More than any other year so far, 2019 has seen SM Entertainment’s NCT project expand its tentacles toward foreign markets. Chief among these initiatives is WayV, the Chinese branch of the NCT universe. C-pop has its own musical preferences, but WayV’s discography has acted as a pretty seamless extension of SME’s Korean work. This proved to be a huge success with May’s addictive “Take Off.” New single “Moonwalk” isn’t quite as impactful, but the song retains many of WayV’s best elements.
The song gradually unveils a theatrical blend of orchestral elements and more standard, trap-influenced beats. The former is obviously more exciting than the latter, and imbues the instrumental with a welcome sense of grandiosity even when the melodies don’t hit quite as hard. The verses feel a little meandering, but they have their high points. I like the vocal arrangement overall — particularly the harmonic backing vocals. The rap is par for the course for NCT, riding the same flow and attitude of most of their tracks.
“Moonwalk” really proves its mettle during its standout chorus. This imposing, vocal-rich refrain echoes SM works of years past, coming across as a long-lost EXO track — circa 2012/13. The classic K-pop fan in me appreciates this approach very much, even if I’ve heard more exciting chorus melodies before. Even better is the injection of guitar during the climactic dance break of “Moonwalk,” which echoes “Take Off” in the best possible way and could easily become one of WayV’s signature production flourishes. In fact, I’d go further and say that it shouldn’t only be a flourish. I hope WayV’s next single finds a way to harness the energy of the final third and distribute it through an entire track.