Review

Song Review: NCT U – 90’s Love

The announcement of NCT’s 23-member Resonance project sparked a lot of excitement, and much of that stemmed from how awesome their 2018 Empathy album was. Songs like Baby Don’t Stop and Boss are still in heavy rotation, and have become pillars of NCT’s discography. In comparison, Resonance hasn’t brought the same level of focus or quality. It’s not that the music is bad. It’s just a little all over the place.

90’s Love is a retro hip-hop track, which seems like an odd avenue to pursue within such an ambitious project. Having grown up in that era, I’m all too familiar with the boisterous “heeeeyyy hooooo” nature of tracks like this, and there’s plenty of fun to be mined from the genre. Back in 2016, SM Entertainment sparked magic with another early-90’s pastiche – SHINee’s 1of1. That song thrived on its authentic throwback sound, but the star of the show was a tight, catchy pop hook. In contrast, 90’s Love feels a little scattered. I blame that on its army of producers. SM really needs to find another Thomas Troelsen or LDN Noise – someone with an individual viewpoint who can steer the entire agency. This grab-and-go approach to song creation just isn’t resulting in music that’s as potent as SM’s illustrious past.

This iteration of NCT U brings together members Ten, Winwin, Mark, Jeno, Haechan, Yangyang and Sungchan. 90’s Love‘s verses are devoted to old-school hip-hop, driven by sample-heavy breakbeats that harness the spirit of the era. The hook is more chant than chorus, which is also an authentic recreation of its source material. The problem is that none of this results in a song that’s particularly catchy or impactful. The energy is great, but once the track has finished, it doesn’t feel like you’ve just heard a new SM classic. Like much of the album, 90’s Love is too slight – a fun diversion rather than a big moment. The closest the song gets to real heft is an impressive power note that brings us into a loose, exciting dance break.

In short, I’m tired of ranking NCT tracks in the low-to-mid 8’s. Give me a nine, guys!

 Hooks 7
 Production 9
 Longevity 8
 Bias 8
 RATING 8

28 thoughts on “Song Review: NCT U – 90’s Love

  1. Yes, agree, is fun but is not as big as i expected for this project. Kinda feel like a SM Station Project for me.

    Also dont know where to put this but, im a big fan of Mamamoo and ONEUS, and i m really anticipating the new RBW girl group. I was amazed by the little teaser, wasnt expecting this at all https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gp0n7JG1fHE what do you think?

    Like

    • That Purple Kiss teaser is pretty ballsy. I hope the song lives up to it.

      Unlike you, I don’t have much faith in RBW when it comes to songs lately, but I’m always happy to be surprised!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I might be a little biased but I loved it, mostly because of Haechan and Mark. It’s an 8.75 for me. The rap parts especially stood out to me, alongside the bridge – Haechan and Ten’s high note – dance break – another Haechan high note

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I want to like it.. but it doesn’t grab me at all. There are some fun moments but they are so short and scattered that nothing sticks with me at all besides the fact that it does have sounds from the 90’s.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I agree, to me it’s the most fun Resonance title track so far but it’s not as grand as i expected from this project. I can see this be a Dream track. Ten’s voice is really nice tho.

    Like

  5. I actually kind of like this one. Mostly just disappointed that Sungchan doesn’t seem to be much of a rapper; Mark rapping right after him makes this even more apparent.

    I do agree that the album is disjointed though, with lots of filler and very poor sequencing. I made a 10 track Spotify edit (from the 21 songs) that actually has “90s Love” near the end.

    Like

    • I could not agree more on Sungchan and Mark, the same thought occured to me at first listen, and since, ouch.
      Interesting remark on the album being disjointed, this is my cue. (ok, this is my first comment here, i love this blog, hello everybody, nice to meet you, I am not a native english speaker sorry for potential mistakes)

      So. I am maybe pointing out the obvious but nobody mentioned that the album is structured in three part (past-present-future) by the two interlude. It was nicely hinted by teaser pictures and promotion, but they really went for this concept with the actual music and I like a lot the fact that it wasn’t just communication strategy.

      The past section is were 90’s Love and misfit obviously… fit. It also explore more than hiphop, giving us some good old ballade, dance, jazzy sound (with dancing in the rain) etc. This is nostaligia filled songs. I’m a little taken aback by the presence of Volcano in this section… doesn’t feel past at all to me. But this song is basically emanation of boss which is the past for nct, so. well I’m not so sure about this.

      Then interlude past to present
      The present part is filled with various song like make a wish, déjà vu, nectar, music,dance, frome home… it’s the less obvious and coherant part, but it’s understandable, characterizing “present” trends in song is quite a challenge. Defining ‘present’ is already one, so finding how to sum up and express its essence…

      Then interlude present to future.
      Only three songs in here, but oh boy what a ride. They are so wacky. Work it is great with a great futuristic drop, weird processing of great harmonization, unusual rhythm. The two other feel like weightlessness with just a twist. For All about you it’s the chorus, for I O U for I thought it would be the one boring song for me, but then it changed rhythm half way through the song. This section is not a prediction but a take on what future could be, and it infuses it into a futuristic style.

      Obviously it’s not are not truly song from past or future, just inspired by a certain representation of time and by the evolution of culture… which fits really well into the NeoCultureTechnology project.
      The problem might be that it’s really beautiful on paper, but the realisation couldn’t be as polished as the idea. Some songs seem unfinnished on their own, Also the songs from the same time period vibe are quite jarring with eachother which explain maybe the sentiment of messiness the album gives when listening to it. At least the concept was ambitious.

      Anyway I really loved most of the songs and particulary 90’s love contrary to everybody here it seems. It definitely has no catchy phrases as some pointed, to my ears it wasn’t a lack though.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Welcome to the comments section! Your comment isn’t too long at all 🙂

        For a non-native speaker, you’re very well-spoken — better than many native speakers tbh.

        I haven’t yet listened to the album all the way through with its new sequencing, but just looking at the tracklist, I noticed this idea of “eras” as well. I appreciate that SM gave some thought to the track order. I’m eager to see how well (or badly!) it flows.

        Liked by 1 person

      • That’s an interesting take. I did sense there was supposed to be some kind of connective thread between the sets of songs because of the interlude titles, but there are so many songs I just don’t enjoy on this album.

        I may give it another try with that past/present/future concept in mind, although I am already very happy wih with my short, streamlined version!

        Like

      • Totally agree that Volcano is Boss 2.0 (not a complaint).

        I always enjoy NCT’s interludes. The producers pop off with their weirdest stuff and they have such great energy.

        Like

  6. I didn’t take notes this morning like I usually do, and this is what I remember

    1) Ten
    2) Oh, names, maybe I can learn some more of them
    3) OK, Hockey Cool, zamboni, mascot
    4) Everybody say Heeeyyy, hohhhhhhh, heeeeeey, hohhhhhh
    5) Ten, again

    Did I remember the song? Nope.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Tbh I really enjoyed the instrumental and its mashup of 90’s throwback + more modern flourishes but yeah this definitely needed a stronger, hookier chorus to tie everything together.

    I will say it feels to me like their most “NCT” single since maybe Simon Says in its particular brand of experimentation!

    Like

  8. ahhh I seem to be the only one here who really loved this song!! honestly, I think the messiness adds to it. it’s boisterous, fun, and catchy. what more do you need in a 90’s hip hop track?

    also, while nct 2020 has definitely been a bit over the place, you really can’t deny the impact it’s having. this project is really whats solidifying nct, as a whole, as one of koreas biggest acts.

    Like

  9. ahhh I feel like this MV and comeback may succeed but the song doesn’t. I think for folks who are interested in outfits, MV’s, dance breaks, etc… They will be pleased.
    The boys do a killer job, this is some of the team’s best dancers and they’re well put to work – Ten is really shaping into a full on star.

    The first time I heard it I was pretty wow’d, and then on replay I started hearing how disjointed it was. There are moments I enjoy but w.out the visual the track is busy and messy.

    Yah Resonance is a bit of a bummer. Aespa is a huge bummer (I will stand on a hill that BP’s How You like That is a wayyyyy better song than Black Mamba). Fav SM release this year probably has to be SuperM or Taemin’s Criminal. I still think there are very impressive elements in every release, but no consistently GREAT songs.

    I hope they can close the year off with something cooler than referring to easter eggs as “Cultural Universe Technology ” or whatever promotional nonsense…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hmmm, I passed on watching the music video since I ended up liking “Birthday Song” more after listening without the video.

      I guess I’m lucky since I might actually enjoy the video this time.

      Like

  10. NCT usually has interesting instrumentals, but this one doesn’t work for me. If kpop is going to commit to this overarching retro trend, I wish they would go all out and coax Timbaland out of hiatus to give us a dope beat to step to.

    Liked by 2 people

    • a TImbaland beat and kpop? I feel like his beats succeed on their simplicity and their minimal elements…I think a company like SM would force him to add too many unnecessary switch ups and dance breaks.

      “Yah this beat is great but let’s use it just for 8 bars in the prechorus and then can you add a dubstep drop and trap verses?”

      Liked by 1 person

  11. This doesn’t have sticking power. The instrumental is attention grabbing and loud, and you need either a catchy flow or a memorable melody to not get drowned out by the instrumentals. I only got brief flashes of Mark standing out, and a bit of Haechan when the bridge cleared up.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Overall, I agree. It’s definitely not a standout track in NCT’s career and it does feel all over the place. I’m always gonna welcome a 90s-inspired track but “90s Love” feels a little too safe. Certainly far less addicting that last month’s “Make A Wish”, that song is definitely going on my top 10 of this year. I just wished this project had lived up to our expectations, but I recognize that’s hard, even if it proven possible by 2018’s Empathy.
    A 8/10 for me.

    Not sure if you’ll do a buried treasure on Resonance Part 2, but the album is pretty disappointing in my eyes. I only liked “All About You.”

    Like

  13. Kinda curious. How frequent do you listen to a song/this song before make a song review. Thank you

    For me, i agree if the song has no impactful or memorable part like whistle sounding in Make A Wish, but after listening to it for several times, it grows on me. And now, this song already topped Make A Wish and become my on repeat way frequent than i repeat Make A Wish

    Like

    • About 3-5 times, on average.

      And I agree that most k-pop songs end up growing on listeners. That’s one of the reasons my “longevity” rating is often so high.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.