[Year-End Special] #17: EXID – 아예 (Ah Yeah)

“Where do you live? Do you live alone?”

When EXID suddenly surged in popularity, I had a huge “I told you so” moment. I felt like my wish for EXID to get big was finally answered as “Up and Down” was way too much of a jam to go unnoticed. Why mess with a formula that works though, right? “Ah Yeah” may shamelessly be “Up and Down (Version 2.0)” but that is part of why it works.

When Brave Brothers first began churning out their now signature retro meets hip pop meets lots of horns and “Brave Sound” growling songs, those songs blew up. Thus, it’s only natural that EXID continue that “Up and Down” high with a song that hardly strays from the formula set up by its predecessor but is fresh enough to continue the party. The insistent horn loops return, the belting continue, and the players all reprise their roles:

You got LE nasally spitting out her rhymes, Hani handling the verses, Junghwa getting the weird pre-choruses that don’t require too much, Hyerin getting the first half of the choruses because she’s the token second place singer of the group who always gets shafted because she is only there to set up the chorus for the team’s ace vocalist, Solji, who belts it out and steals the show vocally. Of course, “Ah Yeah” returns the favor to Hani, who was mostly responsible for the group’s revival after a fancam of her went viral, so she gets a bit more parts in this song.

Things sound familiar yet different, which is why Ah Yeah worked so well. Fresh off their successes with “Up and Down”, “Ah Yeah” did not sound out of place and yet still sounded new.

I really enjoyed the MV of “Ah Yeah” though as it was a clever jab at the censorship culture in Korea, where a simple hip thrust could land your group into 19+ territory, barring your group’s entry to the music show stages, something EXID knows all too well. I find the censorship being the catalyst for dark thoughts to be fascinating as everything hidden by the blurred pixels was innocent but everything had a tinge of seediness just because it was blurred.

As consumers of pop music and culture, we see what we want to see and hear what we want to hear so it is ironic and also telling that censorship, things that are withheld from us would lead us to expect and almost want the hidden items to be explicit.

“Hot Pink” may be a counterargument to “third time’s the charm” but regardless, EXID have already come out of 2015 as winners, triumphant in the fact that they have proven their staying power and that they were worthy recipients of a fated viral video.

Honorable Mention: Hot Pink | B | Almost “Up and Down (Version 3.0)” but a bit too jarring to overtake the original or “Ah Yeah”. Still a solid, funky EXID track that is certainly a ride of a listen. Hyerin is still second place. #poorhyerin

Final Rating: A- | Spunky, upbeat afterparty to “Up and Down”. Strategically written, strategically released, coupled with a clever MV. 

 

 

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