Editors’ Notes K-pop is many things to many people: It’s a purring economic engine for South Korea, a baffling cultural phenomenon for some music fans, and a lifesaver for teens in search of dance music and earnest, just-sexy-enough young men to fuel their fantasies. EXO are one of the genre’s innumerable prefab groups. Their economic acumen is clear: They doubled their impact early on by releasing songs in both Korean and Mandarin. But EXO are also supported by a small army of talented songwriters and producers who have crafted some of the most beguiling, niche-filling pop on the planet.

EXO saw instant success with their 2013 debut, XOXO, and their third album, 2016’s EX’ACT, was so hotly anticipated it exceeded half a million preorders—no small feat. The dark hit “Monster” gave fans deliciously cryptic, stalker-esque lyrics to obsess over, but it’s just one of many kinetic songs, including the dreamy R&B-esque “Cloud 9”  and “Artificial Love,” a knotty, funky dance track that wouldn’t be out of place on a Justin Timberlake album.

The songcraft here is frequently spectacular—and that’s because of one of K-pop’s better-kept secrets: EX’ACT’s stable of producers and songwriters includes some of the best in the business. Among them: the production duo LDN Noise; Dwayne Abernathy Jr., who’s worked with Anderson .Paak, Dr. Dre and Janet Jackson; and Timothy Bos Bullock, who worked on a little album called Lemonade that was released around the same time as EX’ACT. These are heavy hitters, and their influence has helped EXO transcend—some might even say shatter—their prefab roots.

SONG
Lucky One
1
3:47
 
Monster
2
3:41
 
Artificial Love
3
4:05
 
Cloud 9
4
4:01
 
Heaven
5
3:45
 
White Noise
6
3:32
 
One and Only
7
3:49
 
They Never Know
8
3:33
 
Stronger
9
3:39
 
Lucky One (Instrumental)
10
3:47
 
Monster (Instrumental)
11
3:40
 
Lucky One (Chinese Version)
1
3:47
 
Monster (Chinese Version)
2
3:41
 
Artificial Love (Chinese Version)
3
4:05
 
Cloud 9 (Chinese Version)
4
4:01
 
Heaven (Chinese Version)
5
3:45
 
White Noise (Chinese Version)
6
3:32
 
One and Only (Chinese Version)
7
3:49
 
They Never Know (Chinese Version)
8
3:33
 
Stronger (Chinese Version)
9
3:39
 
Lucky One (Chinese Version) [Instrumental]
10
3:47
 
Monster (Chinese Version) [Instrumental]
11
3:40
 

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