Song Review: WayV (NCT) – Take Off

NCT’s Chinese unit WayV made an inauspicious debut earlier this year with their version of an already-released 127 track. As hyped as this project has been, that promotional choice felt quite underwhelming. Thankfully, new single Take Off (无翼而飞) makes up for WayV’s false start with an invigorating blend of hip-hop and distorted guitar.

There was a time when this mash-up style was integral to SM Entertainment’s success, and the various NCT units have kept the agency’s sense of experimentation going in fits and starts. But, there’s something refreshingly old-school about Take Off’s go-for-broke arrangement. Yes, there are trendy trap influences here and there, but they’re couched within an incredibly funky bassline that ripples with rhythmic intensity. This provides an excellent playground for the mainly hip-hop verses. The flow here sounds like any other NCT unit. It’s precise and polished and full of attitude, if not completely original.

Instead, Take Off feels like the slightly sinister cousin of NCT U’s Boss — down to its nimble chorus and bass-heavy instrumental. Its hook alternates between chant-like phrasing and more robust, harmony-driven melody. It’s not the most complex structure ever conceived, but moves at a swift pace and lodges itself in your brain without much trouble. Take Off’s biggest and best choice was the addition of rock guitar during both the song’s chorus and a knockout dance break. This production flourish boosts the track into new territory, adding a huge dose of texture and energy to an already-engaging instrumental. It reminds me of EXO’s epic Mama, and hearkens back to some of the elements I appreciate most about K-pop. In 2019, I would love nothing more than for SM Entertainment to rediscover their affection for bombastic, guitar-fueled arrangements. With any luck, Take Off will act as the perfect launching pad.

 Hooks 8
 Production 10
 Longevity 8
 Bias 9
 RATING 8.75



14 thoughts on “Song Review: WayV (NCT) – Take Off

  1. Wow, didn’t expect you to review Take Off ! I share the same sentiments with you.

    The bass is INSANE in this. I find it refreshing to hear delicate vocals in an aggressive hip hoppy track. Cpop is usually not my cup of tea, but this is one true enjoyable pop.


  2. Um.
    First of all, not enough Ten. I need more Ten in my life. Baby don’t stop was Awesome.

    This song feels like it is on an endless loop, even the “break” and the softer parts. I went back and counted, and the verse only repeats three times, plus the outro is a close variant. But it seems like so many more, and they seem copy and paste. The song never comes around and comes home, if you know what I mean.

    All the cool instrumental effects only sounds good with the right set of speakers or earbuds. I had it playing on the speaker from my phone. Then reading your write-up, I thought what bass? The rock guitar turns into noise, and the nifty percolation sounds are totally lost. So I went and got the current-best earbuds. Ah, _those_sounds.

    Then I thought I could say something snappy of how this is “Lucifer” crossed with … some NCT127 song that I haven’t identified yet. But I played Lucifer again as I typed this, and that song is genius.

    That all said, the song still is above average. Especially this year.


  3. I feel like this track borrows the SMP structure with mix of hip hop. Finally SM release something good this year. None of their releases so far has been this satisfying. Too much solo songs that are so boring. (cough chen, minho, yeri, taeyeon, chanyeol cough)

    This one brings back the feeling of K-pop song that is ahead of its time. I call this SMP 2020.


    • That’s the Yoo Young-jin influence, I think. Looks like he had a hand in the arrangement, even though he doesn’t have composition credits on the track.


  4. ‘slightly sinister cousin of NCT U’s Boss’ YOU PUT IT INTO WORDS

    no joke i love this song, those guitars are giving me life. i would have liked a slightly more bombastic chorus but i think this is a great (real) starting point.


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