EXO – “Call Me Baby” Review

(Music Video)

EXO – Call Me Baby

Reviewed
on April 15, 2017

Nevertheless,
despite how creative and effective the instrumental is to the song and even
despite the song’s massive popularity during its promoted era, I argue the song
in its entirety is not as strong as people perceive it to be. In particularly, while
the song efficiently and effectively establishes a rhythmic, smooth and
coherent style towards the beginning, near the end of the song completely contradicts
itself but not in an augmenting
manner.

Personal Message:
For a fun fact: as of this sentence,
I have spent six hours in the library at my university catching up on work, and
miraculously, I am now relatively caught up with everything I was behind on.
The best part? No caffeine involved. For readers who are students—whether at the
university or high school level (or perhaps even younger; again, I welcome all
readers)—a tip I have is that working in a “productive environment” truly makes
a huge difference. Personally, working in the library makes it so that I am not
suddenly procrastinating via watching a marathon of Fiestar and TWICE videos—of
which is why I sometimes am drastically behind work. But that aside, before
getting into today’s review and updates, I do hope that readers enjoyed the
horrendous April Fool’s joke I wrote. Admittedly compared to previous years
where I was able to convince readers an artist made a comeback when they did
not, this year’s prank is much more disappointing. Nonetheless, given that the
prank was actually me addressing in a subtle manner my current thoughts on the
state of the blog, it is at least a productive prank—and indeed, saying
“productive prank” is relatively rare.

On topic, huge apologies to the
requester for the delay—a delay that is as long as a month. This is completely
shameful on my end and I sincerely apologize for the review taking this long. With
my university semester soon ending, the workload has become quite large. Furthermore,
coupling that with time I spent preparing informal lessons (as my “cooperating
teacher”—the teacher I am working with—is such a wonderful person and allows me
to have the chances to practice teaching) and we find that my time is quite
limited. When my summer break comes around, however, I intend to make a very
strong return with reviewing very frequently given that I have no summer
classes and desire to begin “stockpiling” reviews as my next semester will by
far be the most difficult as of yet. (Though, I hope, the most interesting.) In
terms of where readers can find me during times where I am incredibly busy,
there is one place where I most likely still exist: subtitling videos for
Fiestar. As noticed, while reviews have been scarce, I have been able to upload
lengthier videos of Fiestar. Now this does sound like a poor excuse or even a
subliminal way to advertise videos of Fiestar (which admittedly is not a
complete lie; Fiestar deserves more popularity), but the point is this: if I am
not writing reviews, readers can find me subtitling and uploading videos; if I
am not subtitling and uploading videos, readers can find me writing reviews.
And if neither of those are
occurring, I am most likely crying and drowning in homework and then attempting
to stay mentally healthy via watching an unhealthy amount of, as of the late,
TWICE videos.  

Pitifully (and humorously) shared,
the only reason I am not completely mentally broken down is because I have
lately been watching many videos of TWICE and have developed a delusional crush
for the ladies’ leader, Jihyo. She is personally one of my “ideal types” (along
with SPICA’s Boa) as, perhaps as readers have been able to gauge over time, I
find myself highly attracted to older (Jihyo is five months older than me) “womanly
women”—or to not be hypocritical as I constantly challenge readers to not use
gender-based labels (such as “manly men”), I am connoting “strong women.” To
explain what I mean (and once again, in a delusional manner though I obviously
am still waiting for Jihyo to propose to marry me), Jihyo provides a sense of
security and comfort. After all, her leadership as seen for TWICE is proving of
such. She is overall incredibly caring, funny, hardworking, and unlike the
general—and pathetic—consensus that she is apparently not physically attractive
particularly because of her weight, I personally find her very beautiful both
physically and non-physically. And, despite her not having, say, SPICA’s Boa’s
husky, deeper voice, I still find Jihyo’s voice very charming. Quite obviously
I am very delusional but a boy can dream, can he not? Thus, in my delusional
world, indeed one day Jihyo will get on her knees and propose to me and we will
live happily-ever-after. I suspect readers are now questioning if I truly am
still mentally healthy because of university.

Now for a serious point if readers
feel that I have cheated time and intellectual points out of them and this
review, for an interesting topic that even I am still attempting to reconcile
that I sure readers might also be curious on, the topic of race when it comes
to dating is a peculiar one. Sure, while readers might desire to praise me for desiring
to one day marry an older, “strong woman” and not feel emasculated at all
because of such, there is still a controversial component to my ideal type: I
admit I strongly prefer to not date and
marry an Asian woman. I would prefer, as the phrase is, to “date outside of my
race.”

Now obviously race would never be a
deciding factor—and neither would, say, age—but race does go along with my ideal
type preferences akin to age. The main reasons behind this “race preference”
are that, for one, I personally cherish raising a family that has multiple
cultural views within the family and I have a desire to learn cultures beyond
what I was raised with. Furthermore, I desire to share my own cultural values
with someone who equally desires to learn more about my culture. Nonetheless,
the tension as readers can tell is this: am I being racist or not? Personally I
do acknowledge both perspectives, and again while these preferences in the end
would never be deciding factors, these are still biases in mind that are worthy
of critically examining. But, in the end, these preferences can only go so far:
for example, if Jihyo proposed to marry me—and even if she were a few months
younger than I—indeed readers can expect me to be a married boy. All in all, I
am sure a few readers have pondered this topic before (and I know many of my
older cousins have as their partners are all non-Asian) or might even feel a
desire themselves to “date outside one’s race(s)” (this term can be problematic
for those who are multi-racial and I do apologize for such). There are no easy
answers at all, but consider this a social topic to ponder in addition to the
following musical discussion.

All that aside and onto the review
itself, before receiving this request, a year ago (or two), I did plan to review
“Call Me Baby.” It definitely was a very popular comeback during its time—after
all, this is EXO and their popularity is enormous in general. In terms of the
song itself, however, I did want to review it as it is a slightly peculiar one:
as even the requester of this review noted, the song incorporates a lot of
interesting components especially in terms of how its instrumental is
functioning for the song in whole. Thus, this review will indeed focus a lot on
particularly the rhythm at play and what functions it serves and we will
speculate what the composers had in mind when creating the song. Nevertheless,
despite how creative and effective the instrumental is to the song and even
despite the song’s massive popularity during its promoted era, I argue the song
in its entirety is not as strong as people perceive it to be. In particularly, while
the song efficiently and effectively establishes a rhythmic, smooth and
coherent style towards the beginning, near the end of the song completely contradicts
itself but not in an augmenting
manner.

_______________________________________________________

Song Score: 5/10
(5.25/10 raw score) – “Average”


Vocals: 6/10


Sections: 5/10
(4.83/10 raw score)

Introduction, Verse,
Chorus, Verse, Chorus, Bridge, Rap, Chorus, Conclusion (Chorus)

1.     Introduction:
6/10

2.     Verse: 6/10

3.     Chorus: 4/10

4.     Bridge: 3/10

5.     Rap: 5/10

6.     Conclusion (Chorus): 5/10


Instrumental: 6/10


Lyrics: 4/10

This street is completely crazy
Strangers in between people
Every moment that we’re together,
like boom boom boom boom boom
What up?

Hey girl, that one moment felt like eternity
(The fate-like moment)
When you pierced into me in just one moment
(Like lightning, in this world)
You called my name and came to me
It’s amazing, like a flash of light,
you fill me up the moment I see you, oh my
Sit here comfortably and listen to my story now
Oh I don’t care
Even if I have to go far,
I’ll be the one man to be by your side
You seeped into my dry lips
and woke me up
The time’s wasting, girl
So don’t wait, don’t wait too long

There are many who shine,
but look at what’s real among them
Call me baby, call me baby,
call me baby, call me baby
My heart grows bigger for you
and it closes its door for everyone else but you
Call me baby, call me baby,
call me baby, call me baby
Even if it’s many times, call me, girl
You make me exist as myself
You’re the only one in my world
You’re the one, you’re the one
There are many who shine
but look at what’s real among them
Call me baby, call me baby,
call me baby, call me baby
Even if it’s many times, Call me girl

Baby girl
Even among all the greed
and all the words
You showed that you believe in me
Even if everyone changes and leaves me,
you are my lady
All I need is for you to hold my hand

There are many who shine,
but look at what’s real among them
Call me baby, call me baby,
call me baby, call me baby
My heart grows bigger for you
and it closes its door for everyone else but you
Call me baby, call me baby,
call me baby, call me baby

I was once trapped in a dark maze
(In the darkness)
But I hear your voice that woke me up
You made me be born again, yeah
E-X-O
Listen

Say my name
(Louder)
If you become my light and
pull me through this chaotic place,
(What up?)
I’ll hold you and never change
I’ll hold you and face those who left me
Don’t ever mind about a thing
You came into the big emptiness in my heart

In this shaking world
You were the only one who became my light
There are many who shine
but look at what’s real among them
Call me baby, call me baby,
call me baby, call me baby
(I’ll be your baby)
You make me exist as myself
You’re the only one in my world
you’re the one, you’re the one
Girl, you’re the one I want
There are many who shine,
but look at what’s real among them
Call me baby, call me baby,
call me baby, call me baby
Even if it’s many times, call me, girl

_______________________________________________________

Analysis:
First of all, before getting right into the function and effects of the
instrumental, we first need to realize “Call Me Baby” follows what I term a “linear-based”
song—or at least, for the first portion. In other words, rather than containing
various shifts in terms of pacing or intensity, the song—even if by default is
already at a more energetic state—remains relatively stable. After all, already
readers should notice there are no explicit pre-choruses in this song—a section
of which oftentimes is when songs go through a significant shift (a buildup).
Because the song lacks that traditional, transformative section (as again, the
pre-choruses are oftentimes a “spike” in a song’s flow), “Call Me Baby” is able
to run a more straightforward path with going from the verse and right into the
chorus.

With
this in mind, let us now discuss the importance of the instrumental. Already, one
strong function of it and especially with the stronger, heavier beats is that the
instrumental serves as core transition piece for the song. Especially as there
are no pre-choruses, it is vital for an aspect of the song to still handle the
role as a hastily recognizable transition piece. In the song, the stronger
beats serve this role—prominent, obvious examples include the introduction to
the first verse, and that verse to the chorus. But, besides just serving as
transition points, what the instrumental deserves much praise for is how it
shapes the entirety of the song—or,
once again, at least the first portion of the song. For example, one aspect to
notice is that unlike many pop songs where the vocals are clearly overriding
the instrumental be it by being more active or intense, in “Call Me Baby” I
argue it is the opposite: the instrumental are, interestingly, at the forefront
while the vocals are backing up said instrumental. I make this claim as we need
to notice the beats’ volume and impact come off much harder and—quite literally—louder
than even the singing. This is especially emphasized whenever the members are
providing beltings versus chunked, singular singing. Oftentimes, the opposite
holds true where vocal beltings, for example, are louder and more prominent
than the instrumental. Furthermore, the vocals’ rhythm is very much based on following
the instrumental’s pacing and seldom do
the vocals necessarily deviate away from strictly doing such—this being something
we seldom find as the opposite oftentimes holds true instead: vocals are the
ones to first change with the instrumental then adapting.

And
so, why does this all matter? For one, as discussed in perhaps a few prior
reviews—one in mind is BTS’ “Spring Day” to some extent—having a highly
coordinated instrumental and vocals combination allows a song to maintain a
strong sense of cohesion. Predictability, for example, is possible when a
listener is able to clearly track what is occurring on both ends and thus, this
aids in making a song “make sense” versus it sounding as if the song had no
structure to it. Besides that, though, with the instrumental essentially
leading the song, we have to credit the composers for this as this in of itself
is already a creative idea. As even the requester noted, it seems that the
rhythm and instrumental in this song is particularly
important—this distinction is something I argue can be found rooted in how
the instrumental is in fact the leading aspect of the song, and again, this is
a creative take as traditionally it is the vocals—the tune—that lead a pop
song. And as I have addressed before, having a creative aspect to songs is
highly beneficial and to some extent almost necessary if a pop song is to stand
out among the hundreds of thousands of existing pop songs.

All
this praise aside, however, “Call Me Baby” still carries many flaws and
unfortunately, it seems that these flaws almost entirely overshadow the stronger
aspects to the song. To already discuss what the major flaw to the song is, it
is the fact that towards the end of the song—from the bridge and after—the song
abruptly steers away from its established, linear and rhythm based flow, to one
that is far too erratic and different. And while this is not necessarily a
weakness—and in fact, some songs can turn such contrasting points into strengths
as noted in my review of TWICE’s
“Knock Knock”
—the issue is that the song does not resolve this tension. Therefore, listeners are left with a
song that, in perhaps a harsh statement, collapses itself. Let us examine and “actively
listen” to the bridge and rap for examples.

With
the bridge, right from the start we come across a bridge that, though suiting
in a traditional sense of pop songs “needing” to have a bridge, the section’s
form is one that highly contrasts the rest of the song. It is a dramatic pause
to “Call Me Baby,” and most distinctively, the instrumental becomes an
incredibly light, minimal aspect as the vocals are in the spotlight—and of which
already contrasts what the song initially established in its entire run prior
to the bridge. Additionally, even when the bridge transitions to the rap, we
have to notice the note belting that occurs and likewise how “E-X-O” in its
rough, segmented delivery once again ruins the linear, smoother flow
established. And to finish this all, the distorted instrumental and vocals that
follow up as the transition point to the rap once again highly conflict with
the song’s original, intended sound. Regarding the rap, similar critiques can
be said as—even if sonically it is viable—the distortions throughout the rap
and more so how intensive the rap is all go against what “Call Me Baby” set up
at the beginning.

Overall,
while the song is certainly strong in terms of its creative take to having an
instrumental-led song and that the instrumental is very effective at doing
such, the composers’ decision to have the song undergo drastic changes to its
established concept is where my main criticism lies. Now, it is understandable
on why the composers most likely opted to do so—after all, composers are very
intelligent, diligent women and men. I believe their idea with this sudden
change in the song is to address one main problem linear-based songs have: a
strong sense of monotony. Given that “Call Me Baby” is an incredibly
straightforward song, lacking points of a shift in the song’s overall flow
could, indeed, deter away listeners. Thus, a simple solution to that is to in
fact include points of shifts that would make the song predominantly linear, but also inclusive of more diverse aspects.
Unfortunately, I argue the composers failed with that goal: especially because
of how strongly established the song is with its original flow and given that
the rhythm is the driving force of the song, there could have been ways to add
more variety without necessarily compromising the song’s concept towards the end.
For example, at the choruses—in other words, at moments that are still within
the song’s established, smoother flow—there are still some issues with a
mundane sound occurring. Therefore, if some changes or additions were made so
that the choruses in of themselves were more varied, then the pressure for
drastically different bridge and rap might have disappeared.

All
in all, EXO’s “Call Me Baby” is still a song worthy of listening especially as
it is unique to hear such an instrumental-orientated song, but it does possess
a multitude of weaknesses that come from solutions that went, I argue, awry. Nevertheless,
as this song is very much “performance based” with having a very charming
choreography, it still deserves much respect on that end even if musically I
find that it comes short.

_______________________________________________________

It
has been almost a month and a half since this request was sent in. For readers
who wish to send in requests, it might be best to wait until May as that is
when I will be on summer break and have time to quickly review requests. For
the requester of this review, I greatly apologize for this delay. University is
truly quite rigorous as of the late.

In
terms of upcoming reviews, PRISTIN’s “Wee Woo” is in mind along with Day6’s “I’m
Serious.” Both songs will provide not only new artists on the blog—as both of
them are relatively new groups if correct—but also new, insightful reviews as
both songs are quite different from the many I have reviewed in the past. Thank
you to readers for being patient with me, and thank you for reading this
review. I know summer break will be perhaps my most active reviewing period
yet, so look forward to such but until then, I expect to wrap up April with those
two reviews and a few Critical Discussions regarding “MR Removed” and even line
distributions. Until then, “My heart grows bigger for you”—especially for the
requester who had to wait far too long for this review. Look forward to PRISTIN’s
“Wee Woo.”