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EXO taps into inner darkness with ‘Obsession’

It’s been one of EXO’s most prolific years, as it has seen both individual and duo projects from its members, some of them promoting as part of S.M. Entertainment’s supergroup SuperM.

And the K-pop juggernaut has capped a packed year by putting out its long-awaited “Obsession” album, fronted by new obsession-worthy single of the same title.

Thumping with urban synth and bass, “Obsession” is an edgy hip-hop dance track that marks a stylish shift from the group’s seductive “Love Shot” from last year. The song is built around a hook of “I want you I want you want you,” a bewitching vocal sample that is repeated throughout the track. Switching between monologue-like rapping and melodic interludes, the singers talk about battling their dark sides that keep obsessing over them. 

EXO (S.M. Entertainment)
EXO (S.M. Entertainment)

Released on EXO’s sixth full-length album, the song was crafted by a group of renowned producers and songwriters in and out of Korea, such as Dem Jointz, LDN Noise, 153/Joombas Music Group, Yoo Young-jin, Ryan Jhun and Kenzie. The album features six members of the nine-piece act, with Xiumin and D.O. currently serving South Korea’s mandatory military service and Lay pursuing a solo career in China.

“It’s been five years since I worked with Dem Jointz crew, and we had made a draft for ‘Obsession’ back in the days. We’ve poured out everything into this song, as it was going to be EXO’s last song of the year. It’s one great masterpiece, like, it will get stuck right into your mind. S.M. really liked it as well,” said K-pop hit producer Ryan Jhun, who’ve teamed up with Dem Jointz to produce “Obsession.”

What stands out on the new record is its fantastical concept, led by a storyline where EXO members fight against their darker clones, known as X-EXO. In the song’s accompanying ominous music video, the members face-off against their counterparts, who are featured with laser-beam eyes and heavy makeup.

In the lead up to its comeback, EXO has been whetting fans’ appetites by revealing concept videos of the members, as well as opening a new X-EXO-dedicated Twitter account named “EXOOneWeAre,” a mirrored phase of the group’s longtime slogan “We Are One EXO” and a nod to the act’s “two identities” concept.

The 10-track album also features “Trouble,” “Jekyll,” “Groove,” “Ya Ya Ya,” “Baby You Are,” “Non Stop,” “Day after Day” and “Butterfly Effect,” and a Chinese version of “Obsession.”

EXO will showcase “Obsession” for the first time at “EXO The Stage,” which takes place on Friday at the Bitmaru Broadcasting Support Center in Ilsan, Gyeonggi Province. As part of the album’s promotions, a special space called “EXO The Place” will open in Itaewon, Seoul, from Dec. 9, where fans can enjoy the music video set, outfits, jacket photos and media art related to “Obsession.”

EXO will also wrap up its “Exo Planet 5 - Exploration” world tour, which kicked off in Seoul in July, back in Seoul from Dec. 29-31.

By Hong Dam-young (lotus@heraldcorp.com)
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