An artist whom we have not heard from for a while now is EXID. Their last Korean release was back in 2019 with ME & YOU, which followed the news that some members would be leaving their company at the time (Banana Culture) and an agreement between the members that EXID would go on hiatus to focus on solo endeavours. The group did remain active throughout 2020 in Japan, however. Last week, EXID regrouped to release the single album X and the title track FIRE to commemorate their 10th anniversary as a group since their debut back in 2012.
For those are not aware, I am a very big fan of EXID – even for releases that pre-dates their viral Up & Down. So to hear news that the group would be returning and releasing new music was quite exciting for me. However, FIRE is not like their any of their past hits. Instead, it slips back into pretty mediocre territory, which is slightly disappointed with. It would have been nice to hear music that reminisces over their past hits like Up & Down, Ah Yeah, I Love You etc. But given that this is their first release in three years, I am still pressing the replay button to the song. FIRE starts off with (and features prominently throughout) an ethnic influence, which I personally find to be a dated trend in KPOP. Hani and Elly (formerly LE) leads the charge into FIRE with an underwhelming interchange of vocals and raps. I wished their parts were more bolstered and defined, just to add some dynamism. Hyelin and Solji’s melodic pre-chorus comes next and this was by far the best part of FIRE. Then FIRE‘s chorus comes into play, which is is set up to be only instrumentation with the minimal lyrics. There isn’t anything wrong with this, but I felt a title like FIRE would have alluded to something more ferocious or electric. And I wished that the chorus, of all places, would have reflected this. At least the ‘Burning Up‘ sequence of the chorus does pick up the song to a degree to just add a bit of dynamic flair to the song. Junghwa’s main part occurs in the second verse. If you have not noticed from Hani’s vocal delivery (or the chorus sequences of the music video), FIRE is a mature comeback and Junghwa’s part really reiterates that. The amazing pre-chorus repeats, before we are taken to the 1st bridge, 1st half of the chorus and then 2nd bridge (which probably featured the cringiest set of lyrics in the song) and ending it all with the second half of the chorus (i.e. the ‘Burning Up‘ sequence), which helps end FIRE on a more dynamic note. Overall, FIRE is definitely not their best song ever. But it is still bearable and I would still take the song over no song any day.
As mentioned before, the concept for this comeback is sexy and mature. And this is a major selling point to the comeback in my opinion. The member’s visuals were charming and alluring throughout the video, and I am loving all of it. The only questionable element of the comeback is the prison location. I assume it was part of the producer/director’s vision for this comeback. Aside from that, I was burning for some fires in this video, probably due to the lack of energy I was getting from certain points in the video. This wish was fulfilled when that car exploded in the background. Some dynamic camera work at the end helped add energy to the video. I would have liked more, but what they did at the end was satisfying and fulfilling enough.
When it comes to EXID and their releases, you think of their key dance moves. If you were into KPOP in early 2015, you would know all about EXID’s Up & Down hip thrust move. And each subsequent comeback had a key move like so. FIRE does have that potential, with the hip movements in the first half of the chorus. I also quite liked the way the members were spaced out for the final sequence of the song, as it forces the camera to zoom out to capture everyone. And with the dancers circling Hani, Solji’s high note, LE’s vocals and Hani, Junghwa and Hyelin fast arm movements, it all comes together to look epic.
Song – 7/10
Music Video – 8/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 7.5/10