EXO Get Back to Boy Band Basics on 'Call Me Baby'
EXO is reminding fans why they fell in the love with the Korean-Chinese boy band with a no-frills new single and music video for its latest earworm "Call Me Baby."
One of the best parts about K-pop is how reminiscent it is one of the most exciting eras of pop music and "Call Me Baby" sounds wholly inspired by the late '90s/early '00s sound; sounding like how *NSYNC would if they hit their prime in 2015. But of course, it's K-pop and that means EXO is not only bringing in the nostalgic feel, but doing it at a 200 percent intensity, with bigger beats, loads more hooks and adding rap and dance breakdowns. Even a finger-snap section in the bridge feels deliciously dated, even if it was presumably to add a bit of a modern beat.
The rather simple video also plays up another one of the best parts of boy bands: their looks. A big contrast to the band's futuristic "Overdose" vid, "Call Me Baby" is pretty stripped-down production-wise (for a K-pop visual) featuring the guys breaking it down inside various rooms of a warehouse. Kai rides onto the set in a luxury sports car, but that's really the only flashy element in the video.
The video instead focuses on the band's insane choreography and charisma. Every soloist stares at the audience during his part, with the camera almost always zooming in to catch every wink and eye smile. It's paired with loads of group choreography that feels a little more free and fun than past routines (like the one-two punch of the ab roll followed by the tip-toe walk from 2:10-2:20). It isn't the incredible one-take performance of "Growl," but it's still really impressive.
Where the video strays from the usual boy-band formula is letting its individual member's personalities shine through -- a positive point here, for sure. While "Overdose" and "Growl" more or less had the band in very similar outfits, "Call Me Baby" has the guys' in different, nearly contrasting looks that includes everything from basketball jerseys and long fashion jackets to basketball shorts and patterned skinny jeans. It's not easy to make sure 10 dudes get their equal shine, but letting their different styles make a statement as fans watch (and undoubtedly re-watch) the visual, helping solidify each member's place.
Even after a tough year where the band lost two of its original members, EXO pushes ahead by focusing on the strengths that has made them one of the biggest boy bands of the moment (the band's Overdose EP charted respectably on the Billboard 200 last year) and "Call Me Baby" is a strong attempt to do so.
Released in both Korean and Chinese, the track is the lead single off the band's just-released Exodus album that also comes in a Korean and Chinese version and has remained high on U.S. iTunes Album sales charts. Check out the latter version below, which has already racked up more than two million views just 22 hours after its release. The Korean version boasts nearly four million views at press time too.