There’s so much to unpack when it comes to NTX’s debut. First, there are those uncomfortable teaser photos, where the guys cosplay as different “cultures” in the most awkwardly stereotypical way imaginable. Then, there’s the song’s nearly-eight minute music video, which opens with a lengthy credits sequence just as it should be drawing the attention of curious viewers. And, that music video tries to emulate a live performance, despite the song being slathered with vocal effects that are about as far from “live” as possible.
But even with all these missteps (and a few more), I find myself bopping to this weird, dated track. Between Kiss The World and DKB’s All In, today seems to be the day K-pop reaches back to 2009. There’s an unpolished appeal to this track, and I’ll chalk that up to nervous rookie energy and the limitations of a small agency. I’m not sure who thought it was a good idea to warp all the vocals with the kind of late-00’s autotune that was obnoxious even back then. Perhaps it’s to cover a lack of polish, or maybe it’s actually an earnest choice to give the song more texture.
Either way, I’m surprised at how much I enjoy this bouncy mess. The triple-punch mix of faux rock band, strings section and bounding melody feels oddly refreshing, and the guys get by with youthful exuberance even if their performance lacks the perfection we’ve come to expect from modern idol groups. It helps that Kiss The World hinges on an optimistic, sing-along refrain that embraces its own ridiculous nature. I imagine this as the opening of some relentlessly colorful anime – more a character piece than an attempt to be taken as serious artists. Depending on your preferences, that may be a damning criticism. But, I’m willing to embrace the cheese. Just please ditch the cultural festival costumes in your image teasers, boys.