Monday, May 9th, 2016

NCT U – The 7th Sense

According to the Internet, the seventh sense is the doorway to the Universal Self via Unity Consciousness. Discuss…


Patrick St. Michel: Usually, fixating on all the facts surrounding an artist instead of the music does a great disservice to them, but sometimes that other stuff is so fascinating it really does deserve some time. This site is “The Singles Jukebox,” not “The Accelerationist Global Capitalism Chathouse,” so I won’t dwell on the tribble-like idea behind Neo Culture Technology (top that, vaporwave!), but you should definitely read up on it. It also does provide some good context to “The 7th Sense,” primarily why it sounds so generic. It’s a solid approximation of what could be considered the dominant world sound in 2016 — hip-hop-leaning, trap, sparse, Diplo-ish. If you were to build your own pop song, “The 7th Sense” would be a solid template. The saving grace is the lyrics, far more abstract and lonesome then expected, though ironically that’s the one part of the song you have to do any work to figure out. The rest is, as NCT U’s parent company hopes for, easily digestible.

Madeleine Lee: Of the Big Three K-pop entertainment agencies, SM Entertainment has always been the worst at hip-hop. Their stilted, line-by-line style of rapping isn’t much worse than JYP’s, but JYP hasn’t attempted to make trend-chasing rap songs to the extent that SM has and failed. (Awoooo!) But in the BTS era, a boy band that is going to do hip-hop has to do hip-hop right, and SM’s newest group NCT U not only sounds correct in this song, but convincing. It’s mostly thanks to an incredible minimal beat (and of the Big Three, SM still has the best taste in instrumentals), but even the rapping is not embarrassing here. It helps that my countryman Mark is the first rapper to come out of SM with the same kind of slangy, syncopated delivery as the kids in Monsta X and Seventeen, but Ten and Taeyong do just as well with dead-eyed verses that are technically just as artless as EXO’s but seem drawn from a primary source, rather than learned secondhand. Overall, “The 7th Sense” is nothing earth-shattering, but it’s a welcome development, especially since NCT U represents SM’s future: “that’s a long-ass ride” is about as far from “my name is Minho” as you can get.

Cassy Gress: It’s less like a first single from an exciting new international SM concept, and more like the hidden bonus track–a little patchwork, and more of a toss-off than anything that preceded it. With the instruments doing so little, all I can do is focus on the vocals, and that mostly just led me to think about who this sounds like (Drake, Timberlake… Zayn?), rather than anything interesting NCT U was actually doing.

Jonathan Bogart: Whether he or SME means it to or not, Taeyong’s nasal, affectless flow is enough like Drake’s that a suspicion of tryhard bandwagon-jumping hovers over this otherwise mostly-fine slice of self-important miserablism. 

Alfred Soto: When they rap sllowwwwly over the lethargic beat, they remind me of Big Sean — for better or worse.

Juana Giaimo: This may not differ a lot from the hip-hop and R&B minimalistic tracks that often go around on the internet. However, the gloomy vibe adds an almost uncomfortable depth that is hard to put into words but that lingers once the song finishes.

Brad Shoup: I’m all for singles that offer a complete traumnovelle of self-actualization. Existential new-jack voicings and nagging sing-talking, all over a blinking bass melody and trap drums like creaking doors.

Leonel Manzanares de la Rosa: The intro, with the droning bass and the distorted chant (which kinda sounds like a Middle Eastern wind instrument) anticipated something sparse, nocturnal, but ultimately engaging. What we got is a decent rap song — killer second verse, though — that stayed on the edge of great and never quite crossed the line. Quick lesson, kids: sparse does not mean stationary

Jessica Doyle: Those background layers are beautiful; so it’s all the more puzzling that the vocals seem constructed not to match. The dissonance I hear doesn’t let up until almost three minutes in, and then only briefly. SM might have refrained from smoothing things out to subtly suggest that this new group is somehow more challenging and less eager to please than past products. In which case I like the theory but find myself shying away from the execution.

Reader average: [7.2] (10 votes)

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6 Responses to “NCT U – The 7th Sense”

  1. “wolf” rules

  2. i’m into “the 7th sense” primarily for the freedom it opens up in the choreo, which suggests a (really liberating) seachange in k-pop performance style. all the moreso as it’s coming from such a trendsetting label.

    the entire neo culture technology idea is a brilliant (potential) solution to a lot of the k-pop system’s artistic limitations, and i’m hoping SM does take it in that direction. musically i’d say the live chinese market version of this song (which was still being performed in korean last i checked on it) is the definitive, it adds that structure/genre curveball i hope for pretty much anytime i hear a new SM single.

  3. I really liked this when it came out, mostly just because WOW a decent rap song from SM!! What is this madness? NCT could either be really interesting or a total mess depending on how it’s managed … I wonder if the rumored 40 members will ever actually happen (At least, I’ve only really heard rumors, unless there was a statement or something from SM that I missed?)

    The throwaway Monsta X comment makes me want to see you guys review them, though. Guess we’ll see how their new single is…

  4. I love this song so much it’s embarassing

  5. Really surprised by the low scores tbh.

  6. same