NCT 127 (Korean: 엔시티 127; RR: ensiti il-i-chil; stylized in all caps) is the second sub-unit of the South Korean boy band NCT, formed and currently managed by SM Entertainment. Their unit name is a combination of the acronym for Neo Culture Technology which is the meaning for their parental group's unlimited members, and as the unit is localized in Seoul, hence the number "127" representing the longitude coordinate of the city. Originally debuted on July 1, 2016, the unit's original line up was composed of seven members: Taeil, Taeyong (leader), Yuta, Jaehyun, Winwin, Mark, and Haechan for their debut extended play NCT #127, which was a commercial success upon its release and earned the unit several nominations, eventually won them the Best New Group title at several South Korea music awards in 2016. Member Doyoung and Johnny then joined the unit in December 2016, ahead of their next extended play Limitless in 2017. Jungwoo was then introduced as the tenth and latest member to the unit in September 2018, followed by the group's first studio album Regular-Irregular later in October 2018. The ten-member unit is NCT's first fixed sub-unit, followed by the debut of Chinese-based unit WayV in early 2019.
|Origin||Seoul, South Korea|
Following the unit's debut in July 2016 with their self-titled extended play, NCT 127 has since released two full-length studio albums, two repackage releases and four extended plays for their promotion activities in South Korea. They eventually achieved breakthrough recognition in 2017 with "Cherry Bomb", hailed as one of the group's signature song and musical identity, further explored international breakthrough success with the release of their first studio album and its lead single "Regular" in 2018. The unit also ventured into the Japanese music scene with a Japanese version of their second single "Limitless", has released an extended play and a full-length studio album as of 2019. NCT 127 then continued to expand their promotion globally, having signed with Capitol Music Group and Caroline Distribution for a worldwide marketing and distribution deal with the group's native label SM Entertainment in April 2019, followed by the release of We Are Superhuman and their second full-length Korean album Neo Zone, with the latter becoming their first top-five entry on the US Billboard 200 chart and subsequently, the unit's first release to sell over a million copies as of May 2020.
In January 2016, SM Entertainment founder Lee Soo-man delivered a presentation at the SM Coex Artium, titled "SMTOWN: New Culture Technology 2016." The label's plan was to debut a new boy group with "unlimited" number of members within the group, thus fall in line with their "culture contents" strategy. Furthermore, the group would have "sub-unit teams", comprising different members from selected cities around the world, and collaborations among those units. The name of the group was revealed to be NCT, an acronym from the presentation title. By this, NCT as a whole is SM Entertainment's first idol group in almost two years since the debut of fellow labelmate Red Velvet in August 2014, and subsequently, the first boy group since the debut of the South Korean–Chinese boy band Exo in 2012. The founder also announced the plan to debut the first NCT unit within the first half of 2016 in Seoul and Tokyo, with other sub-unit to follow en suite based in China's main cities in the latter half and units in Southeast Asia and Latin America later. On July 1, 2016, it was announced that the second sub-unit would be NCT 127, a Seoul-based multi-national boy group that would promote actively in South Korea. The sub-unit was proceeded by then teen-aged sub-unit NCT Dream shortly after the group's debut. The band has seen Justin Bieber as a career model.
2013–2016: Formation, pre-debut activities and early days
All ten members of NCT 127 were originally introduced through SM Rookies, a pre-debut training team established by SM Entertainment. Johnny was the first member to join the label through an American audition at Chicago, Illinois in 2007, while Yuta was recruited through the SM Global Audition in Osaka, Japan and Mark at Vancouver, Canada in 2012. In the same year, Taeyong and Jaehyun joined the label after passing the audition (having previously been casted by the label's employees), later becoming the first members to be introduced through SM Rookies. Taeil was the next member to join the label in 2013, having previously chosen not to pursue an idol career twice as he revealed through the episode 0 of the reality show NCT Life later in 2016. Doyoung and Donghyuck also joined the label in the same year, with Winwin introduced through SM Rookies on January 5, 2016 and Jungwoo on April 17, 2017.
Prior to the unit's debut, several members had their solo activities during their time in SM Rookies; preceded by Taeyong's music video for "Open the Door" in July 2014 and later featured in Red Velvet's second single "Be Natural" in the same year, credited as SR14B's Taeyong. He then joined fellow SR14B trainees Johnny, Mark, Donghyuck, Yuta and Jaehyun in the Mnet-produced Exo 90:2014. Doyoung and Jaehyun became fixed MCs for the music show Show Champion from January to June 2015, while Mark and Donghyuck became Mouseketeers on Disney Channel Korea’s The Mickey Mouse Club in July 2015. The members eventually had their first regular show, titled SMRookies Show, which took place at Seoul in September 2015 and later expanded to Bangkok, Thailand in February 2016. After being introduced in October 2015, Taeil released his first solo soundtrack “Because Of You” for the series The Merchant: Gaekju 2015 on January 26, 2016, three weeks after the introduction of fellow member Winwin, who appeared as a dancer for the live performance of NCT U's "The 7th Sense" during the sub-unit's first live performance in China at the 16th Music Feng Yun Bang Awards later in April 2016. Along with other SM Rookies trainees, the members had their first reality show series, titled NCT Life in the same month. With Taeyong, Taeil, Jaehyun, and Mark (whom all previously debuted in NCT U), Yuta, Winwin, and Donghyuck (now goes by his stage name Haechan) was confirmed to debut in NCT 127, the Seoul-based unit of NCT on July 1, 2016.
NCT 127 debuted officially with the release of their music video "Fire Truck" on July 7, 2016 and had their debut stage on Mnet's M Countdown on the same day performing the song and other promotional song "Once Again". Following the MV and performance, they released their self-titled extended play on July 10, 2016, containing their first single "Fire Truck". It was a commercial success, debuting at number two on the Gaon Album Chart and topped the chart by the third week of its release, while reaching number two on the Billboard World Albums Chart. In collaboration with Coca-Cola, the unit released "Taste the Feeling" as a single under the SM Station project on July 29, while continuing promotion for "Fire Truck" on television music shows like Music Bank, Show Champion, Inkigayo. The group went on to collaborate with W Korea magazine and model agency ESteem for a special performance video, featuring five members (Yuta, Taeyong, Jaehyun, Mark, and Winwin) performing a then-unreleased track, titled "Good Thing." On December 20, NCT 127 released the music video for "Switch," previously issued as a bonus track on NCT #127, which featured other SM Rookies trainees (whom went as SR15B by the time of its release). The unit went on to win the Best New Group of 2016 in several music awards, notably including Asia Artist Awards, Seoul Music Awards, Golden Disc Awards, Mnet Asian Music Awards and Gaon Chart Music Awards.
2017: New members, breakthrough success with Cherry Bomb and Japanese debut
On December 27, SM Entertainment announced that the unit would release their second extended play Limitless during January 2017. The label then stated that new members Johnny and Doyoung would join with NCT 127, becoming a nine-member boy group, with Doyoung having previously debuted through NCT U in April 2016. The group then premiered two versions for the eponymous lead single on January 4 and January 5, 2017, a day before its digital release. The extended play attained commercial success, becoming their second chart-topper on the Gaon Album Chart, and their first to top the Billboard World Albums Chart. The lead single also received positive reviews from music reviews, being hailed by Dazed Digital as one of the top 20 best K-Pop songs of 2017 and a fan-favorite. Similar to their previous activities, the unit had their promotion cycle for both "Limitless" and "Good Thing" on M Countdown on January 5. The group then continued to release their third major release, titled Cherry Bomb on June 14, with the lead single of the same name. The release saw a breakthrough commercial success for the unit, with "Cherry Bomb" being their first single to enter the Gaon Digital Chart, peaking at number forty-seven. It also earned the group their first music trophy since the unit's debut in July 2016, having won the trophy on M Countdown on June 22, 2017. The song has since become one of the group's signature songs, while being hailed by Billboard and Idolator as "one of the best K-pop songs of 2017".
In addition to their initial promotion in South Korea, NCT 127 expanded their activities overseas with their first live performances at the 2017's KCON music festival in Mexico City, followed by their appearance at KCON Festival in Los Angeles and New York City, respectively. They also became the first K-pop act to be invited and introduced in Apple Music's “New Artist of the Week” list, having attended and performed at the Apple Store in Williamsburg, Brooklyn on June 25, 2017. The group then released a Japanese version of "Limitless" on November 4, 2017 as their debut Japanese single, along with a new music video. After signed with Avex Trax, SM Entertainment confirmed in December that the unit would make their official Japanese debut in spring of 2018, accompanied by their first showcase tour for the market.
2018: Empathy participation, new member Jungwoo, Regular-Irregular and Winwin's hiatus
In mid-January 2018, SM Entertainment announced that all current members and units would participate in NCT 2018, a singular-year project by the parental group NCT. NCT 127 then released the single "Touch” as the fourth single from NCT 2018 Empathy, a full-length studio album which brought together all active units to perform, with different members collaborating under the rotational unit NCT U. The group then released their Japanese debut extended play Chain via Avex Trax on May 23, 2018, which debuted and peaked at number two on the Oricon Albums Chart. Its eponymous second single was also a chart success for the group, peaking at number twenty-one on the Oricon Singles Chart.
On September 17, the group's native label introduced a new logo for the group on all social media platforms. On October 1, NCT 127 was announced as Apple Music's Up Next Artist of the October, marked them as the first K-Pop artist to be picked for the series. For their upcoming album, along with a new teaser video, the label confirmed that member Jungwoo would officially join the group for their upcoming first full-length album, titled Regular-Irregular on October 12. Prior to the confirmation, Jungwoo previously debuted as an NCT member through the rotational unit NCT U for the single "Boss" in February 2018. The album was a commercial success domestically, becoming the group's third Gaon Album Chart topper for two weeks while becoming their first to receive a Platinum KMCA certificate for selling over 250,000 copies. In addition, the album debuted at number eighty-six on the US Billboard 200, earning the group their first charting title on the chart and eventually leading all ten members to extend their promotion to the United States. In association with their role as one of Apple Music's Up Next artists, the album release was led by the group performing an English version of the lead single, "Regular" and "Cherry Bomb" on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, marking the group's first appearance on U.S. national television. It was followed by the group's extensive promotion activities in the States, including a performance at ABC's Mickey’s 90th Spectacular TV special on November 4. They eventually released an Apple Music-exclusive digital extended play, titled Up Next Session: NCT 127 on October 21, containing an English version of their previous hit "Cherry Bomb", remixes for "Fire Truck" and "Regular," while including a brand new song “What We Talkin’ Bout”, which features American singer Marteen. In continuation of their first album's success, NCT 127 re-released Regular-Irregular under the repackage title Regulate on November 23, featuring the single "Simon Says". The single was a moderate success in its native country, but experienced greater success in the States as the song became their first to top the Billboard World Digital Songs, and subsequently their first to enter the New Zealand Hot 40 Singles chart. Due to his preparation for the debut of WayV, member Winwin did not join the group's promotion activities for the repackage release. On December 19, it was announced Haechan would be taking a hiatus from the group due to injuries.
2019: First world tour, Awaken and We Are Superhuman
In January 2019, NCT 127 announced their first concert tour, Neo City – The Origin, with tour stops in South Korea and Japan from January to March. The tour was extended to North America, with twelve tour dates on April and May 2019, with an additional nine stops in Latin America, Europe and Southeast Asia from May through July 2019. Haechan rejoined the group beginning with the Japan leg of the tour in March 2019. The group served as featured artists in Jason Derulo's single, "Let's Shut Up & Dance", which was released on February 22 and also included labelmate Lay Zhang. On March 18, the group released "Wakey-Wakey" as the lead single to their first Japanese studio album, Awaken, which was released on April 17.
In April 2019, NCT 127 signed with Capitol Music Group and Caroline Distribution for a worldwide distribution deal with SM Entertainment; CMG and Caroline would provide distribution and marketing for the group for several territories worldwide. Ahead of the North American leg of their tour, the group made appearances on Good Morning America and Strahan and Sara on April 18; they were the third K-pop act to perform on the show. In the same month, the group announced their fourth EP, We Are Superhuman, which was released on May 24, 2019; the group continued as nine, as Winwin is currently promoting with WayV. The group performed the EP's lead single, "Superhuman", at their appearances on Good Morning America and Strahan and Sara. They also performed the song during an appearance on The Late Late Show with James Corden on May 14. The group appeared in a Japanese variety show, NCT 127 Teach Me JAPAN!, which began airing on dTV from June 9.
We Are Superhuman debuted at number eleven at the Billboard 200 albums chart with 27,000 album units, becoming their second entry in the chart. The EP also became their second number one album at the World Albums chart. An English version of "Highway to Heaven" was released as the EP's second single on July 18, 2019. In August 2019, SM announced that Jungwoo will sit out the group's activities due to undisclosed health reasons, although SM said in November 2019 that his health has been improving and he would possibly rejoin the group in 2020.
NCT 127 performed as special guests at the 2019 Global Citizen Festival in New York in September 2019. The group released their first live album, Neo City: Seoul − The Origin, on October 24. They performed at the 2019 MTV Europe Music Awards in Seville, Spain on November 3, becoming the first K-pop group to perform in the ceremony. The group performed at the 2019 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York on November 28, making them the first Korean artist to perform at the event, as well as Today a day later.
2020: Neo Zone and postponed U.S. arena tour
As the group's United States promotion activities for their previous release came to a conclusion by the end of November 2019, NCT 127 released a shortened music video for "Dreams Come True" onto the group's official YouTube channel on January 27. Along with the return announcement from Jungwoo since his hiatus in last August, the group proceeded with their second Korean studio album, Neo Zone later on March 6, 2020, featuring lead single "Kick It". Several members took part in writing for the album. Neo Zone debuted at #5 on BillBoard 200 album chart, with more than 87,000 units sold in the first week in the US. The album sold more than 700,000 units in the first month, becoming their best-selling album till date as well as topping Korean album sales chart for March.
In addition to their initial promotion activities in South Korea, the group started their United States activities by performing at the 2020 RodeoHouston in Houston on March 10, becoming the first K-pop group to perform in the annual event. They were scheduled to embark on their second tour, Neo Zone - The Awards, in June 2020 in North America, but the tour was indefinitely postponed due to concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic.
In April 2020, NCT 127 was chosen as the ambassador for Korean cosmetics brand Nature Republic. On May 17, NCT 127 became the fourth act to hold an online concert as part of SM Entertainment's Beyond Live online concert series. The concert sold over 104,000 virtual tickets, with the group performing live to audiences from 129 countries.
On May 19, the group released Neo Zone: The Final Round, which served as the repackage of Neo Zone. The album was released alongside its lead single "Punch", which the group premiered live during their Beyond Live concert two days prior. Combined sales of Neo Zone and The Final Round exceeded 1.2 million copies sold, marking it the group's best-selling album and their first to exceed one million total sales.
- Taeil (태일)
- Johnny (쟈니)
- Taeyong (태용)
- Yuta (유타)
- Doyoung (도영)
- Jaehyun (재현)
- Jungwoo (정우)
- Mark (마크)
- Haechan (해찬)
Concert and tours
- NCT 127 1st Tour 'NEO CITY – The Origin' (2019-2020)
- NCT 127 2nd Tour 'NEO CITY – The Awards' (2020)
- SM Town Live World Tour VI (2017–2018)
- SM Town Special Stage 2019 in Santiago (2019)
- SM Town Live 2019 in Tokyo (2019)
Awards and nominations
Apple Music named NCT 127 as a "New Artist of the Week" after the release of their album Cherry Bomb. NCT 127 also received "Best Newcomer" awards from the Mnet Asian Music Awards, Golden Disk Awards and Seoul Music Awards.
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