Fans have barely had a chance to breathe between SM Entertainment’s SuperM album and this new, ambitious NCT project. Resonance brings together all twenty-one members, plus two new faces, for part one of a compilation album that mixes and matches the guys into various units. Resonance will be promoted by two title tracks, and the first is the melodic hip-hop of Make A Wish (Birthday Song).
This NCT U unit is comprised of members Taeyong, Doyoung, Jaehyun, Jaemin, Lucas, Xiaojun and Shotaro. The song follows the core NCT recipe – hip-hop focused, a little experimental and incredibly catchy. Make A Wish draws equally from mid-90’s and mid-00’s influences, while slotting neatly into SM’s established sound. It’s a tricky little track, getting away with a few tropes that usually get my eyes rolling. I’ve never been a fan of the languid – almost slurred – style of singing that makes up most of the song’s hook, but I think it works really well here. It helps that the melody is so instantly memorable. The refrain has a nice sense of funk, underlined by a bouncy synth-and-percussion instrumental that’s guaranteed to get your head nodding.
Meanwhile, Make A Wish’s verses flip K-pop expectations. We’ve become accustomed to rap verses being placed after the first chorus, but this time the opening verse is more indebted to hip-hop than the second. Instead, we get a nice influx of bright melody following the chorus, which adds an unexpected jolt to the song’s structure. Make A Wish manages to constantly surprise without becoming unwieldy or disorganized. That’s because the entire song circles around the same simple hooks. Even when we stray into a seemingly random vocal flourish or breakdown, it’s all in service to the central theme. Make A Wish may not be the big, bombastic single you’d expect to herald a project as grandiose as Resonance, but its slinky pleasures are hard to resist.