As we continue to build towards the unveiling of NCT‘s first full-length album, Baby Don’t Stop is the second volley in a series of pre-releases by sub-units of the group. Last week’s Boss set the bar pretty high, but to be honest I didn’t expect much from Stop. Taeyong and Ten are two of NCT’s most charismatic members, but for whatever reason I assumed only having the pair of them on the track would minimize its power.
Boy, was I wrong. Baby Don’t Stop is exactly the kind of boundary-pushing, beat-driven pop I’ve been hoping for from SM Entertainment this year. Not since Taemin’s 2016 solo work have we heard a track so deliriously indebted to the spirit of dance. Baby Don’t Stop doesn’t necessarily follow the format we’re used to when it comes to traditional pop, yet it retains the sense of catchiness that many of these kinds of experimental endeavors lack.
The song opens almost as a continuation of Boss, employing the same rubbery bass as its through line. Thankfully, this quickly expands into a more robust soundscape, pulling in gorgeously lo-fi synth work and a variety of percussive elements that remain in constant flux. Stop‘s production is some of the most interesting I’ve heard all year, growing from a minimalist thump to a crushing stomp as more elements are brought into the fray. Taeyong and Ten captivate throughout, trading vocal and hip-hop verses that eventually bloom into an understated, rhythmic hook that beguiles with its hypnotic repetition. These guys can squeeze more from a simple whisper than many k-pop songs manage over their entire running time. Baby Don’t Stop isn’t one of NCT’s more melodic moments, but its ambition and sheer magnetism is a wonderful encapsulation of just how unique this group can be.