Between BTS’s smash new album, Map of the Soul: Persona, with its teeny-tiny Halsey feature, Blackpink’s “Kill This Love,” and now the announcement of NCT-127’s forthcoming EP, We Are Superhuman, on Good Morning America Friday morning, it’s been a big couple of weeks for the biggest acts in K-pop.
The 10 members of NCT 127, one of the subsidiary groups of the 18-member NCT band, appeared on GMA to perform a mashup of their recent single “Cherry Bomb” and their latest, “Superhuman,” before revealing the tracklist for the forthcoming We Are Superhuman EP in full. The former song aptly features the repeated chorus, “I’m the biggest hit, I’m the biggest hit on this stage.” The latter, sung in Korean, is the first hint of the group’s fourth EP; since debuting in 2016, they’ve released three EPs—NCT #127, Limitless, and Cherry Bomb—as well as a full-length album, 2018’s Regular-Irregular. NCT 127 made their American television debut in 2018 with a performance on Jimmy Kimmel Live!; they were the third K-pop act to appear on Good Morning America, after, as it happens, appearances by Blackpink and BTS.
It’s hard not to see something opportunistic in the ways that, in the aftermath of the international success of groups like BTS and Blackpink, American news outlets have scrambled to book the latest big thing in K-pop. Then again, NCT’s whole ethos is to be international; its members are drawn from across the globe, they performed at the Olympics in Pyeongchang, and one of the offshoot groups of the original, 18-member crew, WayV, is based in China. (The others are NCT U, whose cast rotates depending on the direction of the wind, and NCT Dream.) Their inspirations are similarly multifaceted; in a 2016 interview, members told W they draw from sources as varied as Justin Bieber, Fifth Harmony, and Michael Jackson. And K-pop’s crossover success—especially for tracks like “Superhuman,” sung in Korean—is, in a sense, a pointed rebuke to the idea that music in a foreign language will reach a ceiling among American audiences.
At the end of the month, NCT 127 will kick off their North American tour in Newark, ending in Toronto in May. See their GMA performance in full, below.