2019, a great time for American and Canadian NCTzens (well mostly the Vancouver ones), not so fun for Korean NCTzens. I can’t talk about Superhuman era without mentioning the boycott from K-fans.
The tldr of it was K-fans felt played by SM for the company’s decision to release WE ARE SUPERHUMAN mini album with no promotions in the US.
There was the sudden push from SM, to get in on the Kpop in the US explosion and yeah, this is pretty much why we got SuperM. Yay, capitalism .
I still have mixed feelings on the group.
Anyway, so while some lucky I-fans were getting selfies and running into NCT 127 in their area, K-fans weren’t feeling it and let it “flop” in Korea.
I mean, 381,051 sales according KMCA isn’t too bad considering 127 was still growing as a group in popularity. And on the year-end chart, they placed 20 on Gaon. All this info coming from Wikipedia.
In the States, however, it did pretty well chart wise. The album debuted at number 11 on the US Billboard 200, their highest charting album in the chart at that time. That’s had to have been broken by now. This put them behind BTS for being the second highest charting Kpop group on that chart.
When it comes to the weekly charts, they placed number 1 on both US Independent Albums and US World Albums. And for the year-end chart performance, they placed number 9 on US World Albums.
This was a pretty good roll out. They spent months in the States, and this was honestly my peak era for being an NCTzen. My favorite YouTube content from 127 was released during this time, HIT THE STATES.
I love this series so much because it’s literally just them chillin in the states when they weren’t doing concerts or other promotions for the album or tour (NCT 127 1st Tour ‘NEO City – The Origin’).
I’ve mentioned before how much I love Idol content where they’re just doing simple stuff like grocery shopping, eating at restaurants (or street food) or visiting tourist attractions.
Oh! This was also like the first time in like years, Johnny got to go back to Chicago and visit his family!!
Still one of my favorite vlogs. It’s just so cozy once they get to Johnny’s family’s house, and it’s Mark, Doyoung, and Johnny. My only complaint was that Ten should have been here. But it’s fine.
Them hanging out in Miami and Mark walking around singing Will Smith’s song “Miami” was a meme between me and my mom for the longest time.
Also, seeing Yuta and Taeyong explore Arizona as a former resident was so surreal. I couldn’t image any Kpop groups touring Arizona when I first got into Kpop, and now in 2023, a few groups have stopped there. I love to see it.
I’m sure it also meant a lot to other NCTzens to see the guys in their home states/towns and having a taste of what Korean and Japanese fans, to be very honest.
Like Japanese fans be getting spoiled with albums, concerts, special merch exclusive to their country, all the time. American’s spend tons of money on Kpop too, like let us have this moment, jeez.
And like meanwhile Europeans, South American, and other I-fans be starving for groups to even tour near them. Idk I understand to an extent to why Korean (not all of them obviously) NCTzens were salty, but like… girl.
Their home base is in Seoul, hence the 127. They’ll be back. How are they supposed to gain international success if they don’t leave Korea for promotions every once in a while?
Anyway, this is an old series, but I highly recommend checking it out. It’s a fun way to kill a few hours. I think there’s a newer version of this concept on their YouTube channel. But I haven’t watched it, lol. I’m not as involved with NCT’s (like the whole group) content like that anymore.
Okay, let’s talk about the Neo City – The Origin, the first NCT 127 tour before we get into this album. I’m doing things a bit differently for this article, apparently, lol.
A clip of the NCT 127 bus they had driving around. I wasn’t able to see Doyoung and I think it was Mark? I forget who the other member who went out to say hi to fans waiting outside before the show. I was stuck in traffic, lol.
I’m a take short clips of videos at shows, then dance to the rest of the song and enjoy it in person type of concert goer. So here’s a bit of “Comeback”. By the way, these are kinda in order of when they were performed.
A bit of “Limitless”. I also couldn’t decide on vertical videos or horizontal for some reason, lol.
I love love loveeee “Chain” I was surprised they performed it. I’ll talk about it more in my other fave NCT 127 songs article that’ll be up later.
Same with “Wake Up”. I love when it’s a first tour because that means we get a bunch of older songs performed. That haven’t been seen outside of Asia, really.
I heard “Limitless” has now been removed from the tour set list, which is a shame. So “Wake Up” and some of these other b-sides definitely aren’t being performed outside of encores.
I was going to upload more clips, but I exceeded the upload size for the site, and YouTube was going to copyright claim my “Touch” and “Firetruck” clips.
That channel isn’t monetized, but I don’t want to deal with SM claiming it in the future or something. So I’ll upload them to Instagram. Hopefully there won’t be issues there.
But I had so much fun at this show. I still have video of the talking parts, and I still wear my origins tour shirt.
I found an HD quality pic of this shirt and other merch from this tour on Twitter if you want to check it out.
I ended up buying this shirt about a week or two after the concert from an American site, SM setup. It doesn’t look like it’s active anymore (the one in the Tweet I linked). They had it to where you could buy merch for a short window of time, but you had to wait for them to make more.
So I ended up getting my shirt like a month after the show because there were issues in production or something. I think they were also one size. But yeah, comfy shirt. I mostly wear it around the house now.
I had so much fun at this show. My only complaint was that it was at such a tiny venue, I hate The Roxy because of how cramped it is. I wish they would have been at Gas South instead.
They were just here again in Atlanta a few months ago, but I skipped it. I would see them again because they are amazing live. So if you’re lucky enough for them to stop in your city, I highly recommend seeing them.
Okay, on to the album!
Highway to Heaven
My mom loveeees this song. I do too. “Highway to Heaven” is much more R&B and pop. But I love how chill yet dancey the song is. More of the 127 I love, really.
We love a grayscale video moment. You can watch the other, I guess, official music video here. This is one of the few albums (maybe only? I should probably fact-check that.), where you have almost no members credited on the album when it comes to lyrics and arrangement.
Mark is only credited on one track, “Jet Lag”. That’s it. I think it’s because of the timing. If there wasn’t so much going on internationally, especially a tour, they just weren’t able to be as involved creation wise with it.
It doesn’t impede on song quality, though. The only song I don’t listen to ever is “Paper Plane” and the outro. But to me, this album picks right up from where Regular-Irregular left off. So if you enjoyed that album, you’ll love WE ARE SUPERHUMAN, even more disappointing the era wasn’t able to properly flourish as it should have.
I say all this because I’ve been included people who worked on the albums lately in my reviews, but this time around, I’m gonna skip it. It’s mostly Jam Factory and other in house SM production team members. For exact people, here’s the Wiki link.
So back to “Highway to Heaven” and WE ARE SUPERHUMAN, sound wise it leans into the R&B, House, and Electropop sound.
The Wiki mentions the futuristic sound this album has, and I agree. I remember this era being so ahead of what else was going on in Kpop at the time. Just from the music video for “Simon Says” I knew we were entering into an avant-garde era of NCT 127.
I hate the bowl cut they gave Jungwoo this era. But the concept photos for this era are pretty good. Actually, yeah, let’s get into “Superhuman”.
See, they knew the Y2K trend was coming, but they were waaay too early to cash in on it. The styling clothes wise is like a futuristic version of what they’ve been wearing for the last like two years. Sporty, a bit Hip Hop, baggy, but also high-end designer vibes in some scenes. I love the clothes in this video.
Details like robots in the background, clean sterile chrome environment and choreography just add to the whole futuristic Neo Culture Technology thing, and I’m so here for it.
You really hear the House and Electropop sound in “Superhuman”. The most experimental song off the album, but still radio friendly. Love to see it.
I love the intro to this song. “FOOL” sounds closer to an older NCT 127 song. I love the chorus and the harmonies in it.
I haven’t talked about this yet, but this was when they finally started giving Johnny a role as like sub-rapper. I think he’s always had that role to some extent.
But now feels like they felt comfortable with him having more lines outside of random English stuff. He and Jungwoo feel like they have solid roles by this point and like the group dynamic is fixed.
It’s difficult for me to pick a favorite song from this album, but I feel that I listen to “Jet Lag” the most. Listen to the vocals on the chorus and tell me you’re not hooked. It’s slightly slower paced, but you can still rock to it. Taeil was doing the damn thing on this track.
It’s another song that feels like an older NCT 127 song but is refreshing. It’s not a, I don’t know “0 Mile” pt 2, but there’s familiarity to it.
“Jet Lag” is the only song to have an NCT 127 member with song credits on it. I’m not sure if Mark’s lines at the end of the song was the part he wrote.
But it feels like it. It has more 127 vibes to it, like “FOOLS”. Like, “Superhuman” feels like a title track. Strong and in your face, while “FOOLS” and “Jet Lag” feel like b-sides, but in a good way.
This song feels so out of place on this album. I think that’s why I never listen to it. It’s fine. It feels like “My Page” by NCT Dream. It’s almost too bright.
I’m not sure why this song is on here. This feels like it’s better suited for another unit or a summer album.
It’s fine, but I don’t feel an urge to add it to any playlists.
OUTRO: WE ARE 127
It’s… um… a song? I love that it’s a minute and twenty-seven seconds long. But that’s all the good things I really have to say about it, lol.
It’s just Mark, Johnny, and other members saying 127, we are 127, and random instrumentals the whole time.
I don’t even remember listening to this song once. I must have. But I don’t remember anything about it, lmao.
So yeah, minus the outro and “Paper Planes”, banger album. It was so much fun working on this article. I’m a huge defender of this album, and era. I will not rest until there’s justice for “Superhuman”, lol.
I can’t believe I forgot I’m sitting on concert videos. I’ll be uploading clips from previous concerts to my Instagram over the next few days.
So look forward to that on there. Also, don’t forget to follow me on Twitter for blog updates and other shenanigans.
I think there are two articles left for this series, so I’ll see y’all next for Neo Zone (Kick It) & The Final Round (the repackage).