After teasing new music coming this summer, EXO have not only returned to conquer the K-pop scene once again, but do so with a refreshing new sound for the season.
New single "Ko Ko Bop" sees the phenoms taking an unexpected sonic turn as a subtle, tropical, reggae sound opens the track. Soon enough, electronica flourishes, sexy snares and deeper dub elements get added to the mix as the production grows to seismic, Diplo-esque EDM breakdown for the hook. The juxtaposition of laid-back reggae and heavy-handed dance breakdown makes for a fascinating musical mix, upgraded by the different vocal styles including boy-band belts, raspy raps and falsetto croons from the EXO boys.
Lyrically, "Ko Ko Bop" sees the guys encouraging a potential paramour to let their guard down as they fall for one another, ultimately inspiring a happy mindset to dance and love without worries. The clever lyrics—notably co-written by members Baekhyun, Chen and Chanyeol—play off a ton of double meanings as Baekhyun opens the song singing, "Shimmie shimmie, Ko Ko Bop" before the band declares, "I'm going crazy, oh, going Ko Ko Bop" on the chorus.
The accompanying video makes for EXO's trippiest visual to date with tons for the viewer to take in and requiring multiple viewings. The tropical vibe kept in mind via the color palette (thanks to a lot of tropical-pastel hues, nature scenes, and bright hair colors) as images of runaway cars and floating hamburgers surround our boys. Meanwhile, EXO serve some of their tightest choreography to date as it's nearly impossible to take your eyes off Kai during the intense dance breakdowns.
“Additional songwriting indicating deeper involvement in the music and a better reflection of EXO as growing artists.”
"Ko Ko Bop" is the lead single from EXO's newly released The War album. The LP brings together some of EXO's past collaborators like LDN Noise (who produced 2016 singles like "Monster" and "Lucky Ones") on the emotional EDM jam "Forever" while Harvery Mason Jr. (who produced 2014 single "Overdose" with The Underdogs) on the stomper "Diamond." Meanwhile, the tropical-EDM vein of "Ko Ko Bop" is kept in tact through tracks like "The Eve, "Chill" and "What U Do?," with the latter track boasting a chorus that rivals some of EXO's greatest.
Notably, The War marks higher songwriting involvement from the members than previous albums with Chen and Chanyeol writing on songs "Touch It" and "Chill," respectively, with additional songwriting indicating deeper involvement in the music and a better reflection of EXO as growing artists.
The War comes in both a Korean and Chinese version. Stream the Korean version of the album via Spotify above then watch the Mandarin version of "Ko Ko Bop" music video below: