If you missed Part 1 of this series, check out the first part here.
3. NCT Dream - GO
As we leave the land of Ukraine, we now move across Los Angeles. Instead of shooting in the typical Californian beachy towns with palm trees and the wind blowing through their hair, the boys of Dream explore the real dingy areas of Los Angeles, with gloomy-looking subway stations and road constructions sites. Not to mention the other locations such as the Los Angeles River (a bleak area with no water), and zones near the Amtrak train stops in East LA by dangerous neighborhoods to shoot the sunset scenes. As someone whose hometown is LA, I can assure you that although most of the LA population drive, the metro is also a common method of transportation for many students commuters. I would sometimes see adolescents just like our Dreamies jumping across the fence without paying the fare, (as the lyrics go: "Money, no way, yup.") these young rebels who are ready to 'Go' just about anywhere rapidly travel across the towns were youth culture and radical social atmosphere thrives and leans towards the free-spirited and unruly.
4. NCT 127 - TOUCH
Alas, the last song out of the full cycle of released singles. And what a drastic turnaround, too. After the consecutive releases of heavier videos with dusky tones, this MV was literally like a breath of fresh air, embedded with colorful energy and retro visuals all around. The MV nevertheless does not fail to bring the viewer into the fantasy realm again; each member is assigned a specific color that matches their clothes, and the multicolor display appropriately triggers the synesthesia that ties each high note to a jump or a splash of color. At first, the video gave me commercial-like vibes (and some fans also commented that the teaser was like a mattress commercial), and so the visuals reminded me of eye-catching advertisements like those for a department store or bubble gum. The visuals definitely hyped up the song itself and ends the whole 'Empathy' series on a happier note, and the relative simplicity of the background visuals successfully bring out the physical looks of the boys as attractive foregrounds.
Despite everything, including all the ramble that I wrote up there about the specificity of the locations and the possible historical links, the production values of these videos are simply so high that each video can attract any viewer with images that are either bold and loud or quiet and minimal. The NCTmentary videos were the most non-linear and fragmented clips out of all their videos, but the bits and pieces of their millisecond-length images infringed upon contemporary art and free-form photography. Implementing images easily seen on Tumblr or Pinterest (as screen-captured below), the MV and the group legitimize the 'hipster culture' surrounding their fandom, almost providing the necessary resources and waiting for aesthetic gifs to be generated. This tactic could be an artistic choice and a marketing technique at the same time, finding a niche that eventually grows out to the masses after fully deploying their 'new cultural technologies.'
I must say, although these videos have caught the attention of many, I am not overly surprised that NCT had the ability to do this. NCT's MVs had always been crafted with good visuals, but this time around, their scale was just a bit grander. SM Entertainment had done it again with their own textbook-like formula, making the videos seem strange and exotic yet still accessible in the real world. NCT, because of their concept, will always rely upon the dichotomy between dream and reality, and under that system, their comebacks will continually bring out more originality and limitlessness in the future, as they had already pronounced in the past.