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A year on from their epic Resonance single and promotions, NCT has regrouped as a full group (sans Lucas and WinWin) for their 2021 promotions. Leading their latest album, Universe, is the single Beautiful (the focus of this review) and the NCT U track, Universe (Let’s Play Ball). Previously, we have seen majoirty of the members of NCT active this year, including NCT Dream promotions with Hot Sauce and Hello Future, NCT 127 promotions with Sticker and Favorite (Vampire) and WayV with Kick Back.
Beautiful lives up to its title. My first impression of the song when I heard it upon release was that it was beautiful, uplifting and inspiring. Beautiful takes on the form of a pop ballad, a very different sound to what the units of NCT usually put out. It isn’t the first time we heard a pop release from NCT’s subunits, but Beautiful hands off as refreshing vibe to me, which is thanks to the vocally driven nature and the notable absence of electronic synths. Instead, the instrumentation of Beautiful opts for a collection of pop strings, drums and piano. It isn’t anything mind-blowing, but it definitely works in tandem with the vocals and the messaging. The whole idea of singing as one reiterates their bond as a whole group, who for the most part appear very separated throughout the year unless it is a NCT full-group promotion. It also aids Beautiful‘s message, which ‘expresses positive energy with a warm message to those having a hard time that they are all special in their own ways’ (from Soompi), as it felt like there were 21 people already behind/supporting me as I listened to the song. The vocals in the verses were also nice, but they did not have the same level of impact for obvious reasons. The rapping was concentrated into just the bridge and felt toned down enough and had the right level of energy for the song. Taeil’s high note also comes in just at the right time, as if it was the ‘icing of the cake’ for this song. I wished the official audio retained that whistle sound following the rapping bridge. I really like the stilling presence it had in the song, and definitely brought up the aesthetic. But apart from that, Beautiful was a stunning song that was well-thought out and sounded amazing.
The music video was shot in a way that felt relatable. We didn’t get any crazy flashing sets or expensive props or outfits in this music video. Instead, the members were all dressed casually and we saw them in everyday settings or jobs. Jaehyun was a college student, Chenle was an office worker, Renjun and Jisung were café workers, some of the members were baseball players (a nice and subtle nod to the Universe (Let’s Play Ball) music video), and Ten was hanging out on the roof of a building. Practically a broad range their audience. I liked how the music video showed the all the members dancing together (along with the dancers) for the chorus, which really emphasise that idea of being in unison with one another like the song had done. I did wish we saw choreography solo shots for all the members throughout the video, like in the first part of the final chorus. As cheesy as that might like, I liked the idea of it. I also like the ‘reset’ for the choreography formation that they did in the final chorus.
The choreography looks quite nice. It looked artistic, and wasn’t anything too much for the pop ballad. It doesn’t feel too constricted and had a nice breezy vibe, which also fitted the song.
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 8.8/10