"Lucky One" and "Monster" marked the grand return of EXO, and I could almost hear all EXO-Ls around the world explode in exalted glee and anticipation.
The anticipation had grown to frustration and soon evolved to restive weariness thanks to SM taking its sweeeet ol' time uploading the MVs, but at least we got 'em eventually--that's what matters.
And boy, were the MVs totally not what I was expecting! Well, mostly for "Lucky One." There is just so much going on in "Lucky One" that one MV review barely suffices to go into painstaking detail about every little scene. So I shall try to avoid that and simply mention the scenes that left the most impression or made me scratch my head in confusion.
Meep. You cannot escape this prison.
Oh yeah? *stares intensely*
By dear god, SM finally let the boys out of their confounding, stuffy box sets! ...and instead stuffed them into a maze that is also a mental ward. At least we're getting some variety here. Rather than a dance-focused MV with the boys looking cool and throwing winks at the camera, "Lucky One" follows an interesting concept in which the members are test subjects trapped in a maze they can't escape. And the best part of all is that EXO revel in the superpowers once again.
I interpret this whole 'trapped-in-a-metal-ward-and-tested-on' concept as a means for EXO to regain their powers which they lost when they left their home planet to land on Earth. Though they were forced into becoming test subjects, their powers somehow miraculously returned to them. Or perhaps the tests were meant to achieve such an effect but things went a little awry when the subjects turned on the testers and attempted escape.
The more I thought about these scenes, the more I imagined the mental ward as a representation of SM and EXO as...well, EXO. EXO are literally the test subjects of SM who 'inject' them with new images and concepts, and in my mind, this video was an artful way of showing the boys reinventing themselves and maturing. And indeed it is a new look (and sound) from EXO, one that I felt aversely toward in the beginning but grew to appreciate more. ...yes, the appreciation happened in the span of one day. EXO are back and they're sleek, smooth, incredibly polished in both their image and sound and they proved it with "Lucky One." And plz, SM, plz refrain from using shiny glue as a makeup device on EXO's faces next time...
Moving onto "Monster," EXO are no longer all prim and proper as puppets under the control of some greater force. Total chaos and darkness ensues as EXO stand up against the unknown enemy, their minds bodies battered from a battle they cannot win. We are not certain what they are fighting for, the answer comes more easily when listening to the lyrics. Buuut, I shall get to the lyrics in the album review; for now, I will simply stick with the MV.
Helloooo? Is anyone coming to my dinner party??!
Sehun, the smasher of hearts...and fine dining ware.
The footwork in this choreography was pretty boss!
Everything about "Monster," is a startling visual contrast to "Lucky One." The hues are darker, the camera movements more shaky and distorted, and even the makeup and costumes are black, slightly reminiscent of a punk style fashion. I mean, just look all that leather, combat boots, piercings, and gelled hair; EXO were clearly going for a rebels-without-a-cause image. Or in this case, with a cause, but they had to be apprehended nonetheless for their disorderly conduct, disturbing the peace, and smashing of china. All that good china....such a waste.
Further, "Monster" was more a nod to the typical EXO-style (or K-Pop in general) concept, featuring various costume changes, choreographed dancing, and the lack of a solid plot. Not that a plot is absolutely necessary, but I couldn't help but notice the absence of one in comparison to "Lucky One." I tried to link the random dinner table scenes to the scenes where EXO are being tortured and captured, and likewise tried to link those scenes to the rest of the MV but to no luck. If looked at as a whole, I believe EXO are trying to make the statement that they are willing to overcome all boundaries and obstacles in order to win their object of desire. In short, the MV was bit hard to follow and not as creative and enjoyable as "Lucky One."
All in all, I was thoroughly impressed by the sheer energy of EXO in executing their choreography, and more importantly, their willingness to be more bold and daring with their music by breaking free from a tired image.