Review

Buried Treasure: NCT 127 – Elevator (127F)

Most of the time, a k-pop group’s title track is the best song on their album. But, sometimes b-sides deserve recognition too. In the singles-oriented world of K-pop, I want to spotlight some of these buried treasures and give them the props they deserve.


When thinking about picking a buried treasure for NCT 127’s newest album, I had trouble settling on one song. As a whole, the album is pretty solid and cohesive, but lacks the kind of obvious standouts I’d expected. Apart from the few hip-hop tracks (which I don’t think are all that great this time around), most of Neo Zone consists of smooth, somewhat subdued r&b pop. Songs like Boom, Pandora’s Box and Love Me Now are very enjoyable and expertly performed. They just lack a bit of punch for my taste.

Eventually, I fell back to a genre I often covet: old-school funk pop. I will never say no to a funky beat, especially when delivered by an SM artist. NCT are particularly adept at this style, and it gives them a chance to show off their underrated vocalists. Elevator (127F) kicks off the album with flair, driven by head-nodding bass and a slick synth refrain that’s fresh enough to compensate for the lack of an actual chorus.

Haechan is quickly becoming one of the group’s MVPs, and he opens the track with undeniable presence. I love the strong percussion here, blended with the members’ own vocal tics to create an exciting rhythm. Synth strings gain prominence during the second verse, supporting rap that (thankfully) never strays into lethargic, half-time nonsense. Elevator is remarkably taut for a 2020 K-pop track, and that alone makes it worth a mention. But, it’s the effortless sense of groove that really seals the deal.

 Hooks 8
 Production 9
 Longevity 8
 Bias 9
 RATING 8.5

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8 thoughts on “Buried Treasure: NCT 127 – Elevator (127F)

  1. This I can get behind! I did a listen-through of the album at my friend’s request and Elevator was as quick a standout as they come. It’s straightforward, never trying to be anything it’s not, with the added bonus of a groovy bassline and an instrumental chorus that’s easily one of my favorite non-vocal-led choruses in memory. There are a handful of other standouts on the album (Love Me Now, for example, sounds like the offspring of Highway to Heaven and Replay (PM 01:27)) but this song just makes me smile and do the little head-wiggle thing you do when you have to resist the urge to break into spontaneous dance. There’s no testament better than that.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. when i listened to this album the first time, elevator played and i immediately thought “oh no. this is so good. please don’t let track one be my favorite track off this album.” lo and behold, elevator is my favorite track off this album LOL

    Liked by 3 people

  3. i had a feeling u wouldn’t like mad dog much XD

    this song is so great!! the vibe, the refrain that actually adds to the song rather than detracts, everyone’s timbres and abilities being utilised so effectively, how cheerful it is. i hope we get performances of one day.

    Like

  4. i’ve been checking back e v e r y day to see which track from Neo Zone you’d highlight, and i was kinda starting to give up hope!! Elevator was my favorite from the mini mv teasers that they did for this era, and then i went through a brief moment (few days) of grief when i realized that there wasn’t actually a chorus… but the groove truly is so good. Pandora’s Box and Love Me Now hadn’t stood out to me at first, but the full versions are muuuuuch better.

    all in all, totally agree that the album is solid and pleasant, but nothing knocked it out of the park– the Regular-Irregular album /still/ holds up best for me. also– mark lee had seemed like an unstoppable rapping force in the early years of NCT, but truly Iconique mark raps have now become few and far in-between. i think the constant, unforgiving pace of his schedule/output has drained him 😦

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  5. This is fantastic! I, too, will never say no to a funky beat. The ‘chorus’ is phenomenal, one of the few times I’m actually glad there is no sung chorus: that instrumental hook is super strong. I even prefer this over some my favourite title tracks. Is it weird that the vibe of this reminds me of EXO CBX?

    Like

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