EXO-SC’s 2019 debut spurred plenty of ire from this site. To me, it represented SM Entertainment’s full embrace of mainstream hip-hop. The agency who reliably delivered summer classics like Red Flavor, View and Love Me Right would now equate the season with lethargic trap-rap. It remains to be seen if that prediction will completely bear out, but the signs aren’t looking good.
Listening to EXO-SC’s Telephone brought me right back to last summer. Apparently, we haven’t evolved past the plonky piano and lazy trap beats of 2019. Telephone feels no different than most of the sub-unit’s debut album, and for fans of this genre that will no doubt be a good thing. For me, it feels like a complete waste of potential. Both Sehun and Chanyeol have much more talent and charisma than a song like this lets them show off. Even lauded singer-songwriter 10cm is used sparingly, brought in for a moment during the bridge rather than sprinkled throughout the track for maximum effect.
Telephone sees the duo flitting between rap and vocals, giving the entire track a sleepy sing-song structure that only comes alive when the chorus embraces harmony. Otherwise, the melody (such as it is) consists of one continual drawl. I suppose it’s catchy, but not in any surprising or creative way. Anyone could have thrown this together with minimal effort. I sense that apathy is deemed “cool” in pop music nowadays. To me, nothing is more attractive than ambition. These “chill” summer tracks just put me to sleep. They all sound the same, and feel like easy cash grabs rather than meaningful, memorable music.
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