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NCT 127 gifts fans a boxful of joy with ‘Sticker’

NCT 127 poses at the “Sticker” media showcase Friday. (S.M. Entertainment)
NCT 127 poses at the “Sticker” media showcase Friday. (S.M. Entertainment)

Returning a year and half after their smash-hit second full-length album, K-pop boy band NCT 127 said the main concern in preparing new album “Sticker” was going beyond themselves.

They achieved the goal -- and much more -- with preorders for their third studio album “Sticker” surpassing 2 million copies Thursday, triple the number of their second studio album “NCT #127 Neo Zone” even before the release of the album the following day.

During a media showcase conducted a few hours ahead of the album’s release at 1 p.m. on Friday, leader Taeyong said, “As excited as we were that the previous album received a huge amount of love, it also hit us as a concern that we needed to do better than that in the next album. We really worked hard to show more of us, and ‘Sticker’ is an album resulting from such a process.”

The new album is jam-packed with 11 songs, all of different genres and colors, showing the versatility of the nine-piece group.

Fronting the album is title track “Sticker,” which was produced by S.M. Entertainment’s main producer and board director Yoo Young-jin.

Taeyong, who took part in writing the rap verse along with Mark, said the melody just clicked with him when he first heard it.

“Hearing the signature flute source at the beginning, I just thought, ‘this is it, this is us.’ It wasn’t easy working out how we should perform it, but fortunately, producer Yoo gave us the chance to write the raps, and we were able to add more of the group’s character into it,” he said.

Kicking off with a catchy flute sound, “Sticker” is a hip-hop dance tune with an intense bass line and rhythmic vocals. The lyrics sing of staying close with one’s loved one, forgetting about the troubling world and just making history together.

According to Jaehyun, the choreography is also packed with a variety of iconic moves. “It’s again very ‘neo’ (futuristic) and powerful. While there’s the groovy side to it, we also tried to express the sticky feeling in our moves.”

The music video was also a big part of the project.

“While it‘s themed in a western movie style, it has our neo, futuristic concept. Whereas western movies have cowboys, we gave a twist to it to add unconventionality. It incorporates a lot of flashy lights, computer graphics and effects,” Jaehyun added.

NCT 127 “Sticker” teaser image (S.M. Entertainment)
NCT 127 “Sticker” teaser image (S.M. Entertainment)

From the 11-track album, most of the band picked the last track and fan song “Promise You” as their favorite.

With the song’s Korean title “When We Meet Again,” Doyoung explained, “It conveys the longing heart to reunite with one‘s parted lover, just like our situation now, awaiting the day when we can meet our fans again.”

Mark piped in to say, “The good thing about an album is that you can have a different song every day, and today, I feel that song’s right. It’s really like the day when we’ve met again.”

Yuta picked “Lemonade” as it’s a song with NCT 127’s unique sound that is more easy to listen to, while Haechan chose “Magic Carpet Ride” for its capturing sound and lyrics. Taeil said “The Rainy Night” will showcase a different sonic experience from the other tracks.

Listening to highlighted parts of their tracks, Taeyong said, “‘Focus’ really caught my ear. I realized how good the members have become, how well we can now digest melodic vocals and sounds.”

Jungwoo recommended “Dreamer” for one’s morning alarm, “It has the feel-good vibes. While the other songs are powerful, it’s a much more ‘easy-listening’ song that you can listen to casually.”

Throughout the event, the bandmates repeatedly shared their longing for concerts, yearning to reunite in person with fans around the world.

Asked where he wishes to stick to, Johnny said, “it might sound cliche, but the concert hall. I’m just waiting for the day when we can meet the fans on stage.”

“I think we were really lucky to have visited different parts of the world before the pandemic, to have had the chance to present ourselves, and that is likely the reason how we could receive such huge love with the second full-length album,” Taeyong said. “We’re preparing ourselves so that we can hold a concert as soon as the situation gets better.”

Debuting in July 2016 with first EP “NCT #127,” the group marked their fifth anniversary this year.

“Five years is not a short time, and while we have gained much experience and matured since our debut, the one thing that has not changed since is our relationship with the fans. I think this positive relationship, where we (the band and fans) support each other, is what makes us maintain that heart we had from the start.”

The album is chock-full of blockbuster sounds and visuals, the group said, shared in the age of pandemic for fans to enjoy.

“We can’t go anywhere, and it’s the content that makes us smile and cry now. We’ve put much effort into creating quality content, and we hope fans can enjoy it,” Taeyong said.

For their ultimate goal with “Sticker,” Doyoung said, “Although numbers are important as well, it’s an album that is released after a year and a half, and I hope that fans can really feel satisfied when we are done with all the (promotional) activities, and think that it is an album to remember for a long time.”

By Choi Ji-won (