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Clash of the rookies: EXO-K vs B.A.P

This weekend has almost passed and we have witness the inevitable clash of the two most popular rookie boy bands: B.A.P and Exo-K. Since, EXO-K debuted, there have been non-stop comparisons between the two boy bands who have made a significant splash in the kpop music scene. In this article, i am going to discuss the live performances of the two group of rookies because they have finally gone head-on after B.A.P decided to promote their new single POWER while EXO-K is still promoting MAMA. I’ll compare between MAMA and POWER only since they are promoting these songs currently at the same time. It’s fair because EXO-K had History (and What’s Love) before their debut.

Round 1: MV evaluation

I really think the english introduction is a WASTE OF TIME for fans when all we want to do is to see the boys strut (dance) their stuff. Furthermore, even though i understand that SM is thinking of international fans which is why they did the narration in english, it doesn’t make sense when the song is in Korean. Just putting english subtitles would have done it for us. I think most, if not all, of us skip the introduction after we hear it for the first time just because we didn’t want to miss out any bits of the MV in the beginning. Frankly speaking, i can’t say much about SM’s favourite dance-box-set for their MVs, since just about every SM artist has used it already. The plot, if you are going to do one, wasn’t even really a plot. It was just a display of their supernatural abilities. Using the ideas of legends and superpowers isn’t the problem here, the problem lies in the fact that you could have made them look cooler. Some were cool and some looked pretty lame, which makes me feel bad for those who got the lame ones. And well, if you had such an elaborate introduction, the least you could do was follow up with the ‘story’ in the rest of the MV. (or maybe that will happen later on?) I think what really held up the MV was the good-looking guys and cool dance moves.

The first thing i’m going to say to SM: “Dude! They’ve got real sand and real fire!”. Ok, back to serious business. So, B.A.P’s POWER MV doesn’t have any plot, more like their favourite alien theme. The whole MV is really about their choreography and cool poses. If you haven’t notice yet, the MV is centered around the action of covering their mouth and nose in a very cool way (i can’t believe i just wrote that). The whole MV covers 5 different background scenes, 3 of which are for dancing. Truthfully, there is usually nothing that can go wrong if a MV shows mainly dancing, it’s normally the plot that drags the MV down. I mean, which would you rather watch? People acting cool or dancing cooly. (Though i must say, in both MVs, the boys’ close-ups are nice to look at).

Winner of Round 1: It’s hard for me to decide because i can’t help but watch both MVs a million times. But, i think i am leaning more towards B.A.P because (they are just so cool!!) we get to see practically every part of the dance and the sets are more real plus there wasn’t any lousy plot to bring the MV down.

Round 2: Choreography

B.A.P: In POWER, back-up dancers are employed quite often in order to complete the choreography. There are a lot of variations in levels (as in, standing up, kneeling, squatting, even lying down) in their choreography which is not very common in kpop choreographies. The are also no literal movements translated from the lyrics or objects. ( for e.g when they say “aniya” which means “no” they don’t do any action which directly translates to “no”). There is a dance break. All in all, as usual of the, it is a very strong dance that requires a lot of energy and stamina to execute especially during live performances.

EXO-K: In MAMA, we get to see something like a ‘canon’ (well, i’m not too sure if the dance term for this type of choreography is the same as the musical term, but i am referring to the part of timing 2:20, 2:51, 4:20 etc in the MV) a few times, which is actually a very nice type of choreography to look at. They have a key point in their dance which i think is probably during the chorus. They have literal dance moves like that of playing the violin. Their choreography also does not require back-up dancers. Needless to say, i’m sure it takes up much of their energy too.

Winner of Round 2: Even though i love the power in B.A.P’s dance, there isn’t a strong main key point in their dance, which is actually very important to stand out. Look at how Suju’s Sorry Sorry dance turn out to be a phenomena. When you think of MAMA’s dance, you remember the part where they freeze and turn their heads and there’s also the touch-lip-and-raise-your-hand move.

Round 3: Song evaluation

MAMA: This song differs from other songs with its georgian chant (thingy) at the beginning and not to mention a screamo portion. Something i haven’t heard before in kpop songs is D.O’s part at the beginning where he sings through all the notes (what i mean is if you look at the guitar, it’s like plucking one string and running your finger down the neck of the guitar on that string which means you just played through all the notes in one beat). The heavy strings riffs create the atmosphere of a rather dark one which is quite suited to the theme of the song, which is the darker side of society. The beat of the song is strong and very clear.

POWER: I thought the transition between the intro and Yong Guk’s rap was a bit awkward, but the rest was good. I think the basis of this song is rock as there is a very strong electric guitar riff during the rap and for most of the parts of the song. The song doesn’t emphasize on the bass beat but rather uses the electric guitar and the vocals to create the tempo of the song. I also love the “warning warning warning” part. They even have a tribal percussion part and then back to their rock music when they sing “follow me”.

Winner of Round 3: is probably B.A.P for me. Even though MAMA made use of the georgian chant to stand out it is still pretty kpop, i think POWER uses more musical styles to create this song. However, these different musical styles become quite subtle after the layering of music that you really have to pay attention to the details. Nevertheless, the fact is that they are there. (But, i still love both songs)

Round 4: Execution (aka live performances)

This is probably the MOST important aspect for me. The downfall or uprising of a band essentially bolls down to their live performances, where they cannot hide behind the editor of the videos or sound engineers. I shall do my best to compare their live performances with the limited amount of live performances they have done so far. (So, i shall only compare 120427’s live performances)

So EXO-K, i see you’ve suddenly gotten much better because of something like… a little direct competition (is always healthy). Aside from the fact that finally both lead singers (D.O and Baek Hyun) are singing almost perfectly on the same day itself, it somehow seems that they have become better performers. I’m guessing that they have finally gotten more comfortable on stage and because it’s rookies battle day.

OMG is what i’d like to say to B.A.P. Watching the MV with them singing and dancing at the same time is totally different from them doing those two things simultaneously live. It’s like when they starting kicking around and jumping around so much, i was kind of worrying about how they were going to project their voices. But. They did it, and they did it with close to perfection standards. What the hell is wrong with these kids is what i want to know but i’ll just nicely accept their talents. (No, but seriously, Jong Up, how the hell did you do that half back flip thing AND sing at the same time.) The TWO things i had a problem with this live was that i hated their clothes and it seemed as if the stage was a bit too cramp.

Winner of Round 4: is kind of (still kind of) decided now. I think Exo-K has really improved a lot. Right now, i’m choosing them because i’m basing this more on improvement level. And i realise how B.A.P’s cool MV is a flaw in the sense that their choreography is made more for their MV than their live stages. AND i still hate their outfits. Chocolate (apparently their stylist’s nickname) and i need to have a one-to-one talk about their clothing. (WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU GIVING THEM TO WEAR!…. is what i’d like to ask, thankfully, 120505’s clothes were better just a bit).

Honorable mentions:

Jong Up’s crazy CRAZY backflip. Like really insane crazy.

Congrats to D.O for finally being able to do that voice slide thing in the beginning.

The truth, and irony, is that i like this two rookie bands a lot, so i think i can safely say that i’m totally not biased towards one of them.

Some of you probably might disagree on certain parts which i do wish you will tell me about because i might not have notice some stuff that i should, which may lead me to change my opinions. So, do share.

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7 comments on “Clash of the rookies: EXO-K vs B.A.P

  1. I really like this article, most of the people who wrote those kind of article, tend to do that only to prove their idol is better than the other. So having a critical view non biased is really nice.

  2. Clearly the author is more biased towards B.A.P. If you want true evaluation you need to give those two songs to an artists that has never heard K-Pop in their life.

    • I don’t think BAP has been long enough for me to be bias. As far as I (and most ppl) can tell, there are evidences that BAP might be stronger in terms of performance at the rookie stage

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