Buried Treasure: Kai (EXO) – Nothing On Me

Most of the time, a k-pop group’s title track is the best song on their album. But, sometimes b-sides deserve recognition too. In the singles-oriented world of K-pop, I want to spotlight some of these buried treasures and give them the props they deserve.

Though Kai’s debut mini album isn’t exactly the sound I’d hoped for from him, it’s a very solid collection of modern r&b. And as expected from the teasers, title track Mmmh is one of its more boring songs. I understand why Mmmh was chosen for promotion, but it feels like a major missed opportunity not to give Nothing On Me a striking music video and dynamic live performance.

To my ear, Nothing On Me sounds tailor-made for today’s trends, melding Kai’s r&b sensibilities with a monster synth riff. It may be too overtly sexual for promotions, but that tense energy is one of its biggest charms.

The opening verse is underlined by distorted synths, twisted and dark and barely able to hold their form. It’s incredibly atmospheric, and shines spotlight on Kai’s vocals. This electronic backbone slowly transforms into something more rhythmic, adding pressure to the instrumental as the melody enhances the drama. This all builds to a brilliant drop. I’m not usually one for single-phrase hooks, but Nothing On Me‘s structure is so taut and focused. The simple chorus is like a knife through the air, cutting the tension in a moment of earned release. The track becomes more dynamic the closer you listen to it, and feels uniquely qualified to support Kai’s skills as a dancer. I know that SM doesn’t often release follow-up singles, but I wish they’d make an exception for this.

 Hooks 8
 Production 9
 Longevity 9
 Bias 9
 RATING 8.75