EXO-SC Exclaims “What a Life” in Sub-unit Debut
After teasing fans with concert performances and an SM Station track, EXO’s Sehun and Chanyeol finally unveiled their highly anticipated sub-unit debut, EXO-SC. What A Life, which dropped July 22, embodies the fun, charming personalities of the unit’s members—especially Sehun, who participated in writing lyrics for all six tracks. Fresh off Baekhyun’s star-studded list of producers for his solo debut, What A Life also enlists hit-making producers, including AOMG’s Gray, Rhythm Power’s Boi B and Hangzoo, Studio 519, and Devine Channel (BTS, VIXX, Taeyeon).
The title track “What A Life” boasts a carefree lifestyle that invites listeners to play as hard as they work. Filmed in Los Angeles, the boys flaunt their popularity, cruising down palm tree-lined streets, partying in mansions, and chilling on the deck of their private boat with several other partygoers. It’s probably the most loose we’ve seen the boys. While the song isn’t necessarily revolutionary, it brings the hype, trap-esque summer vibes that are in high-demand around this time of year. It’s more hip-hop than most of EXO’s previous discography, distinguishing the duo as the go-to for that more mainstream sound. While you appreciate EXO for having intricate, almost theatrical productions, EXO-SC takes an easier approach that makes it perfect for summer nights. Their chants of “what a life” they’re living will make you want to live your life to the fullest too.
Before the album’s drop, the boys released a music video for the second title track, “Just us 2 (있어 희미하게),” featuring Dynamic Duo’s Gaeko. With a beat produced by AOMG’s Gray, “Just us 2” reminds us of the bouncy, light feel of their Station release, “We Young.” The track, which literally translates to “Faintly,” mirrors “What A Life” in encouraging the listener to escape to a summer paradise. Gaeko’s voice soars in the chorus as he sings of seeing the beach in his dream last night. In the verses, Sehun and Chanyeol are able to show off their rhythmic flows, although the melody remains simplistic and stagnant throughout the song. The music video gives listeners a behind-the-scenes of creating the album. In it, we can see the amount of time the boys spent working on their project—from discussions with the producers, including Gaeko who headed the entire album, to recording their parts and filming the “What A Life” music video. The cute video brings personality to the release, knocking down a wall between EXO-Ls and the boys.
“Closer to you (부르면 돼)” is the third title track EXO-SC is promoting. This one will appeal more to fans of the chill hip-hop/pop genre that tends to be popular among fans and K-Pop groups alike. The genre usually lends itself to more lighthearted, flirtatious lyrics, and “Closer to you” is no different. Its lyrics are sure to make fans’ hearts flutter; the boys sing and rap of calling a driver in order to enjoy the closeness of sitting in the backseat together. They liken their feelings to the elements of the universe—as if they’re made of stars and they’re traveling through space. “Closer to you” is the sweet, shy complement to the previous forward, outgoing title tracks. To match its vibe, the music video keeps it nice and simple with minimalistic sets and finely tailored suits.
The last three tracks are arguably more sonically interesting than the first three. “Borderline (선)” flirts with experimental pop beats that could’ve fit perfectly on EXO’s EX’ACT album. It’s the most unexpected genre to include, but the boys do a pretty decent job at making it their own. The hastiness of the beat that floats in and out throughout reflects the push-and-pull nature of the relationship depicted in the song’s lyrics. While the boys are busy trying to erase the line that delineates friendship, the person on the other side quickly draws it again in this tedious back-and-forth.
“Roller coaster” is definitely for fans of K-Hip-Hop. The production behind this track will remind listeners of the likes of Giriboy, ZICO, and GroovyRoom. A flute, strong piano melody, and the trap beat drop in the chorus bring the album back to its central hype theme. In the fifth track, the boys reassure their passenger that they’re safe as they board the rollercoaster. What A Life rounds out with the dreamy “Daydreamin’ (몽).” The last track is the laidback farewell to the summery release, emitting the same conclusive feeling a sunset brings to a well-spent day. While the lyrics are melancholic, “Daydreamin’” can serve as a source of comfort and reassurance for EXO-Ls.
It’s been a minute since EXO’s last summer release with “Ko Ko Bop”; EXO-SC delivers the goods to hold us down until the next group comeback. Both Sehun and Chanyeol displayed their musical and lyrical touch with What A Life. With this release, listeners are reassured they will get music that is not only uplifting, but also fun and energetic, oozing charm and confidence.