One of the biggest boy groups of the 3rd-gen, EXO and their fans, EXO-Ls are celebrating their 9th anniversary on April 8 having officially debuted in 2012. With so many memories having been created over 9 years, many must have totally forgotten that when EXO debuted, they, in fact, had a supernatural concept with each member having a superpower that represented an element from the planet they came from aka EXOPlanet. With that tiny history lesson over, let’s go on a memory trip with 9 music videos that scream EXO.
WHAT IS LOVE
Did you know that ‘What Is Love‘ was a pre-debut track that EXO released 3 months prior to their debut? Unlike their usual powerful music videos that we would come to love in the coming years, ‘What Is Love’ is a ballad with an equally soulful music video. But we see hints of the EXOPlanet as Baekhyun and D.O sing, “With you, I’m the main character of a movie/As if I’m about to film an action scene to come see you,/As if I’ve become a hero.” Not only that, we see a rookie Chanyeol sift through a tattered notebook filled with illustrations of the EXOPlanet, a preview of what to expect in their debut.
Their debut music video, ‘Mama‘ is when things get really exciting. It starts off with a deep voice narrating the story about EXOPlanet and from there, the music video keeps increasing the energy with orchestral music and gritty visuals. Basically, there are two worlds with each having 6 members. When their planets align, the 12 boys come together and save the Tree of Life with a typical EXO dance break led by a baby-faced Kai. If you thought things couldn’t get any darker, let’s take a look at the next music video.
Like ‘What Is Love,’ ‘History‘ is a prologue single, that continues the EXOPlanet storyline from ‘Mama.’ Very reminiscent of the 2012 K-Pop era, it is a techno-pop song that makes use of silvery costumes and hip-hop like choreography. But for this particular song, we’ll have to also rely on the lyrics to come up with theories. With lyrics like “I went round and round from far away/And I came back here to start again/I’m filled with errors/But as I learn, I can get stronger” and the fact that the boys are dancing on a futuristic set, we can only guess that they learnt from their past loses and now have the power to save the Tree of Life and create history.
This aggressive music video is full of ingenuity as EXO keeps us on our toes from the tree formation to the EDM-like chorus. Looks like the EXOPlanet superpowers weren’t enough because now it seems the boys are wolves with equally animalistic choreography. There’s still a struggle, but this time it takes place internally as their werewolf persona wonders as to how the love of a girl has turned them human with lyrics like, “But I have lost strength in my claw/My appetite is disappearing/Am I sick? Do I have an illness?/(Yeah, he’s in big trouble) Snap out of it/How could your heart be stolen by a human?”
The versatile group shows us that they’re not stuck in the past as they adapt to each trend while staying true to their style. This is evident with the disco-pop track, ‘Lucky One.’ Even though the song starts with D.O going, “Oh the sun is rising/I’m holding a map that goes to you/Plotting the coordinates and making the route,” many believe that he’s not talking about a girl but a way for his group to find the rest of the boys from the 2nd planet. This idea is strengthened as the boys are able to escape from the hospital they’re in, the moment some blue liquid is injected into them and they’re able to use their superpowers once again.
If you need something obvious to connect EXO with their supernatural concept, ‘Monster‘ literally spells it out for you in the title itself. And as usual, we should know that when a song is supposedly about love or a girl, we have to dig deeper to find all the nuances. The same goes for the energetic, R&B track, ‘Monster.’ Yes, at first glance it may seem like love is turning them into monsters but the music video actually continues from the ‘Lucky One.’ Having escaped the hospital, they kill everyone with their powers which is why they sing, “You can call me monster.” However, they still aren’t able to escape till Baekhyun uses his powers.
The sultry track with its electric background definitely distracts us from the EXOPlanet storyline. But where there is a will, there is a way. K-Pop also likes sticking to an order which is why ‘Lotto‘ makes a whole lot of sense when we watch it after ‘Lucky One’ and ‘Monster.’ Going for an Ocean 11-esque gambling storyline, it seems like the boys are using human greed to make money. When they’re caught, they try not to use their superpowers which leads to the music video being open-ended.
‘Power‘ is a retro, EDM track with a playful music video which is a fresh take on EXO’s concept. With a literal comic-book effect, this fun song is a campy, mini-movie as the group gets together to defeat an alien, like the video games of the 80s, with a simple storyline. Each of the members has a funny, typical action movie personality like Xiumin being the clumsy one or Chen being the cool one. There are tons of other references like the cat in the music video is supposed to represent EXO-Ls and the huge helmet that is a callback to their ‘Love Me Right’ music video. Could you catch them all?
EXO’s most recent comeback, ‘Obsession‘ completely toppled the EXOPlanet concept. After years, the group has finally decided to shake things up while still sticking to their storyline. While their rookie era music videos had the 12 boys separated from each other, leading to 2 groups of 6, the temporary 6-member group decided to play on that. The trap song sees all the members rapping and showing off their swagger as EXO faces off against X-EXO. While the other side of the Tree of Planet arcs were always the two groups trying to complete each other, this takes a darker turn as our heroes try to fight their evil counterparts who have the same superpowers as them.
We are totally shook on how cleverly EXO kept weaving the same concept through different eras. Could you guess the superpowers that all the members have? Did you catch the OT12 reference in Obsession’s music video? While the group is on a mini-hiatus they’ve proven time and again that they’re still going strong. We cannot wait for their next comeback.