The first EXO album, I had mixed feelings on my first listen through.
Which is so funny because technically, I have all the songs on this album saved. It took me longer to like the album as a whole.
But minus “Power”, the repackage album, THE POWER OF MUSIC is my second favorite EXO repackage album after LOVE ME RIGHT.
But there were so many things going on this era, and I was starting to become less of an EXO-L during this time. This is like the start of the decline in my involvement with the fandom and group.
I changed my mind on waiting to talk about THE POWER OF MUSIC until the other fave songs article.
There are only three songs I’m gonna talk about. Might as well include them here, so it’s less work for me later, lol.
So let’s get into it!
What do you mean they kicked off the album with one of the greatest b-sides of all time???!!!!
Whenever someone asks me why I don’t like “Love Shot”, I point them to this song.
This is why I don’t care about “Love Shot” lmao. I don’t hate it like I used to, though.
I like that they saw fan feedback and tried to replicate that vibe for a later title track, but “Love Shot” just didn’t hit the same for me.
“The Eve” is my favorite song from THE WAR. I love everything about it. Funny because Rice N’ Peas also created “Love Shot”.
I didn’t know this at the time, but I remember telling one of my friends that “Love Shot” is basically “The Eve” part 2. And I was right.
Anyway, they also performed this while promoting the actual title track for this album, “Ko Ko Bop”. We’ll talk about that song in a bit.
Side note, I’m just noticing Kai’s outfit is almost exactly what he wore in “Love Me Right”, minus the beanie. But a bright t-shirt and black skinny jeans. I haven’t watched this video in such a long time.
I remember being so excited about this performance video. I’m always a huge fan of performance videos, especially for flawless choreography like “The Eve”.
My favorite thing about “The Eve” is the R&B vibe mixed with some house/dance instrumentals to it. It’s a sensual song. I figured there would be body rolls in the choreography when I first heard the song.
It’s what EXO does best, well, one of the things they do best. Midtempo R&B songs with entertaining choreography.
It was designed with me in mind, it feels like. I wanted more EXO songs like this on this album, and I think that’s where some of my initial disappointment with THE WAR came from. It’s much more like EX’ACT than EXODUS.
But like a not as addicting version of EX’ACT. Like a collection of b-sides that were held on to for a later period. Idk if I’m articulating my feelings at the time, back in 2017.
I will say it’s interesting they had another mostly house and dance album, but LDN Noise was only on “Forever” which, not surprising, I loved instantly.
Also interesting is that LDN Noise worked on “Power”. So idk what was in the water at SM during this time, lmao.
Ko Ko Bop
The main reason I wasn’t feeling Ko Ko Bop and THE WAR era was the overall reaction to non-black Kpop fans dictating to black Kpop fans about how we should feel about Kai’s “dreads” during this period.
It was so hostile and unnecessary. It really sucked too because Kai was my favorite member up until this point. At this point, I pretty much dropped him and distanced myself from him and EXO-L’s for a while.
I would pop in to see what EXO’s music was like, then go back to other groups I was gaining more interest in.
It wasn’t really until 2020 with his solo release I was willing to acknowledge his presence again, lol.
I also didn’t like Chanyeol’s part in the bridge for “Ko Ko Bop”. Not a uncommon complaint at the time. I remember someone mad a YouTube video with that part taken out, and the song does improve. I’ve gotten used to it now.
Minus the cultural appropriation stuff, I think this song was just a little too different for many EXO-L’s at the time.
I remember a ton of discourse back and forth on the song, despite record-breaking album sales. Which just seems to be a trend during 2016-2017.
I didn’t know this at the time, but Chen, Baekhyun, and Chanyeol participated in the lyrics for “Ko Ko Bop”.
Idk why EXO-L’s don’t talk more about the members participating in song creation. I feel like fans of every other group can’t wait to brag about their faves being producers and songwriters.
Other people who’ve worked on this track are JQ and Hyun Jiwon from Makeumine Works, Jeremy “Tay” Jasper and Shaylen Carroll from MZMC, and Styalz Fuego.
The candies in this music video look good, I still want to try one, lol. I remember I haated Baekhyun’s mullet. In hindsight, it’s not that bad.
I do love the choreography that follows the line, “we’re goin Ko Ko Bop” and then it sounds like a lazer show going on. I love that dance move. Favorite part of the choreo for this song.
Despite all the drama going on back when this song dropped. I’ve grown pretty fond of it. I’m always hype when it pops up on shuffle, turn it up, and sing a long.
What U Do
I like this song, but I never listen to it. I don’t really have a reason for not. It’s kind of forgettable, but it’s a fun song. It’s a tune.
I should say that out of all of EXO’s logos, this one is my favorite. It’s sooo pretty and creative.
I’m a huge fan of the current logo too, it looks like a shooting star. I feel obligated to show this tweet picture from this Twitter user talking about CIX, EXO, and the show Peak Time:
Twitter users like this keep me on that hellhole.
Chanyeol has redeemed himself with his lines on “Forever”. I feel like with this beat and flow, it was easier to work with than “Ko Ko Bop”.
I remember reading people’s thoughts that Chanyeol’s delivery was a bit choppy for ” Ko Ko Bop”. I felt that too at the time. He feels more comfortable on this song.
I don’t really talk about Sehun’s delivery much as EXO’s other rapper. Idk I mostly feel like he gets the job done.
They pretty much promoted him to lead rapper after they went ahead and made Kai a vocalist full time. Plus main dancer and center. But like….who was gonna argue that?
It was looking dry out there. Well I love his line delivery in “The Eve” but he was singing on that track.
Maaaan “Forever” is sooooo good. Vocaline was serrrrving on this track. As I mentioned earlier, LDN Noise is on this track.
Kenzie is back again on lyrics and Adrian McKinnon is back. See that’s why this song goes so hard. The boys are back in town.
Third fave song from THE WAR.
“Diamond” is another fave track. This song’s flow with the farting horns just works so well. Again, it’s hard to mess up a song with diamond. Name a bad song that has Diamond in it? You can’t.
Jo Yookyung is back on lyrics. She’s on “Touch It” too. Then there’s a bunch of other people on this one: Harvey Mason Jr., Michael “R!ot” Wyckoff, Britt Burton, Patrick “J.Que” Smith, and Dewain Whitmore.
I feel like this was fun to work on in the studio. Fifth fave song?
I love this one too. I love the back and forth, conversational delivery going on here. I love a good EXO dance track.
THE WAR has, so many Frankenstein like songs. They feel like three or four different songs all at once, but together they work so well.
Notably, Chen worked on the lyrics for this track.
Seo Jieum is baaaaack. She worked on lyrics with Chanyeol. “Chill” is another song I instantly loved. It does feel like more of an older EXO song in a way. The harmonies in the chours for sure feel like old school EXO.
I like in “Chill” and “Touch It” have that feeling of inviting people in the studio (and in concert) to sing along.
That break down around the 2:00 minute mark, *chef’s kiss*.
Fourth fave song from this album.
Walk On Memories
I think this is the slowest song on THE WAR. I like it, but I never listen to it. No reason. I just need to change my ways. I forgot how much I actually like it.
I need to get this back in rotation.
Another jam from Jam Factory (Lee Seuran), Justin Reinstein (Mussashi), and Wassily Gradovsky.
Ahhhhhhhhhh my second favorite song from THE WAR. I wanted this to be the title track so badly. I think most EXO-L love this song, but I feel like we need to talk more about “Going Crazy”.
The instrumentals on this song and I think it was “Chill” tend to have this creeping (creeping creeping) sound and I liveeee for it.
My favorite line from Chanyeol is his “Up and down like a rollarcoaster.” It’s like a cooldown version of his “Monster” wrap. Again his flow is on point.
There are a lot of laser like sounds on this album too.
More legends back on this song. JQ and Seolim from Makeumine Works, MZMC, Shaun, and BeatBurger. We also have Wilbart “Vedo” McCoy III and Otha “Vakseen” Davis III on here, genius.
What a way to end an album. On to the repackage.
The Power of Music
One of EXO’s best songs they’ve ever recorded. Period. I have sooo much love for this song and “Boomerang”.
But “Sweet Lies” is God tier. I’ve talked a lot of about my love for Chanyeol’s rap for “Monster” and “Promise” but that was just practice for his best rap moment in my humble opinion, this song.
The part when Xiumin comes in and sings with Chanyeol awsfdgfhgjhkjkl
I remember the first audio teaser with Baekhyun’s intro and people losing their minds over how good this song sounded. I don’t think we were prepared for this greatness to drop.
The return of other icons on this track: G.Soul, Joseph “Joe Millionaire” Foster, MZMC, and Otha “Vakseen” Davis III.
I get why “Power” was the title track, because all the theming had everything set up for it to be the star. But be serious, these two songs run laps over “Power”.
I think if they didn’t want to go the sexy, sensual route with “Sweet Lies”, we should have gotten “Boomerang” as the title. It’s fun and upbeat, catchy AF.
And the instrumentals slay again. I do love the arms for this album art though, a bit underappreciated.
I keep thinking about that Pop Base tweet asking people what their favorite EXO logo is, and it’s so hard to pick one. I love THE WAR, but I feel like they’ve all been so well-thought-out and perfect for the eventual album it represents.
I can’t think of one logo where I’m like, “kinda mid” no they’re all ranging from great to amazing. Shout out to the graphics department.
Jo Yoonkyung is back on the lyrics (a busy bee), along with my other beloved Daniel “Obi” Klein, Thomas Sardorf, and Ilanguaq Lumholt are also on the track. I should have known a song like this had Daniel “Obi” Klein on it, he only makes bangers.
I probably missed some people when covering the song credits section. You can see the full list here.
It’s interesting how some songs grow on you and others you come back to years later, and you still don’t really care about. As I said in the beginning, I wasn’t a huge fan of this album as a whole at first. It took like a year or so for me to love it.
Some of it was me just being a baby about it not sounding exactly like older EXO stuff. I have much more fondness for it the more years go by.
What are your favorite songs from THE WAR and The Power of Music? Is one of them “Power“? Let me know in the comments. One more EXO article left!
You can buy both of these EXO albums with my Amazon links ⬇️
See ya next post!