Music Review: EXO - Showcase & Mama

EXO Showcase Footage

If you have been keeping tabs on the K-pop world at all than you would have heard something about "EXO".

SM Entertainment has been working on this project for a very long time now. They released "teasers" of the band, 23 to be exact. While many people were upset with all of the teasers, I highly enjoyed them! I think that the concept of releasing short clips of upcoming CD's and MV's is a great marketing strategy to get people excited about an upcoming release. I know that they are not the first to release teasers, and are not the last, but they took it to another level.

I was getting very excited for their first full length release after watching these. They released "Prologue songs"which were sold as singles and had their own Music Videos. Now having two "Prologues" seems pretty impossible, but I saw the point they were trying to make.

The talent level of these Music Videos and songs were apparent, they were incredible singers and dancers. I bought the Singles the moment they came out and listened to them on replay for a long time! And I still am not "tired of the song" (which is a huge accomplishment in my book)!

They later had their "Showcase" on March 31st, exactly a hundred days after their teasers. The number 100 is significant in their culture, so every step was well planned. They even had a member from the famous K-Pop and "Super Junior" as the MC, which brought it to another level.

They made this showcase available to watch online through SM's official YouTube channel. (If you want to see the showcase I made a playlist (here) with all the parts of it, I warn you that it is about an hour long all together, but I found it well worth it~)
In the showcase they introduced the all of the members, had a few performances, and answered questions from fans. It was a great way to get to know each band well before the CD was officially available to buy.

Why do I say "each band"?

The marketing strategy for this was brilliant! They have two groups, EXO-K and EXO-M. I love this idea and think that the company made a fantastic marketing move! I am sure that in the future other groups will be trying the same thing.

EXO-K is the Korean band, with their own members that specialize is certain areas, and so is EXO-M which is the Mandarin/Chinese band. They do the same MV's, Songs, Dances, Posters, and Advertisments. The only difference is the language and the specific members!

This way they can tour the "same group" in two different places and reach out to two separate languages, even though the company, SM, is technically Korean. Each member speaks at least a little bit of Korean because of this (though Kris from EXO-M is not as fluent as the others, he still understands and speaks it fairly well).

The CD is available for pre-order at Kpop Plus, as well as other websites, and will be released on April 9th. You can order either the Korean or the Mandarin version, depending on your taste. Both versions are beautifully sang, and the different languages make them very unique. I would suggest that you look at them both and choose for yourself, I personally favor EXO-K personally, mainly because I am learning Korean etc.

EXO-K Mini Album "Mama"
EXO-M Mini Album "Mama"

The first Mini Album has 6 songs, 2 of which are the "Prologue" singles.

Although on stage they have a very fierce presence, and clearly are putting their all into it, when you "meet" them on the showcase they are very humble and shy. They may be talented musicians, but they are still young men on the inside who get embarrassed like everyone else. (At one point one of the members even runs a chair to the MC, showing that he does not consider himself "to high" to do that.) Seeing this side of the really gave them a great dynamic and made me like the band even more than before!

I have mentioned several times how impressed I am with the marketing of this band. The band is playing the part of "EXO from planet EXO". It's really played out as if they are "characters" and the members changed their name for a "stage name" instead of using their real names. It's as if you enter another world when you watch their Music Videos or see them in concert.
They make their videos like a movie that is telling their story, and the concept is very interesting.

The overall sound of the band is very diverse. There is some rap, some ballads, and some pop songs in it. It's not a "one note" album that you can confuse any of the songs with another one. As I said before, they are extremely talented vocalists, and that is very important to me. It's easy to auto tune your voice these days, but you can tell how good an artist really is live.

Well, I heard them live, and they are great! I have disappointed in the past with other bands, ones that sounded great on the CD but live constantly hit sour notes. This was not the case for them. Although they are a new band and "fairly inexperienced" they carry themselves as professionals on stage.

Speaking of live talent, how about the dancing?
Each member is a great dancer, and each group has a "main dancer". For EXO-K it's Kai and for EXO-M it's Lay. (In general they have lead vocalists and the band leader as well.) Although each member is talented, these two are the stand outs and are "labeled"as the main dancers.
In the teasers I was very impressed with Kai. You can hear the clothing snap as he dances, a really cool effect, and the movements are so impressive.

If I were to choose a way to describe the dancing for the groups it would be a mix between Modern, interpretive type dance, and Hip Hop. Like an updated version of Hip Hop, the moves are very original and take a lot of skill to follow through with. The sharp movements give an edge to the dance that makes it stand out.

The outfits for them are unique to each member and song, and are also very modern. If they really were "ESPer's" or from another planet, I'm sure that they are being accurate in the way the dress them for the part. They were featured in fashion magazines as models already and will most likely be fashion icons in the future, similar to the way G-Dragon is.

Overall they are great performers, and although I have already ordered the first Mini Album I am excited for the next one! I have been keeping tabs on each music video and am also excited for them to release more of their original, artsy, videos. And I can only hope that I will be able to see them live in the future, I'm sure that it will be an awesome show!

Good luck to you EXO-K and EXO-M! Fighting!

See you next time you jump down the Rabbit hole,