As the third season of the ‘SM Station‘ platform continues to shine light on unexpected collaborations, the pairing of EXO’s Baekhyun and rapper Loco arrives with much expectation. It’s been awhile since we’ve heard any EXO-related material, and fans are more than ready. Luckily, “Young” gives the duo an interesting piece of trend-free electro-pop music to work with.
A song like “Young” feels like exactly what ‘Station’ was designed for. It lacks many of the aspects we’d expect from a traditional title track, and freeing itself from those restraints allows for the opportunity to go weird. Most of “Young”’s eccentricities are found in its instrumental, which moves from an atmospheric electronic pulse to a strings-laden hip-hop groove. Layers of vocal harmonies bring a sense of grandiosity that hearkens back to the bombastic pop style of EXO’s debut year, but the song never feels overstuffed.
“Young”’s melody isn’t quite as engaging. It pulls back every time you want it to soar, casting its ambition a bit too low. Fortunately, Baekhyun’s performance elevates the song’s subdued refrain. He possesses one of the most recognizable voices in all of modern K-pop, and buttresses each line with an engaging phrasing that draws upon r&b to twist “Young” in all sorts of interesting directions. Loco provides the perfect foil, delivering two crisp verses that bring an extra spike to the track’s energy. This is one superstar pairing that lives up to the hype, even if the song itself feels more like a compelling diversion than a world-conquering smash.