Exo (band)

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Origin Seoul, South Korea
Years active 2011–present
Labels S.M. Entertainment (South Korea)
Avex Trax (Japan)
Associated acts
Website EXO's official Korean website
Revised Romanization Ek So
McCune–Reischauer Ek' So

Exo (stylized as EXO; /ˌɛkˈs/ EK-soh; Korean: 엑소) is a South Korean-Chinese K-pop boy band produced by S.M. Entertainment. Formed in 2011 in Seoul, South Korea, EXO comprises 12 members separated into two subgroups, EXO-K and EXO-M, performing music in Korean and Mandarin, respectively. EXO-K comprises Suho, Baekhyun, Chanyeol, D.O, Kai and Sehun. EXO-M comprises Kris, Xiumin, Lu Han, Lay, Chen and Tao.

EXO's debut single, "Mama", was released in April 2012.[1][2] The single was a moderate success; EXO-M's version topped mainland Chinese music charts after only one day of release, and EXO-K's "Mama" music video reached to number seven on YouTube's Global Chart.[3] The group's two albums, the 2012 debut EP Mama and the 2013 comeback studio album XOXO, were major commercial successes, selling over 1.5 million units in total worldwide.[4][5] With XOXO, EXO became the youngest boy band to win Album of the Year at the Mnet Asian Music Awards,[6] and the fastest-selling K-pop artist in twelve years.[7] The lead singles off XOXO, "Wolf" and "Growl," were hits, landing first place trophies on music shows from all three of Korea's major free-to-air broadcast stations.[8] The latter also peaked at number three on Billboard's Korea K-Pop Hot 100 chart.[9]

In May 2014 member Kris has started a lawsuit against S.M. Entertainment to nullify his contract, as of the submission date of the lawsuit the band promotes with 11 members.[10][11]

The group received numerous rookie awards in 2012, and has since won over forty awards.


2011: Formation

In January 2011, producer Lee Soo-man of S.M. Entertainment announced his plans to debut a new boy band in March or April 2011.[12] Temporarily named M1, the group appeared to have consisted of only seven members when a photo of them in a dance studio was leaked online.[13] In May 2011, Lee spoke about the group in a Hallyu business seminar held in Stanford University. In the presentation, he explained his strategy of separating the group into two subgroups, M1 and M2, and have them promote the same music in South Korea and China, performing the songs in both Korean and Mandarin.[14] Lee planned to launch the group in May 2011, but their debut was delayed due to member changes and other planning. News concerning the group did not surface until October 2011, when Lee briefly discussed about the group's concept plans again in an interview with The Chosun Ilbo.[15] Once the members and plans were finalized, the group began to prepare for their official debut.

In December 2011, the group finalized their name to EXO, with the names EXO-K for the South Korean subgroup and EXO-M for the Chinese subgroup. Their name was taken from the word exoplanet.[16] The twelve members were introduced individually through 23 different trailers released from December 2011 to February 2012.[16][17] Kai, Lu Han, Tao, and Chen were the first four members introduced, and they debuted their first televised performance at SBS's annual Gayo Daejun event on December 29, 2011.[18]

2012: Debut and Mama

Exo-M at the KCON 2012 in Irvine, California

EXO-K and EXO-M's prologue single "What Is Love" was released on January 30, 2012, in mainland China and South Korea.[19] The single peaked at number 88 on South Korea's Gaon Single Chart. On March 9, the group released their second prologue single "History",[20] which was written and produced by Thomas Troelsen and Remee. The single peaked at number 68 on the Gaon Single Chart and number six on China's Sina Music Chart.[21]

A concert for the group was held in Seoul's Olympic Stadium on March 31.[22] Approximately 3,000 fans from 8,000 applicants were selected to attend.[23] A second concert was held in the Great Hall of the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing on April 1.[24]

EXO-K and EXO-M released their debut single, "Mama", on April 8[25] followed by an EP, Mama, on April 9. On April 8, Exo-K performed on South Korea's music program The Music Trend, while EXO-M made their debut in China's Top Chinese Music Awards on the same day.[26][27] A day after release, "Mama" reached number one on various Chinese online retailers and music charts.[28] Exo-M's album reached number two on China's Sina Album Chart, number five on South Korea's Gaon Album Chart, and number twelve on the Billboard World Albums Chart.[29] Exo-K's album peaked at number one on the Gaon Album Chart[30] and at number eight on the Billboard World Albums Chart.[29] Exo-M's "Mama" music video reached number one on Chinese streaming websites, while Exo-K's version reached to number seven on YouTube's Global Chart.[3] In late April 2012, Exo-M performed as a guest act for Super Junior's Super Show 4 concert tour in Jakarta, Indonesia.

In November 2012, EXO won Best New Asian Artist Group at the 2012 Mnet Asian Music Awards. EXO-K received three nominations at the 27th Golden Disk Awards, winning the Newcomer Award. EXO-M received the Most Popular Group award at the 2013 Top Chinese Music Awards.[citation needed]

2013: XOXO, commercial success and Miracles in December

In May 2013, S.M. Entertainment revealed teaser photos for EXO's comeback album, the first studio album XOXO.[31] Unlike during the Mama era, when EXO-K and EXO-M had separate promotions, XOXO was jointly promoted.[32] The subgroups collaborated for the album's lead single, "Wolf", but the rest of the album was recorded separately.

Exo with South Korean President, Park Geun-hye in China on June 28, 2013.

XOXO was released in June 2013 to two versions, a Korean-language "Kiss" edition and a Mandarin-language "Hug" edition. A few days after its release, the songs in XOXO topped almost every real-time chart from online music websites of South Korea and mainland China.[33][34] The two versions collectively peaked at number one on the Billboard World Album Chart a week after release.[35] Lead single "Wolf" peaked at number one on three of South Korea's music programs, earning the name "triple win."[8] "Wolf" also won a trophy on MBC Music's Show Champion,[36] but the song fared worse on music download charts, reaching to only top thirty spots in recorded charts from both South Korea and China.

A repackaged version of XOXO, with three additional tracks, was released on August 5, 2013.[37] The reissue's lead single, "Growl", was unveiled via YouTube on August 1, 2013, in the format of a music video.[38] On August 18, "Growl" achieved 10,554 points on The Music Trend charts, setting a new number one record on the show.[39] "Growl" reached number one on all four of Korea's major music programs, winning a total of ten trophies in three consecutive weeks.[40] The single peaked at number three on Billboard's Korea K-Pop Hot 100[9] and number two on the Gaon's Singles chart. As of October 2013, all versions of XOXO have collectively sold over 910,000 copies,[41] breaking the record for being fastest-selling K-pop artist in twelve years.[7][42] XOXO was named Album of the Year at the 2013 Mnet Asian Music Awards, making EXO the youngest ever boy band to win the award.[6] The album's single "Growl" was also honored Song of the Year at the 2013 MelOn Music Awards.[43]

EXO began working on their comeback EP Miracles in December shortly after completing the promotional cycle for XOXO. In October 2013, EXO-M confirmed in an interview for IQIYI that the members are currently working on new material and told fans to not believe in rumors regarding their comeback.[44] The EP, consisting of six tracks, had pre-sale orders amassing over 400,000, hitting a new record.[45] Miracles in December was officially released December 9, 2013 through South Korean commercial outlets and online music stores.[46] Exo jump-started album promotions through their reality show EXO's Showtime, which premiered on November 28, 2013 on the cable channel MBC Every 1.[47] Baekhyun, Chen, and D.O. performed the EP's lead single, "Miracles in December", at M! Countdown on December 5.[48]

2014: Overdose, Kris' lawsuit and Fanclub Production

On 1 April 2014, SM Entertainment announced that EXO will be having a comeback on April 15.[49] The company then began to reveal individual teaser photos. The title track of the upcoming album will be called "Overdose".[50]

On April 15 at 8PM (KST), EXO held their comeback showcase, broadcast live online through Samsung Music, where they revealed their performance and music video for "Overdose" for the first time. They also performed to their major hit songs. EXO-K and EXO-M will be separate for promotions for "Overdose," promoting in Korea and China at the same time.[51] Due to South Korea's ferry accident, EXO-K who originally scheduled to make their comeback stage on April 18 at Music Bank, on April 19 at Music Core and on April 20 at Inkigayo have decided to postpone to next week.[52] EXO-M will attend their comeback stage at Global Chinese Music on April 19 as scheduled. Their 2nd mini album which suppose to be released online and offline on April 21 also have been rescheduled to May 7, 2014.[52]

EXO's "Overdose" performed exceptionally well on real-time music charts, achieving an 'all-kill' within just seven hours of its release.[53]

On May 15, 2014, member and leader of EXO-M Kris has filed a lawsuit against S.M. Entertainment to nullify his contract, as of the submission date of the lawsuit the band promotes with 11 members.[10][11]

In August 2014, S.M. Entertainment officially announced EXO's fandom name, "EXO-L". The logic behind the name is the letter "L" in "EXO-L" stands for "Love". The letter "L" also goes between the letters K and M in alphabetical order, the letter represents fans that show their avid support for both of the group's sub-units, "EXO-K" and "EXO-M. The letter "L" is also the twelfth letter in the English alphabet, signifying the twelve members of Exo before Kris' leave.[54] The group as well as launched an official app and website release for their fanclub, EXO-L's official Korean website and the app, EXO-L's official Android application page. EXO is the first K-pop band to launch an app in the K-pop Entertainment Industry. The app is available to Android and Apple users as of August, 16, 2014.[55] As of August, 25, 2014, the website has garnered a total of 2,330,278 members and counting, as the site has encountered technically difficulties due to heavy traffic.[56] S.M. Entertainment has expressed their appreciation for the fans support as they fix both the app and website.[57]


Main article: List of Exo members


Stage name [58] Birth name Date of birth [59] Nationality
Name Hangul Hanja Hangul Romanized
Suho 수호 金俊勉 김준면 Kim Jun Myun (1991-05-22) May 22, 1991 (age 23)  South Korea
Baekhyun 백현 邊伯賢 변백현 Byun Baek Hyun (1992-05-06) May 6, 1992 (age 22)
Chanyeol 찬열 朴燦烈 박찬열 Park Chan Yeol (1992-11-27) November 27, 1992 (age 21)
D.O 디오 都暻秀 도경수 Do Kyung Soo (1993-01-12) January 12, 1993 (age 21)
Kai 카이 金鍾仁 김종인 Kim Jong In (1994-01-14) January 14, 1994 (age 20)
Sehun 세훈 吳世勳 오세훈 Oh Se Hun (1994-04-12) April 12, 1994 (age 20)


Stage name [60] Birth name Date of birth [61] Nationality
Name Hangul Hanja Hangul Romanized
Xiumin 시우민 金珉錫 김민석 Kim Min Seok (1989-03-26) March 26, 1989 (age 25)  South Korea
Luhan 루한 鹿晗 루한 Lu Han (1990-04-20) April 20, 1990 (age 24)  China
Kris (inactive) 크리스 吳亦凡 우이판 Wu Yifan (1990-11-06) November 6, 1990 (age 23)  Canada
Lay 레이 張藝興 장이씽 Zhang Yixing (1991-10-07) October 7, 1991 (age 22)  China
Chen 金鐘大 김종대 Kim Jong Dae (1992-09-21) September 21, 1992 (age 21)  South Korea
Tao 타오 黃子韜 황쯔타오 Huang Zitao (1993-05-02) May 2, 1993 (age 21)  China
  • Nationality states where members currently hold citizenship
  • Bolded as the team leader


Main article: Exo discography

All releases are credited as EXO unless otherwise indicated.

Studio albums
Extended plays


Main article: EXO videography

Prior to EXO's debut, Suho was cast as an extra in the Super Junior film Attack on the Pin-Up Boys, released in 2007. In 2008, Suho, Chanyeol, and Kai made brief appearances as trainees on TVXQ's music video, "HaHaHa Song". In 2010, Chanyeol starred in the music video for "Genie", Girls' Generation's Japanese single. That same year, Tao made a quick appearance as an extra on the ninth episode of the mainland Chinese drama That Love Comes (欢迎爱光临). In early 2011, Lay was a main dancer for SHINee's 1st World Concert, filling in for Jonghyun who was injured at the time.

After debut, Chanyeol and Sehun made cameo appearances on the second episode of the 2013 South Korean sitcom, Royal Villa (시트콩 로얄빌라). Xiumin starred alongside actress Kim Yoo-jung in Jin's 2013 music video, "Gone",[62] and Chanyeol starred in K.Will's "You Don't Know Love" music video.[63] In 2014, D.O. will make his feature film debut on the movie Cart, starring as the son of Yeom Jeong-ah's character.[64]


On May 15, 2014, S.M. Entertainment confirmed through an interview that EXO-M's leader, Kris, had filed a lawsuit against the agency to terminate his contract.[65] It is suspected that there is disagreement between him and S.M. Entertainment regarding his activities.[66] The same law firm that represented Han Geng of Super Junior in his lawsuit against S.M. Entertainment will also be representing Kris.[67]


Other ventures


After only a month of debut, EXO-K covered South Korea's High Cut magazine and was featured in a spread for Calvin Klein Jeans.[68] EXO-K was also chosen to be the new ambassador for the 2013 Fall/Winter collection of school uniforms for South Korea's Ivy Club, and endorsed the brand simultaneously with actress Kim Yoo-jung.[69] EXO-K further endorsed the "Chia seed" skincare cream for South Korea's The Face Shop[70] and Sunny 10, a new brand of drinks from Coca Cola that is exclusive to South Korea.[71]

In November 2012, EXO-K shot a commercial ad for the Samsung Ativ PC.[72] EXO-K's Kai and EXO-M's Lu Han also worked with the Hyundai Motor Company, and formed a temporary band, the Younique Unit, with four other S.M. Entertainment label mates in order to promote the motor company's PYL campaign. Their promotional music video, "Maxstep", was released on October 30, 2012.[73]

Early February 2013, EXO began to promote for the popular South Korean clothing brand, "Kolon Sport." The band shot a commercial ad for a new pair of sneakers named after them, MOVE-XO.[74] The commercial featured both Exo-K & M split into two groups, a red and blue team, they battled by showing off unique dance moves to win Nam Bo-ra's heart.[75] The band was also featured in the "Summer T-Shirt" catalog as of June, 2014, promoting Kolon Sport's Summer wear.[76]

While promoting their first album XOXO, the twelve members of EXO modeled for the August 2013 edition of the male fashion magazine, L'officiel Hommes.[77] In August, the band launched a clothing range Boy Who Cried Wolf (BWCW), partnering up with various Korean street brands. The collaboration store is located at OUTLAB in Garosu-gil, Sinsa-dong.[78] EXO also has a 2-year endorsement deal with cosmetics brand, Nature Republic.[79]


The members of EXO-K became goodwill ambassadors for South Korea's Red Cross Youth in December 2012.[80] Members of EXO became honorary ambassadors for Seoul's Gangnam district in February 2014 with SHINee.[81]

Awards and nominations

EXO have been recipients of 51 awards from South Korea and mainland China. On June 14, 2013, a year after their official debut, the band received their first number-one win on South Korean music program Music Bank with the single "Wolf." The following weekend, the song achieved number-one wins on Show! Music Core and The Music Trend, becoming a "triple win" hit.[8] It also won a champion trophy on music program Show Champion.[82]


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External links