Song Review: NCT 2021 – Beautiful

NCT - Beautiful

Since their 2016 debut, I’ve been (im)patiently waiting for NCT to revisit the sprawling sound of Without You. It’s still my favorite NCT track (and the only time a debut song has topped my year-end list). Beautiful isn’t nearly as amazing, but its vocal-heavy drive occupies similar territory.

This is the second release from NCT 2021’s Universe album — another compilation of tracks spawned from the collective’s various units. Beautiful brings everyone together, singing and dancing like a K-pop version of High School Musical. I’m here for the cheese, especially when it’s bolstered by the songwriting power of Yoo Young-Jin. It’s fantastic to hear NCT’s roster of strong vocalists emote over a song with more pep than a typical winter ballad. The instrumental surges on a rhythmic piano riff and swoops of sentimental strings. This arrangement is predictable, but not unwelcome. In fact, it sounds like something SM might have offered in the mid-2000’s.

Beautiful makes plenty of room for chorused vocals. The hook is sung in unison, giving the melody added heft. Even so, the song’s biggest standouts come courtesy of individual voices. NCT’s vocalists aren’t always given the chance to flex their skills in sustained ways, and Beautiful‘s melody could stand to be even more stirring. I wish its final minute went full throttle on the bombast rather than spinning its wheels. But, I’ll take a sweet, corny shot of motivation any day (minus the spoken word intro, please). If nothing else, Beautiful showcase’s NCT’s versatility — an asset that’s often lost within their mix-and-match, sound-alike units.

 Hooks 8
 Production 9
 Longevity 8
 Bias 9

23 thoughts on “Song Review: NCT 2021 – Beautiful

  1. It’s hard for me to decipher why I like this when I usually don’t like ballads. Other than the piano, it never really built to something, and it should be kind of boring.

    But something about is really……..crunchy..? That’s the best way I can describe it. Because of that crunch, it seems a lot more bright than it is. Really, with a little more synths, energy and dynamic, this could have been as good as Lady. 8.5 for me too (9,8,8,9)

    Even then, this is by far one of the best songs on the album, mainly because, the album wasn’t great.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. As others have commented, I like this way more than I should given my general lack of interest in ballads. Part of that is the peppy chugging rhythm you mention, Nick, and that awesome wall of voices in the chorus (if you’ve got 23-minus-2 you better use them!).

    I think my attention was also captured by the fun challenge of listening for all the different individual voices, which, understandably, change up about every 3 seconds.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I really like the chorused vocals, and some of the individual voices grabbed me, but this is the style of song where I’d prefer to hear the same two or three great voices rather than tiny snippets of however many voices ranging from great to passable.

    Also, that into was so schmoopy I almost threw my iPad across the room, /shudder


  4. I love the unison singing in the chorus. It sounds empowering and hopeful. I also like some of the real-world shots. Wish that they could have taken it further like Suju & SNSD’s SEOUL.


  5. I love the unison singing in the chorus. It sounds empowering and hopeful. I also like some of the real-world shots. Wish that they could have taken it further like Suju & SNSD’s SEOUL.


  6. Per your tweet just now, not from my perspective, with the exception of “Miracle”. I’ve been told I should check out WayV so maybe this will prompt me to do that after the new year.


  7. It’s openly sweet and cheesy but it warms my heart, and it’s always a joy to hear the vocalists shine. I don’t think this will get on my playlist, but it warmed my heart.


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