Discovering: EXO’s ‘Growl’ a.k.a. What Have You Done to Me Tumblr?

I never imagined I’d be writing about K-pop on this blog. But then again, I never imagined I’d be writing about K-dramas in the first place, so that should tell you something about how I nurture my interests–impulsively, indulgently.

And you should probably know that I’m terminally behind the times. My middle name is ‘late bloomer’ so I apologise for a post that will be gushing about something that’s old news.

I should start with how I came across EXO in the first place. I caved and got on tumblr last week, and much to my surprise I’ve been mesmerised. It’s taken over my online life.

Who knew there was a plethora of witty commentary on dramas on tumblr? And not all of it written, mind you. Tumblr is a wonderland for what appears to be either budding or repressed creative souls needing an outlet for expression.

Prior to this I knew as much about tumblr as I know about the spark plugs in my car–it’s there, and without it, the internet does not function. Ok I kid, but after fooling around for a couple of days,  I now understand that tumblr occupies that crucial space between blogging and Twitter. It’s for those who have short attention spans (but I guess what isn’t?). It’s for those who find Twitter’s 140 character limit too restrictive but yet can’t or won’t churn out essays.

No wonder then that it’s a playground for the pithy and the ephemeral. Gifs scroll by, you giggle, swoon, then move on. Tumblr is where people respond immediately to what they see. You feel none of the pressure to write coherent sentences. Few on tumblr do. Occasionally, you’ll encounter paragraphs. But mostly, it’s snapshots.

At lot of the time, you’re re-blogging other people’s content. But that’s what it’s designed for–sharing. Less interacting, more broadcasting. 

And if you’re looking to join a fandom, tumblr is heaven sent. Whether it’s your favourite k-pop group, Supernatural, Beyonce or Harry Potter, you’re guaranteed to find company. You will also, if you’re outside the teen demographic, mostly likely feel way too old.

Beware though, for the wave of content will be a tsunami and it will overwhelm you. Your eyeballs might implode. You will spend more time on tumblr than you should. It’s a black hole. For someone who is primarily a reader and looks to the web for stuff to read, tumblr has forced me to rewire my brain.

Exo Growl MVWhich leads me to EXO. I came across this article which I gamely read since I know nothing about K-pop.

What I knew bout EXO was limited to A) their sasaeng fans, and B) a song about wolves that was not my cup of tea. So imagine my shock to find that EXO had not only a great song in ‘Growl’ but a video (or MV, in K-pop parlance) that was downright awesome.

First, as one must when discussing K-pop, the music. For someone who (mis)spent a good deal of her youth listening to hip hop, R ‘n B and soul almost exclusively, this song scores points with me. It’s straight-up R ‘n B which I thought had gone out of fashion awhile ago. The production is minimal, inoffensive. It’s just a catchy, straight-forward R ‘n B song which is exactly what I like about it. It’s not a stylistic mash-up of what I know of K-pop.

Second, as one must when discussing K-pop, the video. It’s shockingly bled dry of colour. The set is what looks like a grey empty warehouse. And that’s it. Seriously. A K-pop video without neon is borderline heresy. But it’s clearly a stylistic choice to allow the choreography to take centre stage.

Which by the way is kickass. I’m sorry, but I’m out of descriptors because that’s exactly what it is. And the boys dance their cute buns off. They shuffle, they pop and lock, they hop, they do all manner of things in perfect sync. And they do it with swag.

The video is shot in one take which is a simple idea but tricky to execute. There’s no room for mistakes, but yet there’s room for imperfection–there’s a moment in the video where someone’s cap falls off and he bends down to pick up. It’s utterly refreshing to see as I’m used to more carefully constructed and stylised imagery in K-pop.

Exo Growl MV_02Then there’s the stellar camera-work, which weaves in and around the boys for 360 view. It’s immersive and it makes you feel like you’re surrounded by them boys. Which is not a bad place to be.

Because look at them! They’re styled so simply. They look like regular boys. It’s like School 2013 meets barbershop quartet. I’m used to K-pop groups looking like they’re dressed for a party from the distant future. Score more points for pared-down fashion.

And then there are the 12 boys–why so many, SM? Whyyy? I have no idea who is who, but as the camera swirls around, one face after the next comes into view, I struggle to latch on. The video serves you a buffet of cute but you have to chase after it. My fave is the one wearing red shoes. Or was it a cap?

I don’t think I’m on my way to becoming an EXO-tic just yet, but life has a way of proving me wrong. And I don’t know what else tumblr will throw at me but I’m a little afraid to find out.

28 thoughts on “Discovering: EXO’s ‘Growl’ a.k.a. What Have You Done to Me Tumblr?

  1. So I have been into Kpop a long time. But like you, I didn’t really get into Exo because I didn’t like “Wolf”. Then I fell in love with their Christmas album and looked into their other music the other day and now I love them! I haven’t picked a bias yet or anything. But it’s insane that we both had our Growl Moment at around the same time! I’m beginning to think we might be kindred spirits…


    • No way really? HAHA!! I haven’t heard the x’mas album yet, I’m guessing you like it? How on earth do you pick a bias when they’re all so cute? Can’t one take ’em all? Do you really need just one?? Not to mention I’m sure they’re barely legal and I’d feel really pervy.

      Well if I had to pick it’ll be the best dancer who’s wearing the NY cap. If you figure out who he is let me know ;). Seriously though, this video is crazy. Now I hv a youtube kpop playlist and it’s right at the top!

      Did you read that article? I’m a little obsessed with many of those songs!


      • I like a lot of those songs too! I’m not really into BAP yet, but I probably will be later, knowing me. And just so you’re aware T.O.P is my ultimate bias right now. I know what you mean, I have to be careful with rookie groups because they debut so young. Don’t want to be a pervy noona. I think this list missed out on a few of my faves, but awesome is in the ear of the beholder. I’m gonna find out who NY guy is for you if one of the other commentors hasn’t already. What else is on your playlist?


      • TOP!! Did you read that Rolling Stone just wrote that he’s ‘South Korea’s answer to Justin Timberlake’? Oh please. JT has nothing on TOP! TOP actually put out good music this year. Doom Dada blew my mind!
        My playlist is mostly drama OSTs which is what comes easiest to me. But aside from that there’s SHINee, TVXQ, 2PM, Sunmi, MFBTY, and of course Rain. It’s short so if you have any recommendations, do share!
        Aww will you really help me find out who NY boy is? If you ever do I will seriously award you a medal for sleuthing skills. How on earth does anyone over the age of 20 enjoy K-pop guilt free since they’re all JAILBAIT?!


      • I’m 99.9% sure it’s Kai, who is 19. And TOP is the hottest thing since…I don’t even know when. Gotta love a man who can pullnow off flourescent blue hair like a boss. And btw, Shinee was my very first ever Kpop video. And I was 22 then and already worried about the age gap. I am really into BTS right now. Their a rookie group that came out this year. I think you will like them if you are into hip hop. But beware. They are barely legal and below. I think the oldest one is 22. I have decided that they are all my little brothers. I also like BigBang (hence my TOP obsession), Tasty (Twins. Hot. My age, and thank God for that. And they can DANCE), Super Junior because they are pretty much required listening for Kpop 101. I haven’t got heavy duty into the girl groups. Really it’s difficult because I like songs from all kinds of groups, but I’m not a hardcore fangirl for just one. I’ll have to make you a list of favorite songs. One thing I would try is reaction videos, There’s a great channel on YouTube called misterpopotv where he does reaction reviews to videos. That’s how I discover a lot of songs. Oh! FT Island. Because Jeremy. I actually haven’t listened to a couple of those on your list so I’ll have to try them out too!


      • 19??! *CRIES* Will not stalk a 19-year old on tumbler. WILL. NOT. But their x’mas performance though…with them suspenders?! CUTE. I’m almost sorry I know Kai’s name now since…but no no no. Won’t. Stalk. But TOP, love how he comes off so haughty and aloof.
        I checked out BTS since you mentioned them, and they scare me a little which means they’re doing something right! They force me to rewire my brain and I don’t know how I feel about that, but it’s probably the only way I’ll appreciate trap music?
        Tasty? Twins? That sounds all kinds of wrong, Sarah!! I’m afraid to go there…
        I have seen reaction vids on youtube (but no popo) and that’s how I discovered SHINee’s ‘Everbody’ which is now on repeat. So will check out popo for sure now.
        What on earth did I mention on my list? I forget, but I’m currently obsessed with MFBTY. Love Yoon Mirae and Tiger JK.


      • First off, let me apologize for all the typos in my last comment. New Year’s resolution: Go through all my posts and edit for typos. BTS is a lot more hard than I’m usually into. But I can’t not watch them for some reason. Plus, if you go to their BangTanTV channel on YouTube, they’re just little puppy dogs. Maybe that will help. And their lyrics are really meaningful (LOEN Entertainment does closed captioning). Will stop fangirling now. And don’t feel bad. My Exo bias (yes, I have one) is D.O., and he’s only 20. It happens to us all eventually. But keep up the fight! Also, hate to tell you, but tasty needs to happen in your life. End of story. I just watched the MFBTY “Sweet Dreams” video. Talk about rewiring my brain! I’m gonna have to check them out again when I’m more awake. I’m so excited you’re a Kpop girl now!


      • What typos?? Where there? Didn’t notice! Typos are good for the soul.
        BTS kills it on stage, and they totally pull off the aggressive posturing which is what’s hard to reconcile with their flower boy faces! Rewire brain!
        D.O? That’s the singer with the slightly crossed-eyes I’ve noticed. Sweetie pie sad-face boy? Tasty does look older, but they feel sorta skanky, amirite? I like that, but the jury’s out on the music at the moment.
        MFBTY put out a great album, plus I’m in love with Yoon Mirae and Tiger JK. They are talented, beautiful, down-to-earth and they hv the cutest kid together! And Tiger Jk nvr fails to derail interviews by saying how awesomely talented his wife is!


  2. This song came up for me a few days ago in my streaming radio and I instantly fell in love with it. I’ve had it on repeat for longer than I should probably admit to. However, your article is the first time I’d seen the video. Holy cow they can dance! Now I’ve watched the video about a hundred times (exaggerating a tad bit there) but I’ve watched it bunches. I’m just dabbling in KPOP, I have a few songs that I just love, but I haven’t yet dove in. Though I think that is inevitable.


    • Well, I’ve watched more times than I care to admit Jaime!! I need help! The hubs is on the verge of losing all respect for me. HA. I consider myself at the dabbling stage too, but maybe diving in is on the horizon?


  3. I heard the song Growl first and i was like “it’s good but whatever” and then I saw the MV and freaking loved it to bits, and then I liked the song more, lol. Everything about it, from the members themselves to the cameraman to the crew, just screams talent. I’ve liked EXO since the beginning because they look freaking awesome when they dance together as 12, and Tumblr was pretty much how I learned all of the members and their names. It’s a very handy tool!

    But yes to this – “You will also, if you’re outside the teen demographic, mostly likely feel way too old.” I feel so old…


  4. Whoa whoa whoa! Are you on board with me now? Thumbs up! Growl is wanjeon daebak eumak! I love it, and recently, yes yes yes, I finally falling for Wolf! Since the release of Wolf, I could not hear it at all. The song irks me terribly but now (I guess I finally reached puberty with Wolf), I’m madly in love! Not just the Korean version, the Chinese version as well!

    Also, congratulations for finally stepping in to kpop arena! There is no turning back, DDee! Shall I shower you with more kpop selection? Hmmm… *wiggles brows*


  5. Tumblr makes me feel old too. Then again, on tumblr I can pretend to be young again and no one’s the wiser.

    Have fun with Exo. I got in the Growl action as soon as it happened, but had steadily ignored them beforehand. Careful. They will sneak up on you. Now I’m happily watching ‘variety’ where all they do is eat food and shop. Not sure what happened to me. Or when. But I blame tumblr.


    • To true Rosie! I just giggle and/or swoon anyway and that’s doable at any age.
      I guess you’re talking bout their reality show? I’ve seen that on tumblr too, but I haven’t dipped my toes in yet coz I don’t want to get sucked in. Plus it helps that I have no idea who is who!
      Tumblr will be responsible for alot of my pleasures guilty or otherwise from now I suspect. Bring it ;P


  6. WKWKWKWKWK! Welcome friend. I wouldn’t call myself an ”Exotic” either but as another one who grew up off 90s R&B grooves I’m also digging EXO for their (gasp!) music! I usually find kpop otherwise kinda soulless, full of flash but little to no substance.

    The Christmas album is superb for us R&B old-schoolers! Don’t be turned off by the cheesy idea you may have of it in your head.
    I recently got the Chinese version in the post. Don’t know, I tend to gravitate towards EXO-M/Chinese members more (Kris Wu’s eyebrows are the culprit that led me down the rabbit hole, not tumblr) just listen to ‘It’s My Turn to Cry, Christmas Day (and their performance of it… haha!) and even The Star (listen to the latter in Chinese especially for my baby Zitao’s rap! Hubba!).


    • SU?? Wow, EXO is bringing so many out of the woodwork :). Chuffed!!
      I was just checking out EXO’s x’mas album and you’re absolutely right, it’s GOLD. Sure, I was motivated by seeing gifs of them looking like Santa’s lil helpers (Bowties! Suspenders!!) but I’m so so happy to note that the music should warm some old skool bones like yours and mine (except I live in the tropics, but you know what I mean). Kris? Is that the tall blonde? If they ever dye their hair I’m so screwed.
      I’m still coming to terms with the Mandarin/Korean thing and whether it makes a difference in terms of the music and how I respond to them. I’d like to think at the end of the day, it’s all about music though, and not about the pervy noona in me… 😉


      • Omgggg! At the very end that was Luhan saying Wo Ai Ni. T__T
        If you need any help with differentiating between memberdeul let me know.
        I just noticed some of your convo abt boy in NY hat? That’s Kai. And red hat and sneakers, blonde with nice voice that you mentioned caught your eye? That’s Baekhyun.
        It feels so refreshing not to guiltily have to squeeze raves about these boys on my.drama blog. I can come here to spazz too lololol!


      • Haha, it’s a good album isn’t it? Have you seen the saucy suspenders dance to Christmas Day yet?
        Also, Kris does the initial rapping part in The Star, and the Engrish part ”dress like a rock” — haha!
        And yes, he’s the reaaally tall blonde one, in fact Kris, Chanyeol, Tao, Sehun, they’re all giants! Abnormally tall.


      • Oh boy have I seen the suspenders! Far too many times. And the gifs of the sauciest moves keep popping up on my feed. *blushes*.
        I am really impressed with their delivery though. Gees, it’s almost enough to make me want to brush up on my Mandarin too (and that ‘wo ai ni’ on My Turn to Cry thrills me so) . But first, to figure out who is who!


  7. Pingback: Weekly OCD Drama Digest Christmas Edition 2013 | obsessive compulsive (k)drama-watching disorder

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