Song Review: Beatbox by NCT Dream

NCT Dream’s music has always clicked with me. Even as their musical direction evolved when the members themselves grew older, I have been able to appreciate their title tracks. Even Glitch Mode, which is probably their most polarizing release, is a song I can get behind. Beatbox returns to Dream’s roots as a playful and youthful addition to their discography. Is Beatbox able to continue Dream’s extremely solid run of title tracks or will their streak be broken?

Hooks
The constant use of repetition, both lyrically and melodically makes the song very sticky. The particular melodies used in the song are very solid, ensuring that even though there is quite a bit of repetition, it doesn’t become tiring to listen to. Beatbox is a great example where the use of talk-singing works really well because it greatly simplified the melody. Altogether, these aspects add to the song’s overall catchiness and memorability.

The song’s chorus is among my favorite choruses of the year. Making sure to incorporate the word ‘beatbox’ as a constant motif, helps make the chorus unforgettable. Paired with its standout melody that further builds on the playful atmosphere that the verses established, it had me singing along with the members by the time the second chorus hit.

The post-chorus only further builds on the chorus, still keeping the same motif, this time using the call and answer technique. The melodies are insanely catchy, there isn’t any other way I can put it!

The second verse keeps up the song’s momentum, and also spices things up by taking a slightly different direction from the first verse. While the second verse’s beginning is more or less the same as its counterpart, it makes a few adjustments to the melody in the second half almost playfully, as if alluding to the song’s youthful nature. The small differences also help in keeping the song sounding fresh.

The bridge, in my opinion, is another win. Giving spotlight to the group’s vocalists, it gives the listener another little something to look forward to.

The Song’s final chorus brings it all together, still sticking to the same (extremely effective) motif that refuses to leave my head to this day.

Just as I thought that the song was about to finish, it surprised me with an outro! The melody, just like all the other melodies of the song, is extremely solid and easy to remember. How did Beatbox get it all right?

Finally, the song ends with ‘everywhere I go, bring the beatbox’, one of the phrases that were used throughout the whole song. This essentially seals the deal: it won’t be leaving my head any time soon!

10/10

Production
Honestly, I don’t have too much to say about the song’s production. It complemented the hooks of the song very well. Some parts of the production itself are catchy and also become part of the hooks. The instrumental section towards the end felt well-balanced. It wasn’t too overwhelming, but it also didn’t sacrifice the song’s playful and jubilant spirit. The production’s intensity was brought up a notch during the final chorus to make it appropriately climactic. There was also a sense of dynamics throughout the song, (something which I have complained about in my recent reviews), which is always a plus. It had a good variety of musical textures, and there weren’t any ‘momentum killers’ either that slowed down the song’s exuberant energy. I also like how it made the vocals the main focus of the song, for the mixing was very clear, making the boys sound as good as they can be.

All in all, I don’t have any complaints!

10/10

Vocal and Rap Delivery

As fun of a song Beatbox is, it wouldn’t have felt as fun if the vocal timbres of the people singing it didn’t match the same vibe. There is no need to fear, however, for I strongly believe that no other group would have pulled this off as well as NCT Dream did. Haechan, Chenle, and Renjun did great, whether it be in the verses or the bridge, it is as good as it can get. Dream’s vocalists aren’t as technically competent as NCT 127’s, but the vocal timbres of main vocalists Doyoung and Taeil aren’t as well matched to the song compared to Dream’s main vocal trio. Dream’s vocalists make their songs distinctly their own, and this is one of the qualities I appreciate the most from Dream.

As for rap, while there aren’t any proper rap verses in this song, Mark, Jeno, Jisung, and Jaemin did a good job in pulling off the ‘talk-rap’ parts. However, I do feel that the group’s rappers were slightly outshined by the vocalists in this song. This is especially because there was a lack of variation in the delivery of their lines unless it was part of the song writing itself (whispering at the end of the post-chorus for example). If they had let loose a little more, it would have further added to the whole song. What somewhat saves them, however, is the fact that the song itself has dynamic moments, so their execution didn’t greatly lower the song’s overall quality.

Vocal – 10/10
Rap – 8/10
Overall – 9/10

Final thoughts
Beatbox not only maintains Dream’s solid run of title tracks but launches Dream into one of my favorite K-pop acts this year. The hooks of the song in particular are the definition of magnetic and will give it great longevity. While the ‘rap’ bits could have been more playfully executed and less ‘one note’, it isn’t enough to hinder the song’s infectious energy from affecting me. Indeed, everywhere they go, they bring the beatbox!

10/10

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