Review

Song Review: NCT U – coNEXTion (Age of Light)

NCT U - coNEXTion (Age of Light)Lately, I’ve been thinking about the first few years of NCT. How exciting they were! The project felt like an excuse for SM Entertainment to throw everything at the wall. They weren’t confined by genre, members or concepts. But somewhere along the line, the NCT brand became less about trying something new and more about replicating successes. And with the bulk of K-pop’s boy groups following in their sonic footsteps, NCT tracks began to feel boring and predictable.

Five years ago, I had no idea what to expect from a new NCT unit. I wish that coNEXTion reinvigorated that sense of spontaneity. The song is part of “NCT Lab” – a platform for members to show various facets of the NCT sound. It brings together Doyoung, Mark and Haechan with Shotaro appearing in the performance video. But let’s be honest, it’s mostly Mark. As usual, the vocalists aren’t given much room to vocalize. Their voices are tethered to a series of melodic exclamations that feel thrown in as an afterthought.

The song is fine, but I’m tired of “fine” NCT songs. The beats feel recycled from much of their past work, despite a different set of producers. We move from rap to pre-chorus to chant with vocal flourishes thrown over the top. The chorus finishes with my favorite misheard lyric of the year. Did anyone else mistake “We’re gonna make a big” for “We’re gonna make a baby”?? I’m more partial to the instrumental shifts that happen during the bridge/dance break. They hint at a fresher sound that could have made coNEXTion more than a forgettable stopgap.

Hooks 6
 Production 8
 Longevity 7
 Bias 7
 RATING 7

18 thoughts on “Song Review: NCT U – coNEXTion (Age of Light)

  1. Well if we’re talking about their musical successes you did give one of their biggest hits the Darkchild-composed Favorite a pretty average review so in your own words, beggars really can’t be choosers -Non NCTzen

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  2. i mean if anything u dont rlly go into nct “performance pieces” for the song itself yk? im just happy shotaro gets to go off (and on that note @ sm WHERE THE FUCK IS THE SUNGTARO UNIT)

    but i agree w u i love the neos very dearly but a lot of their stuff from the past year is just….ok. like some of it is fun (ok! especially) but the whole universe album didnt rlly stick out to me all and it makes me sad bc i know they can be so much more creative and experimental than that…….now lets just hope glitch mode gives us something amazing

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  3. It’s a performance piece. I don’t listen to Black on Black or Resonance for fun, either. But DAMN Shotaro! And those backup dancers, wow.
    I too wasn’t wowed by Universe. I thought Earthquake sounded like one of their weaker imitators. But the Dream and WayV songs were great. And OK! of course. And Zoo. So weird cause I really liked the Sticker and Favorite albums, thought they were solid.

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  4. Um, it’s alright. it’s fine. It sounds like a discarded b-side from the early Firetruck Cherry Bomb era, rebooted because they needed a song for this rebooted SM Station concept.

    As far as the performance piece itself, I am just not feeling it. This one to me is all heat and no light. Black on Black was way more effective.

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  5. Not gonna comment on the song itself but SHOTARO! I’m glad to see him show off his great dancing skills. I’m always amazed by how clean and smooth his moves are. He’s hands down the best dancer in all of NCT!

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    • Taeyong will always be my favorite performer, but that’s my bias speaking. Shotaro’s kinda insane. He’s one of the best dancers in SM, if not the best.

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  6. “Lately, I’ve been thinking about the first few years of NCT. How exciting they were! The project felt like an excuse for SM Entertainment to throw everything at the wall. They weren’t confined by genre, members or concepts.”

    I feel this so much. The way NCT meant endless possibilities to me during their early years. Those were the days. I still love them, partly because no other KPOP group exhilarated me with possibilities and blurred boundaries as much as they did in their early years. Can’t help but imagine what could’ve been for the group.

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  7. I hope it doesn’t come off as rude but I think you can let go of reviewing anything of NCT at all. It’s clear you are not happy with their recent comebacks(I mostly agree with that). Maybe lay it off for a while. I agree that their music has suddenly gotten into a niche. But sometimes I feel like it’s also because the Kpop field in general has changed from earlier. So it’s not as fresh. I am not saying they pulled off a Superhuman or have been near to pulling off such a song. That was like once in a decade song for me. But I don’t see them change from this niche soon. So expecting them to do so is something I have let go of. I don’t feel disappointed though. To me out of their shouting experimental tracks, this one was one of the better pieces. So even within that niche I felt that they did a good job. Your disappointment with NCT’s music is written larger than it is for other groups. So maybe lay off from writing anything about NCT at all cause SM doesn’t seem to let go of this direction in coming time. These songs gave them a breakout much more than their other excellent songs. 😂 This is not an angry remark, I hope you understand that.

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    • It doesn’t come off as rude at all! But to be fair, I’ve written somewhat-to-very positive reviews for four of the last nine NCT singles, so it’s not like I hate everything they touch.

      I understand where you’re coming from, but I don’t want to set a precedent for only writing about songs/acts I like. At the very least, even a negative review gives space for others to voice their opinion — whether it’s the same or opposite of mine.

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      • I guess my reading of your reviews was mistimed and our song choices are a bit mismatched. This comment was a result of that. You mostly gave a somewhat disheartened review of the songs that I did like. And the ones that didn’t affect me much(except for Hello Future) were positively done(as you said). I was reading this in a sequence alongside DREAM’s Glitch Mode and this comment was actually made for that article. 😂 Sorry about that. It’s just I found myself disagreeing with many of the things that you said about the DREAMtrack. I hope you like it a bit more on a relisten. But its your choice afterall It’s weird I just requested you not to give reviews of NCT songs but I keep wondering about your thoughts on the album itself since you were not that happy with the Hot Sauce one, if any that were positive.

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  8. I agree. It sounds like a slightly revamped 2012-2013 reject for a 2nd gen boy group. It’s “alright”. NCT deserves better than that, is SM running out of money? The singing doesn’t even sound clear.

    I like a lot of NCT’s songs, but I’m not really feeling it for this one. It’ll most likely sound better with the performance video. The switch from Mark to Haechan was a bit jarring, and the way they repeat “conne- connec- tion” is annoying.

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