This is a special review, in that this time I won’t be reviewing an album or video, but all of the singles that EXO has released to date. I will be talking about both the Chinese and Korean versions, but emphasis will be on the Korean versions, since those are the ones I’m pretty much always listning to. I’ll take them in the order of their release, and here we go!
First Single – ‘What is Love’ (January 30, 2012)
This is the version of the video that I normally watch and this version of the song is the one I have on my phone. And I can not tell you have many times I watched this while trying really hard to learn their names…. This video was really helpful there! Clear and still shots of everyone = equals very helpful. (By the way, side note, I’m not learning Topp Dogg’s names! I refuse! I learned Girls’ Generation. I learned Super Junior. And I learned EXO. I am done.) Eight things mainly come to mind while watching this, and here they are:
1. Is this where HunHan originated? Since they get to hang out and be all cute? I’m onto you shippers…
2. How can Lay be so hot at times, but mostly just be a cute and lost puppy?
3. Tao doing martial arts like that is one of the main reasons why I love him.
4. SM were/is Kai-biased, but since he’s my bias too, I don’t really mind. And he just kills it with his dancing here.
5. That said, why didn’t Lay get a solo dance? For gods sake, Sehun got one! Or two, depending on how you see things. (They’re both him, right? Otherwise this is embarrassing)
6. How can D.O be so hot while singing and so little and squishy when he’s not?
7. D.O and Baekhyun kill it. Them harmonies though!
8. If there’s an organized plot in here, I’ve yet to find it.
Anyway, this is a pleasant and smooth song but it wasn’t enough to really grab my attention. And as I said, the video was mostly just a tool for name-learning.
This video is almost exactly the same as the Korean version so I won’t comment on that again. In this one Lay does get to dance though! But so does Kai, so it’s still unfair.
I’ve figured out why I pretty much always prefer the Korean versions, I just don’t think Chinese is as melodic when sung in. That’s probably got a lot to do with the fact that I’m so used to Korean, but I don’t think it’s just that. Chinese just isn’t as smooth in general.
While this version is well sung, I definitely do prefer the Korean version. Most of that is due to my unfamiliarity with the language, but it’s also because of Luhan. He is my EXO-M bias, and I love him to death, but not even Chen (who is my favorite voice in EXO) can cover up the fact that Luhan just isn’t a power-house vocalist like Chen, Baekhyun and D.O. Normally I don’t care, because I do like his voice and normally we’ve got the other three to take those parts, but this song really requires two very strong vocalist, like in the Korean version.
Second Single – ‘History’ (March 9, 2012)
This is my least favorite out of all of EXO’s singles to date and when I first heard it I didn’t like it at all… I don’t even have it on my phone, as of right now.
The dancing in this video is awesome, but besides that (and Kai looking smoking) there’s not really much going on. I suppose it’s supposed to be at their home planet (I’m guessing), and the set’s pretty cool, but this isn’t a very stimulating video to look at it. That plus the fact that I still don’t really like the song (I am fine with it now, but it’s not my cup of tea) means that I don’t really have much to write about it. Moving on.
This is the one out of EXO’s singles where I prefer the Chinese version. The language doesn’t sound jarring at all and I really like how all the members sound in this. I’m not sure why, put for some reason their voices match better with this song than the voices of the EXO-K members does.
I remember the first time I watched this… I thought Kris was such a cool guy. Wow was I wrong. Sorry, babe, I love you, but damn you a dork!
The video is the same jist as the Korean version: Members showing of their looks and dancing. It’s nothing special, but it makes lots of sense as a prologue. You don’t want to blow the whole budget on the teaser!
Third Single – ‘Mama’ (April 8, 2012)
This will forever be one of my favorite kpop music videos of all time. I love the dancing and the super powers, the members look great and I even love the super epic/confusing intro! One thing though, if I got this right the members would unite when the tree is fine again, right? Or something like that. Does that mean the tree is fine and all flowery now? SM, I demand an update on the status of tree of life! I mean, isn’t their whole purpose to protect the tree? I must know!
I really enjoyed the way they showed the EXO-M members here, though I didn’t notice it until I’d watched it like a billion times. I guess that’s what you get for not knowing the members… I also demand more videos where they showcase their super powers, it’s getting too normal over here.
This was the first EXO video I saw (or maybe it was ‘History’, but I watched them right after each other, so it doesn’t really matter) and I immediately fell in love with Kai. Not for his sexy faces, nor for his dancing, but for his screaming. I couldn’t even recognize him in the other parts of the video, to be honest, but I loved that screaming! It’s still my favorite part, and I will fight anyone who says it was awkward and weird.
I like this song (I’m a big fan of epic) and I liked it when I first heard it as well. But it wasn’t good enough to pull me in, and as I’ve mentioned before, I was firmly in the B.A.P-corner during 2012.
Once again, I prefer the Korean version. It’s just a lot easier to listen to for me. It takes practice I guess, I remember how weird Korean used to sound. This song is still epic though, which we like. The dancing is great, as long as you don’t look at Kris too much during some parts. Kai’s screaming is a lot better than Kris and Xiumin’s, just saying.
I have one pressing question: Why does Kris have a dragon? And why can he control fire? Isn’t fire Chanyeol’s thing, while Kris’ is flying? I’ve probably misunderstood something here, so if someone could clarify, that would be much appreciated.
Fourth Single – ‘Wolf’ (June 3, 2013)
I wasn’t really an EXO fan before this song came out, but somehow I was still waiting. And I wasn’t disappointed at all, even though I know many people were. Quite the opposite actually, I fell in love with this way more than I ever did with EXO’s previous stuff. This song is catchy and gloriously cheesy in the best possible way, and I love it. I also love the dance! This is one of my favorite performance dances in kpop, especially because of all the switching. This is a true performance piece and I adore it! (I feel like I’m using ‘love’ too much, so I’m trying to switch it up)
Wow, Kai in those braids… I know many people didn’t like it, but I found it hot as hell. Bring them back, please?
And D.O… How can you do this to me?! I’ve decided long ago that I don’t find you attractive but sometimes you manage to persuade me that you’re the hottest thing ever, and I’m not cool with that!
Here I very much so prefer the Korean version. But this time it isn’t just because of an unfamiliarity with hearing Chinese, it’s more because of a very awkward sensation I get during some of the parts sung by Korean members. Two thirds of this group are Korean and I seriously doubt that the members that aren’t in EXO-M have much experience with Chinese, and it shows. At least they didn’t at this stage, since this was the first single they released as one. I won’t be too hard on them, because just counting in Chinese was close to impossible for me when I took kung fu lessons, so I am impressed. But that doesn’t change the fact that it sounds awkward, and I therefore prefer the other version.
Unimportant observation: Tao does the jump-scratch camera-thing in the Korean music video while Kai does it in this one. Why have an EXO-M member do it in the music video for the Korean version and an EXO-K member do it in the one for the Chinese version? There’s probably no reason whatsoever, but being a slightly too obsessed person when it comes to mental organizing, this bothered me.
Fifth Single – ‘Growl’ (August 1, 2013)
Definitely my favorite out of EXO’s singles so far, and one of my favorite songs from them overall. And this video was super cool in the complete opposite way of how the music video for ‘Mama’ was cool. ‘Mama’ was flashy and super expensive, while ‘Growl’ is simple and toned down. The 360-degree camera thing was original then (though not anymore) and it made the dance look super awesome. The dance is cool in general, but the way this video is shot makes it look super duper cool.
And can we just talk about Kai’s save after he dropped his hat? That was flawless, god job hun.
And speaking of hats… I just love the whole stealing-of-the-hat thing they’re doing, it was a nice touch.
I’m happy that Lay got to dance in the circle in the end. I’m a huge supporter of him as a dancer, and think he’s the strongest dancer in EXO, and while this is a very small thing compared to the huge favoritism SM has showed towards Kai and Luhan (and somewhat Sehun) in the dance department, it’s still nice. Small victories.
I still feel a little of that awkwardness that I felt in ‘Wolf’ but it is a lot less apparent here. I still prefer the Korean version, but this is a close battle. This version is very good too and… don’t know what else to write. Moving on.
Sixth and Latest Single – ‘Miracles in December’ (December 5, 2013)
This is gorgeous. The combination of Chen, Baekhyun and D.O’s voices is flawless, and EXO’s three power-house vocalists prove why they are regarded as that. I will give a little edge to Chen here, because he blew me away. He is my favorite voice in EXO, and my third favorite overall though, so I might be a little biased.
While this is a gorgeous song, it is not one I’ve downloaded. I’m not a big fan of ballads, and really slow and sad ballads are hard to get me to like, no matter how gorgeously they’re sung.
Switching out D.O for Luhan in the Chinese versions was clever, since out of the three D.O is the one who sounds the most awkward in Chinese. Plus it gives a popular member some more screen time. But this version does strike out in two aspects that the Korean version nails. Even though I adore Luhan, he isn’t an as strong singer as D.O is and the song therefore feels slightly uneven. Luhan is a very capable singer, but in this kind of song he isn’t on the same level as Chen and Baekhyun are.
With a song such as this it’s key that the people singing really feel the meaning of the lyrics, for it to be really good. And while I (without knowing Chinese whatsoever) think Chen’s quite convincing singing in Chinese, and that Baekhyun did a good job as well, the song definitely loses something when two of the singers don’t really understand the language they’re singing in. It’s beautifully sung, but it slightly lacks the emotion.
Long post, this is. But I hope you enjoyed and that you’ll let me know your opinions by voting in the poll below!
If you have any comments, suggestions or requests for Friday’s list of the week, Sunday’s random post or next Tuesday’s review then let me know in the comments or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
– Admin A