Given NCT Dream’s massive – and I mean MASSIVE – explosion of popularity in South Korea this spring, having a repackage makes total sense. Unfortunately for me, my habit of going all-in on a group’s comeback and then taking a break from them is not conducive to repackages. “Hot Sauce” took over most of my May (and part of June too), and I spent a lot of time and energy on it. NCT Dream’s comeback announcement came right when I was feeling like it was time to move on to another group, so I was worried I wouldn’t be able to fully appreciate “Hello Future” as a result. (I had a similar situation with SHINee earlier when I overdid it with “Don’t Call Me” and needed some time to get into “Atlantis.”) But I’m delighted to say I was 100% wrong – I LOVE “Hello Future,” and I can’t get enough!
“Hello Future” doubles down on the feel-good vibes with a sweet melody and shining vocals in the chorus. (Haechan’s incredibly clear falsetto particularly stands out as a highlight.) I really enjoy how it starts out gentle and laidback but slowly builds until it explodes in energy by the end – it’s super satisfying. Since this is NCT we’re talking about, there’s also a bit of an experimental sound going on. The composition has some futuristic embellishes that do a good job of making the song more complex and interesting. Thankfully, those elements don’t compete with the rest of the arrangement or make everything too noisy. I do find the rap sections just a *little* aggressive compared to the peaceful mood of the chorus and vocals, but I also think they add a nice layer that makes the track more multidimensional.
NCT Dream started out as teenagers
though “Chewing Gum” made them look like kids, so their music has always been very focused on their young age and their journey into adulthood. Their comebacks have naturally become more mature in sound and aesthetic over the years, but “Hello Future” is somewhat of a return to that joyful and bright energy their earlier singles were known for. While I’ve always been vocal about how I don’t necessarily relate to NCT Dream (since I’m way older), they’ve managed to rope me in this time around with their upbeat attitudes. The sheer optimism of “Hello Future” is so infectious that I, a perpetual “glass half-empty” person, can’t listen to it without smiling. The uplifting lyrics of the chorus even made me tear up a bit. It’s just a pure dose of positivity that’s hard to resist.
Back when I reacted to “Hot Sauce,” I remember thinking it was getting dangerously close to songs that other NCT units have released. It’s great, but I don’t think it’s that indicative of NCT Dream’s artistry – it highlights their impressive skill set, but not necessarily their signature color and style (if that makes sense). So though I loved “Hot Sauce,” I was secretly hoping they wouldn’t stray too far from the fresh and youthful sound that made them so special in the first place. And it’s like SM Entertainment read my mind, because “Hello Future” is exactly what I envisioned for them. I truly believe it’s a song only NCT Dream can do.
The music video is also very NCT Dream, because it allows them to show off their quirky nature and what makes them unique. It features the members as aliens come to Earth to help spread happiness and love, whether that’s through peaceful protests during a sports match or crashing through a no-nonsense restricted area with their colorful van. There’s definitely a 60’s inspired aesthetic going on, and I’m really feeling all of the tie-dye and flower child/boho outfits. Some parts of the music video (particularly the bright color scheme) actually remind me of EXO’s “Ko Ko Bop,” which is also about aliens who are chilling on Earth… I wonder if there’s supposed to be a connection? Probably not, but you never know with SM.
And per usual, I absolutely love the choreography. But this is always the case with NCT Dream, as I feel their performances are very high-quality and entertaining to watch. I really enjoy how the dance for “Hello Future” is arranged so that the verses and bridge are mostly performed in smaller groups and sections, with everyone coming together for important moments like the beginning, choruses, and ending. Normally I don’t really like when the members of a group keep going in and out because I find it distracting, but “Hello Future” was choreographed in a way that the members can easily draw our attention to what’s important and keep the performance flowing seamlessly. Definitely one of my favorite K-pop dances so far this year.
MY OVERALL INTEREST LEVEL
(NOTE: My options for each category are “Love,” “Like,” “Neutral,” “Not My Style,” or “Dislike.” But I rarely dislike anything, so I’ll mostly be using the other four.)
I was initially unsure if I could muster up much enthusiasm for NCT’s repackage since I was so tapped out from listening to “Hot Sauce” on repeat for over a month… but somehow, “Hello Future” has quickly managed to become one of my recent favorites. In fact, this might be the first NCT Dream comeback I’ve truly connected with from the start. Since repackage title tracks tend to not get as much attention as the single that came right before, part of me wishes that NCT Dream had released “Hello Future” first. Not because I think it’s better than “Hot Sauce” – they’re so different I can’t even really compare them – but because I believe it highlights exactly who NCT Dream is and what they bring to the table. Given where they are as singers and as people, it’s the perfect song for them right now. Plus it’s just pure excellence all around. I couldn’t be prouder of NCT Dream, and I look forward to watching their stars rise even higher.
(“Knee Jerk Reaction” is a column I created to talk about comebacks or debuts when I don’t have a lot of time to write in-depth reviews. A knee jerk reaction is like an automatic response, so it’s a post about my initial thoughts on the song, the music video, and the performance if it’s available. Compared to my reviews, everything is more stream of consciousness and less analytical. And everything is 100% my own opinion!)
SOURCES: Featured image and music video belong to SM Entertainment.