When groups have been around for a few years, I like to do a side by side from debut to current just to remind myself of how much they change and develop. A rookie group doesn’t get much say in what they’ll sound like or what the concept will be and sometimes it’s a bit…painful for them as well as for us. Frequently, though, the management company may be forced into a more innocent or juvenile style simply because the members actually are innocent and juvenile. For example, Astro was always meant to have a bit of a sexier concept, but when Sanha was added at the ripe old age of 15 – they debuted just shy of his 16th birthday – they had to change them up a bit. And while he’s grown up to be something else altogether, 15 is just not sexy. 15-year-old boys weren’t sexy when I WAS 15.
NCT Dream is the third subunit of the NCT project at SM Entertainment. It’s what’s known as a rotational unit, meaning that as the members turn 19, they age out. We saw our first departure this past year when Mark graduated after his final release with the other members, We Go Up! It was a sad time, but Mark is a member of almost every other subunit and is one of the primary frontmen of a boatload of songs. Though we’ll miss him in Dream, we’ll see him often and frankly, it’s given some of the other members more opportunity to really display their talents…of which there are a ton.
If we’re doing our math correctly, four of the remaining six members turn 19 this year. SM hasn’t added any additional talent yet and there’s some concern that when they do, it’ll force them to age the music down again because any newbies will have to be at least the same age as their 2002 line maknae or younger. Younger…shiver. As a reminder of age-appropriate music for someone debuting in Kpop in their mid-teens, here’s NCT Dream back in 2016.
Chewing Gum, NCT Dream
I clearly remember when this came out. I recall staring at my phone while brushing my teeth a little disappointed that there was something with the NCT brand I would never ever love and wondering how in the hell this was the same Mark as in the Seventh Sense MV. I don’t think that I even made it through the whole song before needing a brain cleanse. But damn it, those guys grew up fast and I learned ‘em and loved ‘em within a few short months of this song. Recently, they performed Chewing Gum on a variety show and it is totally worth watching the original with this in quick succession just to see how long three years is when you’re still growing. It’s seriously the difference between blowing bubbles and, blowing, well…I’ll stop there.
Chewing Gum Hover Boards 2019, NCT Dream
And to really illustrate just how much the Dreamies have changed since debut, I’ll leave you with their most recent comeback. I don’t know how any of them will ever go back to an age-appropriate sound for the teen subunit. Ever.
Boom, NCT Dream