It’s been a lovely April for EXO fans, known as EXO-Ls. Between the K-pop group’s 10th anniversary, leader Suho’s solo comeback with Grey Suit, and a celebratory fanmeet hosted by the group, fans have been up to their knees in content lately.

Luckily, the excitement doesn’t stop there – EXO vocalist Chen (Kim Jongdae) is finally home from his mandatory military service! Although April is a special time for the group as a whole, it also marks the anniversary of Chen’s solo debut with 2019’s April, and a Flower EP. 

To celebrate the singer’s long-awaited homecoming, here’s a deep dive into Chen’s ten most melodically delightful tracks (OSTs/collabs included!).

Lil’ Something

In early 2016, SM Entertainment launched the first season of its year-long digital music project, SM Station. Among the many songs and collaborations released was “Lil’ Something,” a funky uptempo track sung by Chen and singer/rapper Heize and produced by Korean R&B group VIBE.

Throughout the song, Chen adds a bit of playfulness to his voice as he and Heize sing about deciphering their feelings for each other. “We have a lil’ something these days,” the lyrics go, “It’s like I know your heart, but I don’t // It’s ambiguous, you and I.” 

For anyone familiar with EXO’s discography, Chen is no stranger to flirtatious lyrics, but “Lil’ Something” offers up a sweet, lovesick puppy side of him that’s just too cute to ignore.

Beautiful goodbye

Let’s talk about all those things we couldn’t say // when the breeze flows gently around us,” Chen sings in his debut single.

Usually, spring is seen as an uplifting time of the year—a chance to renew and find love after the cold winter months. However, Chen took the opposite route and combined the despair of falling out of love with the beauty of spring. As a result, he gifted his audience with “Beautiful goodbye” as the lead single of April, and a Flower.

Chen’s voice echoes throughout the song’s verses, letting every note—every word—sink in. Lyrically, he sings of wanting him and his lover to walk away from each other as if nothing’s wrong so that their last goodbye is something beautiful. It’s a powerful message, to say the least—Chen shows his wisdom that they shouldn’t stay together but instead be mature enough to leave the relationship cordially.

Portrait of you

If any song on this list knows how to utilize a piano motif, it’s “Portrait of you.” Closing out April, and a Flower, the track is a swell of emotions, starting soft and gradually building to a full-blown orchestra. The fairy-like piano intro—which is brought back again after the first chorus—is what solidifies “Portrait of you” as a staple in Chen’s growing discography.

Vocally, there isn’t anything Chen can’t do, and he’s shown it time and time again. Although most listeners are aware of the singer’s boastful range, it’s always satisfying to see how he gets from point A (soft and gentle) to point B (intense and thunderous) in mere seconds.

Pass on a memory that still haunts one’s mind // The one who can’t get rid of you is painting you.” 

Bye babe

Rewinding to 2017, Chen made his second SM Station appearance in season two with “Bye Babe,” an acoustic pop song complete with plucky guitar riffs and an incredibly addictive hook. This time, the EXO member teamed up with indie artist 10cm to express the frustration of dealing with an indecisive partner.

While the bright, vibrant melody could easily fool one into thinking this is a love song, it’s actually a slight burn to their lover on the receiving end. After many failed attempts at trying to pursue a woman who constantly ignores them, both Chen and 10cm decide she’s not worth their time, nor is she as special or “one of a kind” as she pretends to be. 

The duo is also quick to point out that when a woman plays with a man’s heart—which is the case in the song—no one bats an eye. But if the roles were reversed and a man did the same thing, he would be seen as the bad guy.

Bye, bye, bye babe // even if you say this, no one will think you’re a bad person // what’s the problem?

Although it may have seemed like an unexpected collaboration, it was actually one that Chen had dreamed of since high school. Between 10cm’s naturally light tone and Chen’s honey-like vocals, the pair complements each other effortlessly.

Shall we?

Kicking off Chen’s second EP in 2019, Dear My Dear, was its lead single “Shall we?” This track stands out as his most intriguing one to date, adopting a more retro-pop ballad style rather than his usual acoustic or orchestral numbers. In his V-Live, Chen revealed he chose “Shall we?” because it was a genre he’d never done, and it fascinated him.

Listening to “Shall we?”, it feels as if you’ve been transported into an old romantic drama, with this song playing in the background. Alternatively, you can imagine it playing at a school dance at the moment when you’ve finally mustered up the courage to ask your crush to dance. Either way, Chen channels his old soul for a timeless classic.

What shall we do about tonight? Shall we cross the sparkling galaxy together?

Hold you tight

An essential for coffee shop playlists, “Hold you tight” is an acoustic pop song from Dear My Dear. Like many songs featured on this EP, the lyrics are brimming with charming intentions of wanting to hold a significant other in your arms.

With its cheerful tune and warm acoustic guitar, “Hold you tight” is the type of track to easily get stuck in your head and have you singing along instantly.

If love is something you can touch, it’s like that sky blue cloud in your arms.

Good night

It’s interesting to see the contrast between April, and a Flower and Dear My Dear. While the former focuses on the aftermath of heartache, the latter is a beam of everlasting love and serenity. “Good night,” the closing track on Dear My Dear, is a prime example.

As opposed to Chen’s previous piano-driven songs, this one uses acoustic guitar to convey love in its natural state. In short, “Good night” is like a lullaby that soothes the artist’s lover’s negative thoughts to make room for pleasant dreams. The hollow-like vocals in the background of the chorus would seem haunting if used in another context. Here, however, they’re reminiscent of a light breeze blowing through your bedroom window at night—letting you know it’s okay to unwind and rest for now.

I hope you don’t worry. I hope you’re smiling. As if time stopped, good night. Good night. This night.”

Best Luck

Outside of his solo albums, Chen is also in high demand when it comes to original soundtracks (OSTs) for popular K-dramas. In fact, he’s now revered as the “King of OSTs” in the K-pop industry and among the EXO members. Although choosing a favorite from his OST repertoire is nearly impossible, 2014’s “Best Luck” showcases everything that makes Chen a strong vocalist and performer.

Released on the soundtrack for It’s Okay, That’s Love OST Part 1, “Best Luck” is a pristine love song that outlines the relationship between the show’s main characters, Jang Jae-yeol and Ji Hae-soo. Although the soaring track isn’t Chen’s most critically acclaimed OST—that title belongs to 2016’s “Everytime” with Korean singer Punch—it is the one most touted among fans as an example of Chen’s vocal prowess.

My trembling lips, your fluttering heart // You are my love, babe.


Long before Chen had any solo albums or OSTs to his name, he had a short-lived rock stint with a song called “Uprising.”  The singer debuted this track during EXO’s first concert tour, Exo from Exoplanet #1 – The Lost Planet, as his solo stage. 

Unlike the dreamy sonic palette he’s created for himself, “Uprising” is everything April, and a Flower and Dear My Dear are not—loud, boisterous, and insanely energetic. The hard rock track showed Chen at his most rebellious, both visually and vocally. 

As he donned black skinny jeans, a Rolling Stones muscle tee (sometimes paired with a leather jacket), and a matching pair of Converse sneakers, Chen belted and head-banged his way into fans’ hearts. With the rush of adrenaline pumping through his veins during each performance, it’s not hard to see why this is a fan favorite—or why listeners are still dreaming of a Chen rock album in the future.

“No matter what, I can’t be stopped // Yeah // I will finally show my true self.”


Just as Chen’s solo career started with “Beautiful Goodbye,” it came to a (temporary) halt with “Hello.” The ballad track was released in October 2020, just days before the singer’s military enlistment. It has become a tradition for many idols, specifically EXO members, to drop an “enlistment song” before they leave for duty, and Chen was no exception.

Heavy with sorrow and remorse, Chen’s “Hello” is a direct letter to fans and carries all the words he wanted to express. The lyrics show that he was regretfully at a loss for words and could not seem to convey his emotions, leaving him feeling inadequate. 

Hello, it was hard just to say this word // While my mind was complicated for long—to decide what to say next.”

Although announcing his military leave was daunting enough, the thought of leaving without addressing his fans must have been even scarier, especially with how much he cares for them. Throughout each leap into falsetto and every dip back down to his chest voice, his love and concern for EXO-Ls remain at the forefront.

Of course, this list could go on, but who knows what the future holds? In the meantime, we’ll be eagerly awaiting the next “new” era of Kim Jongdae. Welcome back, Chen—and happy April.

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For more K-pop coverage, don’t forget to check out our coverage of SEVENTEEN’s “Darl+ing” here!