Buried Treasure: NCT 127 – Breakfast

NCT 127 - BreakfastA K-pop group’s title track isn’t always the best song on their album, even if it’s the one most people will hear. Sometimes, b-sides deserve recognition too. In the singles-oriented world of K-pop, I want to spotlight some of these buried treasures and give them the props they deserve.

For many listeners, NCT 127’ Sticker has been a hard pill to swallow. But, the rest of the album is far more straightforward. It feels like a grab bag of sounds, and I’m not sure the eleven tracks hold together to form a cohesive work. Instead, I want to pull highlights like Breakfast, Promise You and Dreamer and fuse them into a super-solid mini.

Over the past few years, I’m realizing how much I dislike pop music’s minimalist trend. Peaking in 2019 with artists like Billie Eilish, this approach seems to be slowly fading from the charts. For me, minimalism only works if combined with a very strong melody. Otherwise, there’s just not much to grab hold of. Minimalism makes an especially awkward match for K-pop, often resulting in music that feels dull and hookless. This helps explain my disdain for Sticker, even if I think it has some genuinely interesting ideas under its hood.

With this in mind, Breakfast is Sticker’s antithesis. The thumping dance beat fills space immediately, gradually gaining steam as more percussion joins the fray. As with Sticker, NCT 127 are given room to showcase their vocals (and harmonies!), but the instrumental provides needed thrust to keep the song compelling. A splash of brassy synth adds retro touch, but Breakfast never feels dated. Instead, it’s a satisfying hodgepodge of eras. We’ve got an early-90’s deep house rumble, 2010’s electro energy and slick vocals that could have been plucked from any point in SM Entertainment’s musical history.

Breakfast’s hook is slight, but that’s where the intensity of the instrumental compensates. There’s just so much going on here – and no squeaky flute sample to get in the way! I know SM doesn’t often promote b-sides with music videos, but it’s a crime to be stuck with Sticker when a track this good waits right around the corner.

 Hooks 8
 Production 9
 Longevity 9
 Bias 9
 RATING 8.75



24 thoughts on “Buried Treasure: NCT 127 – Breakfast

  1. Nah, this was one of the weaker tracks on the album. It just sounds like your typical generic NCT 127 album filler. I think the album itself is a little bit the same. “The Dreamer” is fun and “Promise You” is growing on me but not that fussed by the new album overall.


  2. I can hear why other folks like “Breakfast” but it’s not quite my thing. It’s a little too busy, maybe? “Dreamer” and “Promise” are solid, though. I feel like we agree on b-sides more often than titles for whatever reason, or maybe it’s just that titles are more likely to be divisive. It looks like “Sticker” is getting the Studio Choom treatment, so I guess I’m going to have to listen to it again and see where I come down on the “bad vs. experimental” scale.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. “Breakfast” was pretty good, but “Promise You” has to be my favourite track off this album. Maybe because I absolutely loved “Not Alone” from their Neozone album. Their other tracks are slowly trying to take that number one spot for me though, I’m looking at you “Road Trip”.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Perfect mid-tempo pop-funk-house filtered through 127’s twitchiness. I really really liked Sticker’s deconstructed ghost salsa, but seriously, a groove is gonna take the edge every time.

    Thrilled to find out Simon Petren who wrote and produced WayV’s gorgeous ballad Horizon, is involved in making Breakfast. The most important meal of the day! Too bad they couldn’t get “Bacon” to guest on it.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I see the current minimalism trend a bit differently. To me it harkens back to the very early 80’s where pop rock music was much more spartan. In rock, the lush prog rock arrangements and compositions in the 1970’s were dialed back in punk and post-punk rock groups to what a four piece band could play right there and then. We think of Queen first from their grand compositions, but half their songs are spartan. Another One Bites the Dust has only the bass for a third of the song and a simple drum for another third with occasional ad libs. “Under Pressure” is about the same. Another example, U2’s debut song “11 O’clock tick tock”

    The synth music in the early 80’s was also equally spare because programming the synths was really hard and time consuming, so the lines had a clarity out of necessity. OMD “Electricty” was hugely influential to the new wave that followed it ‘
    Even Pet Shop Boys “West End Girls” – start counting the lines, its about 7ish, including the 2 vocal lines.

    What I hear today in these minimalist songs are a paring back of the lush over-stuffed 40-part songs to something bare minimum with today’s hip-hop idiom. I remember listening to the pop in early 00’s with all their added vocal lines and so many adlibs. For example, Christina “Genie in a Bottle”, start counting how many little instrumental lines there are. ‘ There is something like 20 in the chorus alone. They added them because they could. Half of the trap lines added these days are because they can.

    So I feel when I hear songs like the Billie Eilish’s and NCT’s “Sticker”, I feel like music is at that step change just like right around 1980 or 2000. What it will develop to, I don’t know, but it seems like about time for a step change. Sure, the minimalism today is based upon the contemporary hip-hop convention and the melody-poor trend of recent years, so yes it for a while will also be melody-poor.

    Anyways, this song “Breakfast”. Its alright. Its not new, but a new variation. It sounds like they sped up a punched up bass line from “Coffee Break” by 30 bpm and overlayed it with alt lines from “Superhuman” and “100”. It seems to be more melody-rich, but it is all surface. The melody is really written by someone punching chord changes at a keyboard shifting up a fifth and down a fifth here and there, twirling around a note, and then calling it a melody. I can’t sing along with this any more than I can with Sticker; its just as disjointed.
    Coffee Break. A fine member of the BBtB club.


  6. I ilked your analysis, but I don’t get the same feeling from Breakfast at all. Just adore it. But yes, I remember those days very well. And good call on namechecking Queen – Sheer Heart Attack is one of the greatest punk songs ever, and they were far from that. At least by the definition of the time. Turns out that Queen were closer to punk in spirit (fearless, not giving a damn) than they were to prog as time goes on.


  7. Breakfast is good mainstream pop. Inoffensive and catchy.
    Not trying to be clever but I understand why SM chose ‘Sticker’ as their title track (and I truly begin to think Sticker is their best title track, lols).

    Liked by 1 person

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