Wednesday, October 31st, 2018

NCT 127 – Regular

If only they leaned into the comparisons you’re about to read and called it “Regular Degular Schmegular”…

John Seroff: Welcome to 2018, the year that “Kidz Bop Migos” became an aesthetic that nabs 11 million views in three weeks.

Joshua Minsoo Kim: So many things about the English version of “Regular” make it feel particularly unbearable in 2018. BTS, Blackpink, and Super Junior all participated in Western crossovers this year, and none of them found it necessary to forgo Korean. Seeing NCT 127 go the “(English Version)” route feels dated and unnecessary in comparison — and if you have a never-ending supply of corny rap clichés, it might be a good idea to mask unconvincing deliveries with your native tongue. Even worse, “Regular” is generic from a Western pop, K-pop, and Korean rap angle. It’s dime-a-dozen post-Migos pop rap that cautiously dips its toes into the Latin wave. The post-Desiigner “brrRRRAAAHH” adlibs are pathetic, and the post-“Mask Off” flute-like melody is equally diluted. It only sounds like K-pop because of its dramatically sung chorus and shoehorned harmonies, all of which grant it an antiseptic sheen that makes the braggadocio feel more market-tested, boardroom-approved. And compared to the non-idol rap songs filling up Melon’s charts, “Regular” is joyless and indistinct, far from understanding what rapping should entail beyond its functional role in a topline.

Alfred Soto: This track could use Cardi B and J Balvin.

Camille Nibungco: Right off the bat, the flow and flurry of cheesy couplets are suspiciously similar to Migos. Complemented by a bridge I could easily envision Cardi B rapping perfectly, enough adlibs to make Lil Jon worried for his career, and the overall theme of excess materialism, it could easily pass as a K-pop cover of a leaked Culture III track.

Anna Suiter: NCT 127 has been on a wild ride with this year’s singles, from a love song, to a convoluted metaphor that could also be a love song, to this. “Regular” is a love letter, kind of, but only to money and showing off. For all of their posturing, the members still seem a little unsure of themselves in this element, as if they are trying to prove themselves a little too much, as if this is a little too urgent. At only two years in, though, they definitely have time to do something a bit better.

Jessica Doyle: As with the last money-obsessed, audibly-processed single SM assigned to one of its younger guy groups, the English version of “Regular” is such a mess it gets you thinking. Namely about the group singing (in unison) I just made a million and I’m still not satisfied: who is the “I” here? Especially in translation, K-pop companies’ financial customs are so opaque as to consist almost entirely of unverifiable rumor, and what facts do come out only prompt more eyebrow-raising (such as SM’s CEO’s base salary being equivalent to about US$130,000 in 2014). SM’s organization might not be as convoluted as, say, Samsung’s, but it’s built up a respectable array of convoluted public deals and scattered subsidiaries. For any given million actually made by “Regular,” some significant portion of it will likely be not publicly flaunted but quickly made, by design or simple bureaucratic momentum, untraceable. Meanwhile the NCT members get to strike all the poses of greedy individualism without actually having the freedom to be greedy or individualist. It’s a boring song and a sham, but I’ll put two points back for the queso / kkaeisseo pun.

Ryo Miyauchi: This is the same group who recited “if you happy and you know it, clap your hands,” so I don’t look for inventive wordplay or convincing posturing from this branch of NCT. In fact, while it makes the song a chore to sit through, the relentless run of overused “icy” and “cheese” cliches is the exact way I expect this group to attempt to establish a sense of cool. I can only be charmed by their serious commitment.

Will Adams: I’ll always be here for a George Kranz sample, even if it’s buried in a clamorous post-chorus. But apart from that, this is just J. Lo’s “Dinero” with neither the playfulness nor Cardi B to enliven the proceedings.

Iain Mew: The big-spending message could do with a track with matching diamonds and lux to at least make it a Statement, given how fantastically hard they’re all trying. As it is, it’s all a bit too regular, and it would only work if it there was any chance of believing that the banality of excess was the point.

Reader average: [5.63] (11 votes)

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4 Responses to “NCT 127 – Regular”

  1. welcome to camille!

  2. Ok but WinWin’s “She gon’ bust it bust it bust it
    For a real one” bit took me out.

    NCT chinese line coming with all the swag

  3. I swear this sounds like Trey Songz on “Foreign” at points. And I love “Foreign,” so I’d have given this points for at least biting that well.

    That said: They should really tell these dudes to toughen up and put some bass in their voice if they’re gonna flex like this.

  4. @Andy – chances of that happening are slim to none, which is unfortunate. “Flower boy” type male idols are popular right now, which is devastating for me because i got into k-pop on the tail end of the hunky 2PM days. Kinda makes you wonder if the pendulum will ever swing back in the other direction