Celebrating #6YearsWithEXO: 6 Reasons EXO’s Debut Is Unforgettable
The teasers, the members, the videos, the songs — EXO truly opened up a new world for K-Pop.
When SM Entertainment announced in 2012 that it will be launching a new boy group, the K-Pop world watched, looked, and listened.
It was SM in the first place — the company which gave birth to some of the most successful boy groups in K-Pop history such as H.O.T, Shinhwa, TVXQ, Super Junior, and SHINee. And it has been four years since it introduced a new boy group in its line up of artists.
On 8 April 2012, SM finally debuted EXO, introducing new faces in the industry and successfully engraving on people’s mind the names Suho, Xiumin, Luhan, Kris, Lay, Chen, Baekhyun, Chanyeol, Tao, Kai, D.O, and Sehun.
Since then, a lot has transpired in the career of the group and its members. EXO lost Kris, Luhan, and Tao, won tons of recognition in South Korea and abroad, and saw the expansion of its members’ career spectrum to acting, variety shows, and musicals.
And this year, EXO marks six fruitful years as a group. We celebrate this milestone with a list of six reasons why the debut of one of the most successful boy groups in K-Pop history, deserves a look back as its truly unforgettable.
Teasers, teasers, teasers, featuring Kai
SM built anticipation — too much anticipation that everyone waiting for EXO were about to pull their hair every time a new teaser came out. It became an inside joke in the K-Pop community (1672373723rd teaser featuring Kai).
The entertainment agency was on for a full-scale launch of its then-upcoming boy group. As early as December 2011, a teaser featuring Kai was uploaded on SM’s YouTube channel announcing “the world of a new boy band EXO-K and EXO-M presented by SM Entertainment will be opened” on 23 December 2011.
A total of 23 teasers, which featured performances and songs by EXO, were released. Thanks to those seeming endless teasers, we got a lot of content to look back on the members’ early idol days.
There were 12 members plus two sub-units!
Okay, some of you may be smirking and huffing because 12 members does not seem a handful. We get it because having a lot of members is like a normal happening in K-Pop. Hello, SEVENTEEN! Hello, NCT! Hello, Wanna One!
But back then, no other groups have boasted a big number of members aside from Super Junior which debuted in 2005 — a whopping seven years before EXO happened.
Aside from introducing 12 new faces in the K-Pop industry, EXO also launched two sub-units with clear distinctions on their promotion tactics — EXO-K will hold activities in South Korea, while EXO-M will focus on activities in China. Even its debut song “MAMA” had two versions performed by each sub-unit.
As early as May 2011, SM’s founder Lee Soo Man already hinted on this strategy at a Hallyu business seminar at Stanford University.
True to his words, EXO-K and EXO-M debuted on the same day with the same song but in different locations.
Now, the boy group boasts another sub-unit composed of Chen, Baekhyun, and Xiumin or EXO-CBX which will have its highly-anticipated return on April 10 with album Blooming Days.
EXO got the power as early as 2012!
EXO’s superpowers did not begin with its chart-topping hit “Power” which was the first K-Pop song to grace the Dubai Fountain Show.
It will make you cringe (because EXO does cringe about it) but the concept of the boy group revolved around elemental powers. The members were from EXO Planet and each has a power.
Hands down to EXO because no matter how cringe-worthy, it stuck to this concept and incorporated it to its other songs including “Lucky One” and “Power”, as well as, to its fan club, EXO-L.
That “Mama” Introduction
Or shall we say the most iconic introduction in K-Pop music? Admit it, you tried to memorize the opening lines of EXO’s “Mama”.
The introduction was true to the group’s concept and served as the prologue to the story of the group which is about to unfold. It gave people an idea about EXO and the concept it is trying to bring to life.
And so, we bring back the iconic introduction here:
When the skies and the grounds were one, the legends, through their twelve forces nurtured the tree of life. An eye of red forces created the evil which coveted the heart of tree of life and the heart slowly grew dry.
To tend and embrace the heart of tree of life, the legends, hereby, divide the tree in half and hide each side hence time is overturned, and space turns askew.
The twelve forces divide into two and create two suns that look alike, into two worlds that seem alike. The legends travel apart. The legends shall now see the same sky but shall stand on different grounds, shall stand on the same ground but shall see different skies.
The day the grounds beget a single file before one sky in two worlds that seem alike, the legends will greet each other. The day the red forces purify and twelve forces reunite into one perfect root – “A New World Shall Open Up”
The Legendary “Careless, Careless, Shoot Anonymous” Line
If we have the “Mama” introduction, of course, we cannot miss another legendary line. EXO was a definition of cool in “Mama”, actually.
After the stunning introduction, the members got us going “wooooaaaaaaaahhhhh” with their hoods up, heads down, and that “Careless, careless, shoot, anonymous, anonymous; Heartless, mindless, no one who care about me.” It was like a secret meeting of Voldemort’s Death Eaters — in the coolest way.
Plus, we are only on the first verses of the song and D.O (Korean version) and Chen (Chinese version) are already shaking our hearts with their high notes.
Being Blown Away by “What is Love” Vocals
Here’s a fact: EXO’s vocal line is one of the best vocal lines in K-Pop. Chen, Baekhyun, and D.O deliver jaw-dropping high notes neatly. SM Entertainment knew that and made sure the rest of the world will know it too.
And so came “What is Love”. This song got us losing our mind with the perfect harmony of vocals. It has a unique melody that provides an exciting punch to the whole song without overpowering the voices of the singers and vice versa.
D.O and Baekhyun performed the song’s Korean version, while Chen and Luhan did the Chinese version. It was the first among the six music videos EXO released in 2012 as part of the Mama album.
Here’s the Chinese version because one “What is Love” is never enough.
How About that “History” Dance Move
Listen, can you feel it? If “What is Love” is all about EXO’s vocal prowess, “History” showcased a mesmerizing dance performance that is a true definition of memorable.
We remember “History” as that song which got us putting our hands inside our pockets in a futile attempt to replicate EXO’s steps.
The song’s music video was released on 8 March 2012, while it was made available for digital download the following day.
You know the drill. Watch the Chinese version below (because EXO did shower us with so much content in 2012, actually).
As we looked back at the unforgettable start of the boy group, there is no doubt EXO has indeed come a long way. There is also no denying that all those teasers, music videos, and songs back in 2012 were the beginning of another success story for SM Entertainment as EXO has transcended expectations and became one of the prominent figures in Hallyu.
Congratulations to EXO and EXO-L for six great years!
All photos and videos used in this article are from SM Entertainment.