After seeing all three of its full-length albums sell over 1 million copies, EXO, one of K-pop’s most popular boy bands, dared not hesitate to reveal its ambition to set another record with new album “The War.”
EXO became one of K-pop’s biggest acts when it released its first single “MAMA” in April 2012.
Now attention is on whether the group will continue its exciting run with “The War,” EXO’s fourth full-length album released Tuesday evening via local streaming sites.
“We are extremely happy and honored to have our previous three albums sell over 1 million copies, when it is hard for artists to have even one album set such record,” said Kai at a press event in Seoul on Tuesday.
“We’ve already been successful with our albums three times. So why not four times? We will do our best to earn the title of ‘quadruple million seller,’” he added.
Tuesday’s event, held outdoors, did not proceed smoothly, as it was interrupted by sudden rain and had to be moved inside. But none of the eight EXO members were daunted by the unexpected disarray. They joked to lighten the mood, saying, “Well, the weather is as tropical as our new album. This was the concept we were looking for.”
True to their words, EXO’s nine-track album “The War” features tropical-tinged reggae-electronic dance music hybrid “Ko Ko Bop” as its lead track, as well as mid-tempo electro pop song “The Eve” and electro dance number “Touch It.”
“Ko Ko Bop,” featuring Chen, Chanyeol and Baekhyun as lyricists, guides listeners to a world free of troubles and worries, suggesting them to unload their worries and dance to the music instead. The song was an exploration of new musical territory for EXO, said Kai, as it was the first time for the group to try reggae. While EXO has enjoyed wide popularity by diving into a slightly darker pop sound in their previous releases, members said they wanted to show fans that they were capable of different music genres.
Suho, the front man of EXO, said, “We assure you that the moment you listen to ‘Ko Ko Bop,’ you will see your body dancing to the song automatically.” The combination of reggae and EDM was a true energy-driver, Chen noted.
The global K-pop act also said that it wanted to send a message that could touch people around the world through “The War.”
Sehun explained EXO’s new album focuses on delivering hopeful messages, which are overtly woven into the songs’ lyrics, to a world that has seen a string of tragic events in the past few years. His bandmates agreed that bringing different parts of the world together with their music was their ultimate goal, adding that they would also like to visit China to reconnect with Chinese fans.
“We haven’t been able to visit Chinese fans for various reasons. We hope to hold concerts in China and make harmony with our fans there if we have opportunity,” said Suho.
Korean entertainers are not able to perform in China as Korea-China relations have soured after the deployment of the US THAAD missile system in Korea.
EXO was originally divided into two six-member acts known as EXO-K and EXO-M, singing in Korean and Mandarin, respectively. The groups became widely popular when they were joined together in 2013 to form EXO as we now know it.
Although three of the original members have left the group to pursue solo careers, EXO has become a K-pop force at home and abroad by having all of its three full-length albums -- “XOXO” in 2013, “Exodus” in 2015 and “Ex’Act” in 2016 -- sell over 1 million copies.
Videos for five of the K-pop sensation’s hits, “Overdose,” “Growl,” “Call Me Baby,” “Monster” and most recently “Wolf,” have also garnered more than 100 million views on YouTube.
On Tuesday, “The War” received over 800,000 preorders ahead of the official start of sales Wednesday, beating out the previous record held by the group’s “Ex’Act” album, which recorded over 660,000 in stock orders.