The group’s last full-length from almost a year ago, Stickers, became the act’s highest and longest charting project when it peaked at No. 3 and spent 17 weeks on Billboard 200. Their latest, 2 villains released on Sept. 16, is the record they plan to reach more fans with even bigger ambitions and goals.
During an afternoon Zoom call in Seoul, the members talk excitedly about an album they see as pushing themselves as experimentalists K-pop artists who fully commit to exploring different sounds. While album openers “Faster” and “2 Baddies” embrace high-turbo energy along with more racing and car references, the LP explores different sounds, the LP quickly shifts into new gears to explore different genres. There’s harmony-heavy R&B (the one-two emotional punch of “Gold Dust” followed by “Black Cloud”), both heavy and feel-good hip-hop (on the song-heavy “Tasty” and sassy “Vitamin” respectively), where The LP closes out with new sonic territory for NCT 127 via rock-pop mood of “LOL (Laugh-Out-Loud)” and uplifting, grooving synths on the fan-dedicated track “1, 2, 7 (Time Stops).”
The boys have high hopes for their 12 new tracks and will ensure the charts prepare for their impact. “Tell Billboard to get ready for our No. 1 spot,” NCT 127 member Mark half-joked before Jaehyun adds: “This is the attitude to 2 villains.”
Cruise into NCT 127’s new attitude below with insight into their latest LP, upcoming concerts, dreams and more.
Tell me a little about the meaning of the title 2 villains, the album name and single. It is a unique title.
JOHNNY: The Korean title is “진주” which means “too fast”. It’s about just moving forward, not worrying about what others say about you, and just moving fast and looking forward. And my take on “2 Baddies” is basically due to a Porsche because most of them are two-seaters. This is how it all came together to make “2 Baddies”.
You mention Porsche and there are car elements throughout the album: the songs “2 Baddies” and “Faster”, the styling, the video. Are any of you racing fans?
TAEYONG: I really like to play car racing games like KartRider. I really like – how can I say it? – the blue fire nitro boosts? I really enjoyed the concept, that’s my style.
Why was this the right comeback song? It’s been a while since we had a new NCT 127 album.
FEEL: In my opinion, I feel like the last songs we came out with, “Sticker” and “Favorite,” were pretty new. Like the concept of “Sticker” and “Favorite” was very new and really experimental for NCT 127. After almost a year, we feel that we should kind of bring back what we do best. To 2 villains, all the previous experiences that we all had came into one whole constructed song and album. The timing kind of got to us this time.
How did you guys get involved with the album creatively?
FEEL: TAEYONG and I wrote some raps for the song on the album like “Time Lapse” and “Designer.” Besides being involved in the songwriting, we were all really involved in recording the album because we all knew that the long kind of break we had before this album was something that motivated us to [put] much more of our spirit and our hearts when we made the recording. For each song, we really brought all of our up-and-coming games into the recording studio, and we really had all of our own interpretations. We were really there, every one of us.
JAEHYUN hinted in a previous interview that the choreography has a “free” atmosphere. Can you explain this a bit more?
JAEHYUN: As I kind of teased last time, there are some parts where you can freestyle, smile and show a lot of emotion while doing the whole performance. It’s not like full freestyle, but I think the dance element is more free this time because you can express any kind of feeling while performing “2 Baddies.”
What is everyone’s favorite song?
Jaehyun: Because today I would say “Tasty.”
TAEYONG: Today is “2 Baddies”, the title track.
TAEIL: “Gold Dust”
JUNGWOO: I think “Vitamin”, I really like the speed of the song.
Doyoung: I love “Crash Landing.”
FEEL: I choose “2 Baddies” today.
JOHNNY: For me it would have been “1, 2, 7 (time stops).”
How does this album continue NCT 127’s history as a group represents K-pop?
TAEYONG: We really felt this was something we could do best and we did something that really brought out our core strengths and skills. Even when we were recording, people around us were commenting about how “This is something that NCT 127 could do best out of everyone else.” So we were really happy to show our strengths and skills through this comeback album. As part of the K-pop community, we want to experiment and continue to show our growth and development, and hopefully start or kick-start a new wave in K-pop.
Yes. More villains in K-pop. I’m ready for it.
NCT 127: Yeaaah!
Your Stickers album hit No. 3 on the Billboard 200, which was a new best for you. Any hope or anything Billboard map goals this time?
TAEYONG: Billboard #1!
JOHNNY: I think no. 1 is everyone’s goal. It always is.
You will soon be back in the US for two concerts. What can fans expect from these upcoming concerts in LA and New York?
JOHNNY: It’s already been two or three years since we’ve all been in the US together, so I think that’s what will make our fans very excited. But we also have the new album coming out before that, so I just want to tell you that yes, we are going to implement the new music into our set list for the concerts. We have a lot of things prepared and I am sure that everyone will be able to fully enjoy our concerts.
What else comes up among the many things you have prepared? Can we expect another amazing repackage album that NCT 127 always brings? What else is coming beyond this new album?
FEEL: Well…dang, man. [Laughs]
TAEYONG: You may see what you expect, but you may also see something that you really don’t expect. You can expect what you have expected, but you can also look forward to being surprised by something unexpected.
FEEL: Wow. He twisted it!
Everything else you want to ensure Billboard know or are messages sent about this album?
FEEL: Tell Billboard to get ready for our No. 1 spot.
NCT 127: Yeaaah!
JAEHYUN: This is the attitude to 2 villains!
FEEL: See you up there! But all jokes aside, we’re really excited to release our fourth full-length album. Our fans have been super patient and supportive for this whole project and we’ve really worked a lot harder on this album. So we really want to show our passion to our fans as well. We are really excited to show the world about our album as we just hope our fans love it. We are excited to perform.