Ever since the concept of NCT was announced, I looked forward to the day that all of its members would unite for one dynamic single. I imagined a giant chorus of vocals and an army of dancers. I imagined a song as immense and dramatic as the idea of NCT itself. But all that imagining was for naught — at least when it comes to “Black On Black“.
It’s no secret that I’m a pretty big fan of NCT and their music. They’ve appeared on my Top 3 Songs Of The Month feature more than any other artist, and I’ve been heaping praise on their 2018 output for the bulk of the year, but I don’t see how “Black On Black” can be viewed as anything but a massive disappointment. With NCT, SM Entertainment has cultivated a roster of incredible talent. They have the best songwriters at their disposal, and few budget restrictions. “Black On Black” could have been an astonishing blend of vocal firepower — like a darker, avant garde version of the immense boys ‘Produce 101‘ theme.
Instead, “Black On Black” really isn’t a song at all. It’s better regarded as a dance showcase, devoid of a chorus or actual melody beyond a few shouts and growls here and there. But even as a dance piece, it’s not particularly exciting. Way back in 2012, SME released a song called “Maxstep“, which brought some of its main dancers together for a similarly-conceived performance piece. In comparison, “Black On Black” feels like a forgettable interlude — constantly shifting gears without any real structure or point beyond being “badass.” This might have worked as an album intro, but as a promoted single it severely limits the aspects of NCT on display.