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From the platinum ashes of K-pop superheroes, EXO, a polarizing solo debut.
Late last week via YouTube the Chinese sensation released his first music video, “That Good Good,” since leaving K-pop boy band EXO in October. And loyalists are in a flurry discussing just how “good good” it is.
On trial: The quality and sonic choices of the long-awaited track. A lot of the top comments found on allkpop’s coverage of the song are quick to compare “That Good Good” to the American pop sound, and even go so far to label Luhan as a Chinese version of Justin Bieber—an understandable disappointment for many Asian music fans.
On the one hand, Luhan’s half-Chinese, half-English hip-hop track is catchy and strong, with a repetitive, but energetic chorus. The swagger beat, mottled with some electronic flourishes, fits well with the random street dancing taking place in its video. On the other hand though, almost every Luhan fan was not expecting to see the singer on a hip-hop platform. And just as some fans can’t erase the cute, schoolboy image Luhan was notorious for as a member of EXO, many of them felt shocked by the suggestive nature of Luhan’s new track.
Since it’s not clear to fans what Luhan means when he says he’s “got that good good,” many turned to Urban Dictionary for a possible explanation. However, it’s only dirty if you make it dirty. For all we know, it could just be Luhan’s affinity for repeating English words, like how he captions a lot of his Instagram posts with “Yo Yo Yo~.”
Despite all that, after almost an entire year of legally battling Luhan’s original host company, SM Entertainment, for contract termination, Lu fans still stand under the same umbrella of support. They’re simply happy to see him doing well and increasing in profile.
In October, five months after the exit of leader, Kris, Luhan officially became the second member to leave. (And he wouldn’t be the last, with member Tao following their footsteps this summer.)
EXO debuted in April 2012 with 12 members, but are now down to nine after the departure of three of the four Chinese members, Luhan, Kris, and Tao. The fourth Chinese member, Lay, still remains in the group. EXO quickly rose to fame after the release of their single, “Growl,” in 2013, becoming the first K-pop group since the ‘90s to sell more than a million copies of their album. Within the span of a year, however, Luhan, Kris, and Tao filed for contract termination with SM Entertainment, on the grounds of unfair treatment and pay.
As Kris was the first to leave, he received the brunt of the fan scorn. But with all his successes, it blew over after a few months. The guy’s made appearances with high-profile fashion designers in Paris, graced the cover of Vogue China with Kendall Jenner, and earned himself a wax figure at Madame Tussaud’s in Shanghai. He’s definitely good.
Hate waves have died down for the time being, but Tao’s the one shouldering most of the scorn now as the most recent member to leave. And because Tao’s leave arguably created the biggest divide in the fandom. Many fans not only considered his solo debut uncalled for, but they also interpreted it as a diss track toward EXO. There’s a cryptic line in the song: “The time I have wasted, the life that can’t be brought back, the memories of the past, I don’t want to think about it anymore.”
Tumblr user damnit-exo called him out on it saying, “Where would you be without Exo and SM again? No one would know or care what a damn T.A.O was if not for EXO/SM. Show some gratitude”
Unlike the other two, the general temperature of the fandom with news of Luhan’s departure was nowhere near as high. He’s managed to escape culpability in fan’s eyes for leaving, though it’s unclear why. As such Tao’s fans are on high alert, defending their favorite exiled EXO member.
Tumblr user and Tao fan, guccizitao (who defended Tao), argues that fans can still support Tao without liking him. She’s actively spoken out against the hate Tao’s received, noting that “a lot of people are not incapable but are just unwilling to support both tao and exo.”
Regardless, fans will be fans, and they won’t stop any of the three from evolving past the platinum success hanging over their careers. No matter what’s got Tumblr crazy—from diss tracks to Kris’s experimental hairstyles—Tao, Kris, and especially Luhan have built such a strong fanbase from their EXO days that they’ll continue to crush it across China and their international travels.
Screengrab via ????/YouTube
Sherry Tucci is a fandom reporter who specializes in Korean pop culture and anime. In addition to her work at the Daily Dot, her reporting has appeared in the Daily Texan.