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One Video: Ko Ko Bop by Exo

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Trapped inside a washing machine? Just dance

Every week, a slew of new music videos hits the web. Watching them at your desk is not time theft because you deserve it; think of it as a nice reward for surviving another work week. But what if you don’t have time to watch every video — maybe you have a deadline, a hungry pet, or other grown-up concerns. In consideration of your schedule, Lizzie and Kaitlyn bring you a series called One Video. Each week we’ll tell you “one video” you need to watch, why, and for how long.

This week’s One Video: “Ko Ko Bop” by Exo

Lizzie: Congratulations to the boys of Exo (all nine of you). You put up a tough fight this week, despite the fact that you didn’t really need to. The strongest challengers were Demi Lovato’s house party and Blake Shelton talking about having sex to his own music. In the face of mediocrity, Exo gave us a magical washing machine, a mid-song ballad in the forest, and lots of patterned shirts.

Kaitlyn: Yes, it’s true. It was a bad week for music videos, until suddenly it was a very good week. Have you ever heard the song “Ever Had a Little Faith?” It goes like this: “Ever had a little faith?”

We did (have a little faith), and we were rewarded this time.

ko ko bop exo

Who is Exo?

Kaitlyn: Exo is a Korean-Chinese boy band, usually designated as K-pop, and they are enormously popular on my social media platform of choice, which is, of course, Tumblr. They’re also the biggest pop group in the world: their latest album, The War, sold 800,000 copies in preorders alone. If you’ve ever dipped your toe into the ocean of One Direction content on Tumblr and found yourself daunted by its diversity, creativity, and sheer size, maybe this isn’t the band for you. Get out of here! Exo has oodles of fan art, memes, GIFs, fan fiction, etc., available for perusal — the usual accoutrement of Tumblr pop fandom. If you’re into that. There’s already plenty for this video in particular, which is packed with imagery to get the creative juices flowin’.

Personally I’m interested in the idea of makeup tutorials based on boy band music videos, and would like more of this:

Lizzie: Apparently three Exo members — Chen, Baekhyun, and Xiumin — branched out and formed a sub-Exo band in 2016 called EXO-CBX. They have two EPs, Hey Mama! and Girls. Hey Mama! debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s World Albums chart.

Kaitlyn: I’m not in the mood for drama, but that is useful trivia.

What’s special about “Ko Ko Bop” by Exo:

Lizzie: On one hand, this is a classic boy band music video, with bright lights, saturated colors, floppy hair, and dance moves that look more complicated than they really are. On the other hand, “Ko Ko Bop” is filled with tiny, exciting oddities, many of which are introduced only to give the boys enough time to catch their breath before they disappear. There are giant floating hamburgers with palm trees growing out of them, storm clouds wringing fresh water into glasses of ice, and a bright blue bowl of soup. One boy lounges on a cloud, another flicks a bunch of Cheetos into the air. At one point, one of the boys gets stuck inside a washing machine. It’s not clear how or why this happens, but he quickly escapes with little more than a water-logged fur coat.

Kaitlyn: “Ko Ko Bop” is a bop, and of course there is dancing, which Lizzie and I never get tired of. In a 2016 Dazed feature, Taylor Glasby described Exo’s dance numbers as having “knife-point choreography.” Alarming!

I think what’s special about this video is the YouTube comments, of which there are many because this video has already been viewed 15 million times. They are in a lot of different languages, but here are two of my favorites that are in English:

  • “I washed the dishes for my mom today and she will stream for kokobop [sic].” This is a reference to the fan-organized mission to make this video hit 30 million views, at which point Exo’s label says they will release some bonus footage. I love this little pact between God-Knows-Who and their mom. It’s very sweet.
  • “Working with my mom's laptop for more views. I play it in 21 tab. Can it helped [sic]? I actually have no idea if this will help! But it’s incredible to me that this person’s Wi-Fi can play an HD music video in 21 tabs simultaneously. Everything is amazing. Magic, even. I’m so happy right now. Here’s me:

How long everyone should watch “Ko Ko Bop” by Exo:

Lizzie: As I mentioned earlier, this is a video with absolutely no narrative and lots of hidden treasures sprinkled throughout, so you should probably just watch the whole thing.

Kaitlyn: Yes, finally: Lizzie and I are on the same page. Obviously watch the whole thing. What’s wrong with you?

Trick question: nothing! Everyone is great.