Fri. Jul 12th, 2024

WTK REVIEW: EXO’s Baekhyun Makes A Modern R&B “Delight” In Second Mini-Album

Ten months after the EXO and SuperM member made his solo debut with the mini-album City Lights, Baekhyun is back with his follow-up album, Delight. The second mini-album was released on May 25th and presents a total of seven new tracks, each one showcasing various sides of the R&B genre. 

Featuring an impressive collection of domestic and worldwide producers who participated in the creation of this stand out record, including SM Entertainment hit maker Kenzie, popular songwriter DEEZ, Grammy-nominated U.S producer Mike Daley, Grammy-winning collaborator Mitchell Owens, Grammy-winning production team The Stereotypes, world-renowned producer OMEGA, singer-songwriter Colde, and many more. 

Compared to City Lights, which felt darker and grittier in its overall sound, Delight feels a lot more loose and fun, never taking itself too seriously while still maintaining sophistication. The album’s feel-good atmosphere is fitting as Baekhyun expressed the intention for his sophomore solo record to give people joy. That sentiment is definitely felt throughout the entire album.

EXO’s concept equips Baekhyun with the supernatural power of light, and that is a theme that has been carried over into his solo works. Delight is available in three different versions: “Cinnamon”, “Honey”, and “Mint.” Those are just some of the flavors mentioned in the lyrics of the title track “Candy”.

Let’s take a closer look at what you can expect from the album, which has already broken records for the most first-week sales for a K-pop soloist, as well as for the most pre-sales for a K-pop soloist.

1. “Candy”

The album opens with the trendy title track “Candy,” filled with playful and witty lyrics that compare Baekhyun’s endless array of charms to different flavors of candy. The lyrics were written by Kenzie, who has penned the words to countless SM Entertainment artists’ biggest hits of recent years, including many in EXO’s own discography such as “Monster” and “Obsession.”

The song is a futuristic R&B track with catchy arpeggio synth sounds and waves of trendy melodies, it was composed and arranged by internationally renowned producers Mike Daley, Mitchell Owens, and Adrian McKinnon, all of whom are no strangers to K-pop, collectively working with some of the biggest music acts in both South Korea and abroad. SM Entertainment producer DEEZ, as well as legendary composer Yoo Young Jin, also worked on the track.

Baekhyun’s vocal runs during the bridge are undoubtedly the highlight of the song, which is sure to raise some eyebrows and pleasantly surprise some listeners. 

Click to read our “Candy” music video article here

2. “R U Ridin’?”

Up next is the first B-side, with an eye-catching title like “R U Ridin’?” to further capture your attention and intrigue.

This R&B trap song combines chill beats, melodies, and Baekhyun’s breathy vocals to give you the feeling of driving through the city. 

The song was written by Kenzie, who also composed the song with Mike Daley, Mitchell Owens, and Wilbart “Vedo” McCoy III, who has worked as a composer for EXO, NCT 127, and SHINee.

Definitely giving off the summer vibes, “R U Ridin’?” is seriously catchy and gives you that feeling of excitement while listening to it each and every time (and believe me, there will be multiple listens on this one!).

3. “Bungee”

The third track on the album is “Bungee”, a medium-tempo, R&B song with a charismatic piano melody which compares the process of falling in love to swimming in the blue sea. Baekhyun’s sensuous and delicate voice plays well against the elegant and jazzy composition and makes for one of Delight’s most mature moments.

Composers for this song include Nile Lee, who has worked on songs for Suho, Max, and Kang Daniel (and who even featured on Wendy of Red Velvet’s rendition of “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”); Royal Dive (a member of the producing crew ØFFSHORE formed by GOT7’s JB), producer Brian Cho, and singer-songwriter Jane, who also wrote the track’s lyrics. 

Baekhyun’s falsetto and harmonies are at their very best here and add an extra layer of perfection to this laid-back, soulful number.

4. “Underwater”

Written by Lalala Studio, who have worked with countless K-pop artists, this dreamy, mid-tempo R&B song amplifies a mournful atmosphere through Baekhyun’s emotional vocals, illustrating the sea of sadness after losing a loved one. 

Sometimes we can understate the talents of a vocalist like Baekhyun simply because the quality of his work is always consistently high, whether it’s in EXO, SuperM, or in his various OST’s and collaborations. Then he releases a song like “Underwater” that shows us he can still wow us today. The use of vocal overlays to create harmonies and background ad-libs heightens the heavy emotions of the song’s content. 

It was composed by Andrew Choi, Kim Yeon Seo, and minGtion, all of whom are no strangers to producing for some of the biggest names in K-pop.

“Underwater” is by far the moodiest track on the album, and it’s guaranteed to make you feel things deep in your heart.

5. “Poppin’”

Following the album’s moodiest and mellowest songs, comes one of the highest points of Delight: the urban hip-hop, R&B “Poppin’”. Produced by top production team The Stereotypes, responsible for the Red Velvet’s hit “Bad Boy,” it tells the story of the happiness you feel when you are in love. The honest lyrics conveying these complex emotions were written by Kenzie. 

The incredulously catchy “hey now, hey now” in the chorus is a pure, feel good moment that you will impulsively sing along to in no time, and it epitomizes the song’s uplifting vibes present from start to finish. 

“Poppin’” picks up right where City Lights’ “Betcha” left off, with many fans making that connection between the two songs due to their similar styles and musical themes.

6. “Ghost”

“Ghost” is an alternative R&B song featuring a triple-rhythm melody that seems to pour over this danceable track. The lyrics were written by JQ, Mola, and Kang Eun Yu of the songwriting team makeumine works and compare a parted lover to a ghost who lingers like a reflection.

LA-based producer OMEGA participated in the production and arrangement of the song, as well as Icelandic producer Larus Arnarson (also known as Leo), known for his unique sound aesthetic, and Bram Inscore , whose production credits include everything from Troye Sivan to BTS

Two former members of Iceland’s most successful girl group Nylon, Klara Ósk Elíasdóttir and Alma Guðmundsdóttir, also worked on the composition of the song, alongside composer Tony Ferrari, who has worked on everything from music for Disney and television soundtracks to Monster X’s English album ALL ABOUT LUV.

The pulsating beats and guitar licks flawlessly compliment Baekhyun’s luscious falsetto and notable breathy vocal tone. 

It’s not surprising with such a diverse list of talent and experience contributing to the song, the result is yet another addictive and exhilarating track on the album. 

7. “Love Again”

Closing the album is the contemporary acoustic-guitar driven “Love Again,” with melodic and lyrical guitar sounds that captivate the ears and the heart. Baekhyun’s charming lower voice register is noteworthy as he and the guitar harmonize together in unison. 

The song was written and composed by one half of the Korean duo offonoff: singer-songwriter Colde, who also arranged the track with longtime collaborator, musical producer Stally

The lyrics tell the poetic story of longing for love again to someone who is standing between the end of love and the beginning of separation, providing an appropriate double-meaning for the last song on this very lovable record. 

Delight truly lives up to its name and is a delight to listen to and discover. There’s bound to be at least two or three tracks you will add to your playlists. Even if you’re not a fan of EXO or of the music you typically expect from SM Entertainment artists, this album is worth checking out and might even surprise you. 

City Lights was Baekhyun working hard to show that he could hold his own as a soloist, but Delight is the singer showing he’s ready to let loose and have some fun.

Delight is available now on all streaming and download sites.

Justin is an avid kpop fanboy and a lifelong lover of music, who is passionate about sharing his love of underrated and lesser known groups. SM Entertainment groups have been a huge part of his kpop journey and he is continually impressed by the risks they take musically. He is currently waiting for Onew to return from the military so he can hear new music from one of his favorite voices in all of music.

Media: SM Entertainment