It was definitely a year for Exo.
A comeback of six members at the end of last November preceded the decline SuhoSolo debut in March before performing his military duties. Chen became husband and father within four months while the other member became uncles while May witnessed BaekhyunPublication of his second solo project. It wasn't long before it was announced Sehun and Chanyeol would release their second album as a subunit Exo-SC.
After the less than satisfactory What a Life, the unit's second effort, 1 Trillion Views, consists of eight tracks plus the instrumental version of the title song. The album maintains its summery and refreshing, optimistic sound, much like its debut. As with their first album, the two members contributed lyrics for all songs except the other's solo. In 1 billion views, however, Chanyeol and Sehun experiment with stronger and more diverse storytelling, collaborations and solo tracks.
A week before the end of the album, the sub-unit gave a taste of what was to come with the pre-release "Telephone" with the indie pop artist 10 centimeters. With his composition, "Telephone" evokes a feeling similar to "What a Life", but the former plays much easier on the ears because its bouncy hook in the form of light piano chords instead of the electric / harder xylophone sound combination of "What a life." . "
The MV of "Telefon" gives an indication of the technology angle that "1 billion calls" would take. In a comedic story, Exo-SC is dismayed because the person they like always looks at their phone and apologizes for why they are late to answer. Everyone calls on the MV, and later Sehun and Chanyeol are seen on a drawing board at the scene to find out what's going on. Blackberries and flip phones appear, while the editing adds another charm to the comedic video.
"1 Billion Views" continues this playfulness in its funny MV and the disco taste of its composition. The first of the collaborations on the album, MOON gives her light voice towards the end of the track (and appears in the MV). She comes in at the perfect time during the bridge, when the repetition of "views" while an earwig gets a little tiring. This change in pace and voice quality updates the track when it is most needed.
The second collaboration, which opens 1 billion views, is "Say It" features Penomeco and a simple chorus (which can get stuck in your head too). The instrumental texture seems to come from a Latin American flair, and the beat lets the listeners move in no time. While the track is not as lyrically impressive as some of the others in the Mini, such as the funny "1 Billion Views" and the emotional hit "Fly Away", the catchy melody of Penomeco's voice and Chanyeol's light vibrato at the end of his longer notes are definite Highlights.
In “Say It”, the artists ask the person they like to express their opinion and listen to their heart. The singers are stuck in an uncertain waiting game when they ask the other person to take the chance to love and acknowledge their feelings – "The endless knock / It's time to open the door, baby."
Songs like "Fly Away", the features Gaekoshows the variation of topics and texts in 1 trillion views, with the focus on personal storytelling. Embedded between the last Exo SC Unit song "Jet Lag" and Chanyeol's solo, "Fly Away" changes the direction of the album. The track is the strongest collaboration of your second project and has an introspective character. He creates a natural transition for the solos, which are the last two songs in which Sehun and Chanyeol focus on their identity as individual artists.
In a classic structure of rap verse, (short) chorus, rap verse, bridge, chorus, "Fly Away" also tells the strongest – and most vulnerable – story. With Gaeko in the choir, Chanyeol and Sehun rap about how they had to grow up as they grew up, regardless of their uncertainty about where exactly they fit.
I am too old to call myself a child
I am too old to blame my age
I wonder if maturity has finally been adjusted to my height
The two balance delicately between flies and traps as they reveal the darkness of aging.
As with "Telephone", Exo-SC's solo MVs were released a few days before the album. Chanyeol's "Nothin" shows warm colors, with red being the dominant, and a simple narrative that revolves around developing photographs in a dark room. Its deep tone contrasts with the sharp upbeats and merges with the heavier downbeats of the instrumental.
The combination of melody rap, vocal levels and instrumental creates a push-and-pull effect (longer backing vocal notes in contrast to the sharp up beats and the softer downbeats) as if Chanyeol's voice was part of a current in the choir . Intentional autotune makes for a different listening experience when combined with the overlay of other elements where Chanyeol's voice appears to echo in a call-and-response manner. The song is faded out with an electric guitar riff, which would have been very nice earlier in the track.
Sehun's solo "On Me", both compositionally and in his MV, is more crowded than Chanyeol's "Nothin". The MV "On Me" offers background dancers and stage choreography and has a color palette that is complementary to "Nothin". Even Sehun's dog Vivi appears during the line: "Hell broke loose / move your arms and legs / excited as big as Vivi." With "On Me" Sehun does it in his own way. The track has a darker tone that blurs the distinction between arrogance and self-confidence.
I do it my way, away from WiFi
I will enjoy it and go
I'll sleep when I'm tired …
Even if you want to bring me down
You cannot follow my physical one
Although I feel sick on stage
A voracious gourmet
Unlike "Fly Away", Sehun's "On Me" does not follow a typical song structure because there is no official chorus, except for the repetition of "Forever love sad happy" in the middle of the song. Otherwise, it is mostly dominated by verses, namely the first one, which takes up about a third of the song.
While Chanyeol and Sehun only have two songs as a unit, both "Rodeo Station" and "Jet Lag" are highlights in 1 trillion views. "Rodeo Station" is the third song on the album and the first of the only Exo SC tracks. They reflect their fame and use the ApguJeong Rodeo Station as an indicator of how their lives have changed, especially in the choir:
Every day the luxury goods stores that I passed
A station was built here a few years ago
The place where I searched every day is now the place where people find me
Although I can find the things I want, I can't buy your heart
Meet me at ApguJeong Rodeo Station
See you there rodeo, see you there rodeo
In their texts, the two remember how they used to go there when they were younger, but now others go to the train station to see their faces. Although it looks like every little thing Sehun and Chanyeol are doing makes headlines, the two of them assure the audience that "even though a lot of things have changed, I'm still here."
However, the composition of "Rodeo Station" is nothing particularly new (although it starts with a cool electric guitar phrase). The two sing about a gossip effect and a light staccato beat that takes a back seat during the repetition of “Rodeo”. Especially at the end there are some nice harmonies that show how well Chanyeols and Sehun's voices fit together.
A possible switch off of the song would definitely be the dominant "Millennial Whoop", which repeats a few lines before the bridge and after the last chorus. For better or for worse, it gets stuck in the minds of listeners fairly easily. Regardless, the song features some of the most coherent and reflective stories in 1 billion views.
"Jet Lag" cuts through the album's rap-heavy songs with an indie pop / R&B sound. The electric guitar hook gives the track a refreshing flair when the listeners reach the middle of 1 billion views. The text of "Jet Lag" could be a love song, but it is ambiguous enough that it doesn't necessarily have to be one. The musicians are always on the move, from the stage to the studio, from one European country to another. Time dominates the texts, as the hours pass quickly, the minutes are slow and, in an early verse, they juxtapose the seasons and the weather:
It is raining and snowing too
The summer of the day and the winter of the day
I feel like I'm in the clouds every day
I'm barely there without you
It's always winter without you
Some very polite questions are scattered throughout history, such as "What is your day like? And" What is the weather like in Seoul? "These particular questions might also be of concern as they are waiting for you to join the person in to return to the lyrics. There is no time when the singers are with this person, although time is missing around the world: "I will hug you tightly / you can rest comfortably in my arms."
1 Billion Views underscores Exo-SC's rapping, especially her storytelling skills, and shows the dynamism that Sehun and Chanyeol have as artists, not just the youngest and third youngest of Exo. Overall, the album has more to offer than the debut of the subunit in terms of variety with solid group sounds. However, 1 billion views as a whole does not make a legendary impression on listeners, although there are some outstanding songs and lyrics.
With their second album, Exo-SC builds on their foundation as a unit and shows their musicality in the collaborations presented and in their solo tracks, in which the two emphasize their identity as individual artists.
(YouTube. Text via LyricsKpop (1) (2) (3), Genius, LyricsTranslate. Images via SM Entertainment.)