Apr 18, 2015
EXO's MV For "Call Me Baby" Is Surprisingly Pleasant
Never thought you'd hear me say that now did you? Honestly, I was just about as excited about this EXO comeback as I've been with any of theirs: moderately. Especially since they were coming back at the same time as Miss A, a group whom I always root for more or less, I felt a bit discouraged. There are so many things that I like about EXO: their music, their visual superiority and D.O's honey vocals, but I can't bring myself to fully devote myself to them as fan and I think no matter how much I will come to love their songs I won't ever call myself an EXO-L.
However, there's always a chance for me to grow out of my hatred for them as a concept and for me to realize that maybe they aren't as overrated as I've always found them to be. I certainly think that their new single "Call Me Baby" is a decent step in that direction.
Let's face it; EXO had a rough 2014. Their May comeback with "Overdose" was, in my opinion, quite horrible and although they sold well thanks to their fan-base it wasn't nearly as impactful as "Growl" the year before. On top of that they also lost two of their most popular members, Kris and Luhan, to China, and fans were worried about how the group would continue. As it appears now, there will be no more EXO-M or EXO-K, but they will still release material in both Chinese and Korean.
The video teasers for "Call Me Baby" and EXO's new full album "EXODUS" were strange to say the least, but they were beautifully shot and did provide hope that this video would be better than the last one. However, since it's SM Entertainment we're talking about, it was also possible that those teasers had nothing to do with the actual content of the MV. So when I finally watched the video and found it to be another performance-based box video I wasn't even the slightest bit disappointed. In fact, taking in count the concept it's actually really good.
The opening of the video certainly sparks some interest, as we see Kai driving a sports car into a garage (or possibly a workshop) whilst wearing ridiculously ugly clothing. It seems that EXO's stylists still haven't mastered the art of dressing them in attractive clothes, which was one of my main issues with "Overdose". This isn't as bad, but it still isn't very pretty. Anyhow, the viewer is being guided through the location with the help of the members, as they move from one place to another and interact with each other. They make good use of the props and set items and incorporate them into the choreography, but apart from the garage-inspired set there's isn't that much else to the video.
The two other sets used are, unfortunately, quite boring. The room with brick walls is one that I think have appeared in about every other group's video at some point, and the white room is quite uninspiring as well. The interest awoken in the beginning also fades somewhat quickly since the rest of the video, starting with the first chorus, is entirely performance-based. It strikes me as if SM is trying to turn these type of videos into EXO's thing, their niche, and if that's what I'm going to have to get used then I might as well do it now.
Like with "Growl", the aspect that saves this video is the clever camera angles and editing, which was established with the prior but are even more apparent in "Call Me Baby". Since the group is as large as it is, even with two members fewer, there's plenty of tricks that can be pulled by putting the members in special formations and switching the camera focus from one end of the room to the other. It also helps that most of the members are comfortable enough with the camera to actually fill up the screen with presence and personality.
There's no doubt that this is a video for their fans who gladly enjoy watching them flirt with the camera whilst dancing smoothly in sync, but I personally would have wanted something more. It's becoming more and more clear that EXO is a group built for performance and dancing, since so much of the focus on their videos are on just that. It's true that they are a talented group, but I think it would do them good to try something else in the future, to showcase another side of the EXO empire. Nonetheless, the video is a huge improvement from their last release and that alone is worth celebrating.
Video Score: 3,25/5