Edited by Seo Hayne
Translated by Kim Hoyeun
NCT, who took the stage as a five-member group with their debut song “The 7th Sense” in 2016, will be capping off 2020 by releasing an album as a 23-member group. Their latest album NCT 2020 Resonance Pt. 1 became a million-seller album in just a week and debuted at No. 6 on Billboard 200. NCT Dream, a minor sub-unit with an average age of 15.6, was named one of Billboard’s “21 Under 21,” along with Billie Elish and Noah Cyrus.
NCT stands for “Neo Culture Technology,” and K-pop-loving listeners may have gotten used to the name by repeating the full name several times. This group’s fundamental concepts are “openness” and “expandability,” with “infinite” attached to both keywords. This means that members within the sub-units will change “infinitely” and be added or removed “infinitely.” In short, the fact that there are no “regular members” in these unit groups is the “key point.” That’s why music fans will pick up their pen to study these groups whenever NCT drops a new album. This article introduces a few songs that will help you understand NCT’s “openness” and “expandability.”
#Attempt to Melt Different Languages into One Song
“From Home” is a track from their latest album NCT 2020 Resonance Pt. 1. The song, which starts with Korean at first but includes Chinese and Japanese from the second verse, well explains the path NCT U, a multinational sub-unit that will make new updates within the same concept (multinational), is taking. It seems like a bold attempt to include various languages into a single song, but “From Home” became a 4 minutes and 19 seconds long easy-on-the-ear contemporary R&B song that flows gently without any hindrances. If you enjoy NCT’s R&B songs, then you should also listen to “No Longer” and “Coming Home.”
#Sub-Units Start with “Duo”!
“Baby Don’t Stop” is a track from NCT 2018 EMPATHY. In this song, Taeyong and Ten present the light yet nervous tension that only the boy idol duo can give. Throughout the song, the two become each other’s background and yet perform as if they were one person. The same year, Taeyong and Mark released “My Van” which features self-mocking raps they wrote as they moved around in a van for their busy schedule. Although Jaehyun and Yuta participated in the featuring, it’s a song that gives you a glimpse into the picture completed by duos within NCT, mostly through Mark and Taeyong. The “expandability” that the team seeks also means that only two members from the unit group can display NCT’s charm.
#Performance that Embraces Various Cultural References
“Cherry Bomb” is a track from NCT #127 – CHERRY BOMB released in 2017. It is not until 1 minute and 17 seconds into the song can you hear the vocals, and until then, the song is filled with members’ rap. You can see the “explosive” images from the album cover, and the lyrics “Hurry, hurry, avoid it, right/ Cherry bomb feel it yum” is repeated like a hook while Mark’s rap “The moment is growing, it’s about to explode/It’s awesome, do do that” fills the space between. The performance on stage looks like people preparing hard for something before the grand explosion. NCT 127, also called the “Seoul team,” has showcased other memorable performances as well. In “Superhuman,” they have choreography that resembles Superman opening up his shirt to show the sign, and in “Kick It,” they include martial arts performances inspired by Bruce Lee. Of all K-pop groups that offer outstanding performances, NCT 127’s performance particularly embraces various cultural references. This, too, will be considered one of the team’s “openness.”
Editor Seo Hayne: I like actors as they faithfully lead through their long running-time. I also like idols who accomplish everything on stage within 3 minutes.