[Album Review] Sticker / Favorite (3rd Studio Album / 3rd Studio Album Repackaged) – NCT 127

As mentioned earlier this week, I would be fast-tracking the album review for Sticker and Favorite this weekend. Sticker (both album and title track of the same name) was released mid-September, while Favorite (the repackaged version) and Favorite (Vampire) (the title track from the repackaged album) was released at the end of October/a week ago. In total, 14 songs were released on these two albums. As a bit of a spoiler, NCT 127 shows many different sides of themselves on this album. I am sure there is something for everyone out there, even if you despise Sticker (the title track). I found some hidden gems on here myself, so no doubt you will as well.

1. Favorite (Vampire) (Title Track) Click here to read the full review for Favorite (Vampire). (9/10)

2. Sticker (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Sticker. (5.5/10)

3. Love On The FloorLove On The Floor is one of my favourite sidetracks from both the original and repackaged album, and I highly recommend it. This hip-hop synth track is so sleek and feels quite stylish. The beat and particular synths used in this song have this ‘don’t mess around’ type of attitude to it, similar to the demeanour of a model on a runway. With this in mind, I feel that Love On The Floor is a background piece to a fashion show of some kind every time I listen to the song, with the models being NCT 127. That would be a cool concept, and I am sure NCT 127 would nail the visual component and the choreography component as well. Vocally, I think there are some amazing vocals and harmonisation in this song, while the rapping adds edge and intensity to the song that would make this a song not to miss, especially if you are after something with a lot of styles. (10/10)

4. Lemonade Lemonade is an interesting song and is a bit complicated to explain. In earlier drafts, I have attempted to break down the song in layman’s terms, but it was a bit too much and I don’t think I did Lemonade justice. The best way I can think of to describe the song is that it is a bit of a rollercoaster. The trap hip-hop track has some slow points, and then more intense and explosive sequences that seemingly come out of nowhere. But despite it being a wild ride, the song sounds more cohesive and fleshed out compared to Sticker. Extra points are given the rapping, which added to the already dynamic nature of the song. The vocals also stood out, with the harmonisation added definition to the repetitive one-hook, ‘Taste like lemonade’, making it more memorable for me. (8/10)

5. BreakfastBreakfast diverts away from EDM and hip-hop for a funkier tune. The instrumentation to this song is very cool and has a fair bit of energy jammed into it. It doesn’t explode, but instead is exuded when the drop in the chorus comes into play and as instrumental literally bounces it out. Vocally, it is a strong song with smooth vocals throughout. I wished the rapping had a bit more to it and wasn’t held back, as I think this would have boosted the song up. (8/10)

6. PilotPilot features another bouncy synth instrumentation, but it feels a bit more refined. It might be because Pilot is steered towards more of an R&B nature. It is still a fun and bright song, highlighting their vocals. Once again, harmonisation is used in this song, and I quite liked its presence in this song.  It makes the song appear tighter and cohesive, overall. The rapping takes a bit of a backseat for this song, with it being there but not as memorable as the vocals were. Personally, I don’t feel much listening to the song. But breaking it down for this review, Pilot seems decent. (7/10)

7. Focus (같은 시선) – To me, Focus and Pilot are quite similar. The major difference with Focus is that the smoothed-out instrumentation and overall delivery from the members are more mature and sultry, whereas Pilot has an upbeat nature to it. Once again, the vocals are very impressive throughout Focus, with the element doing a fantastic job of captivating and charming me. The rapping at the end was also quite good. Unfortunately, the rapping in the bridge was the song’s weakest element. It just didn’t sit right with me and I don’t think it went with the rest of the song. (8/10)

8. The Rainy Night (내일의 나에게)The Rainy Night is an amazing ballad. Firstly, it activates the swaying effect that I mention comes from good ballads. Secondly, the vocals are stunning throughout The Rainy Night. I hate to be a broken record, but the harmonisation in this song makes it dreamy and captivating. Thirdly, the piano instrumentation is rather delicate and stood out from underneath the vocal work we got from the members. It added a more beautiful touch to the song, on top of the vocals that we got. (9/10)

9. FarFar returns the album to the very more familiar EDM territory that NCT is known for. It isn’t as intense as their more well-known tracks, and Far is a bit slower than those tracks as well. But Far is definitely intriguing. It sounds adventurous and unfamiliar, but dynamic and strong as one would expect from an NCT 127 dance track. The rapping has oomph to it, with the abrasiveness of the rapping standing out. The vocal ad-libs in this song are amazing and show-stopping. (9/10)

10. Bring The Noize – As cringy as the spelling of ‘Noize’ is, it was quite obvious what direction this track would go in. It is powerful, intense and definitely a song that would naturally come from NCT 127. The members sound fantastic in this song, with both the rapping and vocal delivery really selling the song for me. Jaehyun is the standout member in this song, with both his solo parts sounding very cool. His second sequence, in particular, was definitely something on the next level! The shouty style of the song’s main parts and the bass in this song are also icing on the cake for me. (10/10)

11. Magic Carpet Ride – It is amazing that seconds before this track, NCT 127 was in very ‘noisy’ territory as some might say and within seconds of this track, they are in very different territory. The first word that I thought of when I heard Magic Carpet Ride was dreamy. And that word has remained as an accurate description of the song with every listen I have given it. I really liked the softer instrumentations and the overall vocal package in this song. A highly recommended song on this album! (10/10)

12. Road TripRoad Trip has nice mellow instrumentation and brings out a youthful sound from the group. It is nicely upbeat and has this cute tone that feels wholesome. It isn’t a standout track, but it definitely is charming. If you want really want a break from the intensity that NCT 127 usually brings to the table, then Road Trip will be a pretty decent way to cut that tension and energy. (8/10)

13. Dreamer – A similar comment as the final sentence in Road Trip’s paragraph can be applied to Dreamer. But I think Dreamer nudges ahead by a point for various reasons. I liked the slightly funkier vibes that Dreamer exudes, especially during the verses. The instrumentation is memorable and fun. The sing-song nature of the song makes Dreamer super easy to get into. I also feel like they did a good job of showing off vocals. The rapping was also a solid element to the song, adding to the fun and upbeat dynamics of the song. (9/10)

14. Promise You (다시 만나는 날)Promise You is a very atmospheric synth-pop retro track that is a beautiful ender to the album. I liked the beat of this song and the dreamy/soothing nature of the vocals. The fast and continuous motion within the instrumentation keeps the song going. Johnny’s rap-speak sequence is unique but has its own merits to be in this song. The other members sound hopeful and warm throughout the song. As I said, a beautiful ender. (10/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.6/10

[Review] Favorite (Vampire) – NCT 127

Also making their comeback today is NCT 127, who returns with Favorite (Vampire). This comeback sees the release of the group’s repackaged version of their third studio length album, which also shares the first name of the title track. It follows the release of Sticker, which I didn’t enjoy and actually have forgotten about since reviewing it back in mid-September. Let’s see how Favorite (Vampire) fairs, Also, on a side note, with the release of the repackaged album, you can expect an album review for both Sticker/Favorite this weekend!

Without a doubt, I would choose Favorite as my preferred track between the two releases from the group this year. Favorite flowed a lot better and felt more cohesive than the earlier track. However, this doesn’t mean I am 100% into the song. I am more so 99% into the track (plot twist much?). The issue lies within the instrumentation, as I don’t really like the wispy synth whistles in the instrumentation. They get better as the song progresses, and they might very well grow on me. But when I hear it for the first time every time I have replayed the song, I find them to be unsettling. Aside from that, I think Favorite was a really great track. It taps into R&B pop and has this smoothness to it, which I enjoyed. I also liked the more profound and normal whistling in the song (even though they did bring a certain level of dullness to the song), along with the trap elements that make up the background for the more rap-centric (rap-spoken) sequences, which added both and edgy vibe and kick to the song. They could have used less of the whistling, but it wasn’t the worst thing in the world. I think the worst thing in the world in the context of Favorite would be the dubstep breakdown. I am glad that didn’t make it into the final cut of the song (it was only in the music video, and I presume in the upcoming performances as well). If it did, it would have been unnecessary and obnoxious to listen to. Moving away from that, I thoroughly enjoyed the vocal works. Again, the smoothness comment can be applied here, and to the melodies which the members bring to life. The harmonies take it to the next level, while the two-syllable delivery they used at the end of the choruses made the song memorable for me. Overall, Favorite is definitely the superior track in comparison to Sticker, and is definitely a strong improvement from the mentioned last release.

The members (or at least some of the members) are vampires in this music video. The idea of it works really well with the music, from how I see it. The R&B pop song was very mature sounding, and I feel that the portrayal of the members as vampires was also quite mature as well. We don’t see any Count Draculas, and we don’t see any stereotypical portrayals of vampires as per folklore or stories depict them to be. I guess this mature vibe comes about because the song is about a relationship that is inevitably going to end, even though their partners are everything to them. While I think the vampire idea is great, I would like to see the concept be a more prominent feature in this music video. Also, I didn’t like the use of CGI in this video. It wasn’t the case across the board, but some parts looked noticeably synthetic. Thankfully, the dance sets balanced it out and made it seem less so.

The performance aspect of this comeback looks quite good. I really liked the two lines of members during the final moments of the chorus, and how they seemingly got into that formation. The dance break was quite dynamic, led by Taeyong, Mark and Jaehyun.

Song – 9/10
Music Video – 6/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 7.9/10

[Review] Sticker – NCT 127

NCT 127 is back with their new single and third (!) studio album, which shares the same name, Sticker. This the unit’s first Korean comeback since their participation in NCT’s 23-member lineup promotions for their 2020 album, NCT 2020 Resonance (Part 1 and Part 2). Since then, NCT 127 have regrouped on two occasions – for the release of their second studio length Japanese album Loveholic (which featured Gimme Gimme as the title track), and for the collaboration with Amoeba Culture (Save). They have also been confirmed for future promotion via a repackaged album for this release. There is not confirmed release date yet, so I guess we have to wait around. Until then, here is my review for Sticker.

Without a doubt, Sticker is an interesting song. I don’t know what I was expecting for this release, but I honestly did not expect this – a dulled, oddly pieced and disjointed release from the group. When I first heard the song yesterday, I was making some really weird faces towards the instrumentation (think of faces when someone trying a certain dish or food for the first time, and you know based on their expressions that they do not like it – that was me). I attribute to this to mainly one element in Sticker, the shrilly and almost-screechy flute in the background. It was an element that remained throughout the song and hence that screechy impression remained throughout the song for me (though I will admit that I am slowly becoming desensitized to it – not entirely sure if that is a good thing or not). In the verses, I felt a disconnect between vocals and instrumentation. It was quite noticeable, though it isn’t the end of the world for me. One positive of this disconnect is that the vocals and raps were on full display, and it was an impressive and clear display. The disconnect also evolved into disjointed, when we speak about the specific segments of the song (i.e. verses, chorus, pre-chorus, bridge etc.). Sticker was just not cohesive. It tried to be, that was clear. But it just didn’t work out, given that every part appeared distinct from one another. Something to blend everything together would have been nice The chorus was slightly better thanks to the melodies, but that screechy flute reappeared and brought back that initial feeling I had about the song. I am also not a fan of how they delivered the title, Sticker, as the main hook in a drawn out fashion that took any potential fun out of the hook for me. But it isn’t all bad news for Sticker, however. I thought the orchestral pre-chorus and the bridge (which for me includes the ‘Roll up to the party‘ dance break) were promising segments of the song. The orchestral touch was an interesting backdrop for the rappers, but it worked somehow and the bridge has clean vocals and rapping, whilst the background was smoothed out sans the flute (the instrumentation in the bridge masked the shrilly nature, which helped). Overall, the disjointed and disconnect within Sticker made it dulled and incohesive.

The music video for Sticker was much better than the song. Futuristic cowboys seems to be the concept that NCT 127 had gone for this comeback. Their outfits brought the western cowboy image to life, and more so in a modern way. Cowboy hats, boots and lassos were all present in the music video. Even Mark’s spinning guns at the end were quite reminiscent of cowboys. The sets of the video brought in that futuristic side, thanks to the neon and city lights we see in the video. The cinematography and post-production for this music video was definitely on the cool side, and helped made the video feel dynamic without going too crazy elsewhere.

Knowing how KPOP likes to relate choreographies to the entire comeback, I wasn’t too sure how Sticker would have been be portrayed in the choreography. It appears that NCT 127 represent Sticker as the slow ungrasping of hands, which I guess might hint towards sticky hands. They also mimicked the pulling up of stickers from the release liner (I had to google what that smooth backing was called) with their hands towards the start of the chorus with the zoom in and zoom out sequences. I thought these worked really well. The rest of the choreography looked fine to me.

Song – 5.5/10
Music Video – 8/10
Performance – 7/10
Overall Rating – 6.6/10

[International Song Reviews] MONSTA X, NCT 127, TREASURE, Mark Tuan, Jackson Wang

BTS’ Dynamite was voted by you to be the Best International Song By a Korean Artist. All songs in this review will be eligble for the 2021 KPOPREVIEWED Awards. Check them out and remember to vote for your favourite at the end of the year. In the meanwhile, check out the winners for the 2020 KPOPREVIEWED Awards.

Last week, I covered some 2020 international releases that occurred in November through to January of this year. This included Chungha’s Dream of You, Baekhyun’s Get You Alone, Dream Catcher’s No More, Jung Daehyun’s Amazing and TWICE’s Better. This week, I will be covering another five releases including Japanese songs from MONSTA X, NCT 127 and TREASURE, and Western songs from Mark Tuan and Jackson Wang. For those who are wondering, I will be covering The Boyz’s Breaking Dawn in the next edition of this International Song Review segment, which will be whenever I can fill up the next post with five songs. Let me know of any comebacks by KPOP artists in international markets, so that post can be published sooner! (However exclude songs that already have a Korean version).


Wanted – MONSTA X

I personally didn’t enjoy this latest release from MONSTA X the first time I heard it. It felt like it was missing the surface of the instrumentation because nothing really stuck out at me. However, listening to the song a couple of more times really helped the song grow on me (which is the usual case for me) and that initial thought has left my mind. The song pretty much fits in with MONSTA X’s works. The verses actually felt very typical for the group, though I must say everything had a melodic tinge to it and is not as aggressive (but it was getting there). Even the rapping had that tinge. The chorus is where Wanted becomes quite dynamic and more interesting, thanks to its impactful bass and heavy synth usage. I really like the consistent thumping and the vocal work from Shownu and Kihyun throughout the section. Joohoney and I.M follows up with a bit of their usual rapping abrasiveness, before the focus moves onto Minhyuk and Hyungwon, and then it moves back to the already mentioned members. I do wish there was a bit more heft, especially when it came to the verses to make the song even more appealing and bring it up to par with their Korean releases. But overall, Wanted was a decent song to add to their choreography. The music video for Wanted was quite simple but cool at the same time. I really like how the video embraced an industrial look for the first part when the members are dressed in black outfits. The video becomes a little more sleek with their outfits infusing a little more colour that really stands out amongst the flashing lights and black outfits. The camera work is also commendable. The choreography looks good, but I didn’t see anything new or dynamic within it. (8.1/10)


Gimme Gimme – NCT 127

Gimme Gimme taps into what seems like a more intensified version of the EDM that NCT 127 is known for through their Korean songs. Just this version mixes in a more prevalent form of hip-hop, but also feels a little annoying thanks to that one whiny squealy synth that just sticks around for what pretty much felt like the entire song’s length. There was just so much of this synth throughout the song, it was pretty to not to notice it. In some of the parts that didn’t have the squeaky synth, the rest of the instrumentation made up for it by reincorporating the same sound just with different synths. If we were to take away the EDM and squealing synth, the members sound pretty good. They had to do a lot of competing to be heard over Gimme Gimme‘s instrumentation, but they handled it just fine. The rappers were super aggressive, but this worked out well as it gave the some some additional edge. Taeil, in particular, stood out with his vocals from the rest of the members, especially with that high note that just took the song to a new level. As for the music video, I felt it was pretty plain. SM Entertainment’s music videos have been quite top notch lately. But this felt like a let down. I am not keen on their outfits as it doesn’t feel as cohesive as it could have been with the warehouse like setting they are in. They do like stylish, but they just stick out. I did like the solo shots of the members and the various transitions between them. As for the choreography, Gimme Gimme lives up to the expectation that NCT 127 had set for themselves. It is very impactful, intense and powerful all at the same time. The dance break is definitely the peak of it, showing us exactly what we hoped to see from this high-octane song. (7.1/10)


Beautiful – TREASURE

This release caught me out of the blue. At the time when I discovered the song, I only found out that this was a soundtrack for the anime, Black Clover. Upon some further research, I found out today that TREASURE will be making their official debut in Japan at the end of March with Japanese versions of their title tracks and Beautiful. Beautiful taps into a more refreshing side of EDM, opting for lightness and pop, rather than going heavy handed with the synths and other instrumentation. In many ways, Beautiful aesthetically feels like an extension of TREASURE’s more pop centric Korean releases. The vocal work and rapping sounds pretty good. Nothing impressive from the group this time, but it works really well with the pop sound. There is no official music video or choreography for Beautiful that features the members (though this might change with an unannounced release of a music video between now and the end of March). Instead, the music video that was released was a little over a one and a half minute long video of the anime. So I don’t have much else to say about the video. Because of this, I have only decided to give a song rating for Beautiful. (8.5/10)


One in a Million – Mark Tuan & Sanjoy

We move away from JPOP for the remainder of this post, with the next artist is someone whom I haven’t actually reviewed any solo work for yet. I am talking about Mark Tuan, who has previously dabbled in solo work through a Chinese single (Never Told You, 2020). The song I am focusing on today is his most recent release, One in a Million, which features Sanjoy. It is also his first release since leaving JYP Entertainment. One in a Million delves into R&B, mixing up the genre with a bit of dance electronica. Together, the two genres combines to make the new song feel quite sleek and subtly upbeat. It is quite a pleasant combination and outcome for the two genres. I find Mark’s vocals to be quite interesting. He draws out his lines, giving the song a slow pace. That on its own isn’t my cup of tea. But in combination with the subtle upbeat touch, the vocal work surprisingly comes off as quite hypnotic and drives me to wanting to replay the song as there is an alluring charm to it. The music video that is released alongside One in a Million is a cute animation that fits well with the song’s lyrics and features two people who some might say are fated for each other. The video shows the girl leaving behind an umbrella behind at a convenience store. The guy recognizes the umbrella as hers (as it was the one that was opened in his face) and rushes to the station to return it to its owner. But unfortunately, fate at this instant does not want them to be together. When he arrives at the platform, she has already boarded the train. They get off at the same station and recognize one another. But this time, the rest of the city’s population doesn’t want them to be together. They both then run into each other a bar, with a happy relationship blooming from that point I presume. Mark and Sanjoy also feature in the video as the artists playing in the bar, and they seem happy to the new couple they are witnessing. (8.4/10)


Alone – Jackson Wang

Shortly after his departure from JYP Entertainment, Jackson Wang made the announcement of a single release unexpectedly. The single was titled Alone and is actually a Mandarin pop single. Based on the tone of the song, along with his vocals, you can tell that this is a hefty song. Alone lyrically shows his feelings about his life and journey thus far. Musically, it shows off Jackson’s versatility. Most of this songs thus far (that I can remember) have been dance centric songs. His works as a GOT7 member has been primarily in the hip-hop or pop domains. Alone is more so a ballad, mixed with some synths to give it is a modern and trendy feel. It remains consistently paced and neutral for the entirety of the song. The momentum comes through his vocals, which sounds really emotive. The raspy nature of his voice really shines and this just elevates the song to a whole new level. is also quite easy to get lost in this song, especially since it gets me swaying along quite early on (swaying is my self-made indicator of a good ballad for those who don’t know). The music video reflects the tone and lyrics of the song quite well. For the entirety of the video, he is alone. This makes perfect senses, especially as he sings about being alone on this journey. I am not completely familiar with Jackson’s life story. But it seems like there are references to a warming family (the table with an abundancy of food) and his time has a fencer (the Olympic rings), to which he left behind to pursue music and his career as a singer. His face is scarred and bruised, testament to the hard journey he had to endure along the way, as it isn’t an easy path. The end of the music video gives a little bit of advice to never give up on our own journey. It will be lonely and it will be hard. But if you enjoy what you are doing, it will turn out fine. (9.6/10)

[Album Review] NCT 2020: Resonance Part 1 (2nd Studio Album) – NCT

NCT completes 2020 with the return to full group promotions under the collective name of NCT. This means that NCT 127, NCT Dream and WayV, along with new members Shotaro and Sungchan have come together to promote under name of NCT and NCT U for their two part album. Today, I will be focusing on the first half of their second studio album, titled NCT 2020: Resonance. It features Make A Wish (Birthday Song) and From Home as the title tracks, alongside a bunch of new songs from various NCT U lineups (all of which we haven’t seen before) and the three units of NCT that I already mentioned above. It is a long album review, so let’s get moving along.

NCT 2020: Resonance Part 1 Album Cover

NCT 2020: Resonance Part 1 also features ‘Interlude: Past to Present‘ as the sixth track. But per usual protocol for album reviews on the segment, this track was not reviewed due to lack to lyrics. There are also a Korean version of From Home and an English version of Make A Wish (Birthday Song), which were not reviewed as I had already reviewed the original versions (links below).

1. Make A Wish (Birthday Song) (Title Track)Make A Wish (Birthday Song) was performed by Taeyong, Doyoung, Jaehyun, Lucas, Xiaojun, Jaemin and Shotaro. Click here to read the full review of Make A Wish (Birthday Song). (7/10)

2. MisfitMisfit delves into the world of rapping, with Johnny, Taeyong, Mark, Hendery, Jeno, Yangyang and Sungchan all bringing their A-game for this track. The song is an excellent hype track, with rapping taking you back to earlier eras of rap music. The energy is quite full-on, but I won’t describe it as intense. Rather, it is fun and definitely a highlight to listen to. Mark’s leads us into the song with a sequence that confirms his talent and skillset. And each other member follows suit to show us what their skillset is capable of. I really like the more concentrated instrumental when it comes to the chorus, amplifying and intensifying Misfit’s energy, pulling you into the hype song even more. (10/10)

3. VolcanoVolcano features Taeyong, Doyoung, Jaehyun, Winwin, Jungwoo, Lucas and Mark. It takes on a hip-hop influence that also brings me back to earlier eras of the music, just a little more recent than Misfit’s throwback. I like how the energy in Volcano is more subtle than compared to the preceding track. I am digging the sleek nature of the chorus, especially with layering of raps and the simply spoken ‘Bounce’ over it. It isn’t much of a standout track, compared to the two tracks before it. The inclusion of the vocals was nice, but I felt it made the song confusing. Overall, this is what I would call a ‘pleasant’ listen. I would listen to it if it was on my playlist. But I wouldn’t go through the effort to seek it out. (8/10)

4. Light Bulb (백열등)Light Bulb is performed by four out of 23 of the members (Taeyong, Kun, Doyoung and Sungchan) and it is one of my favourite tracks on the album. The song features a really soothing instrumental and a slower tempo, which is thanks to the piano that we hear. There is also percussion to give Light Bulb a bit of a kick and enable the song to feature rapping. The combination of both gives Light Bulb an R&B profile. Taeyong and Sungchan’s rapping is superb and very mature sounding. It also follows the same pattern as the preceding side tracks, giving off a nostalgic vibe. Doyoung and Kun’s vocals were breathy and very gripping. No one felt out of place and no element felt like they outdid another. Light Bulb was a very balanced track that deserves praise and attention. (10/10)

5. Dancing In The Rain Dancing In The Rain introduces Taeil, Yuta, Jungwoo, Xiaojun and Chenle to the album, performing alongside Johnny, Jaehyun and Kun. I really like the melodies of this jazzy R&B mashup song, especially when it comes to the catchy ‘Drip Drop’ line. I really like the opening and closing piano sequences, bringing that jazz influence to life. I also think it is these jazzy influences that allows the rapping sequences to slide into the song effortlessly. The vocals showcase really nice harmonies amongst the vocalists in this NCT U lineup and also bringing some of that R&B touch to the surface. A stunning song. (9.5/10)

7. Déjà vu (무대) (NCT Dream)Déjà vu is the first song to be released by NCT Dream since the confirmation that NCT Dream’s lineup will become permanent and that Mark will officially return to the unit. I wondered what NCT Dream’s direction would be, given that they are no longer young as when they first debuted and that their sound has matured exponentially since Mark’s graduation. Déjà vu hints that mature NCT Dream will remain. That being said, it isn’t as captivating as past NCT Dream’s promotional track and this feels best as a side track. (7/10)

8. Nectar (月之迷) (WayV) – WayV’s discography has been quite mature from the get-go. So Nectar fits in perfectly. It feels and sounds very sensual. I really liked the subtle energy that the song contains. I also really like the main hook of the song, as it was quite simple yet very addictive. That high note was impressive. But what I find the most exciting about Nectar is that the song is in Chinese, which is the start of the multilingual approach on this album (the second title track, From Home, also features Chinese and Japanese lyrics). (8/10)

9. Music, Dance (NCT 127) – To me, NCT 127’s addition to Part 1 of NCT 2020: Resonance was the weakest of all. Music, Dance’s best moment was when the instrumental had an upbeat persona. It felt satisfying and does feel like a great track to dance to. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about the rest of the song. I thought the verses were really weird with its choppy intro approach and those vocals sequence (while were very good) diverted the song away from what should have been a wholesome dance track that should have been satisfying across the board. (6/10)

10. Faded In My Last Song (피아노) – We return to another NCT U track, performed by Taeil, Johnny, Yuta, Ten, Lucas, Renjun, Haechan and Jisung. It is a R&B track that features awesome melodies over a stunning piano/trap beat instrumental background. I really like how the vocal and rapping were extremely cohesive in this song. The way the song’s title, ‘Faded In My Last Song’, was sung in the song really stuck with me and has become my most favourite line/part to listen and look forward to. (10/10)

11. From Home (Title Track)From Home was performed by Taeil, Yuta, Kun, Doyoung, Renjun, Haechan and Chenle. Click here to read the full review of From Home. (9/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.5/10

[Review] Punch – NCT 127

Since March, the members of NCT has been quite busy with various music releases and promotions (Props to Haechan for participating in all of them!). NCT 127 first returned with Kick It and their second studio album, Neo Zone, in March. NCT Dream only just returned a few weeks ago with Ridin’ and their mini-album Reload (album review coming). And yesterday, NCT returned with their 127 lineup for promotions for their repackaged album and Punch. The music video wasn’t released until today, so this prevented me from getting a review out yesterday.

Punch is a song that seeks to make an impact in one way or another. And I feel like they give that impact at the start of the song when the electronic retro arcade-like instrumental was probably the strongest. They start off with a rap sequence in which they all share, before reverting to a breathy whisper over the same instrumentation. The contrast here is very strong and unique. The song then strips away the electronic arcade-like backdrop, allowing for melodic instrumentation and vocals to exist. And this before the song brings in an anthem-like chorus that I feel was rather aesthetic in its own right. As you can tell, it seems like a messy roller coaster ride in just the first half of the song. As to be honest, I did find this approach to be rather messy when I first listened to the song. But with multiple listens, Punch gets better and feels less messy, especially as the song comes together quite neatly. There are other elements to the song that I thought were quite good. The instrumental, as you listen more of it, contains additional elements that really help bind the song together. From the trap influences (that remind me of Superhuman‘s trap instrumentation), to the faint electric guitars that add some pop to the song, to the cinematic-like dance break that features at the end of the song. I have to admit that I find both the vocals and some of the rapping to be quite safe for the group. I wished they managed to ‘pack a punch’ into this element to give the song some life. I was also surprised to hear that they laid off the intensity and energy, which I think was a missed opportunity. Kick It seems to be the more superior in this sense, with Punch toning it down significantly. Overall, Punch is a good song. But I don’t think its their best effort.

I found the music video to be rather weak and bland. Apart from the wavy distortion applied in the post-production phases to the closeup shots that I will say looks cool, the music video followed the typical closeup and choreography set up, which isn’t as exciting when you think about it. I feel like the members were dressed at the start in a manner that made them look extra tough and I didn’t really get that feel from the song to warrant all that black leather. The sets looked cool and the lighting was rather nice. But apart from that, not much else to discuss.

The choreography definitely had that wow factor that I wished the music video had. That entire sequence at the start when the members are standing in a circle looks amazing. I also liked how the members come at you during the breathy rap sequences in the verses. The entire final chorus and dance break sequence at the end was pretty cool as well.

Song – 8/10
Music Video – 6/10
Performance – 9/10
Overall Rating – 7.6/10

[Album Review] Neo Zone (2nd Studio Album) – NCT 127

The next album to be reviewed is NCT 127’s Neo Zone, which was released a month ago on March. I am slowly catching up and hoping to move to some of the more recent releases over the Easter break while I (and the rest of the world) are stuck indoors. Neo Zone features the title track, Kick It; the song dedicated to fans, Dreams Come True, which was released back on the 27th of January (27/01); and the return of Jungwoo, who took a hiatus during the latter half of 2019. A recurring point I make in this review are about the group’s astounding vocals. Just a head up that things are going to get repetitive on that topic.

Neo Zone Album Cover

1. Elevator (127F)Elevator is a great track to open the album. It features a bright tone and funky beat, which I thought was really cool. It also was not too heavy, making the track very approachable overall. It was very easy to fall into this track’s groove, as well. And I couldn’t help but continually replay this upbeat R&B song. The vocal work was pretty nice, but I think the rapping really gave it some definition, particularly Mark’s bridge. (9/10)

2. Kick It (영웅) (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Kick It. (8/10)

3. Boom (꿈)Boom is not the same song as their fellow subunit’s song of the same title. Though I clear that up. Opening the track are some guitars, the track features stylish vocals. Even the rappers opted to sing in this dance track, which is slightly unusual. The instrumental that follows the opening guitar is a mixture of standard dance synths and subtle tropical house (for a change). The instrumental also incorporates some slow moments, which come off smooth and drags out the song in a stylish manner. The ‘Boom’ for the chorus was also rather memorable. (9/10)

4. Pandora’s Box (낮잠) – We get some jazzy R&B in Pandora’s Box. The chorus becomes a little more dance-intensive and featured a decent melody. What I thought was interesting with this song was they kept that jazzy R&B running throughout the background of the song. There were also impressive vocals all members, but Taeil’s section in the second verse, and (for obvious reasons) the ad-libs we get at the end of the song, somehow shines throughout the rest. The rapping was also another highlight of the track, bringing back old school KPOP rapping style. I also enjoyed how the song came to an end. (8/10)

5. Day Dream (白日夢) – The title of this song, Day Dream, already sounded like it was going to be a dreamy R&B. While listening to this song, I couldn’t help but imagine a golden haze shining on me, similar to like the sun shining on you as your stare out a window. I love how light this song feel, which is a different tone that we don’t get from NCT 127 (or any of NCT’s subunits) usually. The vocal work compliments this lightness, often opting for low tones or higher pitches. The chorus was very nice, as well. The only part I didn’t enjoy was the rapping, which disrupted the lightness for me. (7/10)

6. Interlude: Neo Zone – Not going to give this a rating as it contains no lyrics (and hence is just an instrumental track). But it isn’t just an instrumental track. It starts off as a classical piece. During this period, we are teased with a feeling of something dramatic is coming. And then, it turns into EDM. And we get that dramatic flair delivered in the song, which I thought was awesome!

7. Mad Dog (뿔) – Performed by just Taeil, Doyoung, Taeyong and Mark, Mad Dog is probably the most outrageous song on this album. Not outrageous in the sense that it is controversial or just downright terrible. But rather for its eclectic and crazy mixture of genres. The song is very much within the sphere of hip-hop. But we are greeted with hip-hop centered verses, a fitting (based on the title) aggressive chorus and a smoothed-out backdrop for the vocalists featuring in this track. (8/10)

8. Sit Down! – Continuing the hip-hop momentum that a subset of the group provided us in the preceding track, Sit Down! definitely delivers on the bold front with all the members. The instrumental may be a little more typical, but the way they prose the chorus makes it equally as aggressive (as the previous song). I just love the ‘Sit Down!’ that they literally shout at you. While the song may be built for more of the rappers to showcase their style, I found it very interesting that the song had really strong vocal moments throughout. (10/10)

9. Love Me Now (메아리) – We take a step back from the intensity front by focusing on an upbeat and bright EDM-track. And this is a good breather. There is also a very freeing feel to the song, which makes me want to get lost in its sound with multiple replays. Love Me Now brings forward more of the vocals that we heard in the previous song. I really like the opening lines to the chorus lines. It is catchy and refreshing, overall. (9/10)

10. Love Song (우산) – KPOP really loves their ‘Love Song(s)’, as we can all probably name an artist that has used Love Song as a title. NCT 127’s spin on the typical title is R&B and a story of a rainy day. The song continues to push forward with the vocals that I have been impressed with so far. I do find the melody in this song to be a tad choppy for my liking, but I can overlook that. What I can’t overlook is the rapping in this song. It doesn’t feel necessary at all and over complicated what should have been a simple song. (7/10)

11. White Night (백야)White Night is a ballad. A typically sounding ballad, given its instrumental. But my usual comments apply to the song, in regard to the amazing vocal work that NCT 127 has brought to the album. The rappers also partook in the vocal work, but also tweaked their rapping to be fitting for the softer sound of the ballad. Also, big ticks on the harmony department, as that was something I noticed to be a strong point. (8/10)

12. Not Alone – I would consider the soft instrumental that sits in the background of Not Alone to be minimalistic. There seems to be changes in the use of soft synths and EDM for this song. But since it just sits in the background, it makes the vocals (yes, I am still praising them on this front) become magnified and so clear. Apart from the usual, I find the song to be blissful and peaceful. Definitely one to check out and hitting the replay button for. (10/10)

13. Dreams Come True – The final song on the album is a soft jazzy number dedicated to the fans. It was also released some time ago. The vocal work was stunning in this song (those harmonies during the chorus are just perfection) and the rapping (in this song) is well-justified. It isn’t the most mind-blowing song on the album, but it definitely nice to end the album on a positive and thankful note. (8/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.4/10

Neo Zone Teaser Image

[Review] Kick It – NCT 127

I spent the start of the week revisiting tracks that I have yet to write reviews for. And this should continue into the rest of the weekend (with some album reviews). But I take a moment to review a new release from NCT 127. The group has returned with Kick It, 9 months after the release of Superhuman last year. Since their May 2019 comeback, the group went on to promote Superhuman, along with other tracks, in the US and achieved a worldwide reach. And we will probably see the same thing for NCT 127 in the near future. Kick It features on Neo Zone, the group’s second studio album. It also marks the return of Jungwoo, who sat out of NCT 127 promotions since August of last year for health reasons.

In my personal opinion, NCT 127 manages to Kick It up a notch with their new track. Pun was purely intended. There are two sides of the track. The first is the very shouting-heavy and noisy hook of the track. Part of me finds it pretty good and sees potential in it to become an addictive section of the part. And while I do enjoy the Bruce Lee homage and the ‘new thang‘ to be suitable for this hip-hop direction, the other part of me finds it annoying and ‘too loud’. It honestly could go either way depending on my mood when I am listening to the track. Thank god that the song has some relief moments, where the vocals are brought in. Part of them is glad for this, as a full 4 minutes of the shouting and noisy chorus would have been a little too much. At the same time, however, it causes a great mismatch in sound and (obviously) cuts whatever flow the song potentially had. At this stage however, I am looking more positively at the track and think it is pretty decent. It does remind me of some of their earlier works, which I didn’t enjoy at the time of review (but they have grown on me considerably). Going I had expected a little less shouting and something more refined, but this was pretty good as it is.

There is no doubt the music video is paying homage to Bruce Lee. For those who may not know who Bruce Lee is, he is actor who was very well known for the martial arts movies he starred in. The music video featured a fair amount of martial arts and the infamous yellow and black combo. Bruce Lee is well known for his yellow and black jumpsuit, an image of Bruce Lee that everyone probably knows of. The music video also has this Asian concept, which I thought was very cool. They managed to give it a modern twist and the members stand out accordingly.

Don’t think there is a live performance for this comeback yet. So we haven’t really seen all of it. From what I can see in the music video, the performance plays on textures to match the more melodic vocal moments and the intense hip-hop moments. I wouldn’t be surprise if it did feature some martial arts in it. The dance break already looks amazing and very powerful.

Song – 8/10
Music Video – 10/10
Performance – 9/10
Overall Rating – 8.8/10

[Special] My Favourite Performances from the 2019 End Of Year Music Festivals

At the end of each year, the three major broadcasting companies in South Korea (SBS, KBS and MBC) organises and broadcast a very fruitful and dynamic music festival, bringing together the top KPOP acts of the year. 2019 is no exception and with a year as busy as 2019, it is often quite hard to get invited to these festivals. And with each show running for a couple of hours, different stages/performances/remixes of the year’s hits and one-of-a-kind collaborations, it is often hard to keep up with these festivals. Today, I have decided to organise a list of performances from each of these three festivals that I thought were excellent, different and worthwhile in checking out. I have done this before but over the years dropped it as I had very little time. Now that I have some time on my hand, I thought I return to this segment for the 2019 festivals.

SBS Gayo Daejun – 25th of December 2019

When we talk about the SBS Music Festival, we need to address the issue of safety. After all, it costed Red Velvet full group promotions for their Psycho comeback, due to injuries sustained by Wendy due to the unsafe nature of SBS stage. We did manage to get one full lineup of the group performing Psycho on stage as it was pre-recorded. because of that, I put Red Velvet’s Psycho performance on my list of favourite performances from that day. Other performers also had falls on the SBS stage, from what I remember reading. Other stages at stood out for me were:

  • Stray Kid’s Miroh – I did not know how Stray Kids could top Miroh’s intensity by rearranging the performance to be even more intense.
  • NCT Dream’s Boom & NCT 127’s Superhuman – Both tracks had a really cool dance addition to it. On top of that, we got to see the same ‘switching of jackets’ that Mark did at the 2018 SBS Music Festival between Dream and 127’s performance. Only this time, it was Haechan!
  • Oh My Girl’s Bungee (X-mas Version) – Always good to have a X-mas themed remix on Christmas Day. It made Bungee, an already vibrant and colourful track, more suitable for the season.
  • Mamamoo’s Gogobebe – The rock remix for this performance was superb.
  • Seventeen’s Home and Snapshoot – We got to see a warmer side of the group and the more joyful side, especially after all the darkness we got from HIT and Fear.
  • TWICE’s Medley of Tracks – I really liked the band element to their performance and how they tweaked the concept for Fancy and their more light hearted tracks. I just wished the band was DAY6 (where is DAY6 in all of these festivals), which would have made the performance even more worthy of a view.
  • BTS’s Dionysus – I have always been a fan of BTS’s darker side. This performance is a return this side, which I greatly appreciate.

KBS Gayo Daechukje – 27th December 2019

I personally did not have much interest in the KBS Music Festival as I thought the stage looked really bad and the camera work wasn’t the best. This wasn’t also the only problem that occurred that same night. APINK’s %% performance was cut short, disappointing fans, APINK and viewers in general. If I were to choose one standout stage, it would have Golden Child’s Wannabe stage. Their dance intro was very good and showed off intensity that was aligned with their new look/concept. And I really liked how smooth the transition between dance intro and actual song was. Only a few toehr performances caught my attention and they include:

  • Song Gain’s Introductory song – Song Gain, for those who don’t know is a trot singer that trended this year. For Song Gain’s performance, she managed to incorporate all artists into her song, which I think would be a challenge.
  • NU’EST Love Me – It wasn’t so much their choreography or song that caught my attention. But I thought the raised stages for the end really highlighted the good parts of their overall choreography, providing what could be said as an epic end to their stage.
  • ASTRO’s All Night + Blue Flame – I was waiting for ASTRO to do All Night in some capacity during these festivals. But with Moonbin out of action, it seems like the group would opt for the 5-member Blue Flame instead. So automatically, ASTRO’s stage for All Night alone would make this list. Blue Flame ended up being very epic as well, which is why their entire segment is on this list.
  • Oh Ha Young, Joy and Yerin Mr. Mr. collaboration – I haven’t heard this song for some time now and I really enjoyed this throwback. Also surprised that they covered the entire song, which usually isn’t the case.

MBC Gayo Daejejeon – 31st December 2019

MBC’s Music Festival is one to always watch. Their stages always have a look that shows that they have been planning for a while. The collaborations for this festival are always something to talk about. And why not watch it live as the year goes out! There is nothing like ending 2019 and start 2020 with KPOP! However, the MBC Music Festival was also plagued with an early termination issue. This time around the victim was Kim Jae Hwan, who only got to perform Nuna (he should have performed The Time I Need as well. For standout performance, I am putting down ASTRO and Oh My Girl’s creepy and jazzy cover of IU’s Red Shoes. It was different and colourful. Other stages to check out:

  • Stray Kid’s Side Effects – Another intense song that they managed to upgrade and make darker. The creative minds that put together these stages for Stray Kids are killing it (and need a pay rise instantly).
  • Seventeen & Mamamoo Collaboration – Two of my favourite groups have come together to form one dream team. And this was such an amazing stage.
  • Seventeen’s HIT – Mingyu shouldn’t be playing with fire. It is dangerous. But one epic opener to the stage. Also, somehow Seventeen managed to insert a dance break in the midst of the stage, which I think earns a mention at the very least.
  • Hyuna’s Flower Shower – Her choreography is essentially the same as the one she performed in the past. But the chorus instrumental is changed slightly, which I thought made the stage a lot cooler for the end of year festival.
  • Taemin’s Move & Famous – MBC’s Music Festival had a theme, The Chemistry. And you can’t have a theme about Chemistry without Taemin. While he didn’t do anything special to Move‘s stage, his dance alone is already 100% fitting for a ‘Chemistry’ themed music festival.
  • (G)i-DLE’s Lion – Another reason to why we need to look out for this girl group is their special stages. Lion is practically a game changer for the group.
  • Lovelyz’s Beautiful Day – I really like their ballad start to their stage and how they built it back up to the original song in an effortless manner.

[Album Review] We Are Superhuman (4th Mini Album) – NCT 127

It is time to restart the album review bandwagon for this site. Apologies for completely ditching this segment for the past few weeks. I really missed this segment but it just ate up so much of time, preparing and writing it up. But now with endless time on my hands, let’s get right back into it. One of the albums released at the end of May that I didn’t get around to reviewing is NCT 127’s We Are Superhuman. The album features the group’s latest comeback single, Superhuman, along with 4 other tracks.

nct127-wearesuperhuman-2
We Are Superhuman Album Cover

1..Highway To Heaven – To me, opening up with a song such as Highway To Heaven, makes me turn my head towards the screen or speakers. It isn’t necessarily a punchy track with extremely addictive hooks in my opinion, which might be expected of NCT and KPOP traditionally. Instead, it relies on the loudness of the chorus, simple synth-pop instrumentation and the fact that it brings all the members together for the chorus. And I think these are all effective tools if used smartly, which is the case here. While many groups have used these techniques before, NCT 127 doesn’t mess around by leaving things to the end or take too long to integrate these said techniques, making it a very prominent and memorable track on the album. (10/10)

2. Superhuman (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Superhuman. (9/10)

3. Fool (아 깜짝이야) – Taking a massive turn from Superhuman is the more light-hearted tone in Fool. And personally, this is somewhat different from the NCT 127 that I usually know of. But I am not hating, because it gives us an opportunity to recover from the intensity of Superhuman. I like the direction of the track. The vocals and rapping were quite nice. Harmonies are something to really keep your ears open for. However, there is one thing that sticks out at me that I don’t really enjoy. The verses had only a layer of instrumentation, but the chorus felt like it had too many layers within the instrumentation. Including the vocals and backing, I feel like it was overloaded. (8/10)

4. Jet Lag (시차)Jet Lag is the ‘ballad’ on the album. There is a rather slow start to the track but it slowly does build up the tempo through the use of percussion. And I think the vocals were very beautiful, especially demonstrated by the smoothness of the vocals during the chorus. I just felt like the rappers did not really have much of an opportunity to feature in the track. While the producers did try to incorporate the rappers in the song by giving them a hip-hop-like and ‘fast’ section, I felt it was a mismatch considering the rest of the song. And I think this inclusion made the song a little confusing. Is it a ballad or not? (6/10)

5. Paper Plane (종이비행기)Paper Plane seems to be the most ideal track on the album for the Summer season. It is vibrant and colourful, which are terms that I have used to describe most of the Summertime songs thus far this year. The pop tune in the instrumental is addictive and fun sounding, as well. It is also an uplifting track, which makes it even more enjoyable to listen to. I really like the chorus of the track, which is a straight instrumental piece. The build-up to it was also quite nice. Vocally, I could tell all the members apart and I liked that aspect of being able to differentiate each member, which can sometimes be difficult. (9/10)

6. We Are 127 (Outro Track) – An outro like this makes me excited for what’s to come. There is a mixture of genres going on, all something that I expect from NCT 127. Apart from the ‘We Are 127’ repetition, there isn’t much else besides robustness and mysterious vibes in the outro. Hence, I have decided to leave it off the calculation for the album rating but wanted to mention my initial comments anyway.

Overall Album Rating – 8.4/10

nct127-wearesuperhuman-3
We Are Superhuman Teaser Image

[Review] Superhuman – NCT 127

The biggest news for NCT in 2019 thus far was the debut of their Chinese subunit, WayV. I do plan to go back to review their debut track at a later date, so watch this space. The next move from the mega group is the return of NCT 127 in South Korea. Today, the group returned with Superhuman, which they previously performed on Good Morning America back in April. The comeback track is featured on the group’s fourth mini-album, We Are Superhuman. This is also the group’s first comeback since Simon Says in Korea and Wakey-Wakey in Japan.

Based on the article by Soompi. the song is described as a ‘Complextro dance track with elements of EDM’. While my experience with music genres is quite limited, this is my first time hearing of this genre. So I think it would be safe to assume that this is the first of its kind in KPOP as well. Without the article. I would have described the song as a groovy EDM track with what seems to be a slight retro influence. I say this because the track felt something that SHINee would have released if they were still active as a group (Note – SHINee is currently in the army). It is right up the senior artist’s alley. Its unique style brings a mixture of different textures that allows the song to be very intriguing. I think the song does stand out vocally. I like how they push the vocals for the chorus, adding to the dynamics of the song. Also adding to this aspect are the raps. Like other NCT127 songs, the rapping does give the song some impact, despite the song already bring overloaded with a very memorable and punchy instrumental.

With its electronic style in its music, it is fair to assume that the music video would take a similar approach. Also fitting for the unit’s image is the fact that the video showcases a really edgy vibe. I think we could say it is their edgiest yet. I am not sure if everything comes together to form a story. Or if the video is just a bunch of solo shot and then choreography shots. I am leaning to the latter but there could be a slight possibility of the other. Watching the video, I felt the scenes built up with the music and this resulted in an awesome climatic ending.

To match the tempo and the electronic complexity of the track, the choreography had to be very powerful and complex. And NCT127 delivered in all aspects. I actually liked how they incorporated some sleek movements in their dance (i.e. the start and the start of each chorus). It was captivating and gripping in many ways.

Song – 9/10
Music Video – 8.5/10
Performance – 9/10
Overall Rating – 8.9/10

[Review] Wakey-Wakey – NCT 127

Before we tick over to Sunday, it must be time to have a closer look at a Japanese release! The last we saw NCT 127 was through Simon Says in Korea and Chain in Japan. But as we are fast approaching mid-2019, we break the short NCT drought with Wakey-Wakey. This is the title track off their very first Japanese album, titled Awaken and is due for release mid-April. But due to the nature of the Japanese market, we are given the treat (and some long hair) a few weeks ahead of time.

Wakey-Wakey seems to take on the Black On Black side of NCT which we saw early last year. I would say both songs are quite similar in effect when you listen to them side-by-side. But by no means are they the same song. Wakey-Wakey focus on more brighter sounding instrumentation (with a lot less growling), featuring a lot of trap synths and a slight touch of R&B when you consider the vocals and the very start of the song. It suits NCT 127’s style remarkably. I think the very first thing that really grabs your attention with the song is the squeakiness of the instrumental. You may think this would be an off-putting element for me but I was actually fond of it because it gave something extra to the song. As mentioned, the vocals are nice and we are also treated to the return of Haechan (who only participates in the audio and music video for this comeback). I think the raps were also quite cool but I wanted more intensity alongside it, similar to the intensity brought upon by the dance break at the very end of the song.  Likewise, I didn’t really fall for the verses as much as compared to the rest of the song.

Matching the brightness of the song, the music video was intentionally colour for the most part.  I thought the sets were elaborate, especially during Haechan’s scenes. He doesn’t get to interact much with the other members but is still centred, which I thought was interesting. There has to be a reason for that right? (My assumption is that the members are trying to wake him up). Regardless, glad to see him back. What I am not too glad to see is Johnny’s long hair. I try my best not to comment on looks but sorry, it had to be touched on. (This is similar to any mullets or dreadlocks we see in KPOP. It just doesn’t work).

The choreography was quite cool  Going back to the start where I said the song sounded like Black On Black, the performance also reminded of Black‘s performance. Similarly, the start reminded me of EXO’s Tree of Life (I think that is what it is called) that featured during the group’s Wolf promotions. But they put their own spin on it.

Song – 7.5/10
Music Video – 8/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 7.8/10

[Album Review] Regulate (1st Repackaged Album) – NCT 127

NCT is nominated for Best Male Group, while NCT Dream and NCT 127 are nominated for Best Subunit. If you haven’t voted for NCT or your favourite artists yet, then click here to vote!

NCT 127 made their comeback with the repackaged version of their first studio album, which has been retitled Regulate. Leading the repackaged promotions is Simon Says. I debated whether to create a separate album review for this as I would only be reviewing one new song. I decided to do it anyway in order to help support NCT in the KPORPEVIEWED Awards (see above). Initially, it was meant for publishing on a later date but due to some scheduling changes, I have decided to publish today. I hope you don’t mind this really short album review.

nct127-regulate-2
Regulate Album Cover

Regulate features all the songs from their Regular-Irregular album, which I have previously reviewed. If you wish to check out the song reviews from the Regular-Irregular album, please click here.

4. Welcome To My Playground – The song, compared to the songs on the Regular-Irregular, has a more bright and playful tone. It is a different side of NCT 127 that we saw briefly in Touch but incorporates that hip-hop genre that NCT has been marketed towards. The verses were half Korean and English, which I think was a smart way of interacting with both their Korean and international fans. The song was quite soft and I actually liked the prolonged build up in the verses. It made the chorus a lot more dynamic. I also liked the jump and fast-paced nature of Mark and Taeyong’s rap sequence, which gave the song a profound kick of energy towards the end, ending the song on a very energetic note. (9/10)

9. Simon Says (Title Track)Click here to read the full review of Simon Says. (9/10)

12. Chain (Korean Version) – I previously reviewed the Japanese version of Chain. I did feel like the song was a lot slower when it is in the Korean language. It might just be me, however. Click here to read the full review of Chain. (7.5/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.3/10 (This incorporates the scores of all 12 songs on the albums)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

recommended red round grunge vintage ribbon stamp

[Review] Simon Says – NCT 127

Since wrapping up their promotions for Regular a few weeks back, we have been teased with an impending return with the repackaged version of their first studio album, And now, NCT 127 has returned for the third time this year with Simon Says, which the title track off their 1st Repackaged Album, Regulate. Interestingly, the music video for Simon Says was released well ahead of the actual release of the repackaged album. But we aren’t here to talk about this experimental release method. Instead, Simon Says to start this review!

Simon Says is a return to that hip-hop and electronic sound that NCT 127 hasn’t really done that much this year. Touch was a rather bright release, while Regular was an attempt at the Latin trend. So, it is quite nice to go back to some familiar territory. The instrumental has this experimental side to it, which makes it interesting as the style isn’t that clear-cut as their past songs. The verses are formed to give attention towards the rappers, who do a really good job with the song. There are attitude and charisma flowing throughout. The song focuses on the vocalists through the bridge of the song. While it is a little short, we do great a nice little breather from the intensity of the verses/chorus. As for the chorus, I thought it was quite catchy. The song is quite powerful and definitely aggressive in a more subtle manner. Overall, Simon Says is a pretty cool song.

The music video takes that aggressive and powerful nature touched upon earlier and develops into a very aesthetic music video. There is definitely some sort of message hidden throughout this video through the symbolism that I am no way near smart enough to understand. Here are what I could see. Taeyong is Simon, as he is the leader of the subunit and all the members move around him. He is also the first member to take off his mask and the rest of the members follow suit. And talking about the masks, how amazing do they look? Visuals along, this is one video to watch.

Like all the other components of this comeback, the performance is very intense and dynamic. Each of the members do a really good job at captivating the audience through their charisma alone. Their moves make this comeback so much better. My favourite part has to be the fast-paced chorus.

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

[Album Review] Regular-Irregular (1st Studio Album) – NCT 127

Due to my studies, I had to drop album reviews. But now, I have time and it is time to catch up on some many album reviews. The first album I have chosen to review is NCT 127’s first studio album, Regular-Irregular. This is the first album release to feature Jungwoo as the 10th member of the subunit and it also features the English version of their title track, Regular, which was recently performed on Jimmy Kimmel. This is one long review, so let’s get going!

nct127-regularirregular-2
Regular-Irregular Album Cover

1. City 127 (지금 우리) – Opening the album is a very classy sounding and melodic track that does not disappoint. There are a few things that draw my attention to the song including the already mentioned melody, the soft nature of the piano instrumental (which also allows the song to easily become a dance track), the very addictive whistling tune and the vocals/raps of the song. It is a rather peaceful song, which is usually not my preference for the opening track (You want my attention, you need to go big). But they do just that with City 127, which is rather unique. (9/10)

2. Regular (Korean Version)Click here to read the full review for Regular. (6/10)

3. Replay (PM 01:27) – While Replay does play towards the trend of electronic music in the industry, it does a good job with its aesthetics (compared to their title track which tackled the Latin trend). The entire track was rather soft with its sound, which is reflected nicely in the drop of this song. It fulfils the need for a beat drop, yet it stays within the theme of the first half of the album. I liked how the vocals and raps also played to vibes of the song, which in turn, creates a winning track. The track does not include Mark and Taeyong, which is a pity, but it is interesting to see some other members shine. (9/10)

4. Knock OnKnock On is a ballad that sounds very soothing. It is the type of song that I would enjoy listening to on a rainy day and the instrumental makes it great for a bedtime playlist or café as well. Once again, the vocals are amazing in this song and I don’t think there was any rapping, which would have ruined the style and momentum of the song. I really liked the chorus, with Doyoung, Jaehyun, Haechan and Taeil shining the brightest in this song. (8/10)

5. No Longer (나의 모든 순간) – Another ballad appears, and the consensus is that this is a lot more emotionally driven. Performed by Taeil, Doyoung, Jaehyun, Yuta, Jungwoo and Haechan, the song focuses squarely on the vocals of the group. And they do an amazing job. I thought the chorus was nice, with its well-balanced start and sudden vocal push. I liked how they managed to pick up the song towards the end yet ended so nicely. The layering was short but sweet. The more I listen to the song the more I am drawn to it. It is my pick for one of the best ballads of the year. (10/10)

6. Interlude: Regular to Irregular – This is the turning point of the album. Up until this track, everything has been rather classy and ‘regular’. In this intermission, we hear Jungwoo narrate in Korean, Yuta narrate in Japanese, WinWin in Mandarin and Johnny in English, to music heard previously in the NCT 2018 Yearbook #1 video. Towards the end, the song takes a turn and becomes a little erratic (to the reverse version of Fire Truck), which starts off the ‘irregular’ side of the album. Very unique to split the album like this.

7. My Van (내 Van)My Van is performed by Mark, Taeyong, Yuta and Jaehyun. Going back to the ‘irregular’ theme, the song takes a sketchier approach with its sound. The song takes on hip-hop and the combination of these two elements remind me of Fire Truck. I liked the instrumental for this song, mainly because of its uniqueness and it offers something that we don’t listen to often. (8/10)

8. Come Back (악몽) Come Back was featured on the group’s Japanese debut album, Chain, which was released earlier in the year. It is their most upbeat sound on the album (excluding the bonus track), but it does work well with the classy feel from the first half of the album. Good vocals once again and the much-desired rap sequence in this song was amazing and ‘lit’. I think the only complaint is that I wanted to hear more of the rap earlier and for a much longer period. (8/10)

9. Fly Away With Me (신기루) – Out of all the ‘irregular’ tracks on this album, I think Fly Away With Me hits the mark extremely well. It is a soft pop track that really does the job well. The aesthetics of this track are also on par with the other songs which I mentioned aesthetics for. Amazing harmonises in this song and the bridge was a winning section that I really got me coming back to this song after it ended. And the fading ending was beautiful. (9/10)

11. Run Back 2 U – The bonus track was surprisingly the most upbeat song on the album. It is one of those tracks with multiple music styles joined together, such as trap and other electronic genres. They go well with each other. The song is well-situated in the hip-hop genre as well. It also features the fast-paced tempo that no song on the album managed to deliver and also a really well delivered (and fast) rap sequence, which I quite liked. It is good but not necessarily my cup of tea. (7/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.2/10

nct127-regularirregular-3
Regular-Irregular Teaser Image

recommended red round grunge vintage ribbon stamp

[Review] Regular – NCT 127

2018 has been one busy year for NCT. They started the year off as NCT 2018 and returned with a studio album, which featured songs from each of the three subunits. NCT recently made their comeback with We Go Up. SM Entertainment has also confirmed that a Chinese subunit will debut later in the year. NCT 127 also made their official debut in Japan with Chain. And now, NCT 127 is back with Regular, which the title track off their latest full-length album, Regular-Irregular. Woah!

I don’t think anyone expected NCT to go with a Latin sound, given their past work never fitted any of the ongoing trends of the industry. But it is a new twist in their portfolio that sounds somewhat fresh, as they managed to keep to their roots by infusing it with some trap. It is an interesting combination that works well with each other, in my opinion. It is just – I don’t mind the sound but I am not too keen on the ‘final product’. The song lacks a memorable chorus. Yes, there is intensity but hook-wise, I don’t really find it appealing. It just felt generic. While the rapping and vocals blended well with each other, they don’t really stand out, against each other or when heard with the instrumentation. I think the best part of the song would have to be there start-stop bridge they had. Overall, I feel like the song, to an extent, was good but it just wasn’t enough to really become a hit for me.

I did like the music video for this comeback, which felt really edgy and intense. The video featured great cinematography which really did a good job of capturing not just the members but also their surroundings. The black and white choreography scenes did look a little too plain, reminding me of some of their stuff earlier in the year. I also like Mark and Taeyong’s floating star scene, which looked cool. Same could be said about their individual close-ups. Them bringing many people in at the end of the video looks like the producers are taking a page out of BTS’ music videos. But it is done in a way here that looks boring.

The choreography for their comeback was definitely my pick for the highlight for the entire comeback. It fits in with that Latin sound, while also accommodating to the trap side of the song. I quite liked their footwork in this routine, which looks amazing on stage.

Song – 6/10
Music Video – 7.5/10
Performance – 9/10
Overall Rating – 7/10