[Review] EXID’s “Ah Yeah” suffers from sequel-itis, but has redeeming qualities


EXID has been enjoying unprecedented popularity of late thanks to the viral resurgence of “Up & Down” and the internet’s love of Hani’s legs. With some momentum behind them, the group recently released “Ah Yeah,” their first single since their belated-breakout hit. The good news? “Ah Yeah” is fairly reminiscent of “Up & Down.” The bad news? “Ah Yeah” is essentially a busier version of “Up & Down.”

It’s not surprising that EXID would have sought inspiration from the group’s breakout hit “Up & Down”, but what is surprising is how close “Ah Yeah” adheres to “Up & Down” musically. The horn riff is a bit lower and Hani starts the interplay between her and LE’s raps, but the formula should be very familiar to EXID fans. The funky horns and and bass heavy verses work well when set against the warmer booming choruses but, again, this is a trick that the group used for “Up & Down.”

While all that makes for a pretty dynamic song, the chorus (while quite good in its own right) sounds like it belongs in a different tune altogether. Each vocalist is given a unique delivery, whether that be through the very nature of what they bring to the group (LE) or different levels of vocal processing (Junghwa’s echo effect is used perfectly). As separate elements, there’s a lot to like, but when everything is thrown together, the song starts to feel a little overstuffed.

“Ah Yeah” sounds like a sequel to “Up & Down” and it falls for the trappings of many sequels — namely thinking that packing more elements into a familiar package will justify the existence of a second helping. “Ah Yeah” almost succeeds, but it is oddly too derivative and too cluttered with different ideas to be a truly great single.

For better and worse, the video acknowledges how fractured the song sounds through its editing, lighting choices, and sets. Smash cuts, strobe lights, and insanely quick zooms work to disorient the viewer as Hani turns into LE who turns into Instagram-filtered Junghwa and so on. JAV-approved pixelation is used aplenty, and while the final reveal is cute, there’s really nothing that ever threatens to be edgy or provocative, so the pixelation effect only ends up adding to the stimuli excess.

The sets are quite varied, from the office space of HR’s nightmares to the newsroom, VHS set, and Junghwa’s … cam session? Like most everything in “Ah Yeah”, the sets are nice individually, but they don’t make for a cohesive whole.

As far as the choreography goes, the main dance move is a hip thrust that (stop me if you’ve heard this before) recalls the signature move of Hani “Up & Down”. The wardrobe is fine, even though it’s also not particularly achieving any sort of look outside that of “what is trendy in K-pop 2015.” The group looks fantastic, and if there is one thing that is consistent throughout “Ah Yeah,” it’s allowing EXID to shine in all of its impossibly beautiful glory.

If you’re a fan of EXID and loved “Up & Down,” you’ll probably love “Ah Yeah” because it’s essentially “Up & Down Part II – The Newsroom Edition.” However, others may have a hard time mustering the same sort of enthusiasm for the single. It plays things a little too safe with their past single’s popularity, and the various aesthetics and themes that run throughout can be overbearing considering that the video is only three minutes long. Hopefully, EXID will realize that as long as they have Hani and company, they can take risks slightly larger than “Ah Yeah” in the future.

About theyellowslug