TEEN TOP’s EXITO Worth it Even for a Non-Fan
I need to get this out of the way: I am not a fan of TEEN TOP.
Save for “Supa Luv,” “To You,” and “Rocking,” their music isn’t my style. However, teasers for EXITO caught my attention since they sounded more mature.
I am pleasantly surprised by the growth Changjo, Niel, C.A.P, L.Joe, Chunji, and Ricky underwent coming into the album. The music improved making this album smooth and enjoyable.
“Cry” and “Love U”
The best songs on EXITO are, by far, the ones composed by the members.
“Cry,” composed by L.Joe and C.A.P, and “Love U,” composed by L.Joe, have outstanding emotion. The music arrangement helps with the vocals to help carry a listener away.
“Cry” has a haunting quality with the echoing vocals. The falsettos truly touch the heart. The piano at the beginning of the song matches the mood perfectly before other instrumentals join to make the song feel a little more upbeat.
As “Cry” builds, vocals also become more powerful adding additional layers. Even the rap felt necessary. The rap didn’t take away from the emotional impact and served as perfect closure.
“Love U,” like “Cry,” opens with a piano before adding more instrumentals. Like “Cry,” the buildup to the chorus touches the soul with a beautiful use of falsetto to add to the emotional appeal.
The best part of “Love U” is the chorus. At times, I found myself wiping away a tear at the gorgeous vocals. Voices blend seamlessly and didn’t overpower the music’s message. This song is one that needs a live stage performance because it shows off how talented they are, and the raw emotion can win them some new fans.
“Cry” earns an A while “Love U” earns an A+!
The album’s title track, “Missing,” is not to be overlooked. The song’s beat makes it memorable and suits TEEN TOP’s style well. High and low notes mix well to generate excitement. The rap blends well with each verse, avoiding the clichéd, pronounced rap K-Pop songs possess.
Stripping the vocals, the music has a nice groove that makes “Missing” a decent dance track. This element also helps make the song memorable since the bouncy-feel makes the lyrics stand out and even easy to learn so listeners can sing along to it. Plus, it helps the TEEN TOP pronunciate lyrics well and are clear to understand, so the song is useful for fans even learning how to say Korean words!
“Missing” has a nice arrangement and setup to make the song among one of TEEN TOP’s best title song releases.
“Missing” earns an A.
The lounge and Bossa Nova beat for “Love Is” creates a coffee shop feel. The water drop sounds in the instrumentals make the song peaceful. The sell-point is definitely the high notes in the chorus.
The rap is a bit more pronounced, at times overwhelming the softness of the vocals that make the song enjoyable. Because the rap is louder than the vocals, it feels like something was off with the sound mixing that made the quality feel a bit off-balanced. This may have been a song where fewer rap portions could benefit the final product. But, the chorus is well done and sounds good paired with the instrumentals.
“Love Is” receives a B-.
“Alone” continues with “Missing’s” more upbeat sound, but the song lacks finesse. It begins with a child’s laughter which is a bit jarring with headphones. Other random sound effects feel distracting, ruining the mood.
“Alone” also feels messy. Others provide nice arrangement and harmonies. Here, it felt like TEEN TOP members weren’t on the same page, so I wonder what happened during the composing and arranging process. It is nice hearing each member’s individual solos, so no complaints here, but the quality just isn’t here.
“Alone” earns a C+.
Almost every album has a weakness, and “Remote Control” is the weak link The first verse showed the song had promise, but the chorus and subsequent verses fell apart. Mostly, the song sounds whiney and forced.
The issue is the vocals lack the soul the instrumentals suggest for the song. Like “Alone,” vocals feel all-over-the-place. With some better direction, it is possible a good song is hiding. Right now, sloppy execution has me reaching for the remote control to turn this song down.
“Remote Control” earns a D.
Despite the misses with “Remote Control” and “Alone,” EXITO is a nice album with some spectacular elements. It is an album that could earn TEEN TOP some more fans, and it’s great to see L.Joe and C.A.P composing! Hopefully they will compose a whole album in the future!
EXITO earns an overall B-grade.
– Joelle Halon