Overanalyzed: EXO’s Love Shot

Here’s the thing: We’ve been here from the start.

From teaser video mayhem and alien cults to , “Werewolves?!” and brightly lit boxes, Jung and I have watched EXO grow into the multimedia powerhouse that they are today. The OT12 break up is etched into my high school memories just as deeply as underage drinking and the SAT’s. But what we have both seemed to miss, so blatantly obvious to some: How the hell and when the hell did EXO become SM’s Bad Boy group?

This shiny new aesthetic comes with an experienced sexuality that harkens back to TVXQ’s “Mirotic” era. It reared its head in “Lotto,” and maybe even “Monster,” with descending deep cut jumpsuits, disregarded buttons, and utterly useless zippers. But here in “Love Shot,” we see something a little new that is, ironically, much older and mature. Let’s take the song and video piece by piece, to fully Overanalyze this thing for all it’s worth.

The Song: Scotch on the Rocks

The phrase, “love shot” itself is a brilliant play on words that is hammered home in nearly every shot of the video. Although pun-tastic, it also conjures up a poignant image of a man three sheets to the wind over a heartbreak bored deep in the recesses of his chest.

“Love Shot” tells the story of a jilted man with plenty of heartbreak under his belt. It’s not just a simple break-up song, though. The lyrics describe a sinking ship of love full of “muted memories” and a lackluster story. It’s a feeling that can only come with time. Far beyond puppy love or angry breakups, it’s the type of love that crumbles in his hands. He’s so used to the feeling, so jaded to see the same old patterns, that he’s got an ashtray ready when he finally wipes his hands clean of it.

The rolling minor keys help paint this desperate sort of sarcasm with a wavy beat to boot. SM’s production team proves once again that they are on a whole new level of professionalism.

The Costumes: James Bond meets Magic Mike

Most groups feature about one or two shirtless suit jackets per group shot, sticking mainly to body visuals a la Shownu and Wonho of Monsta X.

EXO’s stylists waved goodbye as they shot that statistic out of the window of a burning building.

Granted, Chanyeol has gained some major bulk in the past year (another thing I somehow missed) but the sheer square footage of bare chest that this video treated us to was unprecedented. Suffice it to say, the adult sensibility of the song is on full display.

This does not mean that the boys are exposed without thought. The juxtaposition of a full three piece suit to shirtlessness is one of formality against sensuality. In a way, the suit cannot hide the raw impulses and emotions (and body rolls) that the song’s protagonist feels. Sprinkle in a few turtlenecks and designer jackets, and EXO graduates from jilted lovers to wealthy, jaded playboys.

The Aesthetics: A Bouquet of Boys

SM’s production team scores once again in the editing of the video itself. At the line, “My cherished memories are losing their color,” the video uses some transitional floor work in the choreography to move from a highly saturated white room full of brightly colored silks and suitings into a completely grey scale set. It’s almost imperceptible at first watch. These little things create a subconscious imagery that many similar video concepts lack.

Another strong use of imagery is the massive amount of flowers. Bouquet after bouquet, piled up in the back of a convertible on the way to a hundred different doors with one carbon copy apology note. A fleeting symbol for a fleeting love. With the tango flowers in the Kai-Sehun dance break, it seems like we’re dealing with a Casanova. But with a closer looks at the lyrics and imagery in the bridge, there’s a sad softness there that doesn’t quite fit the stereotype.

By the the way, I do not think it was coincidence that Kyungsoo sings, “Where is love?” So similar to a forgotten masterpiece, “What Is Love.” He’s even sitting at a three quarter angle, facing the camera. Come on. Give me this one.

The Choreography: Rolling in Body Rolls

Lastly, let’s discuss choreography. There is no question that EXO thrives in this category. But on first blush, this choreo seemed like a cop out. Body roll, after body roll, after body roll… But listen. No really, listen to the song again. What the hell else are you going to choreograph to this song except some serious, advanced placement body rolls?

In the first chorus, we’re treated to one that’s slowly becoming a signature for EXO: one hand up, wide stance, slow full frontal (See also: “The Eve”). It’s a move that is easy to make look forced or cliche. EXO’s danceline pushes past that though, into a comfortable, almost feminine sexuality in this move and throughout the video. It’s a dance style that emerges from specialized SM dance training, most likely influenced by Sugawara Koharu (choreographer for Taemin’s “Move” and “Goodbye”). Other idols keyed into this style are Taeyong and Ten of NCT, but that is a whole other article.

No rookie floor humping here– only fully realized and thoughtful choreography with a hearty pour of eroticism. It’s clean, but not too simple. The chorus choreography shifts around the third repetition, which is essential to keeping that frontal roll fresh when they bring it back after the bridge. Another refreshing notion is that lack of trend based moves or rhythms. This extends the maturity of the song and video into the choreography.

Although I’ve been out of the EXO game for a while, it is wonderful to see them settling into an image fitting to their age and talent progression. They’ve proven that the Bad Boys aren’t always boys; sometimes, they are full grown Bad Ass Men.

There it is folks, EXO’s “Love Shot” fully overanalyzed. I would love to do more of these, so if anyone has requests please leave some comments! I love comments. Thanks!

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