Perhaps it’s the lowered standards that I have set for Exo’s comeback that I was so taken aback by “Ko Ko Bop” the first time I heard it. I don’t necessarily hate Exo, it’s just that I am not that fond of them anymore in the same way that I was during their earlier days.
Maybe it has something to do with how the group has no fixed identity? It’s different from say NCT distinguishing themselves clearly from SHINee despite both being SM’s “experimental acts”.
I don’t know, in Exo’s case, I’ve somehow always reduced them to an improved version of Super Junior that has songs that both SHINee and TVXQ would release and that’s about it.
Is it weird that I felt surprised how Ko Ko Bop sounded a tad bit experimental? Yes. For one, I’ve always thought that this song would’ve been a great NCT followup, considering how they are being pushed as SM’s left-of-field act. Although the song’s structure tends to get a little predictable halfway, the eclectic mix of sounds in Ko Ko Bop is something that you wouldn’t expect that the supergroup would still bother releasing at this point.
Instead, I was thinking of something akin to the footsteps of Monster – a track that is both grand and accessible. With Exo’s position as SM’s premiere act and as much as you try to evade it, the continuous rise of rival group BTS, Ko Ko Bop isn’t exactly the type of song that would cement their dominance further.
But after giving Ko Ko Bop a few spins, I’ve come to love its quirks and ultimately, its purpose for Exo. How in the world did I expect any SM release to be extremely public-friendly when in fact they always swing the other way around?
It’s just like in 2014 when Girls’ Generation went head on with 2NE1 with the gloriously underrated Mr.Mr. While Come Back Home was as instant as any ramyun in any Korean convenience store, Soshi delivered some BoA (US era) + Britney + Janet Jackson pop ditty which wasn’t the kind that the public was hoping for in a competition that was as intense as that one.
Well, both 4minute and Orange Caramel scalped them during that time so all is well.
Still one of K-Pop’s best moments
This is how SM rolls, and I’m happy that they would still give Exo that chance. It’s a great way of saying that Exo isn’t threatened at all and they are still gonna hit it big no matter what. SM just happened to be so lucky to have a loyal fanbase that they can do such stuff to Exo, lbr.
Therefore, Ko Ko Bop is still a bop in my book and y’all better shimmy shimmy away from my lane if you think otherwise.
Oh, and the rest of the album. To be honest, I haven’t given Ex’act a spin so I couldn’t compare it to The War in terms of quality. However, I’m loving “The Eve” and the exotic-sounding “Diamond”. As for me, “Exodus” and “Miracles in December” still remain to be their best. I haved always loved Exo’s RnB era and there’s not much of that here. Too bad.
Stream the rest of “The War” here:
And here’s one more Kyungsoo gif because he’s the only one I care about in Exo. LOL!