Photo: SM Entertainment
NCT 127 On New Album '2 Baddies' & Why Their U.S. Return Will Be Epic: "Our Fans Will Notice How Much Fun We're Having"
K-pop group NCT 127 sat down with GRAMMY.com to discuss why '2 Baddies' presents an elevated version of their music, and how they’re "going full speed to our goal" of achieving their dreams.
With six years and four full-length Korean albums under their belts, NCT-127 has made one thing very clear: their sound is unpredictable. The K-pop group — a sub-group of South Korean boyband NCT — often merges genres and instrumentation in innovative ways, and their latest album, 질주 (2 Baddies), is no exception.
Released Sept. 16, the album, as the guys describe it, is more hip-hop based than any project they've released before. Though hip-hop is the core, with memorable rap verses found on most of the songs, plenty of other genres are sprinkled across 질주 (2 Baddies) like R&B, pop, and drill. And in fitting NCT 127 fashion, no one track sounds the same.
Throughout the album's 12 tracks, listeners travel through a vast soundscape. On the first four tracks alone, the group delivers low tones (opening track "Faster") transition to the booming and electric title track "질주(2 Baddies)," then slow down to crooning R&B on "Time Lapse" and a mix of R&B and UK drill on "Crash Landing." Other songs have more of a lighter pop sound, like "Designer" and the final track "1,2,7 (Time Stops)". Overall, 질주 (2 Baddies) feels like a more extensive project that showcases their range as a group.
With a balance of braggadocious and feel-good anthems and more emotional, fan-centric tracks, there's something for everyone, showing why NCT 127 has become a mainstay in the Korean music scene. Rappers Mark and Taeyong also contributed to lyric writing on "Time Lapse" and "Designer," adding more of the group's personal flair.
This October, they will play two bi-coastal shows in LA and NY, which will be their first time in the U.S. as a group since 2020. Ahead of their return, GRAMMY.com caught up with all of the NCT 127 guys (TAEIL, JOHNNY, TAEYONG, YUTA, DOYOUNG, JAEHYUN, JUNGWOO, MARK, HAECHAN) via Zoom to discuss 질주 (2 Baddies) and their tour. Even through a computer, the guys' energy is magnetic — it's clear they're excited to reunite with fans and share this new chapter of their careers.
Where does the title 질주 (2 Baddies) come from?
MARK: It's from the meaning of what we're trying to deliver. 질주 in English means high-speed. It definitely goes well with the Porsche concept that we came up with. We made a point about going full speed to our goal without caring about what the world may put in front of us or whatever opinions people may have.
We're just focusing on what we live in our dreams. That attitude was very tough for us in the song, so that's what we wanted to portray and put into the song.
What feels different about this album compared to your previous releases?
JOHNNY: Each song has more of a hip-hop sound than before. You can really tell how much time we took to make the album. The quality is very high and all our members' vocals are well-portrayed throughout the album as well.
What's different is definitely for "질주 (2 Baddies)," the title song, is going to be the performance in my opinion. There's a lot more smiling than the other songs that we formed. I think our fans will really notice how much fun we're having while performing. That's got to be the biggest difference from the other songs we had before.
You guys are doing two shows in the U.S., which will be your first time performing in America since 2020. Are you excited? Do you have anything special planned for the performances?
JAEHYUN: We're definitely excited because it's been such a long time since we've been to the U.S. We've prepared that much for the concert and we're coming up with a new album, so I think that would be added as a new thing to do on tour.
MARK and TAEYONG, you two wrote on "Time Lapse" and "Designer." Can you guys talk more about your contributions on those two songs and what was your rap-making process like?
MARK: "Time Lapse" and "Designer" are totally different songs. For each song, we wanted to incorporate our different interpretations of the song. How we all both took our verses — for example, for "Time Lapse," the way we saw loneliness and that dreadful feeling of being alone all the time was different for him and I.
It's also kind of connected to our dreams. It's always fun to write with him. It really showcases our strong differences as well. Stuff like that really makes it more fun to write raps. I think it came out nice.
Do you guys have a favorite track from the album?
YUTA: "질주 (2 Baddies)."
HAECHAN: "질주 (2 Baddies)."
TAEYONG: The title.
What makes everyone say that one?
MARK: It's that good.
Are there any new genres you guys tried this time around?
TAEYONG: "Faster" is really low-tone. The song starts at a low tone and ends at a low tone. It's the first time we ever worked on a song like that.
What story are you guys trying to tell with this album?
MARK: Like I said, for "질주 (2 Baddies)," the meaning of the song goes well with the word "high-speed." That's why we put the translation of high-speed in Korean as the title. Having that as the title track of the entire album really sets the tone for all the other songs in the playlist.
The other songs revolve around "질주 (2 Baddies)." For example, "Faster" is pretty much an extended version of "질주 (2 Baddies)," in my opinion. That's why the order of "Faster" and "질주 (2 Baddies)" are right there together. Having our albums structured in that type of way kind of made the whole album very well-packaged.
The music video for "질주 (2 Baddies)" looked like it was fun to film. Do you have any memories from filming it?
JOHNNY: It was definitely fun filming it. There were a lot of new things we tried. The main color of the music video is very neon-ish. There were a lot of neon points.
It was kind of like a cyberpunk feel to the whole music video. That's why it was a lot of fun. We tried to incorporate all those new colors and new styles. We had cars hanging, trying to make [it] more futuristic throughout the whole [video]. It was a lot of fun.
Do you guys have any new goals for the future?
JAEHYUN: Let's have fun while performing, you guys.
MARK: We just want to have fun.
JAEHYUN: We always enjoy performing "질주 (2 Baddies)."
JOHNNY: It's been a long time. It's already been a year — almost two years — since our last comeback [music release]. We prepared a lot for this album, music-wise, visual-wise, just everything.
I hope that our fans have fun with the album. I really hope that they enjoy it as much as we do. We just want to say thank you to our fans all around the world who are going to be listening and thank you for waiting this long.
Photo: Alison Buck/Getty Images
TLC, Chicago, Kelly Rowland & More Announced As Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Performers
The 93rd annual Thanksgiving celebration will make its way through Manhattan, with musicians, astronauts, Broadway stars—plus a gigantic Snoopy and Spongebob—helping spread the holiday cheer
Today, Nov. 1, Macy's announced details for their forthcoming 93rd annual Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. The performers slated to bring festive cheer to the colorful parade floats include GRAMMY winners TLC, Kelly Rowland, Chicago, Ciara and Black Eyed Peas.
Current Latin GRAMMY nominee Ozuna will also be joining in on the fun, bringing his joyful reggaetón to the Sour Patch Kids float. You can find GRAMMY- and Emmy-winning "Pose" star Billy Porter looking fierce atop Coach's "Rexy in the City"—a fancy T-Rex and the first-ever luxury brand-sponsored float in the historic parade. Rexy will join the ranks of the huge Snoopy and Spongebob, as well as a new smiling sun float from world-renown artist Yayoi Kusama, featuring her ever-present polka dots.
Broadway—including "Wicked" and "Rent"—star Idina Menzel is also set to appear—you likely know her as the voice of Elsa in Frozen and the Disney film's ubiquitous "Let It Go." Singer and former "Glee" lead Lea Michelle, rising Nashville-based, Canada-born country artist Tenille Townes, and 12-year-old Houston-born, Atlanta-based rapper That Girl Lay Lay will also perform.
Oh, we’re not done yet. @NCTsmtown_127, @KELLYROWLAND, @natashabdnfield, Josh Dela Cruz, @DebbieGibson & @chicagotheband will be there, too! Watch all your faves on Thanksgiving morning starting at 9am on @NBC. #MacysParade https://t.co/D5DLVeEshV pic.twitter.com/bEjxV5UsNi— Macy's (@Macys) November 1, 2019
The event takes place the morning of Thanksgiving, Thurs., Nov. 28. It will air on NBC from 9 a.m. to noon during all time zones. More info can be found on Macy's site.
Photo: VCG/Getty Images
KCON 2018 NY Hails Return Of NCT 127, Debut Of Stray Kids
Acts join already announced artists EXID, Heize and Wanna One for a June concert that will be K-hot
On June 23–24 at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, KCON USA returns to the East Coast, bolstering the growing demand for K-pop artistry in the U.S. Dubbed "KCON 2018 NY," teasers built suspense for the April 19 artist reveal, building to a satisfying peak as NCT 127 and Stray Kids have been added to the lineup.
Last year the nine members of NCT 127 were newcomers at both KCON 2017 NY and the West Coast KCON 2017 LA, with their hits "Cherry Bomb" and Fire Truck" in tow. The crowd's enthusiasm led Billboard to compare their reception with the 2014 reaction to BTS' debut.
NCT 127's members originate from Canada, China and Japan as well as Korea. The editors at Apple Music honored them as the first K-pop artists on their "New Artist of the Week" list, in addition to hosting them at a "Today at Apple" in-store appearance in Brooklyn.
JYP Entertainment's Stray Kids, who will be making their U.S. debut, also comprise nine members. They have been heating up the Korean market as emerging artists and Billboard described them last month as the new "power player" that has everyone talking about them. Several members have also been impressive at developing their songwriting talents and contributing to the group's repertoire. Their "District 9" hit was notable for its rap/rock blend and impressive dancing, and is expected to cause raptures at the Prudential Center. In less than a month it has gained more than 20 million YouTube views.
NCT 127 and Stray Kids are joining already announced artists EXID, Heize and Wanna One for KCON 2018 NY. Tickets go on sale on May 11 for the concert and registration for the convention-event begins May 14.
KCON 2018 LA is coming to Staples Center and the LA Convention Center in August. So how hot do we think this summer is going to be? K-hot.
Photo: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for iHeartMedia
RodeoHouston 2020 To Feature Maren Morris, NCT 127, Becky G, Willie Nelson, Khalid & More
The livestock show, rodeo and music fest will take place at Houston's NRG Stadium March 3–22
Every year RodeoHouston puts on a show as big as Texas itself. This year is no different. The festival has announced its first 17 headliners, bringing together major names from the pop, country, Latin pop and Mexican regional world including Willie Nelson, Becky G, Maren Morris and Ramon Ayala.
Midland, Chris Young, k-pop group NCT 127, Kane Brown, Cody Johnson, Jon Pardi, Dierks Bentley, Keith Urban, Gwen Stefani, Khalid, Chris Stapleton, Brad Paisley, and Luke Bryan will also performer at RodeoHouston 2020. The fest will take place at Houston's NRG Stadium March 3–22.
Another round of performance announcements is expected on Feb.4.
Tickets for the 2020 concerts go on sale Jan. 16 at 10 a.m.
Press Play At Home: Singer And Producer Scarlet Parke Manifests Her Dreams In Immersive New Single, "369"
The self-produced soul-pop singer channels retro jazz vocals and a mesmerizing beat in a performance of her new single, "369." The song details how Parke set intentions and carefully laid the foundation for her dreams to come true.
Scarlet Parke blends luminous, Amy Winehouse-inspired jazz vocals with a danceable pop beat in her performance of "369." The brand-new single chronicles Parke's experience of manifesting her dreams through journaling, growth and gratitude.
In this episode of Press Play At Home, Parke pairs her new song with a mesmerizing throwback look. Standing at a microphone against a bright red background, Parke dons a corseted, off-the-shoulder jumpsuit that’s part rockabilly and part Marilyn Monroe. She rounds out the visual with a retro cateye and a flared, fringed haircut.
Parke's aesthetic reflects her use of genres; her style incorporates soul and jazz elements, with a healthy dash of feel-good pop. It’s a signature blend that she created herself, signing on to her musical projects as a self-made producer in order to create the music she hears in her head, down to the last detail.
"I’ve been holding onto some of the songs on my upcoming album for as long as nine years. I’ve just been searching for the right producer, and it was me the whole time," she says of her creative process, underscoring the gender imbalance in the industry. Currently, only two percent of music producers are women.
"It’s been a journey and I really want to talk about how women are treated in the industry. I really want to talk about how important it is that women support each other more than ever," Parke continues. "There’s nothing like the freedom that I’ve felt producing my own music."
That freedom allowed her to tackle a deeply personal subject in "369": how journaling and self-manifestation helps her fulfill her dreams.
"Three, six, nine are divine numbers, and I journal a lot using the '369 Method.' In the morning you write something down three times, in the afternoon six times and at night nine times," Parke explains. "You envision it, you feel it, you experience gratitude and you receive it. I’ve had a lot of really cool experiences because of it, and that’s what this song is about."
"369" comes off of Parke’s upcoming album, Simulation, and she has described it as the heart of the record. Press play on the video above to watch Parke’s full performance of her self-realized new song, and keep checking back to GRAMMY.com for more new episodes of Press Play at Home.