Song Review: NCT 2018 – Black On Black

Ever since the concept of NCT was announced, I looked forward to the day that all of its members would unite for one dynamic single. I imagined a giant chorus of vocals, an army of dancers. I imagined a song as immense and dramatic as the idea of NCT itself. But all that imagining was for naught — at least when it comes to Black On Black.

It’s no secret that I’m a pretty big fan of NCT and their music. They’ve appeared on my “Top Three Songs of the Month” features more than any other artist, and I’ve been heaping praise on their 2018 output for the bulk of the year. But, I don’t see how Black On Black can be viewed as anything but a massive disappointment. With NCT, SM Entertainment has cultivated a roster of incredible talent. They have the best songwriters at their disposal, and few budget restrictions. Black On Black could have been an astonishing blend of vocal firepower — like a darker, avant garde version of the immense Produce 101 themes.

Instead, Black really isn’t a song at all. It’s better regarded as a dance showcase, devoid of a chorus or actual melody beyond a few shouts and growls here and there. But even as a dance piece, it’s not particularly exciting. Way back in 2012, SM released a song called Maxstep, which brought some of its main dancers together for a similarly-conceived performance piece. In comparison, Black feels like a forgettable interlude — constantly shifting gears without any real structure or point beyond being “badass.” This might have worked as an album intro, but as a promoted single it severely limit’s the aspects of NCT on display.

 Hooks 5
 Production 7
 Longevity 6
 Bias 6


5 thoughts on “Song Review: NCT 2018 – Black On Black

  1. I completely agree! This just isn’t a song at all. But i think what this song lacks in melody, it makes up for with sufficiently explosive and really tight choreography. Simply, It’s good enough for a dance piece, but for a musical piece not so much.


  2. This song actually literally is an extended version of an intro performance from the 2016 MAMAs which included all the members who had debuted at the time. I don’t think it was ever meant to be more than just an intro and a performance piece, so I wasn’t personally expecting much when I saw they put it as a full track on their new album—the disappointment mainly came from the fact they chose it to show off NCT’s full configuration for the first time. Like you said, they could’ve composed a brand new song that truly utilized the strength of all 18 members rather than only featuring the three rappers. It just seems kind of lazy on SM’s part (which extends to their Empathy album halfway consisting of tracks we’ve already heard, another lazy move). It definitely makes me wish they would put a bit more money and effort into pushing their newest boy group as hard as they can, rather than cutting corners….


  3. To be fair, this is a performance track and people are doing it a great injustice by advertising it as an actual song. This was never meant to be some work of art, merely just background music to one of the best choreos I have seen in years. Yes, I do admit it’s a disappointment SM failed to deliver a flash-and-bang showdown utilizing 18 that would’ve blown us all away, however “vocal firepower”? I’m sorry, Nick, but I’m thinking you’re forgetting how hard the choreography is. Most of the main vocals wouldn’t be able to deliver a consistent, good performance with the amount of moving they do.


  4. Pingback: The Top 10 K-Pop Artists of 2018 | The Bias List // K-Pop Reviews & Discussion

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