Hoping to be a special gift from EXO to fans worldwide, EXO's winter special albums have indeed been special Christmas gifts. As a tradition, this year, EXO returns with For Life, a five-tracked winter special album, released in both Korean and Mandarin, filled with lovely songs that will make your Christmas time a special one. Each and every track of the album, For Life, Falling For You, What I Want For Christmas, Twenty Four, and Winter Heat, has their own charming points that perfectly complements each other to create an ambient Christmas vibe!
When it comes to winter special albums, what keeps the audience coming back for more is the constant winter-centric style of music, comprised of deep lyrics combined with slow, soothing melodies. With that said, some musicians are able to manipulate the versatility of their winter specials; perfect for winter yet appropriate for other occassions. However, a drawback I personally thought about when it comes to conventional winter specials, especially with the fact that EXO has been releasing winter specials, 2013 with 겨울 스페셜 앨범 `12월의 기적 (Miracles In December)`, 2015 with Sing For You and 2016 with For Life, is the probability that the audience might get bored with the constant "winter-centric" style, as not every musician has that knack for making winter specials versatile enough.
Seeing the way EXO structured their music this year compared to previous years, looking at how this year's release, Lotto, garnered mixed reactions from fans due to its rather bizzare and "not EXO-like" vibe (a term still disturbs me up to this point as EXO is famous for their intrepid mindset, music style) high expectations were set anticipating this year's winter special, For Life. For Life is definitely expected to be one of the more versatile winter albums that will keep the audience rooting for more of EXO! Chen, the member famous for his god-given vocals is usually given a major amount of parts whenever EXO releases slow songs. However, For Life showcased EXO's musically talented members through the equal distribution of lines in the song. It seems like there is nothing out of EXO's capability. Although For Life might sound like the conventional "winter-centric" winter special song, it has the perfect amount of ballad for a winter special when complemented by the other tracks.
Starting rather whimsically, Falling For You has the Christmas vibe we have been looking for. From the melody, this song can easily be associated with the cutesy youth sort of love. It might sound rather childish, but it proves how EXO can defy age boundaries for music style. This reminded me of the vibe NCT DREAM gives off through Chewing Gumto a point that I can't help but imagine how sweet and cheerful this song will be if NCT DREAM covers it!
Different from the "winter-centric" For Life and cheerful Falling For You, What I Want For Christmas suits the serious relationship better. Being thankful for the fifth Christmas together, this represents EXO's gratefulness for the five years of being together and also maintaining relationships with fans. It is true that songs have the power to express the unexpressable, and I can feel the personal message EXO wants to convey, which might be hard to express otherwise. Dear EXO, you're the one I want for Christmas too!
If Twenty Four is the title track for this album, I am certain that it will garner reactions similar to that of Lotto. Showcasing a rather hip-hop style, Twenty Four is one of the most unexpected track in a winter special album. Having lyrics that are not entirely centered for winter purposes, this song can both heat up the winter cold and be a companion for the hottest day of work. The last track, Winter Heat, offers a heartbreaking theme in a relatively cheerful manner. Talking about the long wait for a beloved one and a lonely Christmas, this song might be an alternative when looking for a relatable track if mellow songs is not of your style. I'll be waiting for you too, EXO!