Yesterday, NCT unveiled their newest unit, NCT DOJUNGJAE, which consists of members Doyoung, Jaehyun and Jungwoo. While the focus of the units in the past has been on global expansion (i.e. the debut of WayV and the upcoming debut of NCT Tokyo), age (i.e., the basis of NCT Dream’s debut in 2016), and genre (i.e., NCT 127, who has a hold on experimental hip-hop), I am not entirely sure of the basis of NCT DOJAEJUNG’s debut just yet. Kicking off this new unit’s discography is the shared titled mini-album and title track, Perfume. In other relevant news, SM Entertainment has announced that with the debut of NCT Tokyo this year, the lineup of NCT will become fixed and no further units will debut to expand the group. However, I don’t think we will stop seeing units being formed from the final lineup of the group, such as NCT DOJAEJUNG. Of course, time will tell if that is the case. But for now, let’s focus on NCT DOJAEJUNG and Perfume.
When I first heard Doyoung, Jaehyun and Jungwoo were joining forces in this unit, I honestly thought the unit will be geared towards ballads (as is the case with most vocally geared tracks). But consider me genuinely surprised with the more upbeat and groovy nature of Perfume. And this unexpected twist in sound has me coming back for more. Perfume‘s combination of the R&B influences and funky electro groove calls back to the 90s, which is an era in which KPOP does not seem to get enough of. The trio steps the song up with a more sensual vibe coming from their vocals, which I vote as Perfume‘s best aspect. While all the members do shine in this department, I must commend Doyoung in particular, who effortlessly brings a consistent level of smoothness to the song. The bridge does make make me go ‘Ooh~’, which is the best reaction you can get from me. I also enjoy the harmonised shoutier approach the second half of the choruses takes, which gives Perfume a bit of oomph that pays off tremendously. While the smoothness is also another strong aspect of Perfume, I did feel the same element may have hurled Perfume forward to make it feel like it ends quite soon after it starts. I wish there was something to ground Perfume just a bit. Also, the “Woo” and whistle in the second verse was a tad cringy for my liking. But these are honestly minor criticisms from me. Apart from them, Perfume is such a strong showing from the three members and is super well-done.
Based on the opening of the music video and the loose clothing that the trio don throughout the music video, it is clear to me that the concept is of a sensual nature. And I find this super fitting for a song title Perfume, given that scent can be a turn on for many people and the message behind the lyrics of the song. The members were flirty throughout the video, which speaks to their chemistry with the camera. I also enjoyed the fact the members got to film outside in the open for once. I know we have seen some NCT music videos in an outside location before (i.e. NCT Dream’s Beatbox as an example). But more often then not, we see NCT music videos filmed in the confines of a studio.
Complementing the strong song is an equally strong performance. I really liked the combination of sensual and powerful moments in the routine. Sensual during the slower moments where smoothness prevails. Powerful in the choruses, when the song is at its peak with the beat and chest pumps are the main move. I also like the incorporation of pulse points in the choreography for the first half of the choruses, which is where you are supposed to apply perfume and cologne to ensure you exude the strongest scent.
Song – 9/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 9/10
Overall Rating – 9/10