If there’s one rookie group that’s been getting it right for me each and every time, it’s SM Entertainment’s NCT. The ambitious K-pop project, which has “unlimited members,” has already spawned three flawless splinter groups and a couple of solos. For the most part, they’ve stuck to SM’s more experimental side, but they always include some commercial cuts on their albums so there’s something for every listener.
From their complicated concept to their weirdo-pop and bad perms, there’s nothing that I don’t love about NCT.
Cherry Bomb, NCT 127’s third mini-album, is already one of the year’s best boy band releases. The title track is a pop oddity, with sinister swirls of Lil B-esque outsider hip-hop, eerie English refrains and rumbling bass. The “If you’re happy and you know it” bit borders on cringe, but it also reminds me of Red Velvet’s soulless “la la la la la las” so it kinda works. “Cherry Bomb” has already been slammed by Koreans for not being commercial enough, but by American standards it’d probably be considered a crossover hit.
Like I said before, if “Cherry Bomb” isn’t your thing then there’s something on the album that will be. “0 Mile,” a sleek dance anthem with disco strings, funky bass, and tropical synths is a perfect summer jam. And for something a little softer, “Sun & Moon” is majestic, pulsating pop dripping with romance.
The most mainstream cut on the album is easily “Summer 127,” a throbbing house track that sounds suspiciously like LDN Noise’s work for SM – but it’s not! Looks like there’s some producers out there with sticky fingers… just sayin’.
With most of my favourite legends from K-pop’s second generation either disbanding or hitting their twilight years, I’m really starting to commit more to the genre’s fresh, young stars. I’m already fully on board the TWICE coaster, and I think NCT might just be my fave post-TVXQ boy band. Tell me I’m not the only one obsessed with them?