James: nICe sILENCE
Brianna: Ooh! This the nicest transition to a rap, period. Kevin: I’ve been waiting for six minutes!
Umu: yOU OWE ME A HOT CHOCOLATE. Yunyi: I never agreed to that. Umu: yES YOU DO Kevini: Hello.
Yunyi: Hello. Umu: All right. Y’all ready to react to EXO? Owen: Yo.
Elizabeth: It’s one of the first groups I ever listened to, actually. Umu: You’re now reacting to the boy group EXO and two songs off of their 2019 album called ‘Obsession’ Lyrically, ‘Groove’ is a traditional pop love song. The members sing about the affection they feel for their lover, and the couple expresses their feelings through dance, which allows them to cross from reality into dreams. The song is composed by Hyuk Shin, Blair Taylor, andJisoo Park, Aaron: Oh! (mimicking instruments) Henry: What metre are we in? What the heck? It’s duple. Yunyi: One, two, three, four, one, two…
Kevin: Ohhhh. Yunyi: That little thing–the drum, hits on the up. It’s on the end of 4. Owen: I also like how they’re trading off between chords that are all together and then chords that are being rolled in the vibraphone, too. Gives it a cool feel. Yunyi: Oh! Yunyi: I love it!
Kevin: It’s got the groove. Yunyi: It’s so stylish.
Yunyi: But it doesn’t sound like it’s trying really hard to be trendy. Daniel: It kind of feels like I’m going into a trance, you know?
Fiona: I’m okay with it.
Daniel: It’s like hypnotic. Kevin: Whoa! The introduction of the B natural in a D minor chorus. What? What? Kevin: Ooh. Yeah.
Yunyi: Mmmmm…So smooth. Henry: Woo! Cloud: A lot of suspensions where they just *sound effects*
Henry: Oh, what was that? Who was that just now? “Yeah, right”. Henry: This is great. This is super…
Henry: luxurious, you know what I mean?
Henry: Yeah. Brianna: His voice is super soft, but rich, you know?
James: Yeah. Fiona: It just gets into a different level, a different vibe, a different color, each time it transitions.
Daniel: Yeah, it just keeps looping and looping and looping. Yunyi: Yeah, it’s got that effortless cool, you know?
Kevin: Yeah, exactly. Yunyi: If it was too active it wouldn’t have that effortless cool.
Kevin: Exactly. Yunyi: Repetition is good when you use it right. Henry: Ooh! Cloud: Hello.
Henry: That’s interesting. Now I like with the piano, they have the syncopation: duh duh, duh, duh, duh, duh. Daniel: I love the syncopation. I feel like there’s more movement because of that, but at the same time there’s more consistency.
Fiona: And now without the syncopation it’s like, whoa. Aaron: Oh.
Aaron: Oh. Aaron: That was unexpected.
Nick: They’re using suspensions. Owen: Can you put mutes on your voice? Elizabeth: AAHHH!!! Flute! What?! Wait, so the vocal line is completely taken over by a flute. That’s super cool.
Owen: Was this the other vocal line? Was this what he was singing before, too? Elizabeth: (singing) Yeah. Yunyi: If they had a little improv on the flute, that would have taken it to the next level.
Kevin: Exactly.Exactly. Yunyi: Like, throw some jazz flute in there. Henry: Woo!
Cloud: They’ve been really milking that interval, though– that bum bum ba dum. Owen: That’s cool that it’s the same four notes, but it”s just moved over a little bit, so it still sounds fresh. And it’s down the octave for the voices and then up, but still it’s like the same thing. Aaron: I love that.
Nick: Ooh! Owen: That’s a nice ending.
Owen: with that really meaty (singing) James: I liked it. I thought the chorus was really interesting. It was not what I expected it to be. It was a lot more…I don’t know. It’s interesting. I was getting like Valentine’s Day vibes the whole time. Okay, just hear me out: Like the sections where it was just like strings, but then for some reason when it approaches the chorus, you think it almost builds up like it’s gonna be like a heavier drop but it’s not, it was just really chill, and the the percussion in the background was just doing off beats. It was like (singing). Even the way they were singing, especially up when they were singing really high in their head voices and doing kind of melismatic stuff up there, they could have like, with all the stuff, they could have gone crazy, James: but it was kind of just like very relaxed and warm.
Brianna: Yeah, that’s one thing, their voices are super rich, but it has this soft texture to it.
James: Yeah, they weren’t trying to be piercing, ever.
Brianna: Yeah. James: Which I kind of liked. It was very chill. Fiona: It transitioned so often and so well to different kind of themes of the same thing, and it had different elements that gave it a new flavor or color each time.
Daniel: I thought that there was this…I think near the end there were these strings that were suspended, and they were in charge of mostly the harmony, or it sounded like strings. When the harmony changed, that’s when we felt like there was no explicit rhythmic drive
Fiona: Um-hmm. or like a percussive drive, in that you just hear just pure harmony and you feel like you’re floating, right? But then it’s so interesting because the articulations are like masks, in a way, where when they move to another harmony it’s like not completely noticeable. You feel movement, but it doesn’t feel like, because you’re on a strict metre, even though there is a strict metre, obviously, but it just doesn’t feel like it’s a strict metre because you’re not feeling the subdivisions, you’re just kind of like floating between the harmonies, and you’re just kind of like being pulled along, you know? Owen: I actually read a study about what makes something groove and what would make people want to dance, and apparently the secret is not like how much layering you have, like sixteenth notes or filling big beats and then off beats, it’s actually all about syncopation, and finding the right amount of syncopation that’s still grand enough, but also surprises the ear enough. So you can have to fill in the rest of them with your body. Like if I keep going (singing) that would make your brain say wait, there are things missing, and so your body would sort of naturally get into this move of filling in those beats that are missing in the music, so that that just makes you dance. Elizabeth: I liked the use of timbres, I think that was my favorite part, is that there’s the vibraphone that goes through the whole thing and you know, the vibraphone is an instrument that just like, is electronified in a way that has reverb, but then there was a lot of reverb placed on the voices of the members of EXO, so their voices had a lot of wispy echo afterwards, which kind of matched what the vibraphone was doing, so the sounds of the two were really similar. And then they had some synth strings come in that sounded the same, too. So it just sounded like this very airy-washy thing. And then at the end when there’s the chorus, where it’s the flute playing instead of a singer singing, the flute cuts through that texture really, really well because it’s so much higher in timbre, and it’s also like a lot triller, so it’s very surprising and really cool when that happens, because like your ear has gotten used to this sort of timbrel world, and suddenly there’s something that breaks with that Owen: Yeah, it feels more expansive, too, having it be up in the high register as also a pure tone.
Elizabeth: Yeah. Umu: You are now reacting to the title track of the album ‘Obsession’, called ‘Obsession’. The song expresses how the group feels about sasaengs, AKA stalker fans. The lyrics describe how these fans act and the fear their actions cause the members to have. EXO describes the auto-tune call and response in the song a conversation between the warring parties. For the video, EXO goes back to their roots with the doppelganger concept, and like in Mama and stuff?
Umu: The new group XEXO is the dark side of EXO, showing how obsession changes a person and brings out their worst characteristics. The song is composed by Dwayne Abernathy Jr., Christi Stalone Gallo, Asia’h Epperson, Adrian Mckinnon, Yoo Young Jin and Ryan S. Jhun.
Cloud: We hear that name a lot. Henry: McKinnon, yeah.
Cloud: Yeah. Yunlin: One, two, three, four, five, six. Kevin: I get it, cuz it’s the number of composers Yunlin: That was not intentional. Kevin: Ooh, those are the stalker fans. Henry: I like how inorganic it feel, how synthetic that is. Oh! Clod: Oh, my God, this is real creepy! Fiona: Just the production value of this is so high.
Daniel: Oh, my God, his abs! Did you see teh abs? Did you see those abs?
Fiona: No, I didn’t. Daniel: Oh, my God! Oh, my God! James: Woo! Oh, my God! Demonic vibes! Brianna: Yeah, I love the auto-tuning. The the auto-tuning in this makes a really nice mix. Ooh! You hear those changes? James: (singing)
Brianna: Those chord changes.
James: I love that. There was a major in there Yunyi: But I like how they don’t make it a big deal. It’s almost like they’re just switching up the thirds for ornament’s sake. James: NICE SILENCE
Brianna: This is the nicest transition to a rap. period, that we have seen. (singing) James: Love the harmony, too.
Brianna: Yeah. James: (singing) Daniel: Wow, this is like subtly violent.All these arrows and bows and… Fiona: I like that “I think so”, cuz it like, it’s a different…. tickles your ears in a different way than their voices do.
Daniel: Yeah. Fiona: Unfiltered. James: Ooh. Brianna: (singing) There was a voice up there.
James: Um-hmm. Henry: (singing) Damn! This production value. Oh, wow, this is a way different vibe. Brianna: (singing) James: Oh, yeah!
Brianna: I love these major chords. James: F*CK IT UP
Brianna: Listen to the R&B-
James:!!!!!F*CK IT UPPPPP!!!!!
Brianna: (singing) Aaron: Wow.
Nick: And there we are. There’s Adrian. Aaron: They really explore all timbres and range of voice. Brianna: (singing) Do you hear these chord changes? Yeah. (singing)
James: Interesting. Brianna: The mixture. The tonal mixture. Kevin: Ooh, that fifth. Wow, this part just keeps on building. Elizabeth: Oh, God, they can dance. Ahhhh!! Henry: I like that ostinato they put in there, the “I want you, I want you” .
Cloud: The “I want you”? And it’s the female voice, which is the highest thing that you hear.
Henry: Yeah. Kevin: Oh, did they just twist their own heads at the end? Kevin: Geez.
Yunyi: Yeah. Neck break.
Kevin: That’s a little graphic. All right.
Yunyi: Breakdown. Kevin: Yeah. Yunyi: Bit of a twisted choice in choreography.
Kevin: Ohhhhhh. Henry: I like how inorganic it is
Cloud: I like how they had that and the dark creepy voice on the bottom. They had both. Henry: They had both of it, like both sides of the creepy. No, I like how inorganic it felt, because it kind of dehumanizes the voice, but it also makes it…Like it could it could be anyone’s voice, cuz it’s so modified, it’s so modified. And it’s so like, since it’s an ostinato, it’s so repetitive that it really drives home that kind of like…I think their message is really clear. I was like, is this fan-
Cloud: I was just going to say that. That was a message delivered.
Henry: No, that’s EXO saying “Back off!” There’s too much right now. And I thought it was great. It was super empowering. They were really strong in their stance, and I feel like they were able to, with that, express their power and their freedom to say this is not okay. I feel that. That’s raw.
Cloud: And then the relaxed, the like pretty part?
Cloud: I was like, is this the fans’ perspective, where they’re just so delusional, and they’re like, oh, it’s just so flowers and roses and things?
Henry: Was it that? Cloud: I thought it was roses…
Henry: I thought it was that like, uh…
Cloud: Or, it was like them being confused, like we still love our fans but like we don’t want this?
Henry: Right. Slash, like, you know, they love ’em, That produces their success and it’s in some ways flattering, but it’s not healthy. Kevin: The last third of the song that really makes me forget anything about that structural analysis that I usually do, because they’re just adding these vocal intervals and harmonies and they’re building up on it, and it just feels very spontaneous and it just kicks me out of that pop song analysis mode, and I really dig that. Yunyi: Yeah, and the bridge was adventurous, but the way they got back to the chorus was so freaking smooth. I wanted to break it down and then I also didn’t want to, cuz it was just so nice to listen to it and just be cruising with the song. But also, like like you said, it’s spontaneous. That’s what I love about it. Cuz the beat is pretty simple
Yunyi: and the idea of like the song is pretty simple. Kevin: Yeah, see if the flute line from ‘Groove’ had a little bit of that.
Yunyi: Yeah. Yeah, and it felt like the vocal line was just really like, I don’t know, just just decorating it
and they were just singing whatever they wanted. It felt like improvisatory in that way.
Yunyi: And it was just so, so chill. Owen: Yeah, I’m not really sure how to put into words or what I even think about that.
Owen: It was just, I don’t know why, I just couldn’t take my eyes off of it the entire time. I couldn’t think or do anything about it. It was just like, zhonk! And the music was in my head, and it was like, I don’t know, I just completely lost what was going on. It was crazy. Umu: It hypnotized you.
Owen: Hypnotizing. Exactly. Elizabeth: I don’t generally like a super filtered, auto-tuned sound, but I think what they did here is really cool, and I actually really appreciated the use of it. I especially liked, there’s this sort of like ostinato thing that happens through the whole song. And in ostinato is just like a repeated rhythmic motif that just kind of repeats and repeats and repeats, and usually is underneath things that change. So there’s that thing that starts at the beginning that’s like the “I want ya, I want ya,
Owen: (singing along) Elizabeth: want ya, I want ya”.
Elizabeth: And it’s like very filtered, so you can tell that it’s saying words but it’s filtered enough that it also kind of functions as like a rhythmic, sort of more melodic thing.
Owen: Because the syllables are stressed in the ways that make the
Elizabeth: Yeah. Owen: I, I, I,
Owen:and the “wantcha” should just roll off at the syncopation. Elizabeth: And also to have it sort of filtered, it sounds really grungy and really cool. Brianna: *summons inner robot*