Song Review: Kai (EXO) – Rover

Kai - RoverPrior to his solo debut in 2020, I had imagined this huge Michael Jackson style career for Kai. Big songs, showstopping performances and tons of theatricality. Reality hasn’t played out like that, as he seems more intent on pursuing vibey tracks that lean further into R&B. This is absolutely fine (who am I to tell an artist what to do?), but apart from a few songs on his debut mini, I haven’t been as enraptured with his solo career as I’d hoped.

New single Rover is a step in the right direction, at least when it comes to tempo. It’s nice to hear him perform something a bit more upbeat, and the song’s Reggaeton thump makes for an addictive anchor. But beyond that energy, there’s not much to sink your teeth into. I’m not sold on the repetitive chorus and its silly lyrics. I guess it’s supposed to sound sexy, but the obvious rhyme plays more like Sesame Street.

Kai gets some nice vocals into the verses, his voice gliding over the track with an appealing litheness. But, there aren’t many melodies that hook me. Instead, the song keeps pace – pleasant but never enthralling. Compare Rover to a track like Tyla’s Been Thinking (a 2023 obsession of mine). Both conjure a similar vibe, but Been Thinking has a single-minded focus that keeps every moment taut and compelling. Rover feels repetitive yet dull, never building toward anything beyond a seductive vibe. Unfortunately, that’s not enough to make it a highlight.

Hooks 7
 Production 8
 Longevity 8
 Bias 7

Grade: C


28 thoughts on “Song Review: Kai (EXO) – Rover

  1. This is a crazy thing to say about KAI, but what this song needs is more _charisma_. It is underplayed and undersold, with energy and swarth set at an 8 or 9 when they should be set at 11. As is, it sounds like basic leading man solo song.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. Same. I find his previous albums’ b-sides a bit more interesting, though they’re hits and misses. But Rover does better with its b-sides for me. Except for Bomba, I find the other four are pleasantly surprising, especially Sinner. They have darker ambience and I like it quite a lot

    Liked by 1 person

  3. “Prior to his solo debut in 2020, I had imagined this huge Michael Jackson style career for Kai.”
    So had I, unfortunately, but so far I’m aware that Kai has no vocal range to support a huge Michael Jackson style career and this kind of neverending “mmmh-esque pastiche” fits him much better and it requires a much lower effort (close-to-zero effort, actually, if we judge the whole ep and particularly the b-side Bomba).
    I dare to assume that people who buy Kai music as a solo artist is not interested at all in his music as a genre or a repertoire, so OK: let’s hopefully wait for Taemin’s comeback.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Absolutely agree! Kai doesn’t have the range to pull off MJ kinda songs. I don’t even like all his songs. Clearly a hit or miss singer for me. He suits better in EXO as his vocals provide a nice contrast.


  4. I can’t believe that Kai has gotten three 7.5 ratings in a row lmao.

    I do agree that this is definitely a step in the right direction and I liked how upbeat it is compared to his past two title tracks. I’m not a big fan of the repetitive chorus though.

    I haven’t listened to the b-sides though but I heard they are pretty good, so I hope I get the chance to listen to them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Also, fun fact. Did you know that “Rover” is actually a remake of this song from last year?:

      Well, it’s normal for SM to buy songs and remake them (just ask “Next Level”) but might as well give the original song some appreciation too lol.

      Liked by 6 people

  5. I’ve not liked a Kai title track yet, but I do like a fair number of his B-sides on his first two mini albums (particularly the 1st). This title track may be the closest I’ve gotten to liking one of his so far. There are some moments I like – the line leading into the chorus (before the repetitiveness starts up), the first verse, the little flute snaking its way through the beat/melody line in the second half of the chorus, and some pretty nice harmonies in the latter parts of the song, for example. But the repetitive parts of the chorus and the lyrics are a bit much for me to get around at the moment. The MV doesn’t help out either because Kai (and/or his stylists) and I disagree much of the time on what’s sexy (purely down to personal preference). Maybe the song will grow on me? At least I’m not going to have any trouble recalling what it sounds like, for better or worse.

    I’m not really a fan of the B-sides on this one either, though I will have to give Slidin’ and Sinner another listen with better sound. I came the closest to liking those two. Mostly just comes down to the song styles not being for me, but there was also a lot of distortion in the instrumentals on some of the tracks that I just wasn’t enjoying.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Not a fan of Rover, but I like Bomba a lot more. Now for the rest of the album… I don’t particularly like the lo-fi hip hop beats, so I honestly can’t get myself to enjoy any of the other songs.


  7. I’ve got no idea why, but I was actually sold on the song’s chorus because of how goofy ahh its lyrics are. Nice to see Kai tackling something more upbeat, but…I still want more. The track’s longevity is the main issue I’m concerned about, leaving me afraid of it getting quite annoying quickly. 8/10, maybe.


  8. I really don’t know how I feel about Kai’s music any more.
    I was blown away with his debut mini album- although Mmmm had to grow on me- after a few weeks I loved every song and it has remained on rotation in my favourite KPop EPs ever since. My favourite song from Kai continues to be “Nothing On Me”. It’s just stunning from srart to finish.
    Peaches felt like a step backwards in originality- particularly lyrically and Rover seems to be sadly repeating that decline. Peaches for me was a mini album of two halves- I didn’t really like the first three songs but “Come In” “Be Honest” and “Blue” saved it from the re-sell pile- particularly “Come In”.
    “Rover” is Kai’s worst title track in my opinion- sure the tempo is upbeat- but the lyrics are pretty bad- the rhyming in particular is awful!
    Considering that I don’t tend to rate Kai’s title tracks I thought the b sides might redeem the EP- but unlike Peaches- this isn’t the case. “Black Mirror” sounds like a NCT reject song- a song that might have worked if it decided what it wanted to be- the over riding feeling it leaves is just a little dull. “Sliding” is inoffensive R&B but it doesn’t have enough interest to inspire multiple listens. “Bomba” flirts with being different- but doesn’t have enough changes to surprise- so ends up being a little dull too.
    “Say You Love Me” might grow on me. The heavier bass segments tame the high distortion- which borders on irritation: it’s certainly not an instant love affair for me with this song. “Sinner” is the only song I love on first listen from this EP. The mood harks back to that debut EP that I loved. It’s a song which has a lovely progression to it- Kai’s voice really works against stark instrumentation like this. So I shall be listening to “Sinner” on repeat- but overall I’m glad that I didn’t buy a physical copy of this EP.
    I’m dissapointed for Kai. I really hope that SM give him better material for EP 4- he is a talented artist who desrves more than this forgettable offering.
    Perhaps Kai needs to have a chat with Taemin- the King of creating albums and EP’s with strong concepts- both musically and visually. Taemin does not have a weak link in his solo back catalogue- impressive stuff for an artist with such a long career. Thankfulky Taemin finishes his National Service this month- huzzah!
    Love to all fellow EXO-L Shawol Wayzennie Stay Atiny Engene Weve ToMoon Army (Multi Stanning is expensive but a lot of fun!)
    Jojo X


  9. Rover is perfectly fine. Sinner is magnificent, though. I thought his first EP was perfect, and the second really gentle but moody. The third is feels like some tentative steps toward something harder and dance-based, which could be great. As it is, the Rover EP is a little ppague, but still solid.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Rover is… fine. The song is fine, the album is fine. But Sinner, wow! I’m absolutely team Sinner, which has basically been on repeat since I heard it. What a bloody standout. It reminds me of a Trent Reznor track.


  11. I didn’t like it when it started but as the song progressed, I kind of got hooked.

    It’s really addicting and I know for sure that the chorus is going to be stuck in my head whether I like it or not.


    Liked by 2 people

  12. I’ve been a big big fan of Kai’s work and while it doesn’t quite measure up to the first album for me, what I really like about this album is the strong theme it creates. All of the songs create a hazy, almost hypnotic feeling that makes it feel like Kai is luring you into him and making you addicted with his sweet words and the hypnotizing background music. The one song that I felt didn’t fit the theme was bomba, which was semi sexy but didn’t have that same music hypnotizing feel. And don’t get me started on sinner, the way it begins sounded like a sad song and I had little expectations, but as it progressed… wow. Absolutely incredible song that I know everyone agrees on. Although rover is a bit repetitive, all the songs really work together to create a strong theme that I think makes the songs sound even better, which is why I do like rover. If I had listened to it without anything else, I probably wouldn’t. Kai definitely has a skill of creating a strong theme that all of his albums follow, and I think this album did a great job of that!


  13. I found this song via a tiktok edit that made me laugh because of the chorus lyrics. It’s not achieving the ‘hot’ vibe that I think Kai was going for, but it is catchy and kind of iconic. I dig it more than songs like ‘Mmh’.


    • The chorus reminds me of ‘Mr Boombastic (Mr Roooo….mantic)’ from Shaggy’s Boombastic. I don’t think that’s the inspiration, but it popped into my head.


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