily as a vocal-pop group, although in their early days they released more dance-oriented music. Meanwhile the youngest act, Ateez, released their first single in 2018.
In general, the performances on Queendom and Road to Kingdom were particularly theatrical and grew increasingly complex as each K-pop act showed the world what they have to offer.
IKon are considered somewhat of a wild card on the show. Although the group have had many hits in South Korea, most notably 2018’s Love Scenario, they’ve had a tumultuous career and their appearance on Kingdom aligns with the release of their single Why Why Why on March 3, their first song in more than a year.
The act were formed during a series of competition shows held by YG Entertainment in 2014 and 2015, so their return to a K-pop competition show is generating significant interest.
Kingdom will be hosted by TVXQ! members Jung “U-Know” Yunho and Shim “Max” Changmin, and kicks off with performances by each of the six acts that last 100 seconds each.
The six performances went live on Mnet’s YouTube channel on Tuesday, increasing the anticipation and setting the stage for the competition.
Kingdom will be broadcast internationally on YouTube, and global fans will also be able to participate in the voting for their favourite groups.
This article originally appeared on the South China Morning Post (, the leading news media reporting on China and Asia.
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