Suho has returned with his second solo comeback and his first work since coming back from the military. First, he released the title track “Grey Suit” with an album of the same name. While “Grey Suit” is a contemplative ballad, Suho has a little bit more fun with his second single, “Hurdle.”
Suho’s second single’s melody may be livelier, but the lyrics and the MV also carry a much deeper meaning. The MV’s office setting is a fun and creative way to express the song’s overall theme of a work-a-holic society. On top of the unique concept, the lack of choreography and the choice of genre helps solidify Suho’s identity as a solo artist beyond just being the leader of Exo.
“Hurdle” seemingly has a straightforward concept about a tough day at work. The lights are flickering, paper is flying, and Suho can be found on the floor just trying to get away from his angry manager. However, under the surface, we can find several symbols that tie into the song’s lyrics. One of the running metaphors are red heart balloons that are just a bit deflated. In one scene, the words “yes” and “no” are written across the balloons. This suggests an uncertainty when it comes to love which goes along with the song’s lyrics about feeling like he is both rushing and struggling with love:
Time is still it’s like a hurdle
You’re not by my side, but I’m running now
Why is my heart in a hurry? Love’s like a hurdle
The other running symbol is the literal hurdle in the MV which is depicted by a checkered hole. Suho encounters it in the beginning but he manages to avoid it. However, in one scene he falls in but emerges out of the hole with even more confidence and a more vibrant personality. Ultimately, this represents Suho overcoming his obstacle of work and allowing himself to enjoy his time.
With the gleeful melody, it may be a surprise to find out that the lyrics of the song are more meaningful than they seem. In a Rolling Stone interview, Suho refers to his time in the military as being an inspiration for the album. Suho entered the army at the start of the pandemic in his 20s and has returned as a 30-year-old man. This is a sensitive time in his career as he regains his momentum by getting back into music and also following his aspirations to be an actor. All in all, Suho’s “Hurdle” may have a deeper meaning than just being about a stressful day at work. It could be depicting the forced stop in his career, and now having to return to full-speed ahead.
Another inspiration for the album, as noted in the same interview, is the story of “Momo” by Michael Ende. In fact, the novel has many parallels with the MV as well as the song. When the ‘men in grey’ take over, society because serious without any fun activities. This is represented in the MV by the workers in the background with deadpan expressions. Even when Suho is performing for them, their faces are blank and no one is enjoying themselves. The other reference is, again, the concept of time standing. The main character of the novel, Momo, is trying to return stolen time back to the town while time stands still. On a deeper level, the MV’s focus on the office is a reference to the ‘stolen time’ of the society which is keeping people from enjoying their lives.
With these heavy concepts, Suho still rocks out in the MV, although he avoids having any complicated choreography. When it comes to dancing routines, Exo is known for both intricate and catchy moves. As Suho is coming into his identity as a solo artist, it is interesting to see him forgo that kind of choreography in his MV. This is a smart move to set himself more up as a musician, keeping the focus on the music. However, Suho does not just stay still with “Hurdle” and still does some retro-inspired moves while playing his toy guitar.
As a singer, Suho really shows range throughout the song as well. From his falsetto at the beginning of the song, to his slurred way of singing the word “hurdle,” Suho gives a lot of dimension to the song. The producers adding the radio effect on his voice during the chorus also gives it that extra touch of vintage. Although we all know Suho is a great dancer, it is also great to see Suho get to focus on some of his other talents.
Suho and his team really put a lot of work into this comeback, and you can see how his military time inspired this album. He is truly showing us who he is as a solo artist, a force to be reckoned with. While it is always great to see him in Exo, as an individual Suho has a different side of himself to offer to his fans. The “Hurdle” MV is high-spirited and helps showcase the deeper meaning of the song. If you were not sure about Suho before, then hopefully “Hurdle” will help you overcome that.