Song Review: Xiumin (EXO) – Brand New

Xiumin - Brand NewWe still have some time to go for another EXO comeback, but in the meantime its members are keeping busy with solo work. Next up is Xiumin, who makes his official solo debut with a mini album (though he did release a fun duet with NCT’s Mark a few years ago and an SM Station solo). Title track Brand New is billed as having a retro sound, taking its cues from the late 90’s and early 00’s.

At the risk of dating myself, I happened to be a teenager during this period of millennium teen pop and skittery, futuristic R&B. That background probably has something to do with my continued love for K-pop, whose boy band/girl group-heavy landscape often nods back to that era. But beyond a few musical touches, I don’t hear these influences in Brand New. It sounds very much like an SM track (which are almost always 90’s-adjacent, btw). The percussion choices are the closest we get to that late 90’s R&B sound, when producers like Timbaland and Kevin “She’kspere” Briggs reigned supreme. Coupled with its catchy post-chorus chant, Brand New makes for some light nostalgia.

What’s missing for me is more oomph in the melody. The verses are largely unremarkable, taking a languid approach at odds with a party track like this. And while the chorus (and vocal delivery!) are incredibly smooth, they lack that indelible hook that would make Brand New an instant standout. If this had actually been released in 1997, it might have struggled against more memorable tracks. Thankfully, Xiumin turns in an amiable performance and sounds particularly great on the explosive bridge.

Hooks 8
 Production 8
 Longevity 8
 Bias 8


16 thoughts on “Song Review: Xiumin (EXO) – Brand New

  1. Its good, but not great. The vocal delivery really carries most of it. About an 8 for me, one of the few times I really agree with your rating. I’m pleasantly surprised by how good he sounds though!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. What is with the other part, the female Put Your Hands up rap? I didn’t understand that, how it relates.

    For the Xiumin part of the song, it sounds like leftover workshop fragments from SHINee “Story of Light” album. Which isn’t bad, as I adore that whole album, and leftover SHINee is better than many other possibilities, but I’d rather go listen to that album than this here.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. It’s saved by Xiumin and just barely. The album track with Mark, How We Do, is nothing radical, but the arrangement is light, Mark is great and they have good chemistry. Really easy on the ears. It made this playlist by the second verse. I’d love a video. (Ha! The playlist has 127 songs! That won’t stay that way, though)


  4. Ahh it’s nice, but kinda purposeless, I think.

    Also, not related to this, but did you see that EXID is coming back? I was so excited when I saw the announcement, then I decided to watch the teaser and… ugh

    Liked by 2 people

  5. No one:
    Literally no one:

    – We’ve still got 278 NCT’s demo title tracks to give away in 2022, what shall we do with them?
    – Let’s give Xiumin one

    (Anyway, Feedback is the NCT’s title track we’ve probably been waiting for since Superhuman, and SM gave it Xiumin as a b-side. LOL)

    Liked by 5 people

  6. I dig the late 90’s vibe of the song. On the other hand, the melody is really underwhelming for a track like this. I feel unsure about its longevity, but I’ll give it three or four listens and then see what happens.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I like the instrumental, and Xiumin tries his hardest to sell the track (plus he looks great). But there’s nothing I heard that makes me want to go back to it, and at times I even thought I was listening to some random commercial jingle? weird lol

    7.75 for me, might change, though I doubt it.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. This song at times reminds me of Key’s “I Wanna Be” but instead of hiding the energy in the chorus it is spread across the production. I didn’t really get into it until towards the end, because my ear was not expecting to go anywhere that the song lead me to. I appreciated it more on a second listen.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Well, I liked it more on the first listen (minus the pitched up rap vocals), and on the second I almost felt like it was a bit cluttered in the backtrack. He sounds fantastic though, and I love the fun energy it has! The album was an enjoyable listen.


  10. Xiumin’s energy is infectious, although I agree that the song itself is just…not anything raveworthy.

    Somebody mentioned already that it sounds like a 2019 SHINee track and it does.
    Still love Xiumin though.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I am here!
    As a (used-to-be passionate) Xiumin stan, I think he deserved a better track.
    The song itself is completely forgettable, unfortunately.

    Apart from that, he sounds great, he looks great, and I like that it’s an upbeat song instead of a ballad.

    Liked by 2 people

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