Lately, it feels like SM Station has become an extended teaser for that new EXO album we’ve all been waiting for. It’s hard to believe that six years into their career, we’ve yet to see fully-promoted solos or sub-units from the group other than EXO-CBX. With mandatory military enlistment looming, I think this will change sooner than later. For now, we’ve got one-offs like “We Young“, which pairs rappers Chanyeol and Sehun.
“We Young” fits nicely within the chill hip-hop sound that’s dominated 2018’s string of K-pop boy group hits. SM Entertainment has embraced this kind of song more and more in recent years, with mixed results. “We Young” is an above-average example, even if it never casts its ambition very high. Both Sehun and Chanyeol are amiable hip-hop personalities, which compliments “We Young”’s laid-back, slightly funky tone. It’s common for boy groups to house both a high-pitched and low-pitched rapper as part of their configuration, but these two are almost cut from the same cloth. It’s only when Chanyeol croons for a bit during the song’s pre-chorus that we get a sense of vocal diversity.
That’s okay, because “We Young” is all about its sunny chorus. While the rest of the track treads water over a recycled keys-and-percussion beat, “We Young”’s hook provides an uplifting, easily-hummable bit of melody that quickly worms its way into your memory. As choruses go, it’s quite slight. More of a chant, really. But the guys sell it, oozing charisma and an addictive sense of joy. I would’ve loved the last few moments to lean more heavily into the melody’s gospel elements, but it was probably smart not to push things over the top into cheesy territory.