So… the EXO solos haven’t exactly panned out the way I would have hoped. So far, it’s been an unending stream of ballads and mid-tempos, each blending into the other without any real artistic differentiation. It’s not that the music has been bad, but it feels like SM Entertainment have developed a real narrow pathway for their soloists. EXO have a much more diverse discography as a whole, and it would have been nice to hear the individual members stretch themselves in new ways through their solo endeavors. Instead, we get songs like Let’s Love (사랑, 하자).
Like Chen and Baekhyun’s material, this track is polished and pleasant. It’s guaranteed to sell by the bucketload. But, its generic trappings don’t make a convincing case for Suho himself. He’s always been a charismatic leader, buoyed by a notoriously long training period. There’s no denying his skill set, but a good solo debut demands a unique point of view. With that in mind, Let’s Love could have been performed by anyone. I’m not sure what it says about Suho the artist, beyond the fact that he can rattle off a solid ballad and pen some lovelorn lyrics.
Thankfully, Let’s Love brings in a bit of rock influence, opening with guitar that lingers through much of the track. This gives the instrumental some texture, though it’s not quite enough for my taste. I wish the entire song took cues from its final minute, where the guitar amps up to create a bluesy, emotional aesthetic. Ultimately, Let’s Love is too tepid throughout. Its melody is pleasant but unassuming. In other words, it’s the exact template that Korean streaming charts seem to love. I guess that’s enough for SM right now, but I really wish they’d think outside of the box.
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Usually I don’t pay any attention to ballads, but I played this on the background at breakfast today just because it was on my YT feed and I couldn’t help but fall in love with it. Not by any big merit of the song, mind you, but because the instrumentals give off such a strong ‘old Coldplay’ vibe.
I actually feel Suho’s voice is the song’s weakest part xD
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I’m glad i’m not the only one who gets the old coldplay vibes here!
I agree, I love the instrumetals, but I find Suho’s voice a bit boring and souless.
My mind went to old-fashioned song too. I couldn’t quite place it completely, but to me an 80’s band album about track 4 on first side of the LP was what I was thinking, aka the slow and meaningful one written by the lead guitarist. (or 90’s Coldplay, sure.)
Also, the song does nothing to showcase Suho’s voice. This song is rather tepid, so all it demonstrates is that he can sing a pleasant melody. I listened to the rest of tracks off the EP, and the whole thing is all soft tenor chill, which is great if that is what you are looking for. I think “Starry Night” might have been a better promoted single. It is still a ballad, but at least it swells and builds. Or “For You Now” with Younha which has a pleasing piano-driven gravitas.
Finally someone who I can discuss my thought with, but I have a different opinion regarding his album LOL. First of all, I’m a D.O biased fan, followed by Baekhyun and Chen in that order. To be honest, I was never really into Suho’s voice that much. I thought he’s a decent singer, but when he tried to sing the same high notes the other main vocalists did, he always strained so much that it hurts. The one time I was fascinated with his voice is only in Curtain where he showcased his falsetto, and I once thought (I’m not making this up I swear) “I think he should exploit his falsettos more if he wants to succeed as a soloist.”
And boy I am surprised, this album is filled with falsettos lol. As you said, the song can be sung with anyone, meaning it’s not a difficult song. However, imho, the most important thing in making an album is not to showcase your vocal to its maximum limit. It’s to produce something that suits well with your voice, and it’s much, MUCH, harder than just picking a song with high technical notes.
In this album, I can finally sense that Suho (or his team idk) knows his strengths and weaknesses. Let’s be frank. He’s not a powerful ballad singer like Chen, a versatile singer like Baekhyun, or an RnB singer like D.O. Then, what would be the best decision to choose an album concept? Yes, a concept that is far from powerful ballad, hiphop RnB, or acoustic RnB. And they found that concept. The concept that suits him. An easy-listening album filled with flowery, jazzy, OST-like songs, just the kind of song you would listen in the morning while drinking a cup of coffee. Do you think Chen would succeed if he sings this kind of song? I’m not really sure. D.O? Questionable. Baekhyun is the only one who can suit this song because he’s just so versatile.
Anyway, my point is, he’s not technically the best singer, but he managed to know his unique vocal trait while being in a group filled with 3 crazy vocalists. It’s not easy and I appreciate that. There are 3 songs in the album that I like so much, Let’s love, Self-Portrait, and Made in You (Gosh have you heard this song). It feels so light listening to this album which I could not find in Chen and Baekhyun’s album.
Additional thoughts: Contrary to some people, I actually hope SM would make more public-friendly songs like this. Enough with the experimentation please. Sometimes I feel they focus too much on making a “cool” music. The lyrics are a messy mixture of Korean-English and the message of the song is not delivered well. Crazy high notes put here and there without clear purpose. Ugh I’ve just had enough of these “out-of-the-box” songs.
Thanks for anyone who read this long ass essay from a music amateur LOL
Yes, yes and yes please.
My sister’s been all morning saying “oh, imagine if they put D.O or Chen to sing this”. And I was thinking “Jesus Christ, no, no more of that please.”
I seem to be the weird one out but I don’t get the craze for powerful vocalists like those. I find them disruptive, with their ad-libs and such, unless the song is made to showcase just that, in which case I wouldn’t be listening at all. Jopping ended up being a fun, if kind of underwhelming song, but everyone was gushing about Baekhyun’s ad-libs. EXO’s Obsession, just when I was about to get a large serving of that (to me almost orgasmic) instrumental buildup, had to drown it all in Chen’s screaming…
IMO, as you say, SM’s discography is indeed lacking in this kind of easy listening songs that manage to be interesting enough to not fall into the typical Korean ballad format while also not being full of vocal show offs. Something that serves as a kind of rest and palate cleansing between the stronger songs.
I am not an expert on the EXO solo ouevres, being a KRY bias. However, as I was listening to youtube clips of Kyuhyun for his recent role in “The Man Who Laughs”, I kept crossing paths with Suho’s turn in the same role the year prior. Suho gave an equally solid performance in a role that requires a solid supported tenor voice. I was impressed.
See for example – Kyu and Suho and the two others alternate the role
I actually find this album really refreshing. I’m having some trouble wording this review (maybe all the Portuguese I’ve been subjected to has cost me my English), but the gist is that I’m not used to hearing something that’s not just R&B or a piano ballad. This style matches Suho’s voice in a way that I can definitely appreciate, even though he’s far from my favorite vocalist. It doesn’t try to shove him into a genre he doesn’t fit, nor is it boring. It’s just nice, easy listening music that I could find in a coffee shop. You mention that you wish SM would think out of the box, and normally I’d agree to an extent, but this is PERFECT for Suho. That’s coming from someone who mostly listens to music that hits a fair bit harder. His performance here actually makes me appreciate this genre a lot more.
It rates somewhere in the 8s for me. Possibly subject to change, but I don’t know. The album just makes me smile 🙂
Yeah the album is good, but why would he promote this track!? This track is easily the least dynamic and most boring on this album. On the contrary the album is quite strong especially the final three tracks and I would’ve loved if he performed Starry Night. There’s something about that track, its always building to its excellent finale, but the parts surrounding that finale are equally powerful. Sometimes I just wonder how it would’ve turned out if artists picked a better song for their title track, this is one of those cases.