Ugh, I barely have time to breathe nowadays, let alone blog. It’s only been the first week of the semester and school has already chewed me up and spit me back out on multiple occasions. I love being me.
The K-pop world, however, does not stop for anything, and this most certainly includes SM’s not-quite-out-of-the-womb boygroup, EXO. The group released the MV for “What Is Love” a few days ago, to which I said: “Hm. Okay.”
This being the group’s first MV and song, “What is Love” is technically supposed to mark EXO’s debut. But in actuality, I don’t think anyone knows what this video is actually supposed to be. For one, it arrived on the scene with little to no fanfare, and the videography — while markedly more impressive than the sight of boys dancing in a box — seems to be composed of leftover teaser footage nonsensically spliced together. Only two members sing in each video. Kai dances with a shirt in one of them. And amidst all this, SM hasn’t even said who’s in what group. SM hasn’t even released the names of all the members.
EXO has released a four-minute long music video and we don’t even know the names of the people in it.
If anything, I feel that “What Is Love” is probably meant to be an unusually long debut teaser and not much else, making it one of the three and a half million teasers that SM has released in the past month. Indeed, EXO’s debut is certainly unprecedented in K-pop history, if only because of the fact that it’s taking them so frickin’ long to actually debut.
Needless to say, SM is taking a ridiculously unconventional approach to EXO’s debut and I don’t like it. The entire premise and operation of EXO is a risky but nonetheless brilliant endeavor (in the same way that raising a clone army to do all your bidding is a risky but nonetheless brilliant endeavor), but it seems as if SM is taking measures to make EXO’s debut as unconventional as possible, and that unconventionality is what is making a lot of people really uneasy about EXO’s debut. That’s not the vibe you want when you’re trying to debut a group. Of course, there are going to be some people who love the adventure of SM dragging them through a dark forest by the hand with no clear end in sight. But as for me? Let me go home; I don’t want to play anymore.
I like SM because they have always been the Kings of K-pop Convention, and I take comfort in being able to predict their every move. But that’s admittedly just a matter of personal preference, and although I’m completely uncomfortable watching SM get creative, it doesn’t necessarily mean that all of SM’s ventures with EXO and beyond will end in catastrophe. Are the chances of things crashing and burning higher, now that SM has started to play with fire and take risks? Or rather: If SM sticks to their decade-old tradition of playing it safe and churning out idols by the batch like a well-equipped factory, how long does SM have before it goes completely stale?
But nonetheless, I’ve gotten to the point where I just want this group to debut so I can have some mothereffing closure. It probably goes without mentioning that this group will be atypical from the usual SM fold, but their teaser music (in which each song title is deviously propended with the words “by EXO”) has a very distinct feel that verges dangerously into noisy rock-electronica territory — a sound that is, thus far, fairly unfamiliar to K-pop. So of course I was surprised (and excited) when “What Is Love” showed up in all its classic Yoo Young-jin R&Bness.
But of course, there’s one thing about SM that will probably never change: misleading teaser music. Can I get an amen?