Monday, June 17th, 2013

Exo – Wolf

Guy on the right: starting to feel a little abused, like a coffee machine in an office…


Alfred Soto: This dubstep, eighties boom boom bap and lupine mating call hybrid kicks up an awful, glorious racket. The apotheosis of K-pop.

Sonya Nicholson: SM Entertainment have always pushed the envelope with their science fiction concepts and international-language-of-nonsense hooks (Ring Ding Dong, right?) but “That’s right wolf — I’m a wolf! Awhooo!” might be a new high for them, or a new low, depending on your perspective. FUN FACT: This song was released on the same day as the third season premiere of MTV’s Teen Wolf. Clearly EXO, with their werewolf concept, and SHINee, with their zombie concept, and VIXX, with their devil concept, are going for the same audience. And why not? With domestic demand for idol groups in free fall in Korea, the companies have to recoup their investment from somewhere, and the overseas K-pop audience definitely draws from the same well as the casual SFF crowd. And everyone loves a good supernatural love story. Moving beyond the concept — which is more than fine — this song, while audacious, lacks something. I’m going to say that it lacks a sense of fun. It’s both aggressive and declawed, experimental and joyless. I never thought I’d say this, but I miss the terrifying methamphetamine weirdness of the original version. If you’re going to challenge your audience, challenge them all the way. The choreography is a 10, however.

Iain Mew: Even more than previous Exo singles, there’s a suspicion that the over-the-top production and vocal choices are there to hide that there’s barely a song to hold together. That doesn’t make the cascading synth stalactites or wolf impressions any less enjoyable.

Katherine St Asaph: “She Wolf” howls over harsh electro and the Wario Land soundtrack are promising. Brostep, shouting guys, retching guys and screeching guys are not.

Brad Shoup: Begins aggressively off-putting, then settles for aggressive, which means hair-metal choruses, gonzo harmonies, meter-breaking drum clatter. I don’t know if this is camp, or just ornately weird. Very impressively rendered, in either case.

Patrick St. Michel: Korea’s pop industry adapted to brostep so early that, in 2013, wubs feel like a natural sonic element from the big labels. What’s remarkable about “Wolf” is how unremarkable the EDM-ish bits sound. They make up the spine of the song, a good backdrop for Exo to howl against and make everything not drop-like sound incredible. See the way Exo break into sing-song falsetto in the first verse, or how they make the plinky bridge sound all the more dramatic. The wolf thing wears thin — did they really need the growls? — but there are enough great moments to make up for it.

Anthony Easton: I am on record as in favour of any song that features wolf howls, and I am even more in favour of a song whose symbols are so literal. It’s just on the edge of being camp cheese, which makes me love it even more. 

Reader average: [4.53] (13 votes)

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7 Responses to “Exo – Wolf”

  1. Thank you, Katherine, for helping me bring down the score.

  2. It’s just — this is just sonically unpleasant in every facet! Like, listening to it is actually excruciating, and not in a good way.

  3. I think the fast-rapping parts, the playground-taunting parts, and the 80s hair-metal parts all *could* have been joyous and fun. But they’re not, maybe because the guys in EXO aren’t cut out for this nonsense. I like the concept and the wolf howls but it’s too much aggression for the sake of being aggressive for me.

  4. Also, I wish I’d stuck with my original wording: “I’m going to say that it lacks a sense of joy. It’s both aggressive and declawed, experimental and not very fun.”

  5. Katherine should have gone further! I literally can’t stand to listen to this. But maybe that’s actually an accomplishment on their part.

  6. I think joy was never the point here, though. Having said that, I tend to be more forgiving of — or responsive to — these garish types of productions. Makes me think of Nicki Minaj, and “River Deep, Mountain High,” and even a goonier take on “I Got a Boy”. I dunno if Kenzie’s hitting her rococo phase — I don’t know the industry as well as I ought — but it sure sounds like she and everyone else involved were trying to see how gonzo they could make things. It surprised me. I love surprises.

    And I’m glad Anthony had a similar suspicion of camp!

  7. Maybe I’m being too harsh. The real purpose of this song is to be a vehicle for Tony Testa’s choreography and inspire a zillion dance covers, after all.

    Speaking of: <– The dance cover group I used to be in! Rutgers U, represent ^^v