Debut Re-Evaluation: Nu’est – Face

Nu'est - FaceK-Pop debuts can be tricky things. At times, they’re the best song a group delivers. Sometimes, they’re the only song a group delivers!

But, debuts can also be huge wtf moments in an artist’s career. In this feature, I’ll be looking back at debut songs through the prism of time, re-evaluating how well they hold up and how representative they are of an artist’s eventual singles run.

Debut Date: March 15, 2012


It’s amazing how much K-pop has changed in less than a decade. But then again, pop music trends worldwide have shifted during that same time. Back in 2012, tastes favored high-energy EDM. The charts were stuffed with huge choruses and bounding instrumentals. I loved this era, along with many of the groups who debuted during this time.

Right off the bat, Nu’est were pitched as one of 2012’s biggest debuts. Alongside EXO and B.A.P, they formed a sort of power triad. And, all three acts entered the industry with killer songs. Over the years, Nu’est’s sound and career has undergone the most changes. Their early work feels less specific to the ‘Pledis house style’ and more in line with K-pop trends of the moment. In other words, it can be a little hit or miss. But, their first few years of albums are stuffed with great material.

Face is powered by a catchy synth loop and chugging dance beat. These elements support a memorable melody, which feels consistent from verse to chorus. I like how intentional the structure feels. Beyond a weird dubstep breakdown (all the rage in 2012!), there’s really no musical fat on these bones. The verses lean heavily toward falsetto, contrasting the hardness of the instrumental. By the time we reach the chorus, Face hits full power. This hook is confident and catchy, echoing the synths that fuel the track. A goofy rap outro adds character. Its odd phrasing is instantly iconic. Nu’est would face challenges in the future, but they were off to a great start.

Does the song hold up?
Yes! Mainly thanks to its enduring melodies.

Is the song stronger or weaker than most of the artist’s title tracks?
It’s definitely on the stronger side.

Does the song represent the artist’s music going forward?
Up until 2015, yes. After that, they’d change their sound pretty drastically and never really look back.

 Hooks 9
 Production 9
 Longevity 9
 Bias 9



13 thoughts on “Debut Re-Evaluation: Nu’est – Face

  1. Man this song has so many memories for me. I first watched it in a uni lecture hall while waiting for our club to start with two people I had literally just met. It was the first time I bonded with other people irl over a kpop group, even though my first reaction was it sounded exactly like Milan Stankovic’s song of the same name Face (I didn’t know about demos and buying songs back then lmao)

    Memories aside I always thought of this as one of NU’ESTs best songs. Maybe unpopular opinion but a lot of in between Face and their Produce era didn’t resonate with me.

    A solid 9.


  2. Ah, yassss. For a while, the K-Ville youtube channel used a sample of the chorus on the intro or outro of their regular videos. I don’t know if they still do, but eventually, back when, I broke down and just bought the damn song.

    When it comes around on the great big ipod shuffle, this song I do not skip. The hook of the chorus is just so damn hooky and memorable. You hear it once, you know the song. Sorry, kids, but your little mumbling stable emo booping beeping tinny two note three chord chorus is not a hook. THIS is a hook.

    Also, on the same KVille topic
    the ba da bi da song = Cross Gene “Na Hago Nolja”
    the synth instrumental = F.Cuz “One Love” = great song! So underrated!

    Someday if I am ever on a kpop survival show, (which will be never), someday I will do a mash-up of all three of these, which will baffle the native Korean judges and audience but will make the international fans laugh and smile and vote for me if only they could.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yep, this was one of my first K-Pop songs, courtesy of Spotify recommendations! I always forget it exists so it hasn’t found itself on many of my playlists, but it’s a total no-skip for me. It’s just a great song.

    Also, any thoughts on the rest of Lucy’s latest mini? WordPress are my comment four or five times during that outage, but I quite like Rolling Rolling (can’t really quantify it, but just a solid release I’ll find myself listening to a fair bit). You’re Right is just so much more fitting as a title, though! Something about the chords they chose for it make it something akin to DAY6’s Better Better for me — weirdly tear-inducing and nostalgic in the best way. It’s only been a day since it came out, but it’s already one of my favorites of the year.


    • I’m not really taken with the mini the way I have been with their past work. It’s just so… hushed. But, I think it will benefit from more listens. I definitely haven’t found a new Flare or Buddy or One By One, though.


  4. Intro riff has a catchier melody than many songs today, that era was just so good.

    By the way, produced one of JO1’s recent album B-sides, and it sounds quite like Born To Be Wild to me, thought you’d liked to know:


    • Actually now that I think about it, “Go” might have been a more similar song to BTBW – the bass is just as addictive, and the chorus structure is essentially the same, its very distinctly JO1 with the number of times they do this specific schmick: Freedom, Go, BTBW, and the recent We Alright


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