Song Review: WayV (NCT) – Turn Back Time

Despite its many units and incarnations, the NCT universe has remained pretty consistent in sound. This extends to its Chinese vanguard, known as WayV. Their burgeoning discography has been a sampler platter of SM Entertainment influences, tied together by an injection of distorted guitar and tight, layered vocals. New single Turn Back Time (超时空 回) kicks off their first full-length album, and delivers everything you’d expect from a bombastic SM boy group.

My favorite elements of WayV’s music hearken back to agency seniors like TVXQ and EXO. WayV is more rap-focused than either of those groups, but they always make room for towering vocal arrangements and excellent dance breaks. Now, me being me, I’d prefer verses that were more melody than chant, but I’m happy to capitulate when the instrumental feels this daring. The NCT brand is no stranger to aggressive, abrasive production, but Turn Back Time does a good job skirting the line between experimental and satisfying. Its hard-hitting blend of frenzied percussion and swerving, warped electronics hits the spot — and that’s before the crunch of electric guitar enters the fray!

While Turn Back Time’s verses are mostly filled with the kind of hip-hop posturing that defines most current boy group releases, the song takes flight during its vocal-heavy chorus. The pre-chorus sets the tone, pulling back for a more subdued melody before the full weight of the group’s voices hits. The militant hook is pure SM – simultaneously grand and icy. It gets more satisfying each time around, as additional elements are pulled into the track’s orbit. This culminates in a whopper of a climax, fueled by the kind of power notes that have always made this kind of song such a wild experience.

 Hooks 8
 Production 9
 Longevity 9
 Bias 9
 RATING 8.75

Be sure to add your own rating by participating in the poll below!


29 thoughts on “Song Review: WayV (NCT) – Turn Back Time

  1. Really liked the vocals on this one! And the “stop, rewind, turn back time” wasn’t overused as I feared it would by the second chorus. Like this one better than Ridin’ (but Kick It is still the NCT SOTY so far).


  2. This is a very specific comparison, but I’ve always thought WayV excels at — of all things — choruses that sound like the antagonist songs in a Disney Channel original movie. Moonwalk and this release are the two most obvious ones. The melodies and the sound of their vocal blend lend themselves to a very imposing, unstoppable sort of tone. WayV are scary and WayV are powerful and it’s gonna take the best Disney hero you’ve got to beat them at the battle of the bands/stop their mind control scheme/form lasting friendships with them/etc.

    (And, just to clarify, I LOVE Disney Channel antagonist songs. Never gonna outgrow those movies. This is a huge compliment to WayV.)

    Liked by 6 people

  3. Everybody ! Say It With Me! June is an average month! And I just realized that 😄😄😄😄😂😂🤣🤣🤣😭😭. I mean I like it till now but I expected it to be like 2014-2016 Summer and it’s pretty much not living up to it but were still 9 days in and I already got my new SOTY from the looks of it so it’s gonna go good….. I KNOW IT!
    Anyways , once again this song didn’t pass 9 for me and I really want a song which can and It should be deserving (not saying “swear” is not deserving but it only got 9+ because it was better than most songs in 2020 )
    I’d give it 8.75 also


  4. Woo! NCT baby! So this, this is the Neo Culture Technology we were promied in 2016! In 2020 we’ve been given 3 great singles already paired with great album after albu and now this! Oh boy SM Entertainment, 4 comebacks in the first half of the year with each single outdoing the last, what else could a stan want! Yeah so back on the track.. it rocks. It starts off with a bangin rap flow, and then turns into a Moonwalk 2.0 which was a Take Off 2.0 and I enjoyed every second of it. Though one thing that angers me is that this song was SO close to being a 9 for me. They had everything set up for them, the guitar, the final chorus, the vocals! The only thing dragging this song down are the verses, which aren’t bad at all, I really enjoyed the rapping, but it didn’t blow me out of the water like the rest of the song. And thats all I have to say. Great song, just a minor nitpick with the fact that it was amazing, but it could have been a teensy bit better.
    Also that music video is gorgeous. And I love how simple SM is keeping the story line of the MV’s. In Take Off they boarded a rocket, in Moonwalk they reached the moon, and now their facing trouble on the moon! In the commen section Yan Zaman said it was his/her SOTY. For me personally I’ve heard better but this easily gets nice and comfy spot in the top 5.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah my bad, also not a bad pick, that track is amazing. Personally I would give it a 9/10 and its in my top ten already. What a great day for k-pop today was! And honestly just like you I really beleive this is going to be a knockout June!

        Liked by 1 person

        • I like this June , but I want it to be a blockbuster – like summer .*Ahem*2014.*Ahem*2015. And Again *Ahem*2016 don’t want another 2017 summer which carries to a lesser extent

          Liked by 1 person

            • tell me about it , I am imagining in my mind that in 2021 from May to August , we are having the blockbuster summer…… like Golden Child , ATEEZ , TXT , STray kids , NCT Dream make a comeback at the summer and also that SHINee and Infinite make comebacks by returning in the k-pop industry and sweetune makes a major return……………… Yes…….. I am imaging that I live in that fantasy


  5. Of the last four NCT comebacks, this one is my favorite.
    127 titles are really hit or miss for me, I liked Kick it a lot, but Punch wasn’t for me.
    Ridin was a surprise, Dream really came outta nowhere on that one and I loved it. I think Ridin and Turn Back Time are pretty close for me, but I give Wayv a slight edge on this one. Honestly Wayv gets me with their dance breaks every time, and if that is going to be their calling card, I’m all for it. 2020 has been strange so far to say the least but NCT really isn’t slowing down.
    I also listened to the full album once through already and I can already tell even though I enjoyed 127’s full album Wayv wins in that department too, at least for me they do. Its really the kind of album where the only way I’m going to be able to pick a favorite is to listen to it for a month and then see which one I replayed the most. Regardless you better believe I’m going to have all of it on repeat for a while.

    Liked by 4 people

    • So I was reading your comment, and I came across your statement that it was better than NCT 127’s album. I thought, “really?” I was only half way through the album then and now I can confirm your statement and will say that you have amazing taste! This album is great and a treat to listen to from start to finish. So far i’m also having an extremely hard time picking a favorite as well, which is mainly because this album is able to stay consistent throughout both halves. Right now I have no favorite but I know my least favorite is Stand By Me and that song isn’t bad in any way, it just lacks the boldness of all the other tracks.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ha Thanks! I have continued listening to the album all day. Unbreakable, After Midnight, Domino, and Electric Hearts are probably my favorites of the B sides at this point. I also love the title track though, so i’m not sure yet if one of those tracks or the title will take my top spot in the end.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. .

    This sounds a bit like “Superhuman Redux: Now Human” which isn’t a bad thing. The video is also nicely old school build a background or two and film the dance in front of it style, now with extra moto jackets.

    So yes, I am digging this.

    I have lost track of the NCT constellation, so much so that I automatically rename them all in my itunes to simply “NCT”.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This was pretty good! Makes me want to look at B sides from WayV.

    I think my main barrier to liking WayV’s music is the sound of Mandarin, honestly (which sucks, because that’s their thing). I’m no linguist, but Mandarin seems to be full of heavily-emphasized consonants that tend to clip the vowel sounds. And, unfortunately, vowels are where vocalists bring expression and power to their singing.

    That’s why songs in English and Korean (which have less frequent hard consonants and more opportunities for drawn out vowels) sound pleasing to my ear and Mandarin less so.

    If I’m wrong about this, please let me know. Or if anyone has more language knowledge about this, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

    Liked by 1 person

        • I think another thing to consider is that WayV’s top lines are likely written by Korean or English speakers, then translated into Mandarin. C-pop, on the other hand, has the benefit of starting with a songwriter versed in Mandarin.


    • Its not that mandarin is not sonorous per se, it is rather that Korean is a very mellifluous language with lovely vowels, mostly soft consonants, and enough harder initial consonants to keep it interesting. It’s like how Italian opera sounds so much nicer than German opera.
      My man Kyuhyun has recorded “At Gwanghwamun” in Korean, Chinese, and Japanese, so if you really want to hear how the three languages sound different with the same song same singer, go look them up on YouTube. Last I checked all three were there.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I found the three versions of “At Gwanghwamun”, and wow it’s such a good comparison!
        My ears are definitely more used to Korean and Japanese (thanks, anime), but the Mandarin wasn’t as… limiting as I thought it might be. Sure, there was much more “SHH” from whatever’s romanized with an X, but it worked.
        Maybe ballads allow Mandarin syllables more breathing room than fast paced K-pop tracks… or maybe Kyuhun’s voice is just dazzling me again.


    • That makes sense to me! Even within WayV songs, I think Mandarin fit the rap section a bit better than the melodic parts (not to knock the members, they’re killing it).


      • There was a time when this Korean male pop vocal was really trendy in China:

        Similar but still a bit different.
        Now it is completely out of fashion.

        Rapping in Mandarin in my opinion is completely invented by Jay Chou. Practically nobody does that this much before him or even after him mainstream pop stars don’t rap that much or even show interest in doing so.

        Will Pan was a hip hop focused artist after him but as he decreased singing part of his song he also flopped.

        My limited experience dealing with voice teachers and people who study pop singing is that nobody has a definitive idea that is unapologetically good. When I was a kid the “pop singing” I see in contests was dominated by people deliberately not resonating so they had like 1/3 of a volume as 11 year old me. That said I recently found out from JinSoul that Korean music establishment is probably every bit as bad 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

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