SM’s rookie group, EXO, has finally returned from hiatus-hell to release their second single! I can’t begin to say how frustrating it’s been with this group. First we had to endure the endless amount of teasers, and a “prequel” single just to get to the first release that was, for lack of a better word, over the top. Then, the group was just gone. Like…gone, gone. As such, this is quite possibly the most anticipated comeback of 2013. SM is Korea’s most powerful record label, so you know this song will be a massive hit. But that doesn’t answer the question “Is it good?”
Wolf pretty much uses the same strategy as Mama. It comes at us hard, gets in our face, and hopes that something sticks. But in the end…I don’t like being yelled at. The song is definitely impressive, but leaves an awkward after taste that I just can’t get used to.
It is nice to see the group return as a full 12-member unit, rather than their sub-teams of 6 and 6. Granted, I have no idea who is who. Its hard enough to learn the names of all the groups in the industry, let alone the individual members….and even further, the individual names of a 12 member group! Do you know how long it took me to learn the names of Girls’ Generation!? Almost as long as it took EXO to make a comeback. Oh, snap!
Wolf starts off well enough. We get to see a really cool “tree stance” that instantly grabs attention, and a tribal beat that lets you know something cool is about to happen. Unfortunately, the unthinkable happens. A dubstep beat kicks in, and they start to rap. Hey SM! Stop trying to be YG! It. Doesn’t. Work!
The hip-hop/dubstep fusion beat is hard hitting and intense, if a bit standard. Dubstep is kind of losing its appeal as edgy and interesting. Now it just seems trendy. On one hand, Wolf hits hard with an in your face intensity. On the other hand…these beats really aren’t anything we haven’t heard before (*cough*WerewolfbyFigure*cough*). There’s no doubt that the beats are catchy, but I wish that EXO would have followed up on the creative sound that Mama brought us.
Despite being the number one record label in Korea, SM has yet to produce a single noteworthy rapper. They definitely aren’t starting with Wolf. The verses are full of forced hip-hop “swag,” and heavily processed vocals that just sound awkward. However, while SM sucks at creating rappers, they do excel at finding vocal talent. There are some impressive vocal moments to be found in this song, making it worth listening to start to finish.
That is…if you can get over the cringe worth chorus. The boys chant something about a wolf before giving a lame howl and an annoying autotuned voice echoes them. The whole this is awkwardly paced, and doesn’t even feel like a real chorus. Once it passes, your kind of relieved to find yourself with some solid vocal verses.
Now, the thing about SM artists, is that they definitely impress with their choreographies. EXO is probably a better dance crew than they are an idol group, and they really shine on this song’s intense dance routine. Its strong, intense, animalistic, and perfectly synchronized! Truly impressive! I can easily imagine them tearing up a stage with this routine, and putting on one hell of a show!
While it might sound like I’ve slammed EXO, I’ve got to say that I don’t hate this song. I just feel a bit let down, and a bit jarred by their sudden shift from a dramatic rock sound, to an imitation of electro-hop. EXO might very well be one of the most popular groups on the scene, but in the end, they’re still rookies….and unfortunately, it shows. Hopefully it won’t take them another year to release single number three!
Final Score: 3/5