EXO member and record-breaking soloist, Baekhyun released his long awaited Japanese debut EP on January 20, 2021. The self-titled album showcases Baekhyun’s versatility and strength as a vocalist. Containing only 6 songs, Baekhyun flexes his range as he effortlessly floats between funky retro tracks to acoustic pop to trap-infused R&B and even mellow ballads. Upon release, the album reached the top 10 on US and Worldwide iTunes album charts. The album tells the story of a seemingly short, but intense relationship from start to finish.
The first single “Get You Alone” was pre-released two weeks early. Baekhyun debuted the song at his Beyond Live solo concert LIGHT with a surprise performance and video premiere at the end. The song is reminiscent of retro R&B with a funky 70s inspired bass line, and the lyrics express the initial attraction upon meeting someone who catches your eye. The bridge is the highlight as Baekhyun slows down, sensually repeating “to get you alone.” The music video stars Baekhyun in two roles as a love doctor who gives confidence and relationship tips to a shy nerdy version of himself.
Following the lead single is “Addicted,” which continues the retro pop/R&B feel from the first track. Also premiered at the Beyond Live concert, Baekhyun smoothly croons about feelings of infatuation and fervent desire at the start of a relationship, transitioning into his falsetto during the bridge and final chorus of the song for a sexy, silky finish.
“Whippin” is a R&B song with an addictive beat that repeats in the background while Baekhyun charms the listener with his sweet vocals and harmonies. Lyrically Baekhyun compares the addictiveness of the object of his affection to the sweetness of whipping cream. “Love is whipping cream…sometimes pink or blue, whip lightly just like this, in your color” starts off the chorus that repeats several times throughout the song.
The production and songwriting team boasts some familiar names to K-pop fans, including SAAY, a former idol and solo artist in her own right, who contributed to the writing and production. Celebrating the release of the album she tweeted “wrote & produced…for the one and only music genius [Baekhyun], it’s an honor to be a part of this great journey”.
The fourth track, “Drown,” is a stand-out on the album for its production as well as its risque lyrics. Baekhyun repeats “I just wanna drown in your body” to his lover as he describes the intense, overwhelming emotions during intimacy. Baekhyun’s voice gives off an enchanting feel that sucks in the listener right into the song, aided by the unique melodies and seductive tones.
“Disappeared,” the second-to-last track and Baekhyun’s personal favorite, transitions to the end of the relationship. Baekhyun sings of a love that has faded away “just like the scent of coffee” and laments on where things went wrong over simple production, prominently featuring a Spanish style guitar for added ambiance. The sad melody paired with Baekhyun’s mellow vocals builds up to a sweet-sounding bridge which contrasts the lyrics, where he belts out “love is gone” in his falsetto. The song ends on a wistful feeling, as the last chorus incorporates a haunting whistle to accompany Baekhyun as he adlibs vocal runs.
The album closer, “Stars,” is a song dedicated to his fans, EXO-Ls. A bubbly pop track, Baekhyun lovingly tells his fans how they remind him of stars in the night sky. He mentions them by name, expressing his thankfulness singing “always and forever, thank you L” and even references EXOs infamous catchphrase “SARANGHAJA” which means let’s love in Korean.
During the bridge Baekhyun switches to English, seemingly to communicate to his fans around the world “we just wanna be with you forever, make a promise under the stars, we’ll meet together and let’s smile again”—alluding to the separation the fandom and artists have had to endure during the COVID-19 pandemic and promising to meet again face-to-face as soon as it is safe.
Baekhyun manages to take the listeners through a full journey, not just through the lyricism and storytelling, but also with his voice and emotions. He is able to articulate the rollercoaster of falling in love and eventual heartbreak effortlessly weaving between genres and sub-genres. Differing in tone but not in quality from his two previous solo releases, Baekhyun shines through this EP as a well rounded musician and artist.
Be sure to check out Baekhyun and Mark’s Un Village SMTOWN Live performance here!