[#11] EXO - "Thunder"

From: "Overdose"
Released: May
Territory: South Korea
Previous Best of Entries: 2012: [#30] "History" (EXO-K) and [#29] "What Is Love" (EXO-M) / 2013: [#2] "Growl"
Other notable song(s) from 2014: "Moonlight", "Overdose"

Lawsuit drama aside, this year was pretty sparse for EXO musically compared to last year (and even their debut year if you count all those teasers) -- "Overdose" was their only 2014 release. That said, I'm glad that EXO seem to be continuing the direction they started going in last year with "Growl" -- comfortably well-done, solid pop tracks. And while "Growl" still remains the standard for me, "Overdose" was a cohesive package in terms of sound and over-all quality.

What I like about "Thunder" in particular is how it's a no-frills package. The arrangement is sparse but very much present so it goes straight to the point: the melody and its performance. A single, gutsy guitar hook, a sharp beat, a percussion line that just lays low for the most part -- what makes the elements interesting is the songs dynamics and the arrangement as a whole. I said something in an earlier review about how ballads aren't necessarily inherently difficult to sing, but are challenging because they make the performers vulnerable. When it comes to up tempos it's a similar idea -- the less there is going on in the arrangement, the simpler the melody is, the more vulnerable the performer is. Songs like "Wolf" or "MAMA" can hide you behind layers and layers of instruments, pre-recorded elements, gimmicks left and right, but seemingly less elaborate songs like "Growl" or "Thunder" don't have those, or at least have significantly less.

Because of its simplicity, "Thunder" is also a very flexible track -- it's possible to stage very slick performances for it, the type they have on big, year-end stages, but at the same time from the listener's side it's not in-your-face so it's a track you can listen to on a "normal" day.



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