Celebrating 10 Years with EXO

Celebrating 10 Years with EXO

Things will be “Just as Usual”

Graduating from the success of their 2013 mega-hit “Growl,” EXO’s career catapulted them from the national to the international stage. Ten years into their career EXO has achieved widespread critical acclaim for their artistry, and international success despite challenges faced time and again. Since the successive announcements of military enlistments of group members beginning in 2019, expected due to mandatory conscription of all male South Korean citizens by the age of 30, one of the primary challenges faced by EXO-Ls of the beloved group is seeing the group together for the promotion of a comeback project or on a casual live broadcast on a social media platform of their choice. At the beginning of 2022, with the 10th anniversary looming, EXO-Ls anticipated an announcement from the group about how the 10th Debut Anniversary would be celebrated while planning their own celebrations to commemorate the much awaited event.

Prior to their 10th Debut Anniversary fan meet, member Lay Zhang announced by personal handwritten letter to the fandom that he would be leaving SM Entertainment while resolutely remaining a member of the cherished boy band. SM Entertainment later confirmed with YTN Star and OSEN that,

“The existing contract with Mr. Lay has expired. However, we are discussing a new type of contract.”

Personal letter posted by Lay Zhang on official Weibo

While the news may have at first felt shocking to some fans who are newer to the fandom or have not witnessed EXO as 9, many seasoned EXO-Ls had previously anticipated — even wished for the transition from SM Entertainment not only for Lay Zhang but for the members who remain contracted to the company. Many of those same EXO-Ls also welcomed and celebrated the news long anticipated since Lay Zhang’s announcement of a solo debut in 2016.

EXO-Ls, like your authors, may wonder what hangs in the balance following Lay Zhang’s announcement. Where does this leave the rest of his group members and the future of their brand, EXO? What does EXO continuing as 9 members look like?

In “Just as Usual” member Lay Zhang sings

“And I still don’t understand
I don’t have an answer to that but
I can say things will be just as usual”

“Just as Usual” from Don’t Fight the Feeling, Special Album, 7th EP

In his recent release “Jiu” member Lay Zhang also sings

“There are nine stars in this universe that have been in this fight
History books mark the immortal planets, they are fierce but also gentle
Each star will become part of history
After the innumerable ages our name is still being remembered

Our stories in time are passing by
We fight all the way and have never lagged
We are free to be passionate and fight for our way ahead
We’ll stand side by side longer than forever
The galaxy is fleeting far, far away
A toast to our future that never stopped
We are free to be passionate and fight for our way ahead
We toast to this September wine, being with each other

I have a glass of wine, toast to our passion forever
I have a glass of wine, thank you for your gentleness along the way”

“酒 (JIU)” – Single

Reviewing lyrics from both pieces, it is very apparent that the group members themselves have every intention of continuing in their career as one. Noting the amount of times the word “forever” is used in addition to the word “passion,” both words evoking very strong emotions and intentions of loyalty, translates that the group members see their group’s purpose as both steadfast and indomitable. In “Just as Usual,” it can be inferred that though the future is difficult to map out, EXO will continue just as it has. In “Jiu” additional sentimental value is found in the inclusion of voice notes of private moments member Lay Zhang shared with fellow members, confirming what longtime fans have always felt to be true about the impenetrable group’s brotherhood. Lyrics by Lay Zhang also creatively incorporate their powers which identify himself amongst each of his fellow members; powers that once seemed comical at their debut are now cherished as dearly as their own stage names.

Suho – This glass is as gentle as water
Xiumin – This glass is as frozen as ice
D.O. – This wine is so strong that it uses our energy
Chanyeol – Oh it’s a glass of wine like fire
Sehun – A glass of wine like wind
Chen – A glass of wine like lightning, so let’s drink it and break the world’s sorrow
Baekhyun – It is as free as light to enjoy as much to one’s heart’s content
Kai – To be by your side in an instant
Lay Zhang – The last glass of wine cures everything, fills the wound and reshapes the universe

Though no mention of member Lay Zhang’s decision was made at the fan meet, members were in high spirits throughout the celebrations, tears in their eyes as they reunited with Eris in person and for the many viewing online. Members Chanyeol and Baekhyun also commemorated the event by the former showing the fandom “L” sign during the curtain call for his performance as Laman in Blue Helmet: A Song of Meissa and the latter communicating with EXO-Ls on Twitter during the fan meet while viewing the festivities from backstage.

What meaning is taken from the proceedings of this celebration in tandem with news from beloved member Lay Zhang is that according to EXO things are going to be “Just as Usual.”

%d bloggers like this: