[Review] Candy – NCT DREAM

NCT DREAM is nominated for Best Sub-Unit and Best Male Group in the 2022 KPOPREVIEWED Awards. Glitch Mode is nominated for Best Concept and Best Music Video, while Beatbox is nominated for Best Pop Song, Best Male Group (Choreography). Definitely an all-rounder group. Supper NCT DREAM, their songs, and all your other favourite artists, songs and performances by clicking here to vote today.

NCT DREAM officially makes their comeback today with a special Winter mini-album, titled Candy. The same-titled single (the focus of this review) leads the mini-album. The single is also a remake of H.O.T’s Candy, which was released way back in 1996. This is the group’s first comeback since their Glitch Mode and Beatbox comebacks from earlier in the year.

Given that Candy (NCT DREAM’s version) is a re-recording of the original (cue the comparison), the newer version is fairly same as the older version. The melodies haven’t changed and NCT Dream retains the upbeatness of the original song. However, there are some distinct differences with the newer version that I actually liked more so than in the original. The main difference I could hear instantly is how much more modern the instrumental is. While it is similar enough for listeners to gain a bit of familiarity and nostalgia from NCT DREAM’s version, I enjoyed the extra intensity that the producers had put into NCT DREAM’s version. This definitely helps modernise the 1996 hit to current times and gives Candy a lot more oomph, which in turn makes way for some awesome execution from NCT DREAM. Talking about execution, I also find NCT DREAM’s vocals and raps to be a lot more polished than the original. I guess we can attribute that to advances in technology since 1996 – a lot has happened since then. The second verse gets an extra (super intense) rap sequence and I liked that NCT DREAM did not opt for as much overlap between vocals and raps as H.O.T had incorporated. They do bring that overlap into play later on in the song, but it is a lot cleaner and more refined than the original. Maybe it is a generational thing as I didn’t grow up during that era (I was born a few months after the song’s original release) and I am used to the modern style of KPOP, but I definitely prefer NCT DREAM’s version of Candy by a long mile.

When you think of H.O.T’s Candy, the group’s terrible outfits come to mind. Or at least, I thought they were terrible. It is the main thing that I still cannot wrap my head around until this day – how the colourful overalls and massive oven mitts got approved. I guess it was to fit the more vibrant and upbeat style of Candy, but boy do they look awful. I am glad that NCT DREAM’s stylist did not opt for the same style choices. However, H.O.T’s outfits were iconic in the end, and so NCT DREAM’s outfits were influenced by the look from 1996. Jeno’s massive trapper hat looks like it could have been lifted from that era. But as it is just an influence and their outfits do look fairly tame, I am fine with that. Other than that relief, the music video’s candy manufacturing set reminded me of Glitch Mode‘s technology set. And per usual, I really liked the colours. Some parts however were cringy to me.

At the time of writing, there was no official stage for NCT DREAM’s version of Candy. They are however confirmed to perform the single at the 2022 KBS Music Festival, which is being held today. But from what I can see, the choreography retains some of the key moves from the original version, but also intensifies the moves to match the intensified music we get in the newer version.

Song – 9/10
Music Video – 8/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 8.5/10


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