Despite three units and more than 20 members, NCT have basically become a one trick pony. Both musically and personality wise. For what seems like forever, 127 seem to be the primary unit, with U basically being forgotten and Dream essentially teetering a similar sound though more recently have been going back to their brighter, more pop oriented roots. And while the group have carved out that signature, industrial hip-hop sound for themselves, it’s started to become a little stale. Something which really comes to a head with new single Ay-Yo.
Now don’t get me wrong, 127 are known to be incredibly bizarre. Especially in the context of title tracks. 2020’s infamous (or famous you decide) Sticker stood as one of that years most polarising releases, going just about as weird as you could probably get within the realm of mainstream k-pop. But as much as the group have zigged and zagged with their releases, the general soundscape has been pretty similar with a heavy emphasis on hip hop elements usually complimented with a shouty, industrial production that mostly comes undone thanks to some oddly placed and usually cringe (or camp, once again you decide) songwriting. Sure this has worked wonders in past efforts like 2017’s thrilling Cherry Bomb but last years 2 Baddies showed one of the more unsuccessful renditions of that (though it has gotten much better with time).
And that brings me to Ay-Yo, a song that unlike its predecessors, doesn’t attempt to do anything too obnoxious but at the same time, fails to really be interesting in its own right. The production is much more muted than previous singles and while this sense of comparative calm does help, the problem with Ay-Yo is that it comes across as rather melodically empty. The beat is actually pretty intoxicating but just isn’t given as much emphasis as I would have liked, working too far in the background when it should have been the focus. But even with all those qualms, I can appreciate Ay-Yo for what it is. It’s easily the most melodically potent of the groups recent singles and unlike Favorite, which rode on the melodic majesty of its chorus, Ay-Yo maintains a melodic through line throughout its verses too. In many ways, it reaches back to their Limitless era sound. Though that song had much more bite and verve.
Ultimately, Ay-Yo is perfectly fine and completely serviceable. It fits the group to a tee and the boys perform it very well. I just don’t really think it does anything to stand out or even get me to come back for repeated listens. If I wanted to hear this sound, the group already have multiple, much stronger iterations of it within their excellent back catalogue. And while I may not particularly like either Sticker or 2 Baddies, it’s hard to deny how fun they are to listen to at least. I just wish 127 could bring both of these qualities back into a killer title track like they used to on the regular.
Final Rating: 7.75 / 10
One thought on “Song Review: NCT 127 – Ay-Yo”
why do you have to be soo rude to ligit everyone. you should quit blogging because your “reviews” are just rude degrading crap