Tuesday, May 19th, 2015

EXID – Ah Yeah

Low Controversy Index Klaxon! Low Controversy Index Klaxon!


Madeleine Lee: Fame hasn’t changed EXID much, least of all their sense of humour. Yes, Hani is featured more prominently in this song than she has ever been before, but once she’s lured you into each verse it’s rapper-songwriter LE who grabs you by the balls, a fake-out as cheeky and pointed as the mixing of “아예” and “aw, yeah.” The chorus sounds a lot like “Up & Down,” which is fine; it’s building brand recognition, and “Up & Down” was a good song even before music shows started awarding its choreography. “Ah Yeah” feels fragmented in comparison, and seems to have been made for its video concept. But it’s a clever concept, and I love that EXID take the “girl group does something sexy, gains public recognition” story and turn it to their advantage.

Jessica Doyle: Yes, it’s similar to “Up & Down” (intentionally so, LE says), and yes, “Up & Down” is better, for LE’s “Such a monster” pout and for that wi arae, wi wi arae shoulder-shaking earworm. But how can you not root for EXID? It’s not just the hard-luck story of the seemingly permanently indebted K-pop group made, for the moment, good, or that they previously served as Shinsadong Tiger’s “guide group” as he shopped songs around — this isn’t quite a #freekellileigh situation but it’s not far off. Even if none of that were true, they deserve points for taking the Good Bad Girl concept and pushing it a bit, making it more of a valiant march — a shared one. They know it’s a rigged game, and they want you to know that they know it, but they’re going to give you the benefit of the doubt: believe that you want it all to work out well in the end just as much as they do, that all the repetitive hard work and dehumanization somehow makes for connections in the end. Watching that famous Hani fancam again, what struck me was not her sexiness or dance skill but how often she smiled, and more specifically smiled and made eye contact with the audience, as if genuinely committed to the idea — or at least genuinely committed to communicating the idea — that those guys shrieking at her butt might be her friends, might be on her side. See it here, again: at 0:36, when the song calls for her to give a dramatic sigh, she hears the fanchants and can’t help but grin a little instead. It adds up to something simultaneously smarter and more generous than we deserve.

Iain Mew: The most striking bit of genius in “Ah Yeah” is the one it starts with: the man whispering “Where do you live? Do you live alone?” at the creepiest confluence of “All Right” and “Problem”. EXID light fires, blasting from frustration to fury, but a no-nonsense attitude comes across even more effectively when such prime nonsense is right there for the song to cut across. The only part that gets in the way a bit is the chorus, its joyful energy a strange fit for the confrontation.

Thomas Inskeep: I love how this, like much K-Pop I hear, sounds like 3 or 4 songs mashed together. There’s some circa-2005 Diplo-esque production on the verses, the chorus is more slickly “traditional” girl-group pop (giving me Dream realness), there’s a bit cribbed from Ying Yang Twins’ “Wait” (always welcome), and it all works together. Over subsequent listens, it improves, too.

Alfred Soto: The horns bleat like a Sean Paul hit in 2002, and the vocals brim with the confidence of the title. 

Micha Cavaseno: On singles like “Up & Down” and this one, EXID have a strange hex in which their choruses often feel a bit staged. There’s a lot more fun in their verses, in which they have a hard-tinged tech-goa-house hybrid before slapping in the almost too tough “RAPPER INTERRUPTION BEATS.” I wonder if EXID will ever get the big hit and will be allowed to make weirder songs that don’t need such an obvious hook to seem like a return to safety from the storm; what else might they get away with? Hopefully, saxobeat will not be an option when that time comes.

Patrick St. Michel: Flirting rarely sounds this unsettling. The “where do you live/do you live alone” gives “Ah Yeah” an immediately uneasy vibe, while the music itself swings all over the place, turning saxophone blurts and party-starting samples into confrontational ammo. The best bit, though, is how the members tag-team in and out during the verses, going from soft to aggressive.

Nina Lea Oishi: “Ah Yeah” is enthralling because it suggests that nothing is what it seems: in the verses, the girls snap back and forth between a menacing sweetness and an aggressive swagger, hinting at a more dangerous side than the chorus betrays. The real kicker, though, is when you realize exactly what questions the girls are refusing to answer — it’s the “Where do you live? Do you live alone?” at the beginning of the track, whispered by a creepy male stalker-type — and suddenly everything takes on a more sinister and compelling sheen.

Reader average: [9] (3 votes)

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6 Responses to “EXID – Ah Yeah”

  1. Welcome Nina!

  2. Thanks Jonathan, I’m excited to be here!

  3. ” I wonder if EXID will ever get the big hit” – ?

  4. Every Night will always be an unappreciated gem, and the bridge added to the new “Phone Call” mix somehow made a should-be classic sound even more timeless.

  5. Yeah, the hit that allows them to not clutch to the a prior success that is safe territory tho.

  6. I can’t figure out how i feel about junghwa’s voice. Like i want to say that it’s bad, but i can’t be mad at her when she’s proven that she can deliver more or less CD quality vocals with absolutely no backing track – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ComCRiKtgZo