Jan 26, 2017

NCT 127's "Limitless" Is A Hot Mess But I Like It

My relationship with NCT and all their various units has been, to say the least, complicated. At first I was strongly against the idea and concept of NCT, but then I was completely won over by the debut of NCT U and the amazing songs "The Seventh Sense" and "Without You". However when NCT 127 made their debut with "Firetruck" I was not impressed and although NCT Dream was cute I was not in the right demographic for that unit. I didn't know what to expect at all from NCT 127's first comeback with "Limitless" except that now Doyoung, from the U unit, and well-known trainee Johnny was going to join the group, both of whom I dearly like. As for the concept the teaser images made me feel disappointed again because if there's one thing I've had enough of its's this appropriating hip-hop nonsense that almost all boy groups nowadays have done at some point. Thus I went in with low expectations and the outcome was definitely a mixed pot of emotions.

As you can tell there are two different versions of the MV with one of them being solely a performance video, and let's just say I'm not really feeling neither of them. I would've liked the performance MV because I do like the choreography and the boys are all great dancers and performers, but the horrendous styling is really off-putting. I don't see why they're styled like this because it's not doing any of them any favors nor does suit the song better than any other, better styling would. These boys are all ridiculously attractive yet here it seems the stylists have decided to try to make them look as ugly as possible.

NCTs foto.As for the other version, called the "Rough ver." for some reason, I don't think I've watched the whole video more than twice. It's super strange and has nothing to do with the song and its content, and like with the performance video it features horrible styling which doesn't make it easier to watch. Huge parts of it are also shot with what appears to be a old-fashioned VHS camera, which I have understood is to give it a home-made feel and thus make the video more casual, but it doesn't look good at all. Those shots definitely clash with the ones shot by modern recording devices and the awkward editing makes it feel even more disjointed.

On top of that there is no plot or story at all in the MV as it's basically made up of shots of the members doing a bunch of random things that seem to have no connection whatsoever. To put it short; the video looks cheap and quickly put-together and is a huge step down from all of NCT's other videos. It makes me sad not only to know that they can do, and have done, so much better than this but also that they're wasting such an amazing song.

NCTs foto.
"Limitless" as a track is pretty fantastic and although I can see how it connects to their debut track it still has a slightly different musical direction and one that I personally like much more. It actually reminds me a bit of EXO's earlier musical ventures such as "Overdose", but in my opinion much better. The chorus is really heavy and epic-sounding and does come as quite of a surprise as the verses do have a different sound, and there are a few break-downs in the song which also stand out. However they've managed to make it work as the different parts do flow in and out of each other nicely without being jarring at all once you get used to it.

I will complain about the line distribution though because poor Yuta and Haechan get only one line each, with Haechan being a lead vocalist in the group. I do get that when now that Doyoung's in the group Haechan will be shafted but he still deserves more than 1 line. Apart from that I don't really have any complaints about the song as I've been jamming to it repeatedly since it came out, but I do wish that it had gotten the MV it deserved.

NCTs foto.As for the mini-album however I have nothing but praise. I liked their debut mini album too as it had some good tunes and felt like a somewhat coherent first release that let you know what kind of music and image they were aiming for. "Limitless" however is on a completely different level, and although it has some similarities with their previous album it has a slightly different approach. The overall sound is definitely more mature and showcase both impressive vocals, rap and lyrics. Additionally I find that the album definitely is more cohesive and more refined too as all of the songs are blending perfectly with each other yet still standing out on their own. The production on the mini is high and you can tell that they put a lot of work into it, with almost every single track being brilliant.

The only song I'm not 100% loving as "Angel", which is the token mid-tempo ballad-y song of the album. It's sweet and has a lovely instrumental but feels a bit out of place with the rest of the songs that are more intense, as "Angel" is incredibly soothing. I know some people will like this song but I'm simply not one of them.

Overall this comeback has left me conflicted as I've loved the title track and the mini-album but strongly disliked the styling and the MV. However I have to say that the music is the most important which I can tell since this comeback has turned me into an even bigger NCT fan. I'm loving that Doyoung is back and that Johnny finally got to debut and I've been watching plenty of their live stage stages (while trying my best to ignore all their clothes and hair) because they are genuinely great performers. It also makes me happy to see how much all of them have warmed up in front of the camera and are seemingly more comfortable both off- and on-stage. I'm already looking forward to the rest of the year and what it has in store both for NCT 127 and NCT in general.

Song: 4/5
MV (Rough ver.): 1,5/5
MV (Performance ver.): 2,5/5
Album: 4,4/5

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