Future Stars: NCT (SM Entertainment)

Taken from this week’s Future Pop mailer. Click here to subscribe.

In the past year, boyband BTS have taken global stardom to a new level for K-pop acts, achieving many international firsts for the genre and gaining recognition even outside the K-pop community. One surprising part of the story is that they’re not signed to one of the “big three”Korean labels, SM, YG and JYP, but a smaller company named Big Hit. This has undoubtedly unnerved the big three, but the growing K-pop audience does open opportunities for them too. The most obvious contender for “the next BTS” is SM’s NCT, a boyband with 18 members who usually perform as three sub-units: NCT U, NCT 127 and NCT Dream. They’re one of the most mainstream, globally marketable K-pop acts I’ve ever seen, with a similar, youthful, fun vibe and hip-hop-meets-dance-pop sound to BTS, and incredibly slick production and choreography. The synchronicity in their Black on Black video, which features all 18 members, is mind-boggling. Their videos are consistently brilliant but I recommend Boss and Baby Don’t Stop (which could definitely be a Western hit) as a starting point. Just don’t watch them on a day when you have important things to do… 10 hours later you’ll still be on YouTube.

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