SM Entertainment’s most confusing group to date has come back to shed a little more light on what they do. NCT’s latest incarnation,NCT 127, consists of all the members from NCT U minus Ten (so that’s Mark, Doyoung, Taeyong, Taeil, and Jaehyun), plus new members Yuta, Winwin, and Haechan. I think it’s best to not even try keep up with the boys in this group. Their lineups are likely never going to be the same twice. It’s the perfect representation of a capitalist pop group, a name brand that attracts with interchangeable parts. Whoever is in the group doesn’t really matter, as long as they’re pretty and can dance (a good voice is optional).
NCT 127 do show somewhat of a different side to the NCT amalgam though. The brooding “7th Sense” and dull “Without You” gave us two sides without any real connection. With two new releases “Fire Truck” and “Once Again,” NCT 127 go closer to what we expect from rookie groups. A child-like sense of fun can be heard in both and works to save what could have been a bad release.
“Fire Truck” is sort of like if “7th Sense” was produced by a child on a sugar rush. It was in fact produced by a bunch of SM regulars: LDN Noise, Tay Japser, and Ylva Dimberg. This time, they went for a much heavier hip-hop, EDM based track. “Fire Truck” bumps and crashes with bassy synths and trap beats. Sonically, it’s little more than generic though, despite the business of it all. At times it’s even grating to the ear, as it progresses with little intricacy or interest in transitions that are not breakdowns.
It has two saving graces, however, the first being that youthful mania. All of the vocals have a demented strain to them. The raps are delivered with a punch as if their lives depended on getting these words out. The “hey yay yay” build part is probably the most annoying of the whole song, yet works like a chant from a bunch of kids. The autotuned whining that follows is also probably very irritating for a lot of listeners, but I love the brazen attempt to make it as silly as possible. These guys are kids, so it makes sense for them to perform a song like this.
Also on KultScene: Kim Tae Woo Brings a Night of Soul to NYC [PHOTOS]c
It makes just as much sense that they’re using a fire truck as a metaphor for burning love. “Where are you looking at, Mr. fireman on the floor, Let’s make a fire, I’ll cool down this heat” Taeyong raps at the opening, making very little actual sense. It’s playful and stupid and almost makes me like this song. If Red Velvet are that kid you see running around screaming and feel jealous that they can be that free, NCT 127 are the kid sitting near on an airplane that cries, then sleeps, then cries again, then laughs, and finally sleeps again.
The second saving grace is the choreography. After re-watching a “7th Sense” live show, the thing that really stood out for me was the choreography. These are some talented kids who obviously spend a lot of time with choreographers figuring out the most inventive ways of performing a song. This might be a reason that “Fire Truck” turned out to their lead single. It is a weak track but is very danceable, and did they dance to it or what? It mirrors the crazed silliness of the song by having an inordinate amount of moves within small amounts of time. Taeyong, for example, has so much to do just in his own rap (so he can be forgiven for not rapping live).
What I like most is the SM signature of group interaction. This style is becoming more prevalent with groups like VIXX and Seventeen using it for all of their songs, but its roots lie in SM groups like EXO and particularly SHINee. Thematically, it works for NCT as highlighting the group rather than individuals. There’s a kinetic energy between them that seems like second nature to them. It also gives them big moments for their choruses, including cartwheels, a flying person, and a sort of puppet-like move which looks eerily natural. Best of all, they don’t wallow in these moves but immediately after continue with just as difficult synchronized dances.
Also on KultScene: NCT U’s ‘The 7th Sense’ & ‘Without You’ Music Video & Song Reviewc
NCT 127 take a different route with “Once Again,” the song they are promoting alongside lead “Fire Truck.” Produced by SM Swede regulars Andreas Oberg and Chris Wahle, “Once Again” is an R&B tinged bubblegum pop track that harkens back to other SM classics;it reminds us of Super Junior and SHINee’s more low-key moments. It’s expertly produced horns and funky guitars are so refreshing beside “Fire Truck.” The vocals as well are far superior and all so smooth and clean. The layered vocals in the chorus especially delight; these vocals are something SM are particularly good at and it’s great to see it hasn’t stopped.
It bustles with a wonderful summertime energy, which the lyrics are also about: young summer love. It’s the perfect fit for these young boys. Between this and “Fire Truck,” two young identities are shown. NCT go someway to representing the many contradictions of what it means to be young. Musically compared to “Fire Truck,” “Once Again” can seem a little flat or crystal clear in execution. I guess it depends on your current outlook on what it is to be young. Right now, the laidback freedom of “Once Again” appeals to me. Although I can see myself getting tired of it and looking more toward the twisted state of “Fire Truck.”
What do you think of “Fire Truck” and “Once Again”? Also what are your impressions of NCT as a whole? Share your picks and thoughts in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us onFacebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.