EXID Comeback: “Night Rather Than Day”

I’m a little on the fence with EXID.  I like the group themselves (Hani is one of my top biases), and I like their music.  But none of their songs have really grabbed at me.  The only one was “Up and Down,” which I definitely overplayed to death.  I was slightly skeptical when they announced a new concept, because their image is so solid. But I was pleasantly surprised to find that “Night Rather Than Day” is a great fit for them. And on top of that, it’s my new favorite song!

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*WARNING!* This review assumes the reader has listened to the music and/or seen the music video!

Concept: Fun, fresh, possibly retro

Past Concept(s): EXID is a sexy group, but they have a very specific brand.  Compared to other types like cute-sexy (AOA) or playful-sexy (Sistar), EXID is pretty provocative – at least, for a K-pop group.  Their choreography usually has suggestive moves and their music videos are filled with innuendos.  Their vibe is very sassy and tongue-in-cheek.

SONG:

Music By: Shinsadong Tiger, Jion, LE

Arranged By: Shinsadong Tiger, Jion

“Night Rather Than Day” is much chiller than a typical EXID track.  The ladies became famous for in-your-face dance numbers that are both brassy and sassy, with a heavy jazz influence.  There are still hints of that here, but I’d say it falls more in the R&B category.  All of those instruments that normally take the lead (synth, guitar, trumpets, etc.) become supporting players instead.  They’re very much in the background, helping fill out the song rather than define it.

EXID is one of many groups promoting without a member, as Solji is still recovering from hyperthyroidism.  Normally, she has a very large presence within the group as leader and main vocal.  I’d even argue that her voice heavily to their usual bold style.  Although Hyelin is more than capable of picking up her parts, Hani cannot join in as a second belter of high notes.  So I think it’s actually smart to choose a more laid-back sound.  It fits Hani and Junghwa’s softer and more feminine voices perfectly.  It’s flexible enough that Hyelin can throw in some power vocals.  And the casual feel also allows LE to color the song with her unique voice and provide its backbone.

I personally wasn’t expecting anything so low-key from EXID, but I really love this song.  They’ve been criticized in the past for all of their music sounding the same, but “Night Rather Than Day” (and Eclipse as a whole) proves that they’re more versatile.  I’m particularly impressed by Hani – I knew she can sing more than the parts she tends to get, but I had no idea she had such a range!

SCORE: 18/20

LYRICS:

Most groups nowadays average high school and/or college age, but EXID is mostly in their mid-twenties. Therefore, “Night More Than Day” is geared more towards those of us who have entered the workforce and the real world.  Because we work all day long, the day is stressful.  (“In our busy schedules, we have no time to meet / there are so many people outside”) But the nights are calmer, and therefore more fun – which is why it’s better to see our significant others at night time.

This is EXID we’re talking about, so there is of course a sensual undertone to some of the lyrics.  It’s not obvious throughout, unless you count “get it on, get it on, get it on baby” in the chorus. But there are some blushworthy moments.  Hani gets the fatal line: “Right now, I wanna lay down and stay up all night.” And Junghwa adds: “Your body heat covers my head, shoulders, knees and toes / Even my heart gets warm.”  EXID is definitely a sexy group, but I like how the lyrics are more suggestive and low-key like the song.

SCORE: 8/10

LINE DISTRIBUTION:

EXID has a fairly standard formula when it comes to line distribution.  Hani always starts things off, and often takes care of hooks or catchy lines. Hyelin and Solji divide the chorus, with Solji usually dealing with the high notes.  LE has substantial rap verses, and Junghwa gets brought in to fill out the rest of the song.  So keeping this in mind, I think that they divided the song pretty fairly.  It kind of feels like Hyelin took what would be Solji’s part. But that left her own original part open, so Hani really had to step up to the plate.  Both she and LE heavily contribute to the soft and laid-back feel of the song.  Meanwhile Hyelin gets her high notes, and Junghwa does have a good share of lines.  All in all, I’d say it’s a win for everyone involved.

SCORE: 9/10

CHOREOGRAPHY:

I absolutely love the choreography for this song.  It’s probably my favorite dance of theirs.  EXID routines are often really simplistic and repetitive, so I’m happy to see they’ve stepped it up a notch difficulty-wise.  It does take a bit of effort to learn since there are a lot of details, but once you’ve got it down it’s pretty easy to follow. I think it strikes the perfect balance between doing flashy moves and just grooving along to the catchy beat.  And I love the casual peace signs they throw every now and then

Chorus

EXID is known for their sexy moves – the whole reason they got famous was because of Hani’s “Up and Down” fancam.  Though there are a couple of drops here, they mostly stick to swaying, shimmying, and body rolls.  It’s a much more casual kind of sexy, and perhaps veers closer to girl crush territory.  I was surprised at first, because I’m so used to their strong image.  But I do think it works for them, and there’s enough of it to make the male fans happy.

Drop

SCORE: 19/20

CENTER AND FORMATIONS:

I think that this dance is a very memorable one.  It’s clearly broken down into different sections, and each part has something to make it stand out.  A lot of this is because of how they use backup dancers.  Sometimes the ladies are by themselves, sometimes they’re accompanied a group of female dancers, sometimes they have male partners, and sometimes they’re all out jamming onstage together.  I really enjoy the various parts, but I think it would have been cool if it was just the male dancers.  There’s something about this song that has a couple vibe, and a full-on partner dance would have been so interesting.

Partners

Having a center in a smaller group is tricky.  If you choose a definitive center, the group will become “[Insert name here] and the backup dancers” like Sistar.  But on the other hand, constantly shuffling around can make things look messy.  This dance has a good compromise.  They split the position between the de facto center (Hani) and the most recent center (Junghwa), but change the formations often enough that the other members get time in the middle too.  Hani is an obvious choice because her visuals and mastery of sexy hip swivels and glares.  But if I’m not mistaken, Junghwa is the main dancer.  Now that she’s older, she fits more comfortably into these kinds of concepts and they can use her a little more.  I was happy to see her get the spotlight in “L.I.E.,” and I’m glad to see that continue to some extent.

SCORE: 8/10

MUSIC VIDEO:

The music video features EXID lounging about during the daytime looking pretty and alluring. If you look closely, you’ll see that they seem ambivalent and uninterested – directly contrasting with their lively dancing in front of a bar at night.  So the message seems to be that the day is boring, while the night is fun and exciting.  Unfortunately, the idea falters because they look good in both settings.  In fact, the day lighting makes them look really attractive.  Granted, this is K-pop – where people always look attractive.  But if they really wanted that idea to take center stage, they should have been more extreme with the differences between the two aesthetics.

MV-Junghwa

The members’ actions can also seem a little confusing.  The easiest one to figure out is LE, who is dripping candle wax on a car key.  When she puts it down, we see a sign that indicates no driving.  Presumably, she’s trying to prevent her lover from leaving her in the morning.  With that in mind, we can see Hani is doing the same thing by cutting up Metro cards.  I assume that Hyelin is enticing her significant other with food, because the best way to someone’s heart is through their stomach. I’m not quite sure what Junghwa’s doing all dolled up in the bathtub, but I assume it has to do with seduction.

MV-LE

While I like everything else about this comeback, I think that the music video really missed the mark. Most of EXID’s previous videos have an intriguing narrative and evocative (or provocative) imagery.  We’ve seen them harassing a news anchor, scamming guys at a gas station, and being extremely passive-aggressive about some lovey-dovey guests at the hotel they work at.  While “Night Rather Than Day” is very pretty and colorful, it’s quite bland in comparison.  It could really have benefited from a wacky premise like its predecessors.

They had the material in the song to go in a bunch of different directions.  I could think of several scenarios that would be interesting or amusing. But what we get is ultimately pretty watered down.   It has nice aesthetics (I especially like the pastel neon color scheme), but that’s about it.  I’m okay with the music and choreography being different from their normal concept, but I wish EXID had put their sassy stamp on the video.

SCORE: 16/20

STYLING:

The fashion is a key component.  Just like the music video setting, EXID has day and night clothing.  In the day time, they rock the street chic style we’ve seen in some of their other videos (all-denim for the win). At night, they sport brightly colored jackets and shorts with a fun retro vibe.  I like both sets of outfits, which show off their fashionable and fun sides.  They seem cool and chic, yet at the same time approachable.

MV-Subway

MV-Outfits

STYLING MVP: Hani, a.k.a. the ultimate girl crush

MV-Hani

SCORE: 9/10

FINAL TALLY:

Song – 18

Lyrics – 8

Line Distribution – 9

Choreography – 19

Center and Formations – 8

Music Video – 16

Styling – 9

TOTAL: 86

CONCLUSION: I really liked this comeback. I wasn’t expecting something like this at all, and it was a great surprise.  The song and dance are fantastic, and I really like the aesthetic of the music video and the stylish outfits.  But at the same time, I felt that something was missing.  And it’s not because of Solji, although a member’s absence makes a concept change more noticeable and open to scrutiny.

While EXID succeeded in this concept, they did so by leaving behind most of the things that they’re known for.  There’s very little sexiness or sassiness, and definitely no cheekiness.  I’m super glad EXID has proven they’re not a one-trick pony, and I wasn’t overly attached to the sexy concept to begin with.  However, this comeback has shown me I was a big fan of their eclectic sense of humor.  If they had just kept a little bit of that in their music video, they would have been golden in my eyes.  But while I find that lacking, this comeback is still pretty damn good.  I’m interested to see if they stick with this or go back, and what they’ll do when Solji returns.

Sources: Youtube, Banana Culture Entertainment, Wikipedia

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