KDA - The Baddest: A Comprehensive Review Of League of Legends' Latest K-Pop Song

K/DA is the digital K-pop group made of League of Legends characters, Ahri, Akali, Evelynn and Kai'Sa.

By Daavpuke, Posted 29 Aug 2020

Gamescom is now officially underway and the only thing to say about that is that Geoff Keighley should probably never do a ceremony ever again. Particularly, The biggest gripe with the show is that the new K/DA track was the biggest news in that time slot.

K/DA is the digital K-pop group made of League of Legends characters, Ahri, Akali, Evelynn and Kai'Sa. Their avatars are represented by real artists, like Madison Beer. The group's latest song is titled "The Baddest" and is available on streaming services now, accompanied by a video on YouTube. This is their second release, after the worldwide hit "Pop/Stars" that was launched in honor of the 2018 League of Legends World Championship.

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In many aspects, The Baddest is a return to the formula, as developer Riot Games proved that they knew exactly what the mold for a K-Pop track was the first time around. The anthem grandeur of the first release is set aside a little for more of a posse cut, with each character taking their turn to perform a verse, more versatile than previously. It turns out that League of Legends characters have a lot to say. If there are tons of references in this piece, it's because the digital group has literally only released two songs. You should probably go listen to Pop/Stars, if that somehow escaped you.

Singing along will be a little more difficult in The Baddest, even though there are more dedicated English lines. Each verse, aside from the known bridges, keeps the tempo high, even if the flow can get stuttery now and then. Gone are the easygoing echoes and sounds. K/DA came to drop bars, which is heard in a darker beat, to underline to familiar reverb synths. The instrumentation once again represents the personality of the League heroes perfectly: moody, swimmy, bratty, tender.

The chorus may seem the most familiar link to tradition yet. Dragged out harmonies and triplet pulses are almost exactly the same as their predecessor. Though familiarity is also the biggest flaw of The Baddest. The song is already not as instantly catchy, but the lyrics aren't as tight either. The line: "Gonna break the rules and hearts in twos" falls just a little flat in terms of punchiness, as smoothly as it may be crooned.

The rhyme scheme in The Baddest is noticeably forced to fit, which bleeds into the rest of the track. For instance, "applause" gets paired with "applause" without really diverting from the imagery. The wordplay is directed at a round of applause being a circle instead. While the foibles in the writing never overtake the flux of the song, which is too swift to stop for anything, it does contribute to the small hitches sprinkled throughout the track. Flow stoppers are offset by the habitual repetitions in lyrics, to help pulsate the song deep in the listener's ears. Earworm tactics are just that, tactics, but they're effective and applied fluidly. K-pop has to be digestible to ensure the widest net possible, which is likely why The Baddest doesn't take too many unnecessary risks.

If there is one more downside, it's that the voices aren't as distinguishable as they were previously. For people unfamiliar with the real artists behind the characters or even just the League of Legends roster, the reliance on synthesizing voices in the mix make them all bleed together. Partially, the high tempo is to blame, but more than anything the culprit is the lack of a lavish music video. Pop/Stars had elaborate animations to personify avatars, but being released during the effects of the Coronavirus, The Baddest cannot count on the same production value. It's hard to blame anyone for extraneous circumstances of that magnitude. Though, knowing Riot Games, they might still have a bigger video forthcoming, seeing as this release is marked as a lyric video.

By the end of the song, the driving beat perfectly starts taking a backseat, as the instrumentation deconstructs around the speedy lyrics. The listener can finally cool down. "Look at the gold, all on my chest. Look at the gold; call it a flex," punctuates exactly the attitude that drives K/DA. The digital group is all about feeling like the center of attention, ready to take on anything and anyone. While The Baddest doesn't reach the lofty heights of Pop/Stars, this made up thing that Riot Games created isn't just a serviceable effort. K/DA can stand shoulder to shoulder with most contemporary K-Pop acts and that, for a game developer, is an accomplishment that should not be overlooked so easily. Undoubtedly, this latest song will be racking up millions of streams in the near future. As marketing goes, this is some of the best and most effective ever made.

Daav Valentaten, NoobFeed

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General Information

Platform(s): PC
Publisher(s): Riot Games, Tencent Holdings Ltd, Garena
Developer(s): Riot Games
Genres: Role-Playing
Themes: Action, Adventure, Fantasy
Release Date: 2009-10-27

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