After last week’s knockout release “Boss,” NCT U is back with the second of six music videos that will be rolled out as part of NCT’s full-group, all-unit comeback in March. A duet between NCT’s main dancers Taeyong and Ten, the concept of “Baby Don’t Stop” was teased as low-fi sexy, complete with breathy whispers and heavy eyeshadow. Since these two are dancers, I figured that the focus of the duet would be more on visuals and choreography than on the music itself—“Boss” is no easy act to follow, and I expected SM Entertainment to let the hype peak before delivering the next hard punch. It looks like I’m going to have to revise my expectations for this NCT comeback. If the consecutive releases of “Boss” and “Baby Don’t Stop” are any indication, SM doesn’t intend to hold anything back, and we’d better gear up to get hit in the gut six times in a row before “NCT 2018” is over.
The magic of “Baby Don’t Stop” is its deceptively simple exterior. You’ve got half a dozen moving parts within the song’s structure, but the fairly flat dynamics bring all those parts together as if they were never separate. Whereas “Boss” with its huge ups and downs requires that you pay attention as you listen, “Baby Don’t Stop” is easy to follow along with. Those chill vibes disguise the intricacy of the arrangement. The key is the grimy synth-and-bass loop at the heart of the song, which drives the rhythm and imbues the vocal melodies with a vital touch of quirkiness. The loop is on continuous repeat throughout the song without variation, which again makes it feel simple, but in fact it’s compositionally a bit bizarre. The seductive whispering, which could have come off a little cringey, is superimposed over the instrumental to ultimately become a part of it, contributing to percussion and rhythm in a way that’s similar to a beatbox in an acappella group. Understated vocals and a simple melody again make the song easy to follow, but the carefully placed vocal harmony adds a heavy swath of R&B sweetness (much of whose flavor is owed to the eccentric synth centerpiece) that turns the hook into something brilliantly compelling, in a chill-jam way. Even TY’s speed-rapping in the bridge blends in with the flow of the song instead of interrupting it. In tandem, all these distinct and unique elements yield a listening experience that feels effortless. It’s clear from these releases that SM isn’t playing around with NCT anymore. They’re systematically designing the group’s ascent to the top, and “NCT 2018” is surely going to be the biggest step yet.
BABY DON’T STOP: KAYBOP OR KAYFLOP? Boppy bop bop.
Take a look at NCT U’s “Baby Don’t Stop” MV below: