In 2018, Riot Games made an international impact with their new music project, a K-Pop group featuring League of Legends characters called K/DA. Their debut song that year, “POP/STARS” brought together K-Pop duo (G)I-dle with two American talents in Madison Beer and Jaira Burns. “POP/STARS” two years later accumulated just under 400 million views, and it surely was a surprising success even to Riot Games who tried and had a less successful venture with an R&B-style group the next year.
In 2020, they returned with a full five-song EP. Four songs represented the original four members of the group, while the fifth song “MORE” showcased the addition of Seraphine in an attempt to hype her up for her addition to League of Legends.
The EP leads with “BADDEST” and shaking up what makes a music group. Beer and Burns are replaced by Bea Miller and Wolftyla as the song centers around one half of (G)I-dle, the member voicing Akali. Anyone who’s paid attention to the other K/DA tracks wouldn’t be surprised with the rap-heavy focus. Soyeon has shown incredible talent weaving together English and Korean during her verses, and this is no exception. Miyeon comes in for the bridge, leading into parts by Miller and Wolftyla, who both absolutely kill it. It transitions into another few lines by Soyeon before ending abruptly. As far as endings like that go, it sounds really good. When this song was teased, however, it felt like they were leaving a final part out. It’s a damn good song and it’s kind of a bummer that it ends so quickly.
“MORE” features the original four plus Lexie Liu as Seraphine’s feature. Ignoring the choreography from the music video which seems like a step down from 2018 (the aesthetics are arguably better), the song seemingly brings out the best from all four members. Soyeon leads with her own verse which builds into the chorus. Burns, Beer and Miyeon share the second verse but all feel very memorable. The addition of Liu on Seraphine might not have matched the hype but it didn’t feel out of place and was overall a pleasant vocal contrast compared to the other four. She also has underlying vocals throughout the earlier parts that sound really good.
Evelynn’s character song, “VILLAIN” only features two vocalists, with Beer joined by Kim Petras. Beer definitely has premier vocal talent, so getting to hear her featured was a much-needed addition to a K/DA EP. It’s darker and slower than the other tracks but is by no means bad. Beer is a superstar when given the chance and Petras plays a near-perfect response to Beer’s call. Together they alternate frequently during the verses. It matches its character perfectly even if it’s a notable divergence from the overall feeling the tracks before it had.
In “Drum Go Dum” Wolftyla returns as Kai’Sa with Aluna and Bekuh Boom. “VILLAIN” is gone as quickly as it arrived as the beat quickens and the lively nature of the EP returns. It’s hard to pin down what makes each member stand out the way they do, especially considering they take turns doing each part. Bekuh seemingly plays a supportive role, but her voice carries impact which helps enhance the melodic natures of the other two. The instrumentals behind the lyrics are at their best, an EDM-heavy beat carrying the song along and being notable all on its own.
Despite being an Ahri character song, “I’LL SHOW YOU” doesn’t feature any of the original members. Bekuh Boom returned, joined by Annika Wells and four members of K-Pop group TWICE (Nayeon, Sana, Jihyo and Chaeyoung). It feels very much like a finale track. The synergy between all the TWICE members seems like it might overwhelm the other two, but Wells takes a lead role in this song and is fantastic. Bekuh shows up after the first chorus and fits in just as well. It’s almost incredible how natural this feels despite two “outsiders” to the group being a part of it. Not once are they forgotten in favor of TWICE, and Wells’ voice is incredible. It feels almost like a party song and plays out the album really well.
K/DA delivers in their return and provides a genuinely fun listen. The songs feel different, but are each a good listen. The K/DA “ALL OUT” EP is worth every second of their songs, and I hope Riot continues to build upon what they’ve created.