Just weeks after NCT 127’s Sticker unleashed screechy flute on an unsuspecting K-pop industry, the group has returned with repackage track Favorite. The description for this one promised ample use of a whistle, which elicited ample eye rolls from me. It seems that SM is developing a tradition of releasing decent title tracks only to throw some irritating sample over the top. But, Favorite also comes courtesy of dream team Kenzie and Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins. It’s like we’ve landed back in 2006!
As with most NCT tracks, Favorite frustrates me. It feels quite uneven, with a standout chorus being undercut by boring verses. I wish the group would explore more energetic titles again. Sticker was intentionally minimalist, but Favorite is more of a mixed bag. The verses take a generic hip-hop beat and throw that spiraling whistle over every moment. I find the sample incredibly distracting. Even if the general sound is nice and atmospheric, it’s pitched at a level that grates. And without a fuller arrangement, there’s not much else to focus on.
Here’s where the chorus comes in to set things right. NCT 127 finally take advantage of their strong vocals, offering a towering blend that recalls past glories like 2017’s Limitless. The first half of this refrain is very satisfying, cresting with unexpected majesty as their voices ascend. In comparison, the second half feels undercooked and repetitive. But, I guess it offers needed tension. Then, we’re back to the verses, which don’t really go anywhere. And while the music video shoehorns in a dynamic dance break, the audio version segues right into a sleek bridge. The final repetition of the chorus comes bolstered with a dramatic drum line, adding oomph to the climax. I much prefer Favorite to Sticker, but I’m still waiting for the group to return to the consistent quality of their pre-2020 work.