Song Review: WayV (NCT) – Kick Back

NCT’s WayV have arguably been the most consistent unit over the past few years, and for my money they released the best NCT-related material in 2020. Of course, this only sets expectations high, giving new single Kick Back (秘境) plenty to live up to. And while I don’t think the song is as strong as WayV’s best work, it still harnesses most of their musical hallmarks.

By now, you’re all familiar with the NCT sound. Lots of attitude, abrasive production, and chant-friendly hooks that occasionally make way for splashes of powerful melody. Kick Back fits this template to a tee and feels like a retread at times. But, it’s a strong example of this style, buoyed by compelling performances and a few standout moments.

When I think about my favorite elements of WayV’s music, the word “drama” comes to mind. Their title tracks often feel larger than life, with swirling strings and ferocious guitar. This is on full display during Kick Back’s dynamic pre-chorus, which is also its strongest segment. The song opens up here, allowing the guys a chance to stretch their vocals as the instrumental surges with theatricality. I’m not as convinced by the drop into the chorus. It feels overlong and a bit messy. And after that great shot of melody, the chanted hook comes across as underwhelming. Thankfully, swoops of layered vocals soon join the fray and give Kick Back that classic SM appeal. The final chorus takes full advantage of this, and makes me wish the rest of the track had been tweaked in this way. Even so, Kick Back is another enjoyable addition to a great discography.

 Hooks 8
 Production 8
 Longevity 9
 Bias 8
 RATING 8.25

17 thoughts on “Song Review: WayV (NCT) – Kick Back

  1. Here we go again, a few weeks on, every day is groundhog’s day, I have been up for hours since some ungodly hour of the morning because it is darling daughter’s in class in person rotation again, and here comes another one from the NCT universe to assault me.

    … … it isn’t bad.

    True, it is a bit loud, but the song is not nearly as jarring as whatever NCT release assaulted me this time last month.

    True, parts of the prechorus chord progression and styling remind me of Hundred “we’re going all the way”, but that is a good thing. The double break is also very nice.

    I’m thinking of the children. I am thinking I have to buy this one for darling daughter who is learning Mandarin. True, she is still on fruits and vegetables and school and hobbies, but maybe just maybe they are singing about kicking apples and pears and math. Maybe I should play it for her at some ungodly hour of the morning this week as I drive her to school, maybe it will get her in the mood to kick apple on her geometry test tomorrow.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Totally agree about prechorus being the best segment. I also wish they did all the choruses they way they did the final one because it’s so majestic and reminds me of their previous comeback which was fantastic imo.

    Xiaojun’s voice is just. Neat. Cool. Love it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m one with you on this one. It’s enjoyable but not something that I will repeat a lot. You should check out Action figure tho, the song is so good


  4. I had the exact same reaction to Kick Back. The chanting chorus sounding a bit too cluttered, and I wished that the track was more vocally driven. It’s not a terrible song. I did grow on me a bit with a few listens, but there’s always this disconnect as soon as the chorus comes on.


  5. Hi NICK i’m a constant viewer of this website and i want to ask you some genuine questions.
    -what you mean by hooks?
    -what you mean by production?
    -what you mean by longevity?
    -what you mean by bias?

    Liked by 3 people

    • That’s a good question, as my definition might be different from others.

      Here’s the way I think of it:

      Hooks: mainly a song’s melody, but basically any vocal-driven part of the song. The chorus plays a big part in this.

      Production: the instrumental and arrangement, though I often take this to include anything that doesn’t involve the vocals. There’s some overlap with “hooks” — especially as more songs rely on instrumental choruses.

      Longevity: basically, how long I anticipate a song sticking around my own playlist. I’m most generous with this one, since the majority of K-pop songs end up growing on me.

      Bias: my own, subjective feelings around a song or group. I obviously have certain elements I prefer in music, and there are certain groups/artists that I also prefer. An “okay” song can be elevated by a group I have a lot of affinity for.

      Thanks for being a longtime reader!

      Liked by 5 people

      • I really like the inclusion of bias. Personal love for a group can definitely make you appreciate a song you otherwise would not love.


  6. In the second paragraph there is a word that seems to be a typo. ¨Kick Back fits this template to a tee and feels like a retread at times.¨ Is the ¨retread¨ a typo?

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I enjoyed this song! When I heard the instrumental teasers it really reminded me of the Moonwalk and Take Off. I love those two songs so it’s nice to hear a continuation of that world.

    That said – I know Bias List doesn’t always love “tough guy” or “badass” posturing, but I personally love when the members of NCT act all “supervillain” and “evil.” I think WayV as a group embodies this pathos the best. Turn Back Time and Bad Alive were definitely in this realm and there’s even hints in the cockiness of Love Talk & Nectar from Resonance.

    So yeah I felt they were too “hero” here and not evil enough haha on Kick Back.
    IDk I love WayV and NCT anyways so it’s been on repeat for me this morning….excited to see how they do the stages.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I like how consistent WayV is with their sound. I always know what to expect in some way. Out of all the NCT units at the moment, I’m gravitating towards them the most.

    For the actual song, I think it’s a solid song. Not the most amazing thing they have produced, however, I can see it on my playlist for a long time.


  9. Listen to Action Figure! It is so good. I hope you can make a review of the rest of the album just as you did with SHINee. WayV remains the strongest unit of NCT especially with their release this year.


  10. for some reason i couldn’t make it through the first chorus when i was watching the music video BUT had a better time once i listened to it all the way through without the video and went back to it. i think the video is a bit jarring at first and kick back is best by itself. it’s a lot more grunge than i thought it would be, and (because he is my favorite) it works by the end because of xiaojun gluing it all together.

    as for the rest of the tracks, i think the instrumentals are almost better than the actual songs? i think action figure is fun and could’ve been a plausible title track that they were pushing but kick back is very signature wayv. my favorite is actually good time because it reminds me of got7’s teenager; but horizon’s instrumental is gorgeous.


  11. This song feels very ‘SM’ to me indeed. I am not a fan of abrasive production choices and NCT songs have been hit or miss for me.

    This one..I don’t know. I really don’t like the first part of the chorus, but once those vocals come in it’s quite nice. Yeah. It’s pretty good, actually! I like it. Curious to see how it develops over time.


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