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[Editor’s Pick] Teen power overload!

Time flies. It’s hard to believe that NCT Dream is already two years old. I still remember how I was all excited while waiting for Chewing Gum to be released, and the young and adorable boys in the music video just seem like yesterday to me. Go from NCT 2018 Empathy marked the beginning of the group’s transformation from the cute and energetic boys in We Young to chic and swaggy teens. Now the teenage subunit returns with the brand new hip-hop-style record We Go Up!

Written by Kenzie and Mark, urban hip-hop track We Go Up (Track 1) serves as the title track for this album. The tempo, hooks and roaring and bell sounds make the whole song more addictive. The song’s lyrics, in short, say “Let the past become our power to move forward and proceed to a wider stage.” Perhaps We Go Up would be the song that best describes and represents NCT Dream – powerful youths striving to go up and always be wild and free.

The most special thing about this song is that the lyrics mention their debut track Chewing Gum. During their debut era, they rode hoverboards while performing the song; and in Mark’s part in the first verse, he raps “we danced on the boards with rollers.” Jeno also sings, “That sweet bubble gum is chewed up now.” I also looked up the instrumental version of this song online, and Mark amazes me with his ad-libs in the music.

Mark expresses his thoughts on his graduation from NCT Dream in Dear DREAM (Track 5). He worked as the main lyricist, along with members Jeno, Jae Min and Ji Sung, who took part in writing lyrics for the first time. The song is a bit melancholic as the members tell Mark “Don’t forget about each other,” “We will always be with you, you must know that,” and “I’ll be your home.” I appreciate the great improvement in rapping shown by Jeno, Jae Min and Ji Sung in the above two songs. Mark also shares his mind: “But I don’t want this to sound like we’re about to depart. If I ever get lost, though I would not want to show it obviously, Imma call back.” As a huge OT7 fan, I’m in happy tears over how they show support and rely on each other. This might sound cringy, but I’m sure their friendship will still go strong even if they aren’t in the same unit.

Let’s not forget all the “Beautiful Times” Mark had with the other members while promoting in NCT Dream! Pop number “Beautiful Times” (Track 3) is about waving goodbye to a longtime friend and hoping that he’ll smile while recalling all the good memories of them in the future. Although this song is written in a slightly rhythmic and uptempo way, “Beautiful Time” is not a joyful song at all. It makes you feel faintly upset and down because of the story behind it, especially near the end of the song when Mark chants “Remember, I’m with you!” Perhaps this is also a way to comfort fans and to tell them not to be too sad about Mark’s departure.

Retro R&B track 1, 2, 3 (Track 2) conveys the hope that one’s love can last forever like a photograph. The track is produced by Grammy-winning producing team The Stereotypes and composer August Rigo, who previously penned NCT Dream’s first album title track “My First and My Last.”

We Go Up is a perfect wrap-up of Mark’s journey as a NCT Dream member. The album is a combination of trendy music styles and retro old-school elements. Moreover, from 1, 2, 3 to “Beautiful Time” to Dear DREAM, all the songs in We Go Up can relate to Mark’s graduation and their thoughts. “Noona fans” like me always have contradictory feelings about being proud to see them grow up while also not wanting them to grow up too fast at the same time. Such a strange feeling, isn’t it? Looking forward to the day when the Dream members gather for a new subunit again!

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