Exo notes, July
Just in time for the 100 day tomorrow! I cannot believe it’s only been 100 days since their debut. Longest debut-in-progress-and-aftermath ever.
So these will be round-up posts of random thoughts on Exo. They’re the only thing I’m following this religiously in K-pop since Shinee’s debut, might as well document it properly. (Looking back on it, I wish I kept a better thoughtbox of sorts on Shinee.)
Gonna try to refrain myself to one of these a month (￣^￣)ゞ
Into Your World (Angel)
- For a long time, I preferred K’s version of this song simply because I liked Baekhyun’s opening line a little more than Luhan’s. That’s the only reason. But then…Baekhyun proved that he couldn’t really capture the essence of the first line very well in the lives. I don’t need him to sing it exactly like he did in the studio version, but I think Baekhyun has trouble in general with singing softly. His soft notes are a little wobbly, and whenever he has to sing something that doesn’t strain him, he has trouble controlling the way his voice reverberates, which sounds counter-intuitive (why would straining be harder than singing softly?), but I don’t think Baekhyun has gotten that first line right in any of the lives that K has done on radio.
The opening in “Into Your World” is what makes this song, and it’s extremely crucial to get the pacing and the beat accurately: when to let the words hang and glide slightly, when to sing it straight. The line between singing these lines too loudly and singing it at just the right volume, and the line between mumbling the pronunciation and singing the words too sharply are very fine lines, and ones that K and M both haven’t completely mastered yet.
But after M started singing this song live on several shows consecutively, I’ve come to like both versions of this song equally. I think part of it is the clarity from M’s lives, which I attribute mostly to the fact that there is no backtrack when they sing, so they have to compensate for that. K has only done “Angel” on radio shows, and there was obvious backtrack on each show, and I think they all got pretty complacent with having the backtrack there so they didn’t project as much.
Most importantly though, I’ve come to love Luhan’s parts. Luhan continues to surprise me in the best ways possible and I can’t stop talking about it, evidently -_- My gut reaction to M and K during “What is Love” was that K had the better singers, hands down. That, I know now, is because I prefer deeper, fuller voices. But Luhan’s voice is magic in its own ways, and his technical capabilities are far better than I give him credit for. In fact, I think out of the six people who sing this song in two languages, Luhan sings his parts the best. His vibrato is great and his harmonization with Jongdae during the bridge is soooooo excellent. (There are other reasons to love him, but that’s another post for another day.)
- Jongdae as a singer: Listening to “Angel”‘s lives is also when I realized that Jongdae is a belter. All of his lines that don’t require belting need a lot of work. Jongdae sounds most at ease when he has to reach for notes, like when he has to finish out the verse with “Eternally in love.” Unfortunately, he transitions from lines previous to “eternally in love” so abruptly and the volume gets maximized so suddenly that it takes me out of the moment completely. Work on that control, Chenchen!
I didn’t have a lot to say about this song…until the performance from the Yeosu Expo happened and opened up the floodgates.
- Kris is improving with his raps for this song. I think Kris is just one of those idols who can learn to be good at doing idol-y stuff because he’s smart and disciplined, not because he’s innately got talent for any of those things, kinda like Changmin and Seohyun. Him being good at anything performance-related can be credited to hard work, practice, and a good head. He’s got a decent feel for the rhythm of the song and can do his lines aight. But all the aspects of performance that cannot be rehearsed for — aka, the adlibs — you can tell he has not a single rapper bone in his body.
But I mean, I’ll take that over Tao, who has supposedly won rap competitions prior to debut. Maybe his opponents in these “rap competitions” were Minho and Eunhyuk.
- I cannot tell you how little I enjoy watching Sehun perform this song with Kai. Sehun is such a man sloth on stage, and off. When it’s bad, it’s really bad (2:35). When it’s “good,” it’s like his “Two Moons” performance. But he’s so mediocre overall as a performer that his best (and I would say this is some of his best) would probably be Lay’s barely trying. I can be a purist, but I don’t really mind updated or remixed versions of things I know…I just know this performance with Sehun is not it.
You don’t know it until you don’t have it anymore, but Kai has insane dancing chemistry with Lay, and the essence of the routine in “Two Moons” is two dancers who are in tandem with each other. I single out “Two Moons” because there are dances for “Run and Gun,” “Phoenix,” and “Time Control,” but all of those routines were just two/three members dancing in sync, doing the same moves together. “Two Moons” is different because it’s entirely built off of call and response. The two dancers have to feed off each other and a lot of the magic is lost when there’s no chemistry between the dance partners.
I’m sure some of this has to do with the fact that this was never Sehun’s dance to begin with and he’s not well-practiced, but I think we all know: even if he had practiced more, it wouldn’t make that much of a difference.
But I mean, despite that, I won’t front. I have a huge soft spot for Sehun. That man sloth thing? Doesn’t bother me at all offstage. Just look at him, him and his mansloth aegyo. Also, he makes very weird faces. And has funny mouth quirks. And I would like to corrupt him.
- My Exo buddy-in-crime and I have been jokingly snickering about how Kyungsoo gets no respect in his own group. Not in that Kai-hates-Suho kind of knee-jerk way, but in that he carries his entire group vocally all the time and nobody even tries to help him — they just throw him out there to die alone. Exo lipsynchs an abnormally high percentage of their performances for a rookie group, but just look at their lives. Kyungsoo has to do his own solo lines, does all the harmonizing, and sings all the choruses by himself because Baekhyun is a selfish performer who doesn’t help out when he really can and absolutely should.
But this is why I love our little Donut. Because he’s used to doing so much of the hard stuff, when he does the easy, mindless stuff, his natural tendency is to throw support anyway, in ways totally unnecessary. My favorite new discovery: In the Yeosu “Two Moons” performance (above), he freaking vocally harmonizes with Chanyeol when he singsongs ‘소리 질러~!’ (~0:15). You probably have to listen with your headphones to catch it, but it’s there.
Not because I ship them. But because I think it’s randomly becoming apparent that Kyungsoo could be Chanyeol’s biggest rival in this group, which is hilariously unexpected. Remember when Chanyeol beatboxed? And then Kyungsoo beatboxed better? Remember when Chanyeol rapped? And then Kyungsoo, while not that good, was not completely awful? Remember how Kyungsoo can also sing and dance and Chanyeol cannot really do either? Yeah, tough luck, Chanyeol.
With that said though, I still see potential in Ye Tall Ent. It’s interesting to continually see him display his music interests outside of his own industry’s mainstream pop. His rapping is sorta messy — he sometimes just shouts things instead of exercising proper restraint with flow and punch — but those qualities in his raps are not completely absent, so I have faith he knows how to actually rap. I’ve given up on him dancing though, because ummmmm what the actual fuck.
I like that Chanyeol has good onstage instincts (~1:15) and a sense of spontaneity while performing, which is why I can only learn anything about Chanyeol when he’s not performing any of Exo’s tightly choreographed and rehearsed songs.
I think Chanyeol just needs to take a step back, breathe, and learn to fulfill his own potential instead of feeling threatened and then needing to overcompensate for it.
The three Baekhyuns
I still don’t know how I feel about Baekhyun. Love him as a performer, as well expressed prior, and that was about the extent of it. But a lot of things have happened since that last post.
I surmise that there are three Baekhyuns: onstage Baekyhun, offstage/on-camera Baekhyun, and offstage/off-camera Baekhyun.
Onstage Baekhyun is good. Offstage/on camera Baekhyun can be a nuisance. Though fans always have a way of capturing, offstage/off-camera guy redeems that previous guy, because those are the smaller moments when he isn’t so mindful of the camera. That guy is quite mellow. Adorably age appropriate. A sleepy baby doing some sleepy aegyo to prevent himself from falling asleepies. Pets shrubbery. And just wants to be loved like a little puppy, for god’s sake.
I dread K doing any variety activity completely because of Baekhyun. I don’t want to see offstage/on-cam Baekhyun in action because I like the other two Baekhyuns so much and I know on-cam guy is gonna ruin everything. It’s a tradeoff with Baekhyun.
Does nobody like Suho?
Why does he inspire so little loyalty and love from his own group? And worse yet, Exo is a 12 membered group. It’s not like they’re a quartet. He can’t find a single person outside of Donut in his ginormously numbered group who’s good enough friends with him to share some backpack space with?
Kai, the onstage sexual deviant
I don’t mean it like that. Okay, maybe I do. Kai has WEIRD energy onstage: there’s all this excess adrenaline that he doesn’t know how to properly channel, and thus it results in things like this and this. He looks like he wants to mate with something onstage all the freaking time.
Once offstage, the orgy well dries up in 5 seconds flat.
Lay, the shy and demure Movement God
Love our Unicorn. So he’s not a very good speaker (still). And he has dead eyes. But he’s the only one who knows that Duizhang doesn’t use a cup when he brushes his teeth. And he moves like this to kill time while stage crew set up. No biggie.
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Okay, I’m exhausted. More next time.