They finally let them come back (we don’t count soundtrack appearances)!
Despite how much the western Kpop community loved The 7th Sense, it was clear from the various scores on music sites in the country that the song didn’t go over well in Korea. It appears that Without You went over even worse, not reaching either community and still sitting at only 11M views (which is low for this group) nearly two years later. So NCT U was put in a box and quietly tucked away as NCT Dream and NCT 127 debuted and began to flourish. I thought the unit was dead and said so.
So imagine my surprise when the group was announced to have the first single for the NCT 2018 comeback.
It should be noted that there have been two major changes to the group. First, the absence of Ten. While he will be included several tracks of the album that the full unit (NCT) is dropping soon, he is not featured on this track. While I miss his inclusion, the fact that he is expected to be in the comeback at all is a step up and I am happy for it. The second major change is the overall sound.
It would be hard to say that NCT U had a cohesive sound (they only had two singles), but it clear that their bent was a little more western in execution than the other subunits. This track, while good, is very clearly more in the tradition of NCT 127 in terms of construction and escalation. It’s not completely a overwriting of what we expected as the thumping bassline is more NCT U in style and the sound layering overall is still a little more minimal that what was done on all of NCT #127 or most of Cherry Bomb, but it is clear that NCT U is not trying to receive the criticisms it did from its debut (sleepy, lazy, etc.) from the Korean audience. Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter as the production bops and every artists/group should be allowed to find what works for them with the audience at large, but it is something that fans are going to notice.
The harmonies, though, are pure NCT U and give me those beautiful subtle ramps that made The 7th Sense work despite its minimal production. In conjunction with the more verbose beat, the softness of the background vocals comes through well in a lot of places and hits you in the face with just how strong the vocal line of this unit is. When that first harmony comes in at 0:18, you are taken aback with just how out of nowhere it is and yet how perfect it sounds at that moment. Taeyong and Mark do the thing with their rap sections (and the team-up towards the end needs to happen more often) but the vocal line absolutely steals the show having the bulk of the lines in this one and really being the core of the track overall.
My one complaint is that, as of now, there is no single or album for me to run to for the rest of my fix. I need more of this…NOW.
As for the visual…they look gorgeous and the choreo is on point; is there anything else you need to know? While I will, personally, be waiting for the dance practice video to give me the full view of all the intricate moves that they are laying down, this is very satisfying.
We’ll have lyrics for you shortly.