Review of EXO’s ”Sing for You”

There was a group that completely dominated in these polls, getting 33% in the singles poll and a staggering 38% in the album poll. Since they got a higher percentage for their album, that’s the review they’ll be getting and this single review goes to the group that came second in that poll. Seriously, that group (that shall not be named yet) crushed it. EXO came second in the poll for the singles, and they only got 13% of the votes. Huuuuuge margin.

This is not the first time EXO have released a holiday ballad, and maybe this is something we can start to expect from them every year?

Song

It’s pretty, I suppose. That’s pretty much the extent of my feelings for this song. You all know how I feel about ballads, and this isn’t just a ballad; it’s a super ballad. It’s so slow, and honestly, I didn’t, and had no intention to, listen to the whole thing before I realized I’d have to review it. There’s some beautiful singing in there, and I can appreciate it as the art piece it is, but that’s it. This is not a song that gets me going.

Chen is the clearly best singer in EXO in my mind and he always sounds great, but in this song I’ll have to give precedence to D.O and Baekhyun, with the slight edge in D.O’s corner. Also, not even Sehun embarrassed himself! He managed to sing a more than acceptable line! Oh and I love Chanyeol’s tone of voice when he sings, and Kai and Suho’s/Kai’s part was so pretty. But this is clearly the vocal line’s song.

Lyrics

The lyrics are about wanting to tell someone all about how you feel. Wanting to say all those things you haven’t been able to say before.

”I pick up my old guitar

The confession I couldn’t say

Or the story I didn’t tell you

I pretend to write a song

I’m going to tell you now

Just listen, I’ll sing for you”

That’s the first section of the lyrics, and it basically encompasses exactly what the song is about. EXO haven’t been able to tell this person they love them, and they still kind of can’t, so instead they’ll put it in a song. I somehow got the feeling that the person won’t understand that it’s a confession they’re hearing (maybe it’s the melancholy video and sound of the song that gave me that impression) so that even though EXO finally picked up the courage to tell them; it will go unnoticed. I don’t have any good reasoning backing that, but it’s how it made me feel.

Video

This video can be, and has been, interpreted in a billion ways. Firstly, let’s just go through it.

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First we see Astronaut Sehun floating in space, alone in the darkness.

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D.O with friends are joyfully jamming in the car. The car is not moving, but they’re seemingly driving.

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Some other boys are playing basketball.

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Being all happy.

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General friendly merriment in a bar.

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Then we pan over to Kai, alone and far from happy. It’s a clear contrast to the other images.

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After that we get images of Kai knocking things over and destroying his room interposed between the happier scenes.

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Then the fight between Chanyeol and Suho starts.

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And Baekhyun suddenly finds himself alone in the bar.

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And Astronaut Sehun is just floating, intently watching it all.

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The fight takes center stage, beautifully paralleled by Kai’s dancing.

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D.O is suddenly alone in the car and in obvious emotional turmoil. Sad? Angry?

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Astronaut Sehun is still watching, hand stretched out as if he’d like to reach down and make it all better.

Skärmavbild 2016-01-18 kl. 09.42.57The fight comes to a stand-still.

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Then one of the rival parties just fades away.

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Kai gets thrown the ball from the now almost empty basketball field, and then turns around to see the lights of a car. He joyfully runs towards it, and behind him, if you look closely, you can see the whale jump out.

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Astronaut Sehun looks on in wonder as the whale shoots past him.

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As if the whale was the sign, the car is once again the party car.

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The dart buddies are together again.

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The bar is once again hopping.

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And there is once more someone there to catch the ball.

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Astronaut Sehun and the whale look intently at each other as Sehun for the first time turns his attention away from the boys below.

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And the former fighters now calmly settle down next to each other in the snow.

This music video has been interpreted in more ways than I can recount here. Some say it’s a message to, or at least about, the former members. Some say the space scenes represent Kris, the basketball is Luhan and the fight is Tao. Or that the whale represents all three of them. Some say the whale is from a poem about a whale that doesn’t feel at home in the ocean so it jumps into space, where it gets help from an astronaut to finds it’s true place (which ended up being back in the sea). Others say that the whale is the most lonely whale on earth, the one that can’t communicate with any other whales because the sounds it makes are on a frequency that no other whale can hear. Some even say the video is black and white because whales don’t see color.

Which of these you choose to believe is up to you. Personally, I don’t feel quite right about any of them. I love analyzing videos and usually think I’m quite good at it, but this video only gives me a strong sense of loneliness and meaninglessness, no clear message. The car that doesn’t move, the fight for no reason and the friends that we aren’t really sure are ever there: it all portrays an intense melancholy. I’m very impressed with this video, and even though the song is not for me, this is one of the best videos EXO have ever made, if not the best. It’s definitely the smartest.

Dance

The only dance in here is that beautiful piece that Kai performs. I’m not sure what you’d call that style of dance (lyrical? Leo, or Alice, help me out here.) but it’s among my absolute favorite styles. It’s Kai’s true inner dance style, and it’s what he was born to perform. It’s to die for stunning in its immaculate simplicity.

Outfits and Styling

This a section that I’ve always paid close attention to. Kpop is an almost absurdly visual genre (it’s one of the reasons why I love it) so it’s usually very central to a video how the people in it are dressed and styled. But not this time. To be honest, I can’t even recall any clothes or hairstyles. The boys are dressed very simply in it, and the hair is most certainly on the more muted side. It’s like this isn’t EXO; it’s Kim Jun Myeon, Byun Baek Hyun, Park Chan Yeol, Do Kyung Soo, Kim Jong In, Oh Se Hun, Kim Min Seok, Zhang Yixing and Kim Jong Dae. Nothing more, nothing less.


I was dreading reviewing this. As I said, I hadn’t even seen/listened to the whole thing before it was made clear that I would be reviewing it. But I’m glad I did. I seriously doubt that you’ll ever find me listening to the song, but the video is an interesting artistic piece, and I’m glad I got to experience that.

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4 thoughts on “Review of EXO’s ”Sing for You”

  1. I didn’t even attempt trying to explain the story on my blog, so I’m glad you took the leap 😉 It actually makes more sense now for me after seeing you break it down like that. Now I see the story as all of these conflicts happening, but with each one, there was just something not right in the relationship or situation that needed to get out and be removed (symbolized by the whale) for harmony to resume its place. I’m afraid to venture into the possible symbolism to the former members, so I’ll leave it at that 🙂

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