Like it or not, this summer in K-pop has been completely hijacked by downtempo hip-hop and r&b — a holding pattern that is likely to continue next week with big releases by EXO-SC and Kang Daniel. I personally despise this turn of events, but what are you going to do? The music charts want what they want. Still, if I have to hear the word “chill” used to describe a song one more time, I’m going to flip a table. Remove it from your lexicon, K-pop.
Based on this introduction, you probably already know what Long Flight is going to sound like. SM Entertainment has a bonafide superstar in Taeyong, and he proved his versatility as a soloist with 2017’s Cure (a surprisingly hefty duet with vocal legend Yoo Young-Jin). He’s a bundle of charisma, and one of the undisputed pillars of NCT. Long Flight offers the chance to spotlight his vocals, blending melody with hip-hop. In a somewhat indulgent way, I guess this is a solid platform for him to display his skills.
As a song, though, Long Flight is another dime-a-dozen r&b mid-tempo, bopping on the kind of moody, generic beat that seems to underline every track of this nature. I get that people enjoy this general vibe, but nothing about Flight draws attention. It’s too easy — too neutral in its lack of ambition. The melody just kind of slogs along, going nowhere. There’s no real modulation in the instrumental, save for a brief injection of organ during the track’s bridge (followed by a dreaded “skrrt, skrrt,” which feels especially ill-fitting here). If it wasn’t for Taeyong’s always-captivating performance, Long Flight would disintegrate into thin air.