So much about the holidays is rooted in nostalgia. These are ritualistic celebrations, and the most popular holiday songs are usually ones that have accumulated memories over the years. H.O.T’s Candy is not a holiday song, but it makes a weird sort of sense in this context. It’s an oft-covered classic with a ton of tradition behind it. And as a bonus, its iconic gloves and oversized costuming are practical additions to your winter wardrobe!
More importantly, Candy pulls NCT Dream back to the bright, poppy days of Chewing Gum and Dunk Shot (another 90’s cover). It’s a relatively straightforward re-creation of the original track, though no member attempts H.O.T’s faux-reggae rapping style (a bizarre facet of late-90’s K-pop, tbh). This is probably for the best. Dream bring more polish to the vocals and the instrumental is stuffed with extra flourishes. As regifts go, they put some effort in. But, is this version really necessary?
Without the quirks of the original, 2022’s Candy plays as a fun trifle – the CD version of a crowd-pleasing special stage. I appreciate the producers’ “do no harm” mentality, replicating and accentuating the charms of the original song while nodding back to specific 90’s hip-hop sounds. They throw in a muted bridge/breakdown for new gen listeners and a sing-along finale for added festive cheer, but overall there’s nothing here that would pull me away from the 1996 H.O.T classic.