(Updated September 2020)
EXO was the second K-pop group that I got into, which I personally consider quite important. While GOT7 was my first exposure to K-pop and was responsible for getting me to put my toe in the water, EXO made me dive in responsible for me diving in. When I was first checking out GOT7, I could already tell being a K-pop fan was a commitment in time and energy. So I told myself that I would get involved with ONE group, and that was as far as I’d go (L O L). But when I saw Yugyeom dancing to “Growl” on Weekly Idol, I liked the song and pulled up the music video. I’m not going to lie: my first reaction was, “Holy sh** TWELVE PEOPLE?!?! Who can remember all of those names???” But as I dug deeper, I found that I really loved their music and I’ve been following them ever since. And through them, I discovered all of the SM Entertainment groups – which pretty much opened the doors to everyone and everything else.
I first wrote this page in 2017 when I was pretty all-in with EXO – I said that they were my #1 group, which was true back then. Times have changed a bit, and other SM label mates have become my #1 group in terms of music (NCT) and being a hardcore fan (Super Junior). That being said, I still love EXO and they will always be in my Top 3. Maybe it’s because I’ve been following them for a long time by now, but I truly feel like I have a strong attachment to them and their music. Now that they’ve entered that second stage in their career (pursuing individual activities and/or fulfilling military service), I’ve become even more involved in supporting them and their various endeavours.
Have I seen them live? Yes, and it was AMAZING. I got to go to one of their ExplOration concerts in Seoul in July 2019, and I had the BEST time. I got tickets through SM Global Package, so I got AMAZING seats – third row seating, so I got to see them REALLY up close when they were walking around the extended stage. And they performed all of my favorite songs. It’s a memory I truly cherish, and it may possibly be my favorite K-pop concert that I’ve gone to in Seoul (I went to 5 last year).
First member I recognized: D.O. His look doesn’t change that much throughout the years, so he was easy for me to recognize when I was a K-pop newbie.
First bias: Sehun. I grew up as an anime/manga fan, and when I first got into K-pop I thought the intense dramatic styling made some idols look like anime characters come to life. When I first saw Sehun in “Growl,” he had silver hair. It reminded me of Toshiro Hitsugaya from Bleach, who has been one of my favorite anime characters since I was about eleven years old. And then I just got roped in by his classic good looks.
Current bias and why: Still Sehun. As I said before, he’s physically my type. He is super good looking (some of his photoshoots are downright *scandalous* to me),but there are a lot of other things I like about him. He really is a great dancer, and he’s so naturally good at it. I really don’t have any patience for people who say he isn’t, and this is both the fangirl and the dancer in me talking. And although he’s definitely what some would call an “idol rapper,” I do like his tone and his flow. I’m not an expert, but I don’t think he’s as bad as some people say he is. And he’s definitely improved over the years
In terms of his personality, I must confess I love his sassiness. Based on what I saw on EXO Show Time, I think we were both very similar people when eighteen. But he’s also done a lot of maturing since then, and it’s nice to see that growth. (Though it’s actually really funny to me how he can be this chic sophisticated man in his mid 20s and then still act like a total baby among his members.) And there are times when he’s so relatable, like his competitive streak – just watch Busted. But he definitely has a softer side, and you can tell how devoted he is to EXO. I’m pretty sure one of the members even said he’s like the glue that holds them together. Basically, anyone that thinks he’s useless can FIGHT. ME.
Favorite song: Though there are SO MANY that I could choose from, I think I’m going to go with “Obsession.” I like all of EXO’s title tracks, but I didn’t love a lot of the ones in 2017 and 2018. I enjoyed listening to each one for quite a bit, and then I would move onto something else. When I heard “Obsession,” I was… obsessed. (Sorry, I had to.) It was the first EXO song I had been truly excited about since “Monster,” because I really like songs with that dark and intense vibe. And there’s so much going on to appreciate. Also, I really like how it has a fairly balanced use of all of the members involved.
Favorite album: Don’t Mess Up My Tempo. In general, I don’t like albums as a whole and I kind of cherry pick the songs that I’m really into. (This is true of any genre for me, not just K-pop.) But Don’t Mess Up My Tempo just flows so nicely. There are so many different tracks that show off their range and versatility, but they blend together seamlessly. And I really love how each song is based off of a member’s superpower.
Favorite choreography: A truly iconic song with a truly iconic choreography.
Favorite MV: “Monster.” I was so into this music video. I literally couldn’t get enough of dark!EXO. Everyone looked so good, especially Chen with his mysterious face mask and Baekhyun with that crazy lip chain. They focused on aesthetics more than story, but I just wanted to figure out the whole plot so badly. Who were they supposed to be? (The mafia? A gang? Criminals?) Why were they raging against all of these soldiers? What was Baekhyun’s role? And why was there that creepy blood covered snake? It’s been years at this point, but I still want to know EVERYTHING.
Favorite era: “Monster.” It was my first comeback as an EXO fan, and I loved everything about it. It basically put EXO as #1 on my bias list until NCT 127 released “Cherry Bomb.”
Who I think is the best looking: Sehun. He’s so handsome, I can’t even deal. He’s like model status. (Again, check out some of his photoshoots.) But if I had to pick someone other than my bias, I’d pick Suho. I used to hear people say he’s even more handsome in person, and I always would think, “How is that even possible? He’s already pretty handsome!” But now that I’ve seen him up close, IT’S TOTALLY TRUE.
Who I think is the cutest: Xiumin. He definitely has less of a baby face these days, but he still looks younger than he really is. Sometimes I can’t believe he’s actually older than me (by like a month). Maybe he’ll look different once he finishes his military service, though.
Favorite singer: D.O. Chen’s high notes are insane, and Baekhyun’s voice is very well-suited to their music style. But I like D.O.’s deeper and richer tone. It’s very different from all of the other vocals in the group.
Favorite rapper: Chanyeol. I don’t really have a preference between low tone or high tone rappers, but I think Chanyeol has a really nice deep voice that adds dimension to their music.
Favorite dancer: Sehun. In terms of technique, Kai is better. (Lay probably is as well, but their styles are so different I think it’s more a matter of preference.) But Sehun has this kind of low-key swagger style that is super attractive. T He can also make choreography look like freestyle, which is actually a pretty rare skill. Plus, I have a weakness super tall guys who can dance well.
NOTE: Featured Image is a photo when D.O. came to one of EXO’s latest Seoul concerts when he was on military hiatus. EXO originally Tweeted the picture here. (Sadly, Xiumin is not in the photo because he attended a different concert earlier that year.)