Five years have passed since EXO debuted with “What is Love”, then “History” and “MAMA”. They have proven themselves to be a group to watch out for, in talent, discography and success. As we remember 5 outstanding years of record breaking, hurt, and sacrifice, it’s time to take a look back at and appreciate all the times EXO proved that they are one of the best.
1.The Best EXO Title Tracks
EXO has had a really solid discography. Anomalies such as “Wolf” and “365” should not take away from the fact that EXO has had some very well produced songs over the last five years. Here’s a look at their five best title tracks.
Call Me Baby
My time in the fandom has taught me that “Call Me Baby” is quite underrated. Most EXO-Ls I’ve come across don’t seem to like this song very much. Anyway, one of the standout things in this song is the feeling of nostalgia that it induces. The vocals, the dance, and the backtrack all scream NSYNC and other major ’90s boy bands. The styling, although modern, feeds to that nostalgia. Anyone who grew up listening to and loving ’90s music will love this song. Add to the fact that this is one of the songs that truly features an almost perfect blend of rap and vocals, and you have a recipe for success!
It’s clear that SM looked at their past boy groups for inspiration when creating EXO. This track is a perfect indication of it. It is largely reminiscent of something that SHINee would release. Where “Call Me Baby” had a perfect blend of rap and vocals, “History” has a perfect blend of dance and vocals. In fact, this is one of EXO’s stronger dance performances. But the thing to look out for…..the jiggly pants dance.
You cannot talk about EXO’s best title tracks without mentioning their breakout hit! “Growl” came right after the tragedy that was “Wolf” and very few people had big expectations. Nonetheless, this song’s high production value and subsequent success made it legendary. The smooth, ’90s R’n’B feel, the one-shot camera technique and the school boy fashion are the main highlights from this track. Even more impressive is the longevity it showed, spending 49 weeks in Melon’s Top 100 and achieving more than 2 million sales, a feat that only two other new generation groups have achieved. Not only that, but the accompanying album became the first in over a decade to sell over a million copies. This song made EXO what they are now and it deserves to be called their one of their best songs to date.
Love Me Right
“Shawty Imma party till the sundown!” is what we were all singing after we heard this track. Released in 2015, a few months after “Call Me Baby”, it was a sharp contrast to the ’90s boyband feel EXO had tried earlier in the year. It is also EXO’s best produced MV so far (well it shares the top spot with “Lucky One”). The vocals are the best thing about this song, although one could argue that “Call Me Baby” has more impressive harmonization.
“Lucky One” was released at the same time as “Monster”. Even though it wasn’t as commercially successful as the latter, it had better production value. The music video is more colorful and enjoyable to watch. To add to that, the vocals are mixed better in this track and it is more unique and experimental. It’s quite impressive that EXO was able to release such a strong track four years into their career; it seems their discography expands each year. “Lucky One” is perhaps EXO’s most underrated track.
2.The Best EXO Collaborations
EXO has collaborated with various artists over the past couple of years, especially last year. From OSTs, to SM Station songs, and other special collaborations, these are the five best.
Stay With Me – Chanyeol and Punch
Punch is a popular OST singer, and so it is no surprise that she lent her beautiful voice to sing an OST for Goblin. The beginning of the song reminds me of “Don’t Let Me Down” by the Chainsmokers, but takes a more mellow turn. Chanyeol’s voice is truly a delight in this track. There aren’t many popular baritones in kpop and so it is nice that he was allowed to song a majority of his lines. His deep tone also compliments Punch’s softer tone. “Stay With Me” was also a commercial success, selling over 1.2 million digital copies in a little over three months. Here’s to hoping that Chanyeol and Punch collaborate again!
Everytime – Punch and Chen
Punch makes another appearance on this list, this time with main vocalist Chen. “Everytime” was released several months before “Stay With Me” for the insanely popular drama, Descendants of the Sun. Chen’s and Punch’s vocals compliment each other well here. There isn’t much of a contrast, like there was with “Stay With Me”, as Chen is a tenor and Punch a soprano. Nonetheless, the track is delightful and quite upbeat so you won’t be bored of it. If someone is looking for a fun, laid back song that highlight’s Chen’s captivating voice, then this is it. “Everytime” was also a major success, selling more than 1.2 million digital copies.
Dream – Baekhyun and Suzy
“Dream” was the first major hit of 2016. Many kpop fans were excited to learn that one of EXO’s most popular members would be collaborating with the Nation’s First Love, Bae Suzy of Miss A. Upon release, the song claimed the top spot in major Korean charts. It would later become the first song of 2016 to achieve a Certified All Kill. Despite it’s success, “Dream” is anything unique although that does not mean that it is bad. It may sound like a typical coffee shop song, but it is expertly produced and sung. Baekhyun is a strong vocalist, and this song showcases that although it does not truly pose a challenge. This is also one of Suzy’s stronger vocal performances. Either way, this surprise collaboration was much better than any of us hope and remains one of the best individual projects by an EXO member.
Dancing King – EXO and Yoo Jae Suk of Infinity Challenge
EXO doesn’t release many EDM tracks. This collaboration with Infinity Challenge’s Yoo Jae Suk was therefore a big surprise to the fandom. Reuniting 3 years after EXO’s legendary appearance on Infinity Challenge, EXO and Jae Suk released “Dancing King” as part of the new digital project, SM Station. The MV is very fun to watch and features some great tidbits from past EXO performances. It also gives the viewer a rare chance to see EXO’s personalities come out, something that we do not often see in SM MVs.
Call You Bae – Jimin of AOA ft. Xiumin
Xiumin is one of EXO’s most underrated members. He is very well rounded, and has proven himself as both a dancer and vocalist. Naturally, he did very vocally to contrast Jimin’s unique rapping style. The chemistry between the two is off the charts, and is more comfortable to watch than the playful awkwardness in “Dream”. Although “Call You Bae” was not as successful as previous EXO collabs, it is still highly enjoyable.
3.The Best Live Performances
Over the years, EXO has blessed us with some truly magnificent live performances, both individually and as a group. Some of these are vocal performances and some dance. In each performance, however, is a specific charm that can only be found within EXO’s members.
Dancing 9 Special Stage – Lay, Kai ft. SNSD’s Hyoyeon
Kicking off this list is one of the first videos of EXO that I ever saw. This Dancing 9 special stage brought together some of K-pop’s best dancers. EXO was still relatively new and SNSD was a senior group, but the chemistry between Kai, Lay and Hyoyeon was wonderful. Hyoyeon did not disappoint and proved that she is indeed the dancing queen. Lay and Kai, also gave a strong performance. Between Lay’s strong and sharp moves and Kai’s more fluid movements, it is had to look away from any of them. This is without a doubt one of the best dance collaborations that I have ever seen. For anyone who might want to see Lay’s and Kai’s performance again, here is another collaboration between SM’s best dancers.
Drunken Truth – Chen (Masked Singer Performance)
Chen is without a doubt EXO’s best vocalist, and this performance proves why. His lower register, the best among kpop tenors, is in full display here. Not only that, but his emotional delivery is one of the best we’ve seen from him in the last five years. Chen’s stint in the popular singing show, King of Masked Singer, prove why he is a respected vocalist but none of them truly allowed him to shine as this one did. It’s a great pity that he did not win his season (although he was awfully close).
Really I Didn’t Know – Chen and Baekhyun (Immortal Song Performance)
Another Chen appearance in this list, but this time he is accompanied by fellow main vocalist Baekhyun. Their Immortal Song performance of “Really I Didn’t Know” was all sorts of jaw dropping. Between Baekhyun’s honey vocal tone and Chen’s wonderful belting, it’s no wonder that fans and non-fans alike regard this to be one of the best EXO vocal performances. Too bad EXO’s other main vocal, D.O, wasn’t here; it would’ve been truly magical.
Growl + Wolf – MAMA Performance
2013 was a big year for EXO. Selling a million albums and having their first national hit was a huge achievement. SO it’s no wonder that they were in high spirits for that year’s MAMA awards. The intro is perfect, and the “Growl” performance and the dance break towards the end is the best we have seen in any EXO awards show performance. This is the performance that keeps on giving because there is a duo dance break and then a performance of “Wolf”. The arrangement could not have been better and I hope we get something as good as this in the next few years of EXO’s career.
Sabor a Mi – EXO K (Music Bank Special Stage)
I would literally pay money to hear EXO sing in Spanish for hours, and this video is the reason why. We don’t have many videos of K-pop idols singing in spanish and so this one must be cherised. To add the cherry on top, Chanyeol plays the guitar AND sings! Who wouldn’t like that?
These have been the five best of EXO. They have proven time and time again, to be a talented and well rounded group. No one knows what is in store for the group in 2017 but I can see great things happening, both musically and success wise.
To end this article, I asked some EXO-L to say a few words about what EXO means to them:
EXO had this special charm, I can’t get enough. They always seem genuine in all their actions and words. I know a lot of people say they are fake or something along those lines, but is being quiet and basically “you” fake? They don’t force themselves to do excessive fan service, they are always them, always humble and down to earth.
I’ve looked into a lot of groups but I guess nothing will ever come close to EXO, they have a special place in my heart.
For me, EXO holds a special place in my heart. I just don’t love them because of their music but I love them because they gave me so many life lessons and motivated me to work hard to achieve my goal. They gave me the lesson to endure all the hardships and face the obstacles in life without complaining or winning about “Ugh life is so hard” or “Life is so cruel”
So I love EXO very very much. <3 I hope they continue rising and that EXO could go down in the history as one of the legendary group’s in not only K-pop but the whole world.
My favorite song still is “What is Love”. It’s kind of like I fell in love with this sing like i fell in love with Kai and his dance. I was watching a video of Exordium concert a few days ago and every single song they played in it was just great. The slower songs sounded so amazing especially what if, it’s my second fave. EXO have a variety of good songs, more than that they have very good singers who bring out the whole potential of the song. With their soulful singing it’s truly a pleasure to listen them.
SO THERE YOU HAVE IT…
HAPPY 5 YEARS WITH EXO, MAY THERE BE MANY MORE!