One song. Every day. Alphabetical order.
What Is Love (from Mama – 2012)
I don’t often highlight vocal phrasing as a song’s greatest strength, but What Is Love is all about how EXO wraps their voices around the instrumental’s icy, alien-like beat. This is without a doubt my favorite vocal performance on any EXO song, and on my short list for favorite vocal performance of any K-pop song. Seriously, what EXO are able to do here — especially D.O and Baekhyun — is nothing short of goosebump-inducing. They’re not only interpreting the melody… they’re chewing on it and elevating every line with a sense of emotional urgency.
What Is Love lacks any dull moments. The verses are taken as seriously as the chorus, tugging at the melody with a palpable tension. The layering on the chorus is divine — at once polished and gritty. I wouldn’t ever consider this a dance track, but the entire song is driven by an off-kilter, halting rhythm that blends perfectly with the dramatic waves of synth that support it. Given the mission What Is Love sets out for itself, I honestly can’t find a single flaw.