Reading in an article a few days ago, it seems like an EXO comeback with the remaining members who are not in the military just yet is coming our way. But as we wait for that, we get an opportunity to listen to Chen as he makes his first solo comeback. He made his solo debut earlier this year with Beautiful Goodbye. Chen is also one of the first solo artists to make a very quick return after the release of their previous track. Usually, the gap is quite wide. But I am not complaining. Let’s listen to what Chen has to offer in Shall We?.
Once again, Chen gives us a ballad as the title track. But Shall We? isn’t the same style of ballad that we got from Chen when he promoted Beautiful Goodbye. Instead, Shall We? seems approach the ballad genre with a retro mindset, which is a very different approach to any ballad on the charts at the moment. So big ticks for uniqueness already. I really like the brass in the instrumental. It is a small detail in the music, but I thought it gave the song a really nice touch. The rest of the instrumental wasn’t as captivating, unfortunately. It was still good but I wanted the song to pick up a little more as it progressed. Chen’s voice is breathtaking, once again. I really like how delicate his voice gets in this song. I know his tone is a lot softer to match the instrumentation, but I feel like the same comments (as per the instrumentation) can be made for his vocals as well. I do prefer hearing him with a bolder approach, which would explain why I feel this way. But nonetheless, a really nice soothing rack to listen to.
I found the music video to be equally soothing, matching extremely well with the music. I really like how they captured Chen in this video. From the lights in the night cityscape to the sunrise, he looked good throughout the video. The rest of the video was showing a couple loving each other, which was appropriate for the song. The combination of the two made the video more interesting if the producers opted for one over the other. And it is always nice to watch a music video that doesn’t end in heartbreak, which is surprisingly rare (from what I can remember).
Song – 8/10
Music Video – 9/10
Overall Rating – 8.4/10
As groups progress with their careers, we see a lot of the members branch out into solo careers. EXO is a fine example, with many of the members excelling at their solo careers, such as acting, collaborations and OSTs. What we have not yet seen from the members in Korea is actually a solo album! Lay took the honours as the first member to have a solo album, but that was released in China. But today, Chen will be the first Korean member to release a solo mini-album, April, and a flower, today. The title track from this mini-album is Beautiful Goodbye.
Given Chen’s amazing OSTs in the past, it was highly expected that Chen would go down the ballad route. And Beautiful Goodbye is a breathtaking ballad. A few reviews ago, I mentioned that there are the types of songs that you have to stop what you are doing and listen to it that way in order to fully appreciate the song. This is another perfect example of this. Beautiful Goodbye features only piano in the instrumental. As it is the only instrument in the song, it is extremely striking especially during the moments when the song ‘builds up’or peaks. Chen’s vocals compliment the piano. It doesn’t push himself in this domain nor does he reach ‘powerhouse’ mode. Instead, I find his voice to be very moving and also well-balanced. This combination works in harmony and it leaves us with a fantastic song to listen to.
I also like how aesthetic the music video is. It isn’t artsy in any way but rather it is simplistic. It is all shot outside, with a very large tree-trunk like structure in the centre of the video. Within the centre, we find Chen and a piano player, whose piano is embedded into the structure. Surrounding them is are many female dancers, all dressed in a pale pink-ish colour that really works well with the setting. That is pretty much it to the video. I came across a news article today that stated that the video took 6 hours of filming and that Chen was concerned about whether he conveyed the right emotions. Well, those 6 hours paid off and Chen did wonders in the video.
Song – 10/10
Music Video – 9/10
Overall Rating – 9.6/10
Every time I have paused to do an SM Station review (which I haven’t done in the past few weeks), it always ends up being a ballad. In the coming days, due to the lack of comebacks this week, I will be catching up on some of the SM Station releases I have missed in the last 3 months or so I have not looked at the tracks (one of them is a dance track – take a guess which one). Today, I am starting off with Chen’s collaboration with 10CM, Bye Babe.
Bye Babe is not a ballad, which caught me off guard the first time I saw it. Instead, it is an extremely funky guitar dominating song that feels bright and vibrant. It does fall towards the indie side, which 10CM is known for. It has me tapping along and that brightness just makes you smile. The highlight of the song for me is actually that crunching effect that the guitar produces to open up the chorus. Very ear-catching and unique (for me at least). Another standout for this track is the obvious vocals. Chen’s vocals felt just right for the song. It complemented well with 10CM’s vocals and the harmonies that the two produced makes the song so much more enjoyable. If you can’t tell by my comments, I pretty much enjoyed the song. Great collaboration.
The music video states that it is the ‘live version’. So my guess is that the entire song and instrumentation was recorded in the video? That is quite cool. Overall, I thought it was a good video despite it only showing the two artists singing, while the other people in the background are playing the instruments. The layout and the setting were quite awesome. The warm colour filter worked well with the song.
Song – 10/10
Music Video – 9/10
Overall Rating – 9.5/10