Okay, now that Dinoseoul’s ‘XOXO’ review is up (read it here) and I’ve already attempted to string my thoughts together into something semi-objective and coherent, I am now free to fangirl about how deeply infatuated I am with EXO-M. I’m not gonna even lie – right from the start, I’ve always preferred M over K… perhaps it was because Kris somehow caught my eye first in the ‘MAMA’ MV and I went through a somewhat embarrassing period of time where all I could talk about was Kris and his gorgeous bitchface (sigh…I know I know). But loooook… /deep sigh/ I’ll patiently wait for him to return to this beautiful hair colour and take back his title of ‘Krisus’.
It also seemed like EXO-K barely had any interviews then while M was scheduled for something practically everyday and those live China interviews were sooooo awkward and my heart totally went out to the six of them because they didn’t have the luxury of being edited skillfully like their K counterparts did. Besides the fact that I didn’t have to wait for subs since my grasp of Chinese was at least adequate enough to get me by without resorting to English subs, I just naturally gravitated towards the six of them as I watched them grow and become more confident with each interview.
Don’t get me wrong, I do like EXO-K, but I just feel like the M boys feel a little closer to home somehow and they’re really just the underdogs and that may also be why I was so against EXO promoting as one. I definitely looked forward to OT12 stages back during the ‘MAMA’ promotion cycle because those were few and far between so it was something exciting and different, but having all the ‘Wolf’ stages being performed by all twelve… I just don’t know if SM will allow M to shine as brightly as K in Korea since the members may not be as popular there. I mean, just look at how even in the OT12 Chinese version, Kyungsoo and Baekhyun dominated (I will forever be butthurt about this let’s be real here). But still, I do concede that it’s definitely a good thing that M gets to join K on the weekly music shows because M barely had any performances for a loooong time after their debut while K was practically performing 4 to 5 times a week so this will give them the chance to up their popularity and exposure.
With all that said, ‘XOXO’ is still such a good album and yes, both ‘Kiss’ and ‘Hug’ versions. I still have trouble telling Kyungsoo’s and Baekhyun’s voices apart because they’re really pretty similar in pitch (or is it just me???) and while Suho is totally leaping up my EXO bias list with his constant smile and sweet voice, I love how all the voices in M are so… unique and different from one other. Because of that, it’s quite easy to tell their different voices apart.
Okay, I suck at describing voices but first of all, Chen has that really high sometimes almost nasally tone (though ahem Rachel would beg to differ) and he does pretty much all the belting and most of the adlibs. I know his Korean accent comes through quite often while he’s singing but I’m still really impressed at his pronunciation overall especially with the massive amount of lines he has to familiarise himself with and belt convincingly.
Kris has that signature growly/slurry thing going on where he sounds drunk/high or just plain lazy most of the time. I’ve never hidden my disdain for his rapping, and I guess if I weren’t clear before, I’ll say again that I really don’t like it and I think he’s simply not suited for it. He doesn’t have flow and he’s way too slow but I guess that’s not an excuse because you can have a deep voice and not rap fast and still be amazing at what you do (just look at Bang Yongguk). His constant growliness just makes everything more hilarious (like in ‘Let Out the Beast’) and I don’t know why SM didn’t just make him a vocalist because he does have a really surprisingly pleasant singing voice (that’s actually much better than his K counterpart, Chanyeol‘s) and sings quite a bit throughout the album. I also like his voice when he’s doing anything other than attempting to rap, like in ‘My Lady’ (at 1:54) when he’s sort of sing talking and it actually kinda suits the raspy quality that his voice posesses.
Xiumin‘s voice I’m not a huge fan of, if I’m being honest, because it’s just not very melodious but it could just be because he’s not had the opportunity to properly showcase his voice especially with the minimal amount of lines he gets throughout the album. I mean, he couldn’t have won that 2008 Everysing contest if he had zilch talent right? Then sweet, sweet Lay with his cute high-pitched voice and his thick accent that just makes me smile, and Luhan, whose voice might just be my favourite ever in EXO because it’s just gorgeous to listen to and I love the way he stretches to reach some of those notes and he’s also always so heartfelt in his delivery.
And finally Tao, whose voice is like this gem I never knew existed because who knew he could sing like that??? He has one of my favourite type of singing voices; it’s like one of those typical teenybopper boyband voices, if that even makes sense – like, I swear to god he sings the same way Joe Jonas does where they get a little breathy and high pitched at the end of each line, and the way he slangs, like I can’t even explain (though I guess anyone who didn’t get into Jonas Brothers at one point in their lives wouldn’t get this reference). I mean, just listen to his lines in ‘3.6.5’ (at 0:14), ‘Peter Pan’, ‘Don’t Go’ and basically all the songs where he has singing lines instead of rap parts, you should be able to somewhat get what I mean… kinda? I really enjoy his rapping as well and even though his high pitch contrasts with Kris’ much lower one, there are also some tracks where he lowers his tone a little like in ‘Baby Don’t Cry’ (right after the second last chorus). And possibly one of my favourite things about Tao aside from his versatility, is how underneath his impossibly good-looking badass wushu exterior, he’s really a 13-year-old overly-emotional princess who likes to look pretty, take mirror selcas, shop at Gucci and cry over horror stories.
I’m sure it’ll change but my current favourites in the ‘Hug’ version are ‘Don’t Go’, ‘Peter Pan’ and ‘3.6.5’ but to be honest, every song in ‘XOXO’ is so listenable and there’s not a single track I’d skip even if I do love certain songs a little more than others. This whole album was just such a nice surprise because I didn’t expect it to be as quality as it turned out to be. Definitely worth a listen… or ten. And for anyone who’s confused about who sings what during which part, this link would be super helpful to get you acquainted with all the different voices.
So….. in short, I just have a lot of EXO-M feels. Ok bye.