Since 2015, SM Entertainment has taken their musical artists in a far more artistic directions when it comes to their concepts. Most likely starting with “Dumb Dumb” performed by Red Velvet, the popular entertainment company progressed such a movement with “Lion Heart” by Girls’ Generation.
Eventually, SM Entertainment probably found the artistic vision they were aiming for when they released “4 Walls” by f(x). That music video utilized filters, camera cuts, stills, and a unique story to go along with the song. The formula was so popular that it was utilized in Red Velvet’s 2016 comeback music video, “One of These Nights,” in which K-pop fans believed they were expressing the story of the 2014 Sewol Ferry Disaster.
It is amazing that SM Entertainment is starting to break out of the stereotypical “K-pop box” when it comes to their musical artists. However, there is one peculiarity that can be seen from the aforementioned: Only their girl groups have received the artistic direction. That recently changed, as EXO is the next group — and the first boy group — to get such a direction as shown in the new teaser trailer for their second featured song off their latest album EX’ACT, “Monster.”
Having EXO pursue a more artistic direction is great news for the popular K-pop boy group because they are technically the most popular K-pop group in the world today in regard to sales.
AllKpop said it best when they wrote, “SM has finally let the boys out of the blasted SM-staple ‘box set.'”
For those who do not understand what that means, all one has to do is look at older SM Entertainment music videos in which musical artists are performing in the studio on a set that is often shaped in a box.
Besides the artistic direction, “Monster” is a unique song because it differs from what EXO is usually known for, or at least it differs from previous songs featured. According to Soompi, their first featured song off of EX’ACT, titled “Lucky One,” was more on the upbeat and funky, a musical formula K-pop fans are accustomed to pertaining to featured songs. “Monster,” on the other hand, is aggressive and a lot darker. The distinctive bass sound in the background gives it a more violent approach, which is good given the cuts of violence in the music video itself (EXO members being assaulted by authoritarian, watchdog-like groups, breaking plates, etc.).
To be fair, K-pop fans should not be surprised about the direction EXO is going for their second featured song, as the earlier teasers released on June 4 during the Dream Concert hinted on such. Although part of those teasers were audio, profile pictures for each member were released and they too looked dark and moody.
EX’ACT will be EXO’s third studio album right after XOXO (2013) and Exodus (2015). SM Entertainment has made it known it will release both Korean and Chinese versions on June 9, 2016. Along with “Lucky One” and “Monster,” there will be seven other songs included on the track list and two instrumental versions of the featured songs. There are no song exclusives specifically made for either the Korean or Chinese versions. It was, however, revealed there will be two different visual concepts for EX’ACT corresponding to the two featured songs. One album version is white (“Lucky One”) while the other is black (“Monster”). It is also believed the Korean version of the disc itself is black, while the Chinese version is white.
[Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images]