Last week, I took a look at how SM Entertainment’s lofty NCT project could revolutionize the structure of K-pop groups forever. Through examining how they were aiming to perfect a rotational, limitless act by creating multiple boy bands under one title, I believed that the Korean label was finally long-term plans come to fruition. And then they dropped a bombshell: The next NCT release isn’t going to come from a handful of members, but rather be based around all eighteen NCT-ers that SM has introduced thus far.

This new iteration, dubbed NCT 2018, sees SM return to a familiar concept that recalls Super Junior’s origin as Super Junior 05, a fluctuating group that would see members rotate in and out, graduating at the end of their term. Popular Japanese girl group AKB48 and other rotational groups share similar graduation processes, but the concept never gained traction in South Korea. While SM hasn’t confirmed if the group will be shifting its lineup annually, by labeling the act chronologically it seems like that's what the company intends. (I reached out for information, but there has yet to be formal clarification.)

But NCT 2018 isn’t just one group comprised of eighteen members: SM has announced that they will release not one, not two, but six music videos—and there is speculation that not every video will feature all dozen and a half members. Instead, the project appears like a way to condense the spread out versions of NCT—NCT U, NCT 127 and NCT Dream—under one name, as well as add a handful of new members. (Three new performers were added to the NCT 2018 lineup, along with the members already introduced through its trio of acts.)

Does this mean that SM has entirely abandoned the smaller groups, or the original goals of NCT, to create a brand of boy bands rather than a single entity? Probably, but hopefully, not: Thus far, the NCT project has been one of the most innovative attempts at expanding what it means to be a K-pop group that we’ve seen in more than half a decade. Plus, each of the previous groups have already gained traction with their distinct identities, so it’d be a waste to see them dissolve.

A new video posted on NCT’s official Twitter today (February 8) features member Mark explaining the group in a way that seemingly confirms NCT has not moved away from its original goals: "NCT is a group focused on accessibility and expandability with no limitations on group members, thus allowing various combinations," he says in the clip.

It’ll be a few more days—possibly weeks—before we get to see what SM ultimately does with NCT 2018. For now, we can only hope for six solid singles.

Plus, don’t miss these other K-pop stories from this week:

BTS’ 'Mic Drop' Certified Gold by RIAA via Billboard

TVXQ Renews Their Contracts with SM Entertainment via Yonhap News

Twice Dominates Japanese Oricon Chart via Soompi

The Backstreet Boys Dub Themselves ‘Huge’ Fans of BTS via Twitter

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