A Main Vocal’s Solo Venture
In the past year, SM Entertainment has definitely been hitting it big with acts exploding with hits with every comeback. Yet one stands out, in particular, for their hit back in 2014, and that is the group EXO. Despite their success, the group has not had the smoothest of rides, with past troubles involving members who left the group due to the lack of promotions and support for their ambitions and solo ventures. In recent years, this has started to change, as SM Entertainment has been more and more open with giving the current members the space and support to pursue their acting career, solo music, and more.
Among the nine members of EXO, exactly three of them have had solo debuts and promotions. Following his fellow band members, Lay and Chen, now it is Baekhyun’s turn to be in the spotlight. Other members have had solo releases before, thanks to the SM Station project and OSTs for dramas, but Baekhyun is the third to have had his solo release be dubbed as an official solo debut, with a proper mini album and promotion period. He is the third EXO member to debut as a soloist following Chen, who made his solo debut with his first mini album “April, and a Flower” in April. Lay made a solo debut with his Chinese solo album “Lose Control” in October, 2016.
Speaking of SM Station, OSTs and collaborations, Baekhyun has also done a number of those before finally debuting in 2019. He is actually the member with the most SM Station releases among all the EXO members. Coupled with the skills and strong fanbase that he has always had, it is not a surprise that SM Entertainment finally got him the solo he deserved. Let’s check out Baekhyun’s solo, City Lights!
EXO’s Baekhyun Confirmed to Make His Solo Debut in July
On June 10, Star News reported that Baekhyun would be releasing a solo album in July. A source from SM Entertainment consequently responded to the report with a confirmation, “Baekhyun is currently preparing a solo album. He plans to release it sometime in July.” The new album, Baekhyun’s first official solo venture since his debut with EXO seven years ago, will be titled “City Lights” and was set for release on July 10.
The preordering for the album opened on June 20, and fans were already anticipating this release more than ever. On July 9, it was reported that the idol’s much-anticipated “City Lights” album had logged pre-order sales of 401,545 copies as of July 8. Fans were eager to see the direction that Baekhyun would take as a solo artist after seeing him perform a variety of music with EXO, EXO-CBX, and collaborations with other artists like Suzy, K.Will, Loco, and Soyou.
City Lights – Teaser
The first teaser for “City Lights” dropped on the night of July 2nd, in the form of a poster announcing the debut and a concept film. The debut concept is inspired by his power according to the original EXO mythology, which was light. Thus, the teasers invoke the relevance of light through the title, Day & Night. In the teaser, we could see a darker, more subdued Baekhyun, as opposed to his usual bright and fun-spirited self. Check out the teaser below!
Baekhyun was set to debut with the song titled ‘UN Village,’ yet, before teasing the music video for said title track, Baekhyun opted to release a highlight of the songs that would be featured on his mini album. Check out the teaser below!
Official Solo Debut with City Lights
Baekhyun starts his solo career off strong, debuting with the title track “UN Village,” an R&B love song that showcases his soft vocals, as opposed to the powerful riffs we are used to getting from him in EXO’s songs. The music video follows these same aesthetics, with a subdued tone that perfectly captures Baekhyun’s ethereal beauty.
With regard to the title track, Baekhyun revealed, “The first thing I thought of when I first heard [the title] was the name of a [neighborhood of] villas. It’s where villas in the neighborhood of Hannam are gathered. When the [EXO] members first heard it, they misunderstood it as a song about a prince-like person, but if you look at the lyrics, it’s about wanting to take someone out to the hill behind the UN Village and show them a good view. It seemed very unconventional and interesting.”
More often than not, idols choose to debut as a solo artist to show a different side of themselves, a side they don’t feel able to show as a part of their group. Thus, when Baekhyun was asked about the differences between performing with EXO and performing solo, he had this to say, “With EXO, I show my sexiness through intense performances, but in my solo album, I can show sexiness with my voice.” Another thing that’s different from releasing an album with his group is the collaborations he gets to do in some of the tracks, as with Beenzino featuring in the song “Stay Up” in his new album. Baekhyun explained, “Actually, when I heard this song for the first time, I thought of Beenzino a lot. I don’t know him personally, but I asked him to feature in it, and he accepted without hesitation.”
The idol said, “I’ve had various activities as part of EXO and EXO-CBX, and when I first started working as a solo artist, I felt pressured. I didn’t have any members to lean against, and I had go on stage by myself, so I felt burdened.” Then he added, “I’m excited now that it’s the day of the [album’s] release. I want to reveal it as soon as possible.”