A world made of title songs alone is no fun at all. Every year, the entertainment companies provide us with well-made and assisted title songs from different groups, that are pushed into the limelight. Agreed, title songs are heavily promoted for a reason. But, they don’t always portray a group’s features at their best.
In this new series at Destination K-Pop, we will be sharing some unknown, and less popular songs from some of our favourite groups. Maybe even unpopular opinions? Who knows? This will be a corner for you to get to know your oppas and nunas better, and find a new side to them!
Let’s get started with the biggest group that restarted the hallyu wave. S.M Entertainment’s 5 year old boygroup EXO has made a huge name for itself for two simple reasons – 1) They’re from S.M and 2) Their members (the sheer number, and the fact that some of them left.)
Though EXO, much like SME’s other boygroups, has been in the news for the sudden departure of it’s members, that’s not what we are here to discuss. EXO has a unique sound that it has honed and perfected in the last few years. They always manage to make a trend in the music industry with it’s new take on pop-music (be it interesting hooks like “Growl” or a funky retro type like “Lucky One”) or in the fashion industry with their riot of a fashion (remember those leather+jean jackets in “Call Me Baby”?). The saddest, and possibly the most genius marketing stunt, about EXO’s music is that their album’s are a mix of some of their best deliverance and a rag-tag team of what I like to call ‘eh, just put them in there’.
EXO has a unique vocal line with Baekhyun, Chen and D.O taking care of the main lead soprano vocals and Suho and Xiumin being the sub-vocals. All of them are at par, in my opinion, and each of them have a different voice colour to themselves. Not to mention, their rapper line (Chanyeol, Sehun, Lay and Kai) are all brilliant altos and oscillate between rapping and singing. This awards their producers and songwriters with a range of choices when it comes to creating songs. Some of my favourites, and thus the songs below, are those that play up these characters to the best. (P.S While I was making the list, I was focussed more on the vocal line, instead of the rap line. Comment below, if you’d like a seperate rap line post.)
WHAT IS LOVE:
From their debut album ‘MAMA‘, this song is a very good example of how EXO-K’s vocals – Baekhyun, D.O and Suho – are not products of auto-tuning, but pure pure talent. The song is based against a slow drum beat (and techno sounds) and allows the vocalists to showcase their delicate voices at the best. Their choruses are also something that would definitely make your jaw drop. More than the album version, I prefer the live version of this song!
EXOLOGY Chapter 1: Lost was possibly the most surprising and impressive album for me. Mainly because Kris, Luhan and Tao were still there for this album (sniffs) and because it’s so simple. I discovered EXO only after the ‘Call Me Baby’ era, and by then their music was comparatively complex with a lot of progressions and choruses, but this song is pretty simple. They use the same 1 layer BG as ‘What is Love’ but bump it up with typical pop drum sounds and a lot of empty spaces before the hook. By which I mean, the song majorly focuses on their voices instead of the leadup of the beats at the back. This is another song that you should see the live version, because it’s amazing!
If you haven’t gotten all of EXODUS on your phone, I’m judging you a little. This entire album was such a masterpiece because they literally took it up a notch! The mixing on HURT is no joke, like you can feel your heart pounding along with the song(especially during the dance break). It’s got a classier, more reserved, sexy feel to it that Playboy just cannot pull off. Not to mention that Sehun and Chanyeol‘s voice in this song is enough to make girls swoon all over the world. My favourite part about it though, is that it is one of the best songs that Xiumin sang main vocals in. You reaaally wanna check it out now, don’t you?
From their winter album ‘Miracles in December‘, this song just melts your heart because they’re bringing simple and sweet EXO back. It’s got a lovely boyish feel that is very story-like, much like El Dorado, but it makes you want to swing along with it. Jazz meets pop, First snow is a lovely song to play for your next Christmas meet-up.
If you’ve seen Baekhyun and Chanyeol joke about their ‘chicken tender’, now you know what song it came from. This song follows the funky retro feel of ‘Love Me Right’ but less dance and more romantic and suave. Also, this is the most innuendo-ridden but sweetest hook I’ve heard. “Wanna give you my tender love” doesn’t it sound a bit weird to you?
THEY NEVER KNOW
EX’ACT was mind-blowingly awesome, and also disappointing. Like I said before, EXO tends to put it’s best songs with it’s worst and that was very clear with this album. They Never Know is a slow jazz based techno song, that rides on the feel of ‘Lucky One’ and talks about a secret love story that EXO holds for you. Arguably, I like this song’s dance and rap break better than Lightsaber and Tender Love combined. Also, this song makes you want to ice skate – don’t question it.
(Inner Fangirl: This is the best best best song by EXO ever and I will fight everyone who says anything against it) Honest to god, the producers at SME outdid themselves with this one. Classic SM Ballad right here. Piano at the back? Check. Beautiful Chorus? Double Check. Beautiful lyrics that make you want to love yourself? TRIPLE CHECK. One of my favourite parts of this song is that Suho stood out far more than D.O or Baekhyun in this. You can truly see how Suho has improved and flowered as a talented vocalist through the ages, if you listen to What is Love and then Stronger. Trust me, do it.
Just to help you out, I’ve made a playlist on Soundcloud with these tracks, and a few more songs from EXO. You can check it out here.
Let us know in the comments if you enjoyed this post, and would love more like it! Next up: BTS’s best songs.