Review

Song Review: Baekhyun (EXO) – UN Village

As EXO starts to transition into a military enlistment-driven era that will undoubtedly see less group comebacks, the members have been branching out with solo projects and sub-units. As expected, this music has been tailored to each members’ personal taste and skill set. This meant way too many ballads for Chen. And now, it means pop/r&b for Baekhyun.

More than any other vocalist (even D.O), Baekhyun has always been synonymous with EXO for me. His voice is so representative of the group, and it’s about time he’s allowed the chance to showcase that on a solo album. However, new single UN Village left me a little cold. For awhile now, I’ve been wondering if idol music as we knew it is beginning to wane, and a song like Village only supports those fears. Whether SM Entertainment meant it or not, this feels like an attempt to seek “credibility” in a digital landscape filled with easygoing “chill” r&b of this nature.

This isn’t to take anything away from Baekhyun’s performance, which is slick and impressive as always. And it’s not to suggest that he needs to seek out some sort of artistic authenticity, either. He and EXO are beyond credible already, even if the label “idol group” is derided by some. For me, though, a song like UN Village lacks the kind of musical ambition I’ve always associated with EXO-related material.

Over a strong, stomping beat, the track is mostly a delivery method for Baekhyun’s malleable vocals. The composition has a captivating fluidity to it, circling back to a simple, subdued hook guaranteed to elicit head nods. I like the use of guitar in the second verse and the klaxon-like distortion that opens the track, but I wish the song built to something more than the casual vibe it establishes from the beginning. Take Baekhyun’s undeniable star power out of the equation and I just don’t think UN Village amounts to much. K-pop could do with a new solo showman in the vein of Rain or Xia Junsu. The industry has more than enough chill r&b crooners already. But hey, at least UN Village isn’t another ballad.

 Hooks 7
 Production 8
 Longevity 8
 Bias 7
 RATING 7.5

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14 thoughts on “Song Review: Baekhyun (EXO) – UN Village

  1. Sadly, I agree with you. I was expecting more of this debut, especially considering I’ve been looking forward to his solo debut since 2017. Still, even after listening the teaser, I thought Un Village was gonna be more dynamic in the chorus. As much as I love rnb, I wish this could’ve been more bombastic. Baekhyun’s solo really suit the song and shine throughout but I was hoping that in this debut, he would get more chances to show his dancing skills and showman skills. This just feels a bit disappointing and, as you said, a clear bait for the digital charts.

    I hope you do get to check out the album. I like that it follows a certain style yet the side tracks don’t necessarily sound the same. Betcha and Stay Up are my favorites for now.

    What really saddens me is that Baekhyun was really motivated and happy with this release and, as a fan, I tried my best to be content with Un Village but I just can’t. Maybe I will make my peace with it after a few more listens.

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  2. I like it? I mean yes ofc i couldve expected something more bombastic but i knew that like most SM releases, the title track is going to be the most subdued song of the album.
    I think I have the same feelings about this as I had with Taeyeon’s Something New.
    And tbh.. with a singer like Baekhyun singing RnB… Its hard to get a bad song.

    You can look at the sidetracks for something more spicy. I think you will like Psycho, Betcha and Ice Queen. the album is very K RnB…

    On a second thought..What does concern me is the lack of budget SM seems to have given to the overall packaging of the album the music video. The music itself, while great, seems to be ..a little like an afterthought? With Taeyeon, Taemin, Yunho and Key under the same label, it struggles to stand out uniquely as Baekhyun’s music.

    But I guess …its just his debut and we are being too harsh on him. He is a phenomenal vocalist but I agree, he has to work more to find his footing as a solo artist and will hopefully do so in the future.

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  3. am i delusional or is it a little cold and restrained bc it’s talking about idol dating? like they have to cherrish that small moment bc it’s all they can have. the lyrics imply that to me. plus i’m thinking about dara saying she had car dates and texting dates to keep it hidden. is my interpretation too off?

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  4. The song is alright and well polished but it lacks personality. What it needs is more charisma.
    I was thinking as I was listening how would Taemin (shinee) perform this in all of his sultriness, or this that or the other person put their mark on it. I have been listening to U-know Yunho’s album this morning, and even thought Yunho is still a bit milquetoast off stage, on stage he has a style that is his.

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    • It’s a matter of personal taste, of course, but I much prefer Yunho’s theatrical, jack-of-all-trades style to this album’s moody r&b, which I honestly find to be dull.

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  5. I found myself imagining this as a D.O. track the whole time. Bit too much English for my taste, but just imagine this song with his voice and it immediately is bumped up a few notches for me. Not to discredit Baekhyun’s voice, but I do prefer it in a more energetic setting, or even subdued but more poppy (see Hey Mama, Blooming Day).

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  6. This really sounds like it could be a DEAN song to me, and I found myself wishing DEAN were singing it instead. Baekhyun’s voice is fine but doesn’t elevate laidback R&B material like this as much as DEAN does with his distinct style.

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