X is for XOXO!
I talked about G-Dragon’s Coup D’etat album earlier this month, and I said that it was one of my favorites of 2013. So what was my favorite album of 2013?
The award undoubtedly would have to go to EXO for XOXO.
XOXO is probably one of my favorite albums EVER. By ANYONE.
(Now let’s be clear, I don’t even bother looking up the entire album of an artist unless I already really like the title song, so I can’t say that this is universally the best album ever. The collection of entire albums that I have listened to in the whole plethora of K-pop out there is pretty limited.)
But yes, XOXO is my favorite album ever. More than any of my Super Junior albums. More than any SHINee album. More than my beloved but forgotten Jonas Brothers albums (Yes, that was me back in the day).
XOXO is an incredibly well put together album. All of the songs are amazing. Not only are they great songs, but they fit together on the same album. Super Junior had all great songs on their latest full album, Sexy, Free, and Single, for example, but the songs on that album were all so different from each other. XOXO is an album that I would listen to as an entire album, not just a collection of good songs.
Note: A lot of times, I will like an album because I already like that specific group. That is not the case with XOXO. I started liking EXO because of their Wolf promotions and this album.
Let’s go through the songs, shall we? Note that I will be sharing the Chinese versions of all of the songs. I listened to both Korean and Chinese versions of the songs, and I have to say that the writers of the Chinese songs did a much better job in the flow, rhythm, and rhyme of the lyrics. These are all amazingly composed songs, but in terms of the flow of the lyrics, I much more prefer the Chinese versions of the songs.
I already reviewed this song, so you can read that to get my full opinion. In short, it is a pretty epic song. The harmonizing between Chen and Baekhyun blow me away every single time I listen to this song. I always get so into it.
Baby Don’t Cry
This is one of my favorite songs on the album. The composition is beautiful. I love these songs that are soft and ballad-like, but that aren’t slow and boring like I find most ballads. I absolutely love Tao and Kris’s raps in this. They may be saying “Baby Don’t Cry,” but for some reason whenever I hear this song, I feel like crying.
Hands down, this is one of the best songs I have ever heard. Words cannot describe my love for this song. The background instrumental is incredible, and the singing is so passionate and intense. This is definitely one of my all time favorite songs. When the vocals go into the background and slowly build their way to the front near the end…just listen to the song. It speaks for itself.
Now things slow down and we are given a lighter, sweeter song. It is such an easy song to listen to. The melody is nice and just gives off a happy vibe, even if the lyrics are slightly sad.
Let Out the Beast
I have been waiting since Xiumin and Kai’s debut teaser for this song to come out. The composition matches the title perfectly. It totally fits with the “Wolf” concept. I can almost see them slyly crawling around a wolf’s den as they sing some of these lines. It is also one of those songs that doesn’t follow the typical setup of songs with the lines-chorus-lines-chorus-bridge-chorus. It switches things up a little bit, leaving me completely satisfied by the end of the song.
Before learning the name of this song, I called it the “One Direction Song” (in a totally non-offensive way!). Come on, you have to admit that it sound a bit like “What Makes You Beautiful.” It is probably the song that fits in the least with the rest of the songs, but it is such a fun song to listen to and sing along to. I can’t listen to this without shouting “3! 6! 5!” along with them. It is just so much fun.
Yet another incredible song. This is probably my favorite after Black Pearl. I absolutely love the composition of this song. It is mellow, mysterious, and intense all at once. I just love the sound of this song. It follows brings us down from the happy 3.6.5 for a ride of mystery.
Note: EXO-K does an AMAZING job with the vocals in this song. I am just obsessed with the way they sing it, particularly D.O. and Chanyeol.
This is almost like a mix of happy “3.6.5” and mysterious “Heart Attack,” with a bit of childhood fantasy thrown in there. There is just something so innocent and juvenile about this song. Maybe it’s the “Peter Pan” and “Neverland” English words thrown in there, but this song just makes me happy like I’m a little kid again, especially during Luhan and Chen’s lines together right before the second chorus. I also really love the lyrics of this song.
“Baby” is an amazing and totally underrated song. For some reason, the sound of the song always sounds motivational to me. The composition, the vocals, the lyrics…I love it. One of my favorite features of a song is when they have duets within a group song, and this song does it beautifully. I love how Lay and Luhan sing the chorus together, and Xiumin and Luhan/Tao and Lay alternate lines followed by Chen’s powerful intro to the chorus.
Finally we end the album with a soft, classy song. This is the kind of music that would be playing in a banquet hall. I really like how the chorus is put together, with everyone singing the slow lines followed by Luhan and Lay’s quick lines. I personally think Lay’s voice suits this song perfectly. As a full song, it is a great way to wind down after nine nine incredible songs.
One of the most commendable things about this album is that the upbeat, title-worthy songs are spread out across the entire track list. All too often the more intense songs are all at the beginning, leaving the slower songs for the middle and end, which gets boring. This album keeps the listener constantly interested with different sounding songs coming after one another.
I actually bought the CD for this album. Usually when I buy CDs, I love them for a few months, and then only really take them out if I haven’t listened to them in a really long time. XOXO is different. I am always in the mood to listen to it. Over and over again. It is such a solid album. It is extremely rare for me to love every single song. S.M, you did an amazing job with this. Bravo.
This goes down on the list of S.M gems, along with BoA’s “Disturbance” MV and EunHae’s “Still You.”