[Review] Rover – KAI (EXO)

KAI from EXO continues his solo ventures this week with his second solo comeback since debuting as a solo artist back in 2020. The new single and mini-album is titled Rover, and the new release follows the likes of Mmmh and Peaches.

First listen into Rover, and I am happy to say that I am digging the new song. To me, Rover felt more representative of KAI as a performer and would have served as a more logical comeback single following Mmmh. Peaches does have it is own charm and unique profile, but Rover really does a better job at highlighting the potential KAI has as a solo artist. His vocals in the verses were so immaculate and creates a really great opening to the dance pop song. Even from the first verse, you can sense the subtle intensity that is building in the background. This helps makes the Rover‘s choruses more impactful, with the stomping beat, the subtle exotic tinge that comes through the instrumentation via the wind instrument in the background and the sparse use of those twinkling effects creating a really strong backing to Rover‘s centrepice. The hooks here are so extremely catchy. Simple repetition is done quite often, but it sounds so effective in Rover. KAI follows up the first chorus with some deep speak-rap that intertwines really well into the song. The bridge shows KAI’s most impressive vocal sequence in the song. with particular mention to that high note that felt very needed after that bridge. And to close out Rover, some deep and seductive rapping from KAI extends out Rover just that bit more to give us another run at the catchy and addictive simplicity that is Rover‘s chorus. Overall, I think it is safe to say that I am impressed with Rover and KAI himself in this comeback.

When it comes to the music video, I am a bit confused over the concept of the music video. There is a plot line within the video, as the introduction shows KAI making a fake identification card, which presents to the lady behind the window. But she is also the owner of the hair shop that KAI works in. But asides from the confusing concept/plotline, there are a few good elements to the video. The aesthetic created with KAI, the ballerinas and the masked dancers was very cool. The contrast here was definitely something that stood out to me. Also, while we are talking about KAI, his sexy looks were very much on display on this video and he looked extremely fashionable throughout with this many different looks. His most iconic one from this music video has to be the one where he wears the bandana like how the older ladies might wear when they go outside.

Again, KAI does not disappoint with his performance of Rover. The routine for the chorus was very cool, especially with the stomping that starts the segment off. Body waves and rolls makes prominent feature in the choreography as well. What also really helps make KAI such a great performer and this routine more charming are his facial expressions, which make everything a lot more alluring and worth watching.

Song – 9/10
Music Video – 8/10
Performance – 9/10
Overall Rating – 8.7/10

[Album Review] Peaches (2nd Mini Album) – Kai (EXO)

Kai is nominated for Best New Male Soloist and Mmmh is nominated for Best Male Choreography – Solo in the 2021 KPOPREVIEWED Awards. His group, EXO, and some of his fellow members are also nominated in a number of categories. Support Kai and EXO by clicking here to vote today!

Next up on the album review front is Kai’s latest mini-album, Peaches, which was released on November 30, exactly a year from his solo debut with Mmmh and Kai (the debut mini-album). The new mini-album is lead by the title track Peaches, and also features another five new tracks from Kai. You might notice that this is a newer release, compared to the albums in which I have recently reviewed (which were released a few months back). I have decided to fast track a few newer albums this month, so that I am not pushing too many of the ‘current’ albums out many months later, which might be the case due to the Christmas break. So without further ado, here is my album review for Peaches. (PS. Don’t worry, I am still writing up reviews for albums released a while back that I haven’t been able to review just yet!).

Peaches Album Cover

1. Peaches (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Peaches. (7/10)

2. VanillaVanilla is a very aesthetic song. Its minimalistic nature was very intriguing and you might pass the song off as a bare song. But I recommend you give Vanilla a detailed listen as it is a very charming song. I found the song to be quite peaceful and sensual at the same time. The latter obviously being something that is right up Kai’s wheelhouse. Peaceful doesn’t seem to be something I associate with Kai, and so Vanilla comes off as a pleasant surprise for me. Delving into the song’s elements, Vanilla is quite interesting, given that the atmospheric instrumentation was actually percussion. But it was extremely subtle, but brought enough texture to the song to prevent it going into the ‘boring’ pile. The same can be said with the autotuned vocals, which was quite soft and so you barely noticed a disruption of Vanilla’s flow. The rest of his vocals follow the same softness, but also showcased some of Kai’s skills, and Vanilla’s simply repetitive hook was quite catchy. (8/10)

3. Domino – Prepare for a change in direction when you check out Domino. The peacefulness is out and is replaced with heavy bass and beat that would fit easily into a club setting. This is the style that I would associate more with Kai. I really like his deep tone during the chorus, and it proves to be a very memorable element of Domino. However, I do think Domino is very consistent throughout, and I wished the song changed it up a bit towards the end or introduced something to the song to cut the consistency. I can see myself getting tired of the song if it is played on a loop or I replay it too many times. (7.5/10)

4. Come InCome In kicks up the album a notch in terms of its volume. Everything in Come In is a lot louder and vibrant, compared to the song that preceded it. I like the pulsing beat, the bass and the textural synths used in this song. It all comes together to create quite a dynamic background. The chorus, in particular, definitely captures that dynamism really well. While Kai’s vocals were more typical in this song, I still found its pairing with Come In’s instrumentation to be captivating and a worthwhile listen. (8/10)

5. To Be Honest – The album’s most upbeat track comes in the form of To Be Honest. It instantly became a highlight for me as it made me dance along (in my chair) the first time I heard it. And while such feelings tend to rub off over time, that urge to dance has remained during subsequent listens. To Be Honest is a pretty straight forward song, with nothing special in the pop instrumentation or Kai’s vocals. But being straight forward isn’t necessarily a bad thing al the time, and I feel that To Be Honest proves that this time around. (9/10)

6. Blue – The album tones it back down for its final song. Blue is a R&B song, and once again, is pretty straight forward. I really like his vocals in this track, simply because it was extremely satisfying to hear him with such melodies and ad-libs. The instrumentation was pretty much typical for a R&B song, but I did note that I liked its breezy exterior. Overall, a decent ender to the album that I think sums up the album well. (7/10)

Overall Album Rating – 7.8/10

Peaches Teaser Image

[Review] Peaches – Kai (EXO)

Both Kai and D.O are nominated for Best New Male Soloist, and Mmmh is nominated for Best Male Choreography (Solo). EXO is nominated for Best Return to Industry, while fellow member Baekhyun nominated in a bunch of other categories. Support either Kai or D.O, Mmmh, Baekhyun and the rest of EXO in the 2021 KPOPREVIEWED Awards by clicking here.

Exactly a year since his solo debut with Mmmh, Kai returned with Peaches on the Tuesday that had just passed, the title of both his latest lead single and second mini-album. Since his solo debut, we haven’t seen too much of Kai aside from the return of EXO with Don’t Fight The Feeling earlier this year after a period of two years, and a few television variety shows.

The one aspect that really jumps out at me from Peaches is how aesthetically pretty the song is. If there is anything to get out of this song, it is simply that. This comes about in Peaches thanks to two main elements, the instrumentals and vocals. Firstly, the instrumental of this R&B track takes on this lo-fi type of backbone, with percussive elements added on top. Both the lo-fi and percussive elements were light on. Together, they created a pretty airy, spacious but alluring instrumental for the song. Secondly, Kai’s singing was light on (as well) and soft, fitting for this style of R&B. Peaches is very much vocal orient, and seems to be more straightforward, compared to the likes of Mmmh where Kai was a lot more sensual and teasing with his vocals. But while it sounds like Peaches is all good, I also think the pretty aesthetics was also Peaches downfall. To me, the song focused too much on on being aesthetic and light that it pretty much neglected everything else. Sure, Peaches may be calming and soothing, but I want more from the song. For example, the hooks and melodies in Peaches was nowhere near ‘memorable territory’, and I feel this is the reason to why I am not being pulled back into the song (compared other releases that are dominating the airwaves). Another aspect of the song that I am not entirely sure of is his singing. I mentioned that it is lightweight above and fitting for the song’s style, but I did not mention whether I enjoyed it. Unfortunately, I find that there is this monotone nature to his vocals as well, and that it dries out the song for me. There is just nothing to it. And because of this, I personally think would listen to Peaches a couple more times in the near future, but I don’t find myself compelled to remembering its existence.

When you think of the colour of Peaches, you think of their pinkish yellow cream tone. And I think this entire video was shot with that in mind. They tried to change it by introducing baby blues and light greys, but everything just comes off as ‘peachy colour’ for this video. It is good in the sense that it relates back to the title, but also not so good in the sense that it dulls the video. Aside from colours, Kai looks amazing throughout this video. His outfits seem to be influenced by different time periods and cultures. It isn’t the sexy concept that we remember from Mmmh, but it is within that direction nonetheless.

The pretty aesthetics also extend to the choreography component of this comeback. You can definitely get that sense during the start of the choreography and during the slower moments of the routine. What I liked about the choreography was that there was a balance between slow and sharp. It definitely works well with the lo-fi backing and the more upbeat percussive elements. As a result, the choreography comes off as refined and elegant, which is a side I like to see more from Kai. Also, there is still that sensual energy coming off the choreography, but it is not in your face this time around.

Song – 7/10
Music Video – 7.5/10
Performance – 9/10
Overall Rating – 7.6/10

[Album Review] Kai (1st Mini Album) – Kai (EXO)

Kai’s fellow EXO members, Chen and Baekhyun, are nominated for Best Male Soloist in the 2020 KPOPREVIEWED Awards. If you haven’t yet supported Baekhyun or Chen (or any of your other favourite artists that were active in 2020), click here immediately to vote for them! Remember, voting closes on 31st December.

It has been long time coming, but Kai officially made his solo debut with his first mini-album, Kai, on the 30th of November. EXO’s main dancer was one of the most anticipated members to make his own solo debut from the beginning. His solo debut comes in the form of the title track, Mmmh, and a six track mini-album. Today, obviously, I will be having a deeper look into his mini-album. I just want to quickly tease that Kai is everything I expected from Kai. Sensuality is a recurring theme in this mini album. And so are upbeat tempos to facilitate dance performances, which we already know that Kai can nail effortlessly. Interestingly, I have a preference for just one of these two styles, so continue reading to find out which one is my preference.

Kai Album Cover

1. Mmmh (음) (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Mmmh. (9/10)

2. Nothing On MeNothing On Me starts off in a distorted manner, briefly warping the sensual vibes of the song that slowly become clearer as the song progresses. I am not entirely fond of it, but it has its charm. The song manages to compensate this by sweeping me off my feet with its chorus. It brings a very strong amount of bass to the mix and the resultant energy really oomph up the sensual vibes of Nothing On Me. Kai’s vocals throughout the song were really strong and surprising. He handles all his lines, even the ones at a higher pitch extremely well, as if he was a main vocalist in EXO all along. (9/10)

3. Amnesia (기억상실) – I really liked Amnesia’s flow from the very start of the song, which is what anyone wants from a sensual track. The appeal of the flow peaks during the chorus, help making the song quite memorable and quite hypnotic. Coming along with the memorable flow of the song are Kai’s vocals. All my comments in the preceding track regarding his vocals can be said about this song. What probably might make Amnesia a better piece is that it showcases more to Kai’s vocals, which I am sure fans are digging. (9/10)

4. ReasonReason taps into the hip-hop scene with a more upbeat track. I think of Reason as if it is a fun change up to the tracklist thanks to that upbeat energy. Other than that, nothing in Reason stands out for me. It just feels like your typical Korean hip-hop meets pop mash that is often heard throughout the industry. (6/10)

5. Ride or Die Ride or Die fairs slightly better than the preceding track. Only because I felt the instrumental was a bit more interesting, with the electric guitars in the first verse/final moments of the song and the really deep bubbling synth that is carried throughout the song. The second verse also gives it a bit of a retro flair, which really helps make the song more appealing. I personally didn’t like the centric point of the song (i.e. the chorus). It just didn’t feel as interesting as the rest of the song. And I do prefer his vocals in the verses than the chorus. He just sounds meh during what was meant to be the catchiest moments of the song. (7/10)

6. Hello StrangerHello Stranger brings back more of the R&B style that started off the album, whilst remaining upbeat like the second half of the album. It was a nice middle ground between the albums two styles, which is accompanied by a trap centric instrumental piece that is accented using electric guitars and piano. I do feel that the R&B nature of the song manages to make the song shine more than the upbeat tempo. And because of that, Kai’s vocals are quite solid. There were also some catchy moments. (8/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8/10

Kai Teaser Image

[Review] Mmmh – Kai (EXO)

Kai body rolls his way into this week with the release of his solo debut single, Mmmh. It is the title track off his first solo and self-titled mini-album. From what I understand, Kai is the final member of EXO to officially release a solo song in some capacity, eights years after he kicked off his music career as an EXO member. I find this completely surprising, given that he is one of the popular members of the group. It is definitely an overdue release, so I am not going to keep you waiting anymore. Without further ado, here is my review for Mmmh.

Personally, I wasn’t exactly sure what style of music Kai would get into for his solo career. Not that I don’t follow him or anything. He just has that vibe that he is an all-rounder and can pretty much pull off whatever sound or concept that is thrown at him. I could easily see him doing something upbeat or along the lines of hip-hop for a solo song. But Mmmh goes in a different direction – sensual R&B. Of course, it makes complete sense to why he would have gone with this style for his debut. And it was well executed. I did have some concerns about how Kai would handle some parts of the song, especially since he isn’t the best vocalist in his group. But one listen into Mmmh and those concerns were tossed out of the door. Kai handles the vocal department without any issues, with his appealing low and breathy tone. He pulls off those ad-libs effortlessly, which confirms that those concerns are no longer a thing for me. The ‘Mmmh‘ hook in the chorus was quite catchy and smooth. As for the instrumental, I really liked the very subtle electronic influence we get. It is rather masked by the rest of the R&B and trap based instrumentation. But I would say this is refined rather than lacking. The same technique was used in the bridge, but this is on the opposite end of the spectrum. I could hear a hint of violins towards the end. I wished they could have gone with more of that to make Mmmh a little more interesting, as it was something I personally didn’t see coming and liked it to be explored more. Overall, Mmmh was a solid debut song that shows off Kai’s skills and talents pretty well.

One of the things that I have noticed recently with the music videos is that the editing and post-production have been amazing. Take that city scene we see in the background while Kai is sitting on the edge of the roof. That was very detailed, futuristic and very visually appealing. The yellow hue sky dance choreography scene also looked amazing. The best part, however, is how Kai is dancing (towards the end of the video) and he is transported to a different section of the same scene, leaving behind a thousand small glass shards where he used to be. That is already on a whole different level, but the fact that he could interact with those former pieces of himself added a whole new level of coolness. And his fashion looked awesome throughout the video. And his abs is quite something as well.

At the start of the review, I mentioned that Kai is body rolling. But I just uncovered some information about that particular part of the dance (I think you know which part I am talking about). It is more of a hip grind, but it still looks like a tiny body roll from afar. The rest of the choreography looks really cool and sharp, which is expected from EXO’s main dancer.

Song – 9/10
Music Video – 10/10
Performance – 9/10
Overall Rating – 9.3/10