[Album Review] City Lights (1st Mini Album) – Baekhyun (EXO)

As I mentioned last weekend, there is one last solo album review that I want to do before going back to doing a number of group album reviews. That being said, it looks like I will be covering a few solo acts in the coming weeks (guess who!). But for today’s album review, we will be looking at Baekhyun’s R&B dominated solo album. We have seen singles from Baekhyun but this is his first album release (and hence first solo album). It is titled City Lights and features the title track, UN Village.

baekhyun-citylights-2
City Lights Album Cover

1..UN Village (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for UN Village. (9.5/10)

2. Stay Up (ft. Beenzino)Stay Up continues both the R&B and aesthetic vibes from UN Village. It is just a lot more about passionately sleeping together than going to see the night sky on a hill. And he isn’t shy about stating that throughout the song. It is a genre style that is done very often in KPOP. But instead of feeling very typical, the song feels very elevated thanks to Baekhyun’s smooth vocals in this track. Beenzino’s featuring adds momentum to the track. It felt like he was mumbling but it added to the final product, rather than be distracting. (8/10)

3. Betcha – Changing up the momentum entirely is a more upbeat track. Betcha has this playful and childish tone to it, which I think suits Baekhyun’s personality (that I have seen through the many videos on the Internet of the artist). It seems like Betcha is more appealing to many listeners, given that it does have a simpler tune and is more approachable. There is also a cheerful note to the track, which adds onto that appeal. It catchy and I too quite like it. But it has that typicalness to it that wouldn’t go 100% well as a title track. In fact, UN Village stands out to me more due to its uniqueness. (8.5/10)

4. Ice QueenIce Queen reverts out attention back to the R&B side of the album, which has dominated all but one track on the album. There is a flowy feel to it, which gives it a nice relaxing sound. In addition to that flowy feel, I found the way he sang the song to be interesting. Think of it like a cup that is filled to the brim. If you add more, it will overfill. The lyrics when he sang felt like it was spilling down the sides of the imaginary cup. But the song didn’t feel loaded with ‘too much’ vocals or lyrics, which was why I found it interesting. (8/10)

5. Diamond – Still on the R&B style, Diamond manages to change things up slightly by adding a more upbeat pop tone to it. And I think this addition makes the song sound a lot more appealing. His vocals shine in this son as he manages to show a variety of vocal techniques throughout the song. I really like his falsettos in this song and the harmonies that he manages to do with the backing vocals make this song an uber smooth song. I know these are points I have mentioned under the other songs. But Diamond manages to present these in another way that makes it worth mentioning again. (9/10)

6. Psycho – Ending the album is surprisingly not another R&B track. Actually, I am not sure exactly what genre this song would be under. Psycho has a mixture of different genres. Some R&B was heard in the verses, but the chorus went with an EDM route that gave it a crashing tone. The song is eerie and unlike any other on the album. It felt like the perfect song for a very intense moment during a thriller or action movie, which is very much my style. His vocals also share a similar description and felt like it was drawn out to match the crashing effect of the chorus. Overall, an amazing end to the album. (10/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.8//10

baekhyun-citylights-3
City Lights Teaser Image

recommended red round grunge vintage ribbon stamp

[Review] UN Village – Baekhyun (EXO)

As mentioned previously, EXO is currently focusing on solo and unit promotions due to the impending military enlistment of the members (with Xiumin and D.O already in the army). We have seen solo tracks from Chen, Xiumin, D.O and Chanyeol so far this year and will be seeing the debut of EXO-SC (a unit consisting of Chanyeol and Sehun) in less than one fortnight. But today, we turn to a different member. Making his grand (official) solo debut today is Baekhyun with UN Village and his first ever mini-album, City Lights.

One thing I am glad that Baekhyun didn’t pick is a ballad title track. So many main vocalists go down this route, it quite often becomes a very large cliche in the industry. Instead, UN Village is an R&B track. And even then, it isn’t necessarily your typical R&B track as well. What is great about this track is that it shows off the individuality and personality of Baekhyun quite well. This is a common goal for solo promotions (especially for idols coming from groups). But is often not achieved due to urge to follow trends and cliches. What I quite like about UN Village is that it shows off his vocal colours. It’s smooth and almost teasing, which I think begs us to replay the song. The chorus was very well done and its melody is quite memorable. The instrumental gave off an aesthetic atmosphere, which further compliments his vocals. And also, this one of the times where consistency works as an advantage, which maintained the aesthetics. Overall, it is one damn good debut track.

Complimenting the song’s aesthetic atmosphere is an equally aesthetically pleasing music video. The video puts Baekhyun’s visuals on full display. It showcases him singing in different lightings, often quite dark and with very little colour (except for the one dominant colour). Apart from the subtle visual display of the singer, I found the sets to be very interesting. The song sings about taking a special someone to a hill behind UN Village to show them the night sky (taken from Soompi). But the way the video was shot, it looked like Baekhyun was showing us the very appealing sides of hidden laneways and alleyways within a city, which I guess is quite similar to showing us a hill behind UN Village. The ending with him laying on a table (and a woman, presumably his lover) walking by him is very confusing as I am not exactly sure how it contributes the video. Maybe I missed a few details here and there, so please let me know how this scene adds to the story.

Song – 9.5/10
Music Video – 9/10
Overall Rating – 9.3/10

[Review] Young – Baekhyun (EXO) & LOCO

The second single of Station X 0 is officially out. Last time, we heard from Taeyeon and Melomance on Page 0. The second single, Young, features the collaborative efforts of Baekhyun (whom we all know from EXO) and Loco, who we all know as a leading hip-hop artist. It seems like each of these songs have some sort of empowering message, based on the release of the first two singles. Can’t wait to see the rest of the releases.

Young is an electro-pop track that is extremely serious sounding. The atmosphere that is presented when you listen to the song isn’t one to be taken lightly. In my opinion, the song beckons you to determine what they are trying to get across to us. To quickly summarise, the song sends the message of being yourself and not to conform to the ‘expected’ image. Putting the message aside, the song features Baekhyun’s signature vocals, which fluctuates every now and then, giving the song some texture and drive. The song also features Loco and his rapping voice, which adds those elements and drive the song even further. Together, they don’t share any parts. However, they still compliment each other quite well, making this another great song from the SM Station project.

The music video expresses just what the message of the song says. However, the expectation set upon people are the rounded balls they are moulding together throughout the video. The way the people are working and walking around expressionlessly (illustrated by the paint splashing scene with Loco) shows that they are conformed to the standard and extremely bland societal normals. The way Baekhyun and Loco act, along with the disfigured ball at the end of the video shows how we should be acting and how we should be ourselves.

Song – 9/10
Music Video – 9/10
Overall Rating – 9/10

[Review] Take Me Home – Baekhyun (EXO)

Baekhyun’s recent solo release is the third song in the SM Station Season 2 project. Red Velvet’s Would U and Ten’s Dream In A Dream are also other songs in the project. For a review, I don’t think I ever repeated the artist’s name so many times before.

Baekhyun went with a ballad that does a pretty good job at bringing out his vocal’s capabilities. His vocals are on point throughout the song. Take Me Home fits perfectly into the season of Spring, with its more upbeat and brighter melody. Complimenting the Spring season, you can hear the romantic vibes that Baekhyun and the instrumental try to get across to the listener. But the instrumental is pretty standard, and there isn’t anything to comment on. I love how his voice buildups in the song, rather than the instrumental. That, or you can hear the buildup in his voice more apparent here. The song doesn’t have me coming back for though. It is the type of song that you would be happy to listen to, but you don’t necessary go back to replay it. There wasn’t a memorable moment that I tend to look for in ballads. Overall, it is a beautiful song but probably not one for me.

The video compliments the song quite nicely. I expected the video to be more on the dull side, but it wasn’t. The entire song was about how Baekhyun wanted to help his friend (the girl) get over her ex. The whole video shows Baekhyun’s attempt of moving her attention away. In the end, he successfully drags her away from the memories that sadden her by getting her to do a small dance and finally sharing a smile with each other. The end shows him holding the picture and the flower, but no friend was present, suggesting that she had moved on and his job was completed. My initial thoughts of Baekhyun’s attempts to get her mind off of things was that he was flirting and was consistently rejected. I guess lyrics and some fan comments do go a long way. As I previously said, it is a nice video to watch.

Song – 6/10
Music Video – 8/10
Overall Rating – 7/10 

[Review] Rain – Soyu (Sistar) & Baekhyun (EXO)

Another collaboration between two of the biggest idol names in the business at the moment. Soyu (from Sistar) has many collaborations to her name, such as Some with JungGiGo and Stupid in Love with Mad Clown. Baekhyun (from EXO) collaborated with Suzy for Miss A for Dream and have participated in OSTs for popular dramas in the past. All the collaborations and songs that the two have participated ended up being successful and high charting songs.

As expected given their portfolio, the two went with a ballad. It is one of those extremely slow ballads that people tend to shy away from. Even I do that to some of the songs of that nature sometimes. The combination between Baekhyun’s sweet vocals and the huskiness you hear with Soyu’s vocals is something you expect to be fantastic. And for the latter half of the song when they sing together for the final chorus, we got that fantastic feel. But the start of the song just didn’t have that same feeling. You could hear their vocals in the purest form (i.e. there is nothing shadowing or covering their respective parts) and that is good. But with a slow ballad, that seemed to drag out the song. While I am not too troubled by that now, it was something that I had to get used to after multiple listens to the song. But there is something else. Changing from Soyu to Baekhyun felt too instant and too fast. There was a second of silence and that was it. That silence felt like it two songs were ‘joined’ together as the two have different voices. A nice transition that eased in Baekhyun’s part would have made the song nicer as I felt the song needed that transition.

I am not a big fan of the video. There wasn’t anything of interest in the video. I just play the video mainly for the song. But you guys may like it. The video simply shows a young girl wandering around in the rain (or course with an umbrella). We do see that she is thinking about someone as shown via her drawings in her book and on the blackboard. While the video is not my cup of tea, the video is beautifully shot. Just by watching the video, you can’t help but smile when the girl in the video is happy and joyfully jumping around, which is quite cute.

Song – 7.5/10
Music Video – 5/10
Overall Rating – 6.5/10

Dream – Suzy (Miss A) & Baekhyun (EXO)

Currently the hottest song out at this very moment. This unexpected (kind of was expected after images were leaked though) between Suzy from Miss A and EXO’s Baekhyun has been staying at the top of the charts of a few days now and have apparently been there for over 100 hours, which is a feat considering the competition that they are facing with powerful digital artist’s comeback and also the release of OSTs for Reply 1988, which rise to the top of charts quite quickly.

Lovely song. It’s the type of song that you would expect in those cafes that we see often in the movies. The jazzy feel the instrumental gives the ballad really gives off that feel. Their vocals compliment each other quite well. Their vocals both also fit in very well with the jazzy feel. While it is not a catchy song, the chorus is pretty addictive to listen to. It makes me want to sway along and furthermore has this relaxing feeling about it. Suzy’s voice starts it off with a really soft and husky Dream and Baekhyun joins in afterwards with his husky voice as well. Even their “mmmmsss” sound really cool and go hand in hand with each other. Personally, this song feels like perfection in my eyes and every one of those hours the song is recorded at #1 truly reflects the amazing nature of the song.

The music video, well, matches the jazz ballad feel of the song. I love their set up, but I personally thought a more French or cafe setting would be more suitable. But I love how simple it was. Just position the right instruments around them and have the singers it there. But I don’t know, the instrumental playing people seem to know what they were doing, but they look awkward as hell. But beside that, I thought the video was very nice and complimented the song in many ways.

Yeah, probably not going to hammer down on them for my thoughts on the music video, but this is a perfect song. 10/10