Jeff Benjamin is a Billboard contributor who writes the site’s K-pop column.
Get familiar with the letter-number combination of NCT 127 quick because the rising boy band is quickly invading your screens.
The 10-member K-pop outfit made their U.S. television debut on Jimmy Kimmel Live! last night, delivering the first-ever performance of new single “Regular” to a massively supportive audience in Los Angeles after unveiling its official music video and racking up millions of YouTube views in hours. Not to mention, they’re Apple Music’s first-ever K-pop pick for their Up Next artist series, have a fan in DJ Khaled and will make their U.S. red-carpet debut at the American Music Awards tonight, Oct. 9.
All to say, you should probably get to know Taeyong, Taeil, Yuta, Jaehyun, Winwin, Mark, Haechan, Doyoung, Johnny and Jungwoo. Here, we’ve laid out five must-know points about the guys to make sure you’re prepared throughout their takeover.
From their origins based in Seoul to their name, NCT 127 looks embody all things pop-culture that make up the city as part of their overarching concept. The boy band embrace the vibrant kaleidoscope of sounds and visuals that is the K-pop scene by delivering everything from ferocious hip-hop (“Fire Truck,” “Cherry Bomb”), feel-good, romantic dance-pop (“Touch,” “Summer 127”), throwback R&B (“Sun and Moon,” “Back 2 U”) and more. Meanwhile, the “127” part of their name actually refers to the longitude coordinates of Seoul itself.
Even with Seoul being an integral part of their identity, the group has an international focus as they’ve released music in Korean, Japanese and English, with members represented from around the world. A majority of the members were born in South Korea, but other countries are represented in Johnny (born in Chicago), Mark (representing Vancouver in Canada), Yuta (Japan) and Winwin (China).
NCT stands for “Neo-Culture Technology,” an ambitious project by Korean record label SM Entertainment that aims to “localize” K-pop under the boy-band “brand” of Neo-Culture Technology, or NCT. To date, there are 18 performers under the NCT umbrella and have been divided into four official offshoots in NCT 127 (the Seoul-based outfit), NCT Dream (a group for teenage members), NCT U (which acts as a malleable group to place any combination of members who best fit a certain song) and NCT 2018 (featuring all 18 members in 2018).
SM Entertainment has announced plans to soon launch an NCT unit based in China, while hinting to splinter groups based in countries throughout Asia and even Latin America.
NCT 127 have shared their admiration for DJ Khaled in multiple interviews—see their best Khaled impression in this interview with People—and the producer finally got to return the love when the boys visited the Beats1 studio in Los Angeles. In a surprise FaceTime call set up by Zane Lowe, the “Wild Thoughts” hitmaker called the guys “the biggest pop group” and shared he was down for a collaboration. “I’m about love and what y’all about is love, and our fans [are] worldwide,” he said, before adding. “Why not give them another one? You get what I’m saying?”
NCT 127 also recently hit the stage to perform at the upcoming Mickey’s 90th Spectacular, an upcoming ABC special which will celebrate the 90th birthday of Mickey Mouse. The guys snapped photos with Meghan Trainor and Tori Kelly at the filming, with stars like Kristen Bell, Josh Groban and Modern Family’s Sarah Hyland all in attendance too. You can also look out for the boys to light up the star-studded red carpet of the American Music Awards. We expect a lot of impressive selfies.
NCT 127’s latest single “Regular” was recorded in both Korean and English for maximum appeal. “We’ve realized that we wanted to focus on spreading our music to the world,” member Mark explained in an Apple Music interview. “So we needed an English version of the song, and we wanted our international fans to listen to it as well.”
The song itself is composed in a global mindset with the band’s signature trap-rap style incorporated inside influences of Latin trap music and a brilliant sample of the classic ’80s dance track “Din Daa Daa” that has been sampled in chart hits by Flo Rida, Pitbull and Ying Yang Twins. With hometown pride mixed with their international mindset, how could the world not take notice?