Review

Song Review: NCT Dream – Beatbox

NCT Dream - BeatboxYesterday on the blog, we spent some time discussing genre and highlighting underutilized styles we’d like to see more often in K-pop. 90’s hip-hop came up as an option, just in time for NCT Dream’s repackage track Beatbox. This song has been pitched as a fun 90’s hip-hop throwback. This is some clever marketing but not very accurate. Beatbox pulls some vaguely nostalgic beats into the well-established NCT sound, but I’m not getting 90’s at all.

NCT Dream’s first few title tracks forged an unstoppable run, so it’s always appreciated when they return to brighter sounds. Beatbox has many elements of a great Dream track, but it’s not quite hitting me the way I wish it did. Part of this comes down to the delivery. Pillory me if you will, but NCT’s rap seems constantly stuck at an “11” volume level. Rather than modulate their performance for a more dynamic flow, the guys just shout every word like they’re desperate to impress. You’ve impressed us already, NCT! A song like Beatbox calls for a more nuanced, playful vibe. A 90’s throwback concept is the perfect excuse to study the greats of that era and make some small adjustments.

Beatbox’s chorus is bombastic and catchy, and could have been set-up in a way that would give it even more impact. Still, I really like the production during this moment. The percussion slams in with full force, bringing a sense of fullness that enhances the simple chant. Guitar adds even more weight to the arrangement. I could do without the faux-beatboxing post-chorus hook, but the song soon moves into a delightful bridge that takes advantage of the guys’ vocal prowess. Dream always shine in these moments.

I like Beatbox more than this review probably suggests, but it’s not as dramatic a sidestep from NCT’s usual fare as I’d hoped for. It’s certainly an improvement from Glitch Mode, and well-positioned to soundtrack the upcoming summer. I could see it growing on me as time goes on.

Hooks 8
 Production 8
 Longevity 9
 Bias 8
 RATING 8.25

29 thoughts on “Song Review: NCT Dream – Beatbox

  1. Not perfect, but fun! I don’t really like the boom chiki bit or know if I’ll go back to it though. But its nice to hear them actually singing in the chorus! Also I really like Mark’s hair 😆

    Liked by 3 people

  2. It sounds like the alt-version of “Glitch Mode”. I mean, I swear one could drop into the chorus of Glitch Mode from this verse, or vice versa, drop into this chorus from Glitch Mode. A mash-up waiting to happen.

    That said, yeah its alright. We know there is no stopping this sound.

    I never got to see the full album cover picture properly, as it was small thumbnail. What’s with the crocs on steroids? What are those shoes? A real 90’s hip hop team would be all matchy matchy track suits, and if in different colors would be Rooftop Prince-style.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Unrelated, but I’m hoping you’re enjoying the new Forestella track. I thought of you when I saw that it had been released! It doesn’t really fit the parameters of what I write about here so I’m not planning on doing a write-up, but man can these guys sing!

      My upbeat-loving self begs for a dance remix of this. I love opera and dance together, and the track feels like it wants to go there but never does.

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      • Yasssss. The new agency Beat Interactive (also ACE’s agency) went full on kpop styling for them, complete with two cans of glitter spray on HyungHo’s hair and a job lot of lace by the yard and the mysterious red table scene. It’s not an expensive video, but it will do. Also, the album for the first time has multiple cover versions available.

        For this song, the composer is one of the regulars on the Studio Ghibli soundtracks, so it sounds cinematic, theatrical and bombastic which the guys rise to meet. Full of lyrical verses and swooping choruses.

        I am in a dumb argument with a stranger on youtube on a different video about harmony, and said stranger thinks doubled octaves are bad form, but I disagree. Forestella use them all the time, and also here, typically with Ko Woo RIm way down deep, then Hyung Ho three octaves up in his trademark male soprano, and with other pairings at times to vary the soundscaping. (For example the second verse starting at about 2:42 varies pairs of doubled octaves.) It sets a frame for that is both familiar and powerful, with the other two singing the harmonic elements in the middle. It is how they can fill an arena with a wall of sound from four voices.

        I love this group. I love how impressive their instruments are, how they arrange fantastic vocals with every facet of their timbres, how much work has gone into training and how well that training shows. Their recordings are just about wyhiwyg – what your hear is what you get, no filter needed.

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  3. Beatbox reminds me of Glitch Mode. Their bridges and final choruses are exhilarating enough for you to forget that you’ve just endured 2 minutes of sparse instrumentals and shout-rapping.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I like this more than glitch mode but less than their last repack title, Hello Future. As always though I prefer dream when they embrace their bright and fun side. I dont know if its because its what I am used too from them or because they are still hella young and do it very well. I just always look to dream to embrace sunny, uplifiting fare even if it not the most revolutionary thing ever. Regardless I’d take this any day over the standard edgy boy group fare we’ve had on repeat for months.
    I also really like the three new b sides. Sometimes repacks feel unecessary but for both of dream’s full albums now I have felt the repack actually does enhance the whole, which is nice.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Accidental double post with single word change, haha, sorry! My comments get eaten sometimes so if I don’t see it up immediately I’ll usually try again.

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  5. i need the rap line (or rather just jaemin/jeno) to stop rapping so “harshly”. it’s extremely grating and has been putting me off their songs more often than not lately.
    aside from that i enjoyed this on the first listen way more than glitch mode.

    Liked by 2 people

    • It doesn’t help that the flow in Jeno’s rap in v.1 is identical to Jaemin/Jisung’s rap before the bridge of Hello Future. It really takes me out of the song!

      Liked by 2 people

  6. It’s catchy and does not suck. I wish there was more actual good beatboxing and turntablism in a song called beatbox. Glitch Mode had more hip-hop spirit than this, but it’s solid and thank GOD. The b-sides are full excellent and mature singing and I know I will play the hell out of them.. I wish dearly for them to do a full album of pop-soul like Irreplaceable and It’s Yours. Haechan has said he loves singing those songs, so it’s not such a stretch.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Feels like we’ve had a recent trend of kpop songs with odd mixing. I want to like this song, but I just can’t get the volume right. Need to turn the instrumental down, yet turn the vocals up. The instrumental is otherwise restrained, so it’s not as big of an issue as some songs, though it was definitely noticeable. That being said, I don’t see any other comments about it, so maybe it’s just me.

    Liked by 1 person

      • I have no formal experience or training in the subject whatsoever. I tend to comment on it a lot because it’s usually the first thing that jumps out at me. That is, assuming it’s noticeable. If something is mixed well, that thought shouldn’t even pop into my head. I suppose being a mixing engineer is probably quite the thankless job then!

        That being said, I’m curious as to why this is a trend? Mixing, as with other aspects of music, cannot be done “wrong”. There are different ways to do things based on what you’re seeking to achieve. Anime openings tend to be not all that pleasurable to listen to on headphones because they’re designed to be heard on TV speakers. It’s not until the studio version of that opening releases do you get to hear the edition made for home listening. Neither is the “wrong” version of the song, just ones made for different listening environments.

        Perhaps some kpop songs are now being mixed for the era of smartphones? Less common now is watching MVs on a computer with headphones that you plug in. More common is hearing music on TikTok or YouTube on your phone, played through its low-fidelity speaker, or cheap in-ears. This could, essentially, be like brickwalling – competitive market forces that inadvertently damaged music quality on a widespread scale. I hope Future Me will safely be able to say this is nothing more than a silly conspiracy.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I like it. This is much, much better than Glitch Mode, and the song’s refreshing summery vibe is so addictive. Rating is about right.

    P.s. Sorry for coming to the party too late due to some internet problems which appeared yesterday🙂

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  9. I actually really like this! The quirky and laidback vibe reminds me of Hello Future a little bit – nice for the summer.

    I agree with the shouty rap criticism – there is more than one way to deliver fun and energy.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I don’t know much about musical time periods but I’m getting 2000s vibes more than 90’s vibes. I don’t know why but it gives me a sense of 2000s nostalgia. Not sure if this is an accurate dating of the sounds or just some general likeness or I’m just way off lol. Not my fave NCT Dream song but it really gives me some fun summery vibes I just want to bob along to it while chilling outside in the sun.

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    • Yes, it reads much more 00’s to me than 90’s. In fact, I mentioned on twitter that parts of it remind me of J-Kwon’s Tipsy (though that’s a much stronger song overall).

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  11. these days the industry feels like its relying on catchy choruses way too much (petition to delete tiktok) even me who is a huge fan of catchy dumb choruses is getting a little tired lol outside of that i think i like it? its one of those confusing songs that you dont understand if you actually like it or you just got infected by the chorus after hearing it 283746783 times on social media.i prefer glitch mode 10x over this but still a good follow up! summer bop
    7.75/10

    Like

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