EXO Step Back In Time With Old Sounding New Single 'Call Me Baby'
The Flawless BreakdownVocals
Too SafeD.O. Is Too Short To Be HotCorny Fangirl Fodder
3.0Overall Score
Reader Rating 63 Votes

Is K-pop music stuck in a time warp? For a while it was just A Pink turning back the clock for their music, and now every idol under the sun is doing it.

Well, I guess if you’re going to slide back a decade or two like EXO have for their new single “Call Me Baby” (not to be confused with the defining pop single of the 2010’s, Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe”), then there isn’t anyone better to help you than Teddy Riley.

K-poppers know him for producing Girls’ Generation’s “The Boys” and RaNia’s medical breakthrough “Dr. Feel Good,” but any R&B fan knows Riley for crafting iconic hits for Michael Jackson and Bobby Brown and for being a new jack swing pioneer.

With such impressive credentials, you’d think that everything Riley touches would turn to diamonds and pearls, but that’s not always the case. His K-pop productions are always good, but he’s usually demoted to album cuts while SM leaves their title tracks to in-house hitmakers or European dream teams.

“Call Me Baby” is Riley’s chance at crafting an SM mega-hit, but the track falls flat. It’s a retread of every uber-manufactured bubblegum pop single you heard between 1999-2003. It’d be easier to name the pop stars that DIDN’T do one of these records during that period than to reference the ones who did.

Of course, this is K-pop, so “Call Me Baby” is bigger and faster and hookier than the sound it’s mining, but I wouldn’t call it better when we’ve had ridiculously good nostalgia pop from the likes of 1Punch and GOT7.

Like the music it’s drawing from, “Call Me Baby” is instant gratification fructose-pop that’s good for a wham bam thank you ma’am and not much more. EXO’s never going to best the originals like NSYNC or the Backstreet Boys, so that just leaves them in Jessica Simpson and O-Town territory.

kim richards shrug

Perhaps I’m being too harsh on EXO, but I expect a lot from them considering their strong first year. The group itself bores me to tears and feels more superficial and manufactured than every other major K-pop act put together, but their ballads make me swoon and their early singles like the operatic screamo dubstep anthem “Mama” and the ferocious “Wolf” are incredible (and criminally-underrated by their pea-brain stans).

Yeah, “Call Me Baby” is good, but I want GREAT, goddamnit.

Oh well, it could be worse: they could’ve released “Mamacita.”

Shudder.

  • uhg.. hot motherfuckers! –‘ and sm camera work still flawless.

    OTP: the new layout is gorgeous! loved the “grade” section on the top of the review

  • Nicole Naeun

    “Call My Maybe”
    “Call My Baby”

    The typos in this post are out of this world.

    • Sorry, I will fix it now! EXO is just so dull that it’s difficult to remain focused while forcing myself to write about them.

  • MIKEE

    What’s wrong with O-Town tho? They shit all over N’Sync and Backstreet Boys tbh. And how dare you talk about my future ex-husband D.O in such a way!

    This is exactly why I bet on Miss A as the winners of this head to head. Good god EXO bore the shit out of me.

    • KingBeaArthur

      See now, I was just about to agree with you until you made one crucial mistake: D.O. is, in fact, my husband. #byeee

  • byoing~byoing.

    Ugh, you even bothered with an EXO review? Umji unnie is not impressed.
    http://puu.sh/gWrI9/0af0da8089.jpg

    • As a G-Spot twat, I approve this use of Umji’s image.

    • Nicole Naeun

      Umji-chan looks pretty! Stop making her the 2nd Kumjo!

      • byoing~byoing.

        Keumjuhmma-unnie will never be replaced.
        http://puu.sh/h07tK/339101eb12.jpg

        Also, not that it matters, but Umji is my favourite member from G-Spot; idk what it is about her but I’m so drawn to her every time I see them perform. I think it’s the fact she’s so unconventional looking for an idol, but I’ve always liked idols that stand out visually from their group for different reasons. It’s why Euaerin is my favourite 9Muses member and Subin is my favourite member from Dal Shabet. They stand out so much from everyone else in their group, but they still fit in so well.

  • My first thoughts on watching this video were a.) is this a grease lightning tribute and b.) what in the name of pomade and aquanet happened to everyone’s hair. Also, first time I watched Suho b/c I wanted his green leather jacket.

    Song was okay, but I don’t really get why Exo and Miss A are doing these safe title tracks (am growing to love only you tho). Swear if Big Bang pulls some basic retro pop I will … rant on Twitter and the AJ comment section. :(

  • Prada Noona

    I had no idea you could even name a single member of EXO, let alone write this much about them in one go without bashing your head against a computer screen. Your determination amazes me.

  • JammySmoochie

    Generally agree. The teasers were killer and this is what we get? Bitch no. You don’t do that to me. I guess I’ll stay listening to GOT7’s underrated album Identify.

    The album sounds alright though. And my fave Lay was utilized rather nicely in the music video.

  • UncleFan

    This is the first EXO video I’ve really enjoyed, LOL. “Basic” taste in music confirmed, I guess!

  • unloveable

    Thank GOD someone else appreciates Got7’s music tbh. Apart from “Girls Girls Girls” which I like to pretend never happened, their music is flawless and sounds like music that was specifically produced with only Got7 in mind… almost on infinite’s level (who has a wayyyy better discography than EXO imho… the musicality of their songs is really unmatched, but it’s just not ~catchy~ (read: generic) enough to appeal to a broader audience sadly).

    EXO’s debut album was such a jam but I can’t get behind the generic mess they’ve released since.

    This is just my opinion exo stans so I’m not asking any of you to agree with me.

  • ::shudders:: Mamacita was such an awful song… ughkk….
    I like listening to EXO songs… I would never broach EXO-L territory though, it’s too terrifying. But this lack luster lead single has me hesitant to even bother listening to the album.

  • KingBeaArthur

    Welp. I guess I’m going to be the outcast here b/c I actually like the song! I didn’t my first listen (I found the Mandarin ver. better) but after watching the mv the Korean ver. clicked for me. But even the staunchest hater has to admit D.O. and Lay put in fucking work! They’re keeping that group afloat. Obviously Kai(‘s hair) has given up.

    Is it their best promo track? God no. Is it even the best song off of EXODUS? Not even close. Was this actually going to lead to some kind of conclusion? …

  • Guest

    Oh, and Jacques: EXPECT TO HAVE YOUR DOME ROCKED FOR SHADING O-TOWN!!!!

  • International Cockroach

    I would consider Lay a +. I’d watch this just for him tbh

  • Can we just talk about El Dorado? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=smEnIiI57I4

    Oh look, is SM picking the wrong single to promote once again *shakes fist at the sky*.

  • Nicole Naeun

    Fucking amazing!!!! No doubt, the BEST nostalgia K-Pop track since the trend started. Putting GOT7 into even further irrelevancy. Poor Jackson oppa, but clearly Kai oppa is killing it here!