EXO – FOR LIFE – WINTER SPECIAL ALBUM, 2016
1. For Life *Title
2. Falling For You
3. What I Want For Christmas
4. Twenty Four
5. Winter Heat
Since 2013, EXO has released something for their fans during the holidays. This time, they're wishing you a Merry Christmas with a mini-album, the Winter Special Album 'For Life.' They put out two discs for this EP, a Chinese release and the Korean one. This review covers the one released for the Korean market.
"For Life" is their title track, a slow, simple winter ballad. It's tenderly sung, and the boys handle their parts well enough, but it's not really all that memorable. The interesting thing is that Kai, Sehun, and Lay weren't given much to do here, though Suho was allowed more lines this time. There's no rapping, but I think that would have ruined the tone. I like how it ends, with a sweet finality. Overall, it's a cute ode to a lover on Christmas.
Moving on, "Falling For You" is more my speed. Upbeat and funky, mid-tempo and fun. This has more of an even line distribution, which is what you want. No one should be frozen out. The only quibble I have with it is that the hook, which should be stronger, the "ohh ah ohh ah" is a bit thin. It's still fairly jaunty and is definitely EXO.
They slow things way down for "What I Want For Christmas." It's a slow R&B jam, smooth and sensual, sung by Suho, Chen, Baekhyun, and D.O. D.O is the perfect one to sing this, and he gets the lion's share of the lines. Which is fine, as it's a pretty good song overall, and they chose the voices well. What do they want for Christmas? I'll give you three guesses, and the first two don't count.
Chanyeol, Xiumin, Kai, and Sehun take on "Twenty Four." It's got some hip hop, trap and R&B elements, never quite committing to one or the other but seamlessly fusing the three in this tune. It's got a great hook ("you're my twenty four") sung rather rapidly to give it more punch. This has got to be one of my favorite tracks on the album, but you probably already knew that. :)
"Winter Heat" has more in common with traditional K-pop, done in that inimitable EXO style. It's an upbeat winter jam, done with all the boys. I particularly like Chanyeol and Sehun's raps here, on point and perfectly in time to the song. I particularly like the bridge: "once more" and "call for me" are hooks that bring the awesomesauce.
I like this release. As I said, the title track's not amazing, but there are some parts that really do redeem it on repeated listens. The rest of the tracks flow nicely, and it's not jarring to go from softer to more upbeat songs on here, which is no small feat. Overall it's well put together, the boys really deliver vocally and seems to be just the thing to heat up your winter.
EXO has gone for the drama format this time around, delivering a poignant MV. The theme is one of loss, with the girl being in any of 3 locations, but the boys are unable to catch up with her. Then, it switches to her point of view as she revisits the places where the boys once were, finding them empty.
The common thread that ties all of them together is the girl, and the bracelet, this ornate, ancient-looking magic bracelet, that apparently can disappear and reappear where it wants, at will.
This is almost tear jerking at times, as the loneliness here is palpable, particularly with the woman. The boys are dewy-eyed, but more pensive than heartbroken. I like the way it's filmed too, with extensive use of slow-mo, fog in the city scenes, and neon. There is no shortage of things to look at, though for some reason only Kai, Chanyeol, and Suho appear in the MV. I think that makes it better, in some ways, as fewer boys can have longer and stronger scenes.
The MV, however, is fairly convincing, as we move from darkened rooms to a car on the streets to a clearing in a meadow where a bed and lamp are set up. SM is good at making their MVs not look cheap, and this one is no exception.
Yeah, in case you couldn't see it coming, this MV gets my thumbs up.