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Big Bang (South Korean band)

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"BIGBANG" redirects here. For other uses, see Big Bang (disambiguation).
Big Bang
BIGBANG Extraordinary 20's.JPG
Left to right: G-Dragon, T.O.P, Seungri, Taeyang, Daesung.
Background information
Origin Seoul, South Korea
Genres
Years active 2006–present
Labels
Associated acts
Website www.ygbigbang.com
Members T.O.P
Taeyang
G-Dragon
Daesung
Seungri

Big Bang (Korean: 빅뱅) is a South Korean boy band formed by YG Entertainment. Consisting of members G-Dragon, T.O.P, Taeyang, Daesung, and Seungri, the group officially debuted on August 19, 2006. Despite initial lukewarm receptions, their breakthrough came with the extended play, Always (2007), which yielded the number one song "Lies" (Korean: 거짓말; Revised Romanization: Geojitmal). The song went on to top major Korean music charts for a record-breaking seven consecutive weeks,[3] and won the group the Song of the Year award at the 9th Mnet Korean Music Festival.[4]

Big Bang's follow-up releases furthered their success and popularity: Hot Issue (2007) spawned the chart-topping song "Last Farewell," (Korean: 마지막 인사; Revised Romanization: Majimak Insa), while Stand Up (2008) produced "Day by Day" (Korean: 하루하루, Revised Romanization: Haru Haru). After receiving the Artist of the Year award from the 2008 Mnet Korean Music Festival, the group expanded their endeavors to Japan, releasing both their second Korean studio-album, Remember, and their first Japanese album, Number 1, in the same year, and consequently winning three awards at the 9th MTV Video Music Awards Japan.[5][6] They would go on to release three more Japanese studio albums: Big Bang (2009), Big Bang 2 (2011), and the Japanese-language edition of Alive (2012). Amidst their Japanese promotions, the members branched out to do solo activities: Taeyang and G-Dragon released solo albums, G-Dragon and T.O.P formed a sub-unit, Seungri and Daesung acted in musicals and hosted variety shows, and T.O.P went on to star in various films and television shows.

After a two-year hiatus in South Korea, Big Bang reunited in 2011 with their EP Tonight (2011). Promotions were cut short when multiple members encountered legal issues. By the end of the year, Big Bang emerged as the inaugural Best Worldwide Act winner at the 2011 MTV Europe Music Awards.[7] Three months after their win in Europe, Big Bang released their most successful physical album, the Korean EP Alive (2012), earning their second Artist of the Year Award at the 14th Mnet Asian Music Awards. Alive became the first Korean album to chart on the Billboard 200, with the group embarking on their first ever world tour that concluded in early 2013. The critically acclaimed Made (2016) was preceded by several chart-topping singles, winning the group their third Artist of the Year award at the 17th Mnet Asian Music Awards. Their second world tour in support of the album gathered 1.5 million attendance, making it the largest tour by any Korean act.[8][9]

Labeled as the "Kings of K-pop"[10][11][12][13][14] and the "Nation's Boy Band,"[15] the members’ involvement in composing and producing their own music, most notably G-Dragon, has earned the group respect and praise from the music industry.[16] Including the members' solo releases and sub-units, Big Bang have sold over 140 million records, with over 128 million singles and 13 million albums in Korea, Japan and China, making them the best-selling digital group of all-time in Asia and one of the best-selling boy bands in the world.[17][18][19][20][21] They have won numerous awards and set several records, including being the act who spent the most months at number one on the Gaon Chart and the most weeks at number one on Melon, besides being the all-time best-selling artist in Cyworld. Big Bang was the first Korean artist to enter Forbes Magazine's Celebrity 100 and the 30 under 30 most influential musicians in the world lists. Citing their global popularity and contribution to K-pop, The Washington Post have described them as "the biggest band in Asia"[22] and the Hollywood Reporter as "the biggest boy band in the world."[23]

History

2000–2006: Formation and debut

Prior to the group's debut, a few of the members were already exposed to the entertainment industry. G-Dragon and Taeyang were the first ones to receive training under YG Entertainment at the age of eleven. After G-Dragon was approached by YG Entertainment for possible candidates to start a boy group, G-Dragon contacted T.O.P, his childhood friend, leading to the latter to audition.[24] At the time, T.O.P was an underground rapper under the stage name "Tempo."[25] One of his most popular tracks was "Buckwild" with NBK Gray.[26] Seungri first appeared on the reality television series Let's Cokeplay: Mnet Battle Shinhwa, a show in which idol group Shinhwa search for members to make up the "second-generation Shinhwa."[27][28] The original lineup consisted of six members: the aforementioned ones along with Daesung and Hyun-seung, who were both auditioned in. Their formation was documented on television; prior to their official debut, Hyun-seung was dropped.[29][30]

Big Bang held their official debut on August 19, 2006 at the Gymnastics Arena in Seoul Olympic Park during the YG Family 10th Year Concert, which was broadcast the following month.[31] Their first single "Bigbang," released shortly thereafter, contained the songs "We Belong Together," featuring label mate Park Bom; "A Fool's Only Tears" (Korean: 눈물뿐인 바보; Revised Romanization: Nunmulppunin Babo); and "This Love," an adaptation of the American rock band Maroon 5 song, rewritten and performed by G-Dragon.[29][32] The single went on to sell nearly 40,000 copies.[33] The second single, "BigBang Is V.I.P," was released in September, eventually topping 32,000 copies sold.[33] Their last single, "Bigbang 03," followed, with final sales nearing 40,000 copies.[33] The group held their first concert, The Real, that December, followed by their debut album, BigBang Vol. 1 – Since 2007. Debuting at no. 3, the album went on to sell over 110,000 copies.[34]

2007–2008: Breakthrough success and Japanese debut

Big Bang at MTV Fast Forward, Thailand, December 2007

On February 8, 2007, Big Bang released their live concert album, The First / Real Live Concert, which sold 30,000 copies by the end of the year.[35] They also inititated their Want You Tour in support of Since 2007, visiting five cities: Incheon, Daegu, Changwon, Jeonju and Busan.[36] Their first extended play, Always (2007), marked several changes for the group. Though members had previously involved themselves with writing and composing, the group took more creative control over their music, moving away from their hip-hop roots. G-Dragon composed and wrote most of the tracks, including the lead single "Lies."[37] The EP also saw the introduction of electronic music for Big Bang. Receptions were fairly positive, most notably in regards to "Lies," which critics described as "through the roof."[38] Released as the lead single, it became their first number one hit and the album sold over 120,000 copies.[39]

Their second EP, Hot Issue, released that same year, followed its predecessor's success: the lead-single, "Last Farewell," topped various charts, including the Juke-On's chart for eight consecutive weeks.[40] It also garnered the Song of the Month (Digital Music) Award from Cyworld, leading Hot Issue's sales to moved over 120,000 copies total in South Korea.[41] They also staged their Big Bang is Great concert, with tickets selling out in 10 minutes.[42][43]

Due to over-performing and exhaustion, several members were hospitalized, halting promotional activities.[45] Despite this, their albums and singles were in high demand, causing the record company to reprint and repackage them for re-release.[46] Riding on the success of their EPs, the group collected numerous awards, including Best Male Group and Song of The Year from the 2007 Mnet Asian Music Awards.[47] They later received the Artist of the Year Award from the 17th Seoul Music Awards.[48] The group earned a total of 12 billion ($11.5 million) by year's end.[49]

As 2007 came to a close, Big Bang ventured overseas to Japan. Their first Japanese EP, For the World (2008),[50] charted at number 10 on the Oricon chart with minimal promotion.[51] The group also held a concert at the JCB Hall in Tokyo Dome City. Big Bang returned to South Korea after their promotions in Japan ended. Although group activities were delayed due to solo projects, their third Korean EP, Stand Up, was released. Featuring artists sch as Daishi Dance and the Korean rock-band No Brain, Stand Up exceeded the 200,000 mark in sales.[52] "Day by Day," the lead single, topped several online charts and held the number one position for six consecutive weeks.[44] It also became one of the most successful singles of all-time in South Korea, selling over 5.4 million digital downloads in South Korea alone.[53] The EP also included the top-five song "Heaven," (Korean: 천국; Revised Romanization: Cheonguk) the top-ten "Oh My Friend," and the top-twenty "A Good Man" (Korean: 착한 사람; Revised Romanization: Chaghan Salam) and "Lady."[54]

During the release of their Korean materials, Big Bang released the Japanese song, "Number 1," from their first Japanese studio album of the same name, performing the song on Japanese radio programs and TV shows; the album peaked at number three on the Japan's Oricon daily album chart. Their second Korean studio album, Remember (2008), yielded the number one single, "Sunset Glow" (Korean: 붉은노을; Revised Romanization: Byulkeun Noeul). "Strong Baby," performed solely by Seungri, was released as the second single. The album went on to sell over 200,000 copies.[54] Big Bang received their second Artist of the Year Award from the 2008 Mnet Asian Music Awards.[55] At the end of 2008, it was reported that Big Bang earned a total of 36 billion ($34.5 million).[49]

2009–2011: Solo endeavors, Japanese activities, and commercial success

Big Bang in 2011

While the group was on a break in early 2009, members pursued solo activities. They reunited to collaborate with 2NE1, their label's new girl group who had been dubbed as "The Female Big Bang" at the time,[56] for "Lollipop," a song used to promote a cell phone by LG Cyon. A music video was also filmed for promotion.[57] Big Bang also released their third endorsement digital single "So Fresh, So Cool" to promote the beer brand "Hite," although Seungri was not in the commercial due to the fact he was not of drinking age.[58] Their second self-titled Japanese studio album was released under Universal Music in August 2009 and was promoted with two singles: "My Heaven" and "Gara Gara Go!! (ガラガラ GO!!?)."[59][60] "My Heaven," a Japanese re-recording of their Korean single "Heaven" from Stand Up, debuted at number three on the Oricon Music Chart.[61] "Gara Gara Go!" charted at the fifth spot[62] and the album itself peaked at number three.[62]

Kicking off the new year with the 2010 Big Bang Concert Big Show[63] at the Seoul Olympic Stadium,[64] Big Bang flew to Japan to embark on their Electric Love Tour.[65] Their third Japanese studio album, Big Bang 2 (2011) was preceded with three singles: '"Koe wo Kikasete" (声をきかせて lit. Let Me Hear Your Voice?), "Tell Me Goodbye," and "Beautiful Hangover."[66] "Koe wo Kikasete" was used in the Japanese drama Ohitorisama (おひとりさま One Person?),[36][67][68] and peaked at number 4 on the Oricon Chart.[69] "Tell Me Goodbye" was included in the Japanese re-release of Korean drama Iris.[70] The song proved to be popular and gained favorable reviews,[70] winning Song of the Year at the 52nd Japan Record Awards.[71] Two promotional singles were also released in their homecountry: the number one song "Lollipop Part 2" to once again promote LG Cyon's Lollipop phone,[72][73] and "Shout of the Reds" featuring the Korean rock band Transfixion and figure skater Kim Yuna in support of the 2010 World Cup.[74] For most of the year, members individually promoted their own work,[75] including the introduction of the sub-unit GD & TOP with their collaboration album.[76] Big Bang also won several notable awards, including the Best 5 New Artists award from the 24th Japan Gold Disc Awards[77] as well as the Best New Artist award.[78] Near the end of May, the group received the awards for Best Pop Video and Best New Artist from the MTV Video Music Awards Japan 2010.[79]

After nearly two-year hiatus as a full group, Big Bang returned to South Korea with their 2011 Big Show concert,[80] showcasing songs from the upcoming EP Tonight.[81] The album had a pre-sale order of 10,000 copies in Cyworld, beating the record set by TVXQ's 6,500 copies back in 2008,[82] and moved 100,000 units in a week.[83] Reception for the album was positive, with Choi Jun of Asiae complimenting the group's new direction in their music, acknowledging that during the two years hiatus, the group's "style and musical sensibility [had] deepened."[84] Seven days after the album's release, it was reported that Big Bang had already earned 7 billion (USD$6.6 million).[85] Its lead-single of the same name became a chart-topper on the Gaon Chart.[86] After promotions for Tonight was finished, Big Bang released a special edition album with two new tracks: "Love Song" and "Stupid Liar." "Love Song"'s music video on YouTube gained 2 million views within just two days.[87] The Love & Hope Tour was kicked off in May in support of the album.[88]

At the 2011 MTV EMA, Big Bang won the Best Worldwide Act award as representatives of the Asia-Pacific region with over 58 million votes.[89] "Love Song" also won Best Music Video at the 2011 Mnet Asian Music Awards. Big Bang later celebrated YG Entertainment's 15th anniversary by participating in the 2011 YG Family Concert Tour. This was followed by a release of their third Greatest Hits album The Best of Big Bang on December 14, which contained a Japanese version of their number one hit "Day by Day." The album topped the Oricon Daily chart on its first day of release and went on to sell over 14,000 copies in the first week. It was reported that Big Bang earned ₩88 billion (USD$84.5 million) in 2011 even though they had just promoted for half a year. The earnings included Big Bang's revenue concert for SBS's Big Bang Show, their 2011 Big Show Concert and their Love and Hope Tour in Japan.

2012–2014: International recognition, first world tour, and hiatus

Big Bang performing in 2012

In January 2012, YG Entertainment began releasing teasers for Big Bang's fifth Korean EP Alive, which was released in both digital and physical formats in February. Preorders for Alive amounted to 260,000 copies in two weeks.[90] The album was generally well received and praised for showcasing the group's "progress, musical variety, [and] non-conformity" while "still maintaining Big Bang's unique identity" by Mithun Divakaran.[91] Its lead single, "Blue," was released a week prior to the album's release and reached the number one position on all major domestic charts.[92] The EP was a commercial success, selling in excess of 200,000 copies after one month.[93] Internationally, Big Bang obtained five spots out of the top-ten on Billboard K-pop's Hot 100 and charted at no. 150 on Billboard 200, making them the first Korean artist with a Korean album to do so.[94] Their popularity also boosted them onto the Billboard Social 50, entering at number twenty-four. They later received recognition from notable sites such as Time magazine,[95] and a photo of the group was featured on the Grammy Awards homepage.[96]

The album release coincided with their annual concert, Big Show 2012, held at Seoul Olympic Park Stadium from March 2–4 to a sold-out crowd of 40,000 fans.[97] This marked the official kick off of their first world tour Big Bang Alive Galaxy Tour 2012, in partnership with Live Nation.[98] It was directed by renowned choreographer Laurieann Gibson, with Big Bang performing at 21 cities in over 13 countries.[99] Concert footage from Big Show was broadcast in 160 countries through MTV World Stage, which pushed the promotion for their world tour. On March 6, 2012, the music video for "Fantastic Baby" was released on YouTube. This is currently the band's most popular song, having received more than two hundred and seventy-five views on YouTube, the most watched video by a Korean group.[100]

The Japanese version of Alive was released on March 28 both digitally and physically, with two additional Japanese tracks. Included with the physical copy of their album was a bonus Japanese version of their hit song "Day by Day."[101] It sold over 23,000 copies on its first day of release and peaked at number two on the Oricon charts,[102] eventually selling over 200,000 copies total[103] and certified gold by the RIAJ.[102] Japanese promotions began with a performance at 2012's Springroove Festival alongside top American and Japanese hip hop artists. Big Bang was the first Korean act to be invited along with label-mates 2NE1.[104] Following the success of their comeback, Big Bang released a special edition album titled Still Alive on June 3. It featured four new tracks including two new Korean tracks of which their lead single was titled "Monster," as well as Korean remakes of the two additional tracks in the Japanese version of Alive. The album sold over 100,000 copies in its first month of release.[103] A special Monster edition of their Japanese Alive album was also released on June 20, following its Korean counterpart.

The success of their special edition album further boosted the group's global recognition, peaking at no. 11 on the Billboard Social 50.[105] In support of the albums, they launched the Alive Galaxy World Tour, spanning several countries and regions. After touring the Americas, they flew back to Japan for their "Special Final in Dome Tour," stopping at some of the largest stadiums in Japan including Osaka Dome, Tokyo Dome and Fukuoka Dome. Big Bang also performed in Hong Kong and England in December 2012. One concert was scheduled in London, England but another date was added due to popular demand. The group concluded the tour with concerts in Osaka in mid-January along with a three night stint at the Olympic Gymnastics Arena in Seoul later that month. On November 30, 2012, Big Bang received a total of three awards at the 14th Mnet Asian Music Awards, including Best Male Group and Artist of the Year. G-Dragon also took home Best Male Solo award at the event.[106] They also received the Best Fan category award at the Italian TRL Awards.[107] After promotional activities wrapped up, members dissolved once again into solo activities.

2015–present: Critical acclaim, second world tour, 10th anniversary, and military service

Big Bang performing during their MADE Tour in 2015

After a three-year hiatus, Big Bang made their comeback by releasing special "project singles" for their album Made: "M," "A," "D," and "E."[108] The first single, "M" (May 2015), included the two songs "Loser" and "Bae Bae," with the former charting at No. 1 and the latter at No. 2 on Billboard's World Digital Songs chart, the second Korean act to do so after labelmate Psy for his songs "Gangnam Style" and "Gentleman."[109] At the 13th Korean Music Awards, "Bae Bae" won the award for Song of the Year.[110] The following month saw the release of "A" (June 2015). Its two songs, "Bang Bang Bang" (Korean:뱅뱅뱅) and "We Like 2 Party," also went on to occupy the number one and two positions on Billboard's World Digital Chart.[111] On the music video charts of QQ Music, "Bang Bang Bang" and "We Like 2 Party" held the No. 1 and No. 2, while "Loser" and "Bae Bae" occupied the No. 3 and 6 positions.[112] "Bang Bang Bang" later won International Song of The Summer on MTV IGGY.[113] "D" (July 2015) contained "Sober" (Korean: 맨정신; Revised Romanization: Maenjeongsin) and "If You." On the music video charts of QQ Music, "Sober" took the number one position surpassing "Bang Bang Bang." (The group did not release a music video for "If You.") "If You" and "Sober" landed on Billboard's World Digital Chart with "If You" at number two and "Sober" at number three.[114] The strings of singles concluded with "E" (August 2015), with the songs "Zutter," (Korean: 쩔어; Revised Romanization: jjeoreo) featuring the subunit of GD & TOP, and "Let's Not Fall In Love"[115] (Korean: 우리 사랑하지 말아요; Revised Romanization: Uri Saranghaji Marayo). The latter debuted at number one on the Gaon Singles Chart as well as peaked at number one on Billboard World Digital Songs chart.[116] The combined sales of the singles have accumulated to over 25 million copies throughout Asia. To promote their singles, Big Bang commenced the critically acclaim and commercially successful Made World Tour. Kicking off with two shows in Seoul on April 25 and 26, the tour gathered 1.5 million fans around the world, making it the largest tour by any Korean act.[117][118] By the end of the year, Big Bang earned over ₩150 billion (USD$120 million).[119]

Despite the commercial success of the singles, the release date of the album was postponed to add new songs to the album and for the group to rest after four months of promotions.[120] At the 17th Mnet Asian Music Awards, Big Bang emerged as one of the biggest winners of the night, winning four awards including their third Artist of the Year Award.[121] Big Bang continued touring into 2016, with their 2016 Big Bang Made [V.I.P] Tour in China and Taiwan, meeting a total of 182,000 fans.[122][123] In April and March, they traveled to Japan for the Fantastic Babys 2016 Tour, gathering 280,000 fans.[123][124] Big Bang later took home the Best Artist from the World award at the 2016 MTV Italian Music Awards, becoming the first and only Korean act to win a prize in the event.[125]

Several projects were executed to commemorate the group's 10th anniversary.[126] The first one was the documentary Big Bang Made, which followed the group through their Made World Tour 2015; it was released on June 30.[127][128] The second one was a series of concerts titled 0.TO.10 held in two locations: Yanmar Stadium Nagai in Osaka, Japan from July 29–31 and Seoul World Cup Stadium in South Korea on August 20.[129][130][131] A fourth Japan Dome Tour was later added at the end of 2016; in doing so, Big Bang broke their own record by being the first foreign act to hold a Japanese dome tour for four consecutive years.[132] The tour was expected to draw 781,500 people from 16 concerts,[133][134] to bring over 1.01 million fans from the tour. The third project, named A TO Z, was an exhibition showcasing the history of the group in Seoul, South Korea that ran from August 5 to October 30.[123][135]

After a year of delay, Made was issued to both digital and physical formats in December 2016.[136] Two singles preceded its release: "Fxxk It," (Korean: 에라 모르겠다; Revised Romanization: Era Moreugedda) and "Last Dance."[137][138] The two title tracks, along with "Girlfriend", took the three top places on the Gaon Chart, selling over 1 million digital copies combined in five days.[139][140] The same songs peaked at number 2, 3 and 4 on the Billboard World Digital Songs chart, selling 13,000 copies combined.[141] The digital version of Made sold a total over 1 million digital copies on QQ Music, Kugou, and Kuwo, China's three major music platforms.[142] The album debuted at No. 172 on the United States Billboard 200 with 6,000 equivalent album units, 4,000 of which were in traditional album sales, earning the band their second entry on the chart. They also debuted at no. 1 on the World Albums chart and the Heatseekers Albums chart.[141] In their home country, South Korea, the limited edition physical version of the album was released on December 23, and topped the Gaon Albums chart.[143][144] Two special encore concerts, titled Big Bang The Concert: 0.To.10 Final In Seoul, were held at the Gocheok Sky Dome from January 7–8, 2017[145] to wrap up their 10th anniversary tour and Made's promotional activities.[145]

As per South Korea's mandatory military service requirement, T.O.P. enlisted for his two-year service on February 9, 2017 as a conscripted policeman.[146] The remaining members will continue promotions without him.[147]

Artistry

Music and lyrics

See also: K-pop

While K-pop is notorious for producing highly manufactured bubblegum groups, Big Bang have been praised for their individuality and ability to fuse a pop sound with rap, R&B and dance elements.[148] The quintet is known for experimentalism[149] and for a "dominating style of music that surpasses genre boundaries."[150] During the early days of their career, Big Bang's music was predominantly hip hop and pop rap, although they incorporated R&B songs into their albums as well. A writer for Yahoo! Japan once compared their early materials to that of American hip-hop artists such as The Black Eyed Peas, stating that their songs included "catchy vocals, [...] rap and characters."[151] The song "Ma Girl," Taeyang's first solo from the group's first album, was described as "[s]mooth, sexy and bass-heavy," in reminiscent of Omarion.[152] Similarly, Seungri's first solo from the same album, "Next Day" (Korean: 다음날, Revised Romanization: Daeum Nal), was stated to have an "intense ‘90s Usher vibes."[153] Always (2007) was noted for its change of musical styles from their previous efforts, with the group experimenting with electronic dance music and setting it as the new music trend in Korea.[154] From their EP Hot Issue (2007), the "shibuya-kei-influenced" "Fool" (Korean: 바보; Revised Romanization: Babo) contained a "heavy dance beat paired with a smooth disco coating."[155] "Day by Day" from Stand Up (2008) was admired for "weaving in and out of tempos seamlessly and forcing a sense of anxiety on the listener through the beating undercurrent" and hailed as an "experiential masterpiece."[150] They also collaborated with the Korean rock-band No Brain for the rock song "Oh My Friend."[156] Alive (2012) was noted for showcasing the group's voice instead of their usual autotune, being described as having "a mature kind of intensity,"[157] with "Blue" being distinguished for including "more interesting electronic samples and production techniques"[158] and "Bad Boy" described as having a "nostalgic" sentiment,[159] being called a "perfect pop song," that "transcends language."[160] Their song "Monster" was praised for its use of the piano and orchestra sound[161] and the composition for "Bingle Bingle" (Korean: 빙글빙글; Revised Romanization: Binggeul Binggeul) was noted for being electronic and retro, similar to the work of Katy Perry and Daft Punk.[162] The group mixed a variety of electronic music with soft rock for their Made (2016) series.[163][164][165] which was described as "career-exemplifying."[166] "Loser" was cited for "introduc[ing] a more mature style" to the group "without losing the images they had enforced through previous releases," while "Bang Bang Bang" was acclaimed for its EDM-inspired sound[167] and "Bae Bae" for its "boundary-pushing elements".[158] In "Let's Not Fall in Love," Big Bang was complimented for being at "their most tender," with the song being described as having a "lush production that evokes a range of emotions."[168] while "Girlfriend" was a "mellow hip-hop throwback to the group’s early days."[169]

Members of the band have branched out to other styles for solo projects, thus the group has been described as "rich in variety" for their fans.[151] Taeyang's EP Hot was mainly a collection of R&B songs, with the singer stating that this genre was his "main focus."[170] Daesung's first digital single, "Look at Me, GwiSoon" (Korean: 날 봐, 귀순, Revised Romanization: Nal Bwa Gwisoon), was a trot song, which drew criticism due to Big Bang's image as "hip-hop artists."[171] For his debut album, Heartbreaker, G-Dragon incorporated a mix of dance, hip-hop, and R&B songs.[172] Justin Mccurry from The Guardian said that "[e]ach of the five members has his own individual look, and their musical range is equally eclectic, covering R&B, hip-hop, house, electro and pop."[173] Additionally, they have been described as "artistic superheroes" for showing "versatility and success in whatever they do" by rivaling companies.[22] Their continued experimentation with a diverse range of musical styles and their distinct personalities have been highlighted as some of the main reasons for their popularity and longevity.[174] The Chosun Ilbo explained their "strong lead among idol groups" as a result of the quality of their music, noting that "whenever Big Bang promotes new songs, they want to introduce something new and tell us new stories. It is the reason why they are different from other ‘idols’, both in terms of their clothing and choreography."[175] Internationally, Big Bang is often referred to as a "K-pop" group, a label which they do not appreciate,[176] with G-Dragon commenting that, "We are Korean, so obviously they call our music K-pop. But we never thought of our music as K-pop. Our music is just our music." In addition, T.O.P noted that "[y]ou don’t divide pop music by who's doing it. We don’t say, for instance, ‘white pop’ when white people make music."[22]

The group is known for maintaining tight control over their career,[23] heavily involving themselves since the beginning in the creation of their music and lyrics, as opposed to other Korean artists.[157] G-Dragon is the most involved in the production of the group's materials,[38] penning lyrics and composing songs such as "Lies," "Last Farewell," and "Day by Day." G-Dragon, T.O.P., and Taeyang also collaboratively wrote "Last Dance," with G-Dragon producing its composition.[138] Recurring themes in their lyrics deal with love and relationships. In "Bingle Bingle," a protagonist is pleading to his lover to take the next step in the relationship.[162] In contrast, "Let's Not Fall in Love" halts a relationship from growing for fear of breaking their lover's heart.[177] Big Bang have also covered other topics in their songs. "Fantastic Baby" and "Bang Bang Bang" are often described as club music due to their lyrical contents, with the former described as having an "anarchistic" theme and the latter being labeled as the "party anthem of 2015."[167] "Fxxk It"'s use of vulgarity was seen as evidence to their growing age.[166] Their song "Loser" was an attempt to "humanize the group" by discussing their flaws.[178] "Bae Bae" was noted for its metaphor about sex.[179][180] "Sober" talks about chasing one's dream,[181] while "Last Dance" is an ode to the band’s time together.[169] G-Dragon's contributions were praised by the Korea Times, who described him as a "genius singer-songwriter."[182] The rapper himself describes Big Bang as "an idol group not born of talent but through effort."[183] A writer for Yahoo! Japan complimented the group for their involvement in their work, stating that "perhaps by contributing to their own materials, not only do they become in sync with one another, but each person's personality stands out."[151]

Big Bang on stage in 2011

Stage

Big Bang is known for their lavish sets on stage, complete with choreography, costumes, and props. The quintet is choreographed by Seungri[184] and sometimes Shaun Evaristo.[185] While they once relied heavily on street dancing for their moves, they have made a transition towards other styles of choreography, with many of their dance being widely copied and covered. One of the moves, which incorporates the group lifting their shirts to expose their abdomens, quickly gained popularity online and became one of the top searches on the internet.[186] Another one, in which the group incorporates the idea of "jump roping" as a dance move, also gained attention from fans.[187] The dance for "Bang Bang Bang," choreographed by Parris Goebel, was one of the most popular dances for the year 2015.[188] Their stage fashion is also a highlight: Fuse TV noted that "their outfits are almost as entertaining as their performances."[189] The group first adopted the "hip-hop" concept for their debut. The release of Always in 2007 was accompanied by a change in image, with the group leaning towards a more preppy-punk style, including skinny jeans with Converse or high-top sneakers, which became an ongoing trend in South Korea. Taeyang also traded his cornrows for a faux hawk.[190] Members of the group have also consistently altered their hairstyles and color throughout the years.[191] Seen wearing brands such as Bape, 10 deep, Louis Vuitton, Jeremy Scott, and Phenomenon, Big Bang would also wear custom-printed hoodies for many of their performances and music videos.[25] They were also credited for bringing back "old school" fashion into the mainstream, popularizing brands such as Nike and Reebok high-top shoes.[192] Described as the "most fashionable" one in the group,[193] G-Dragon is known to sport triangular scarves that were later nicknamed "Big Bang scarves."[25] T.O.P also gained a following for wearing sunglasses during performances.[25] Their use of props during performances – including "an abundance of pyrotechnics, streamers[,] confetti,"[194] LED lights,[195] fog,[196] as well as digitalized "fire-breathing dragons and a rotor-spinning helicopter"[197] – have been praised by critics.[198][199]

At the peak of popularity for Psy's "Gangnam Style," The New York Times journalist Jon Caramanica noted how Big Bang's concert in New Jersey was the "true wild heart of K-pop" as opposed to Psy, highlighting their brightly colored costumes, choreography, and stage performance.[200] In 2012, they ranked number one in the Philippines's Top 3 Mall of Asia Arena concerts,[201] and their concert in Lima was named the best in South America for the year.[202] When compared to Western artists such as Justin Bieber and One Direction, Big Bang's performance were noted for having their "edges [...] crisper, the sound louder, the dancing sharper."[203] They were ranked second on the New York Times list of best concerts in 2012 for their Alive Tour at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.[204] In March 2012, Krista Mahr, Time magazine's South Asia correspondent, wrote an article about her first K-Pop concert at the Olympic Gymnastics Arena in Seoul, describing the group as "K-pop gods" for their stage presence.[95] Their Made World Tour in 2015 was a critical and commercial success, with the Los Angeles Times calling their Anaheim concert an "incredibly significant moment for K-Pop," praising the diversity of their songs and performances, noting how the concert "escalated the craft of live K-Pop — which sometimes doesn’t live up to the overwhelming enthusiasm of its fans — into a sleeker and more adventurous kind of arena spectacular."[205] While including the group in their Best Concerts of the Year list for the second time, The New York Times noted how the "electric, sleek and dizzyingly busy concert by one of South Korea's most vital K-pop acts made even its biggest American counterparts look like rank amateurs."[206]

Legacy

See also: Korean Wave

Big Bang were the first Korean hip-hop mainstream idols, being credited for the genre spreading throughout the world as a representative of the Hallyu Wave.[207] The Korea Times have called them "the icons of Korean pop [music]",[182] and cited how G-Dragon's rise as one of the first idol musicians to produce songs since his debut album "has inspired many young idol-wannabes to become singer-songwriters."[208] Yonhap News Agency stated that the quintet has helped “spread K-pop as a cultural brand spanning the U.S., Europe, Latin America and the Middle East.” [209] In 2011, BBC declared that "K-pop bands, including Big Bang, are making their mark around the world," citing the group's contribution to YG Entertainment's economic growth.[210] After the group won the 2011 MTV Europe Music Award for Best Worldwide Act,[211] Google announced that its subsidiary YouTube would launch its own K-pop channel in recognition of the popularity and success of K-pop.[212] The British daily newspaper The Guardian also published an article discussing the importance of how the win had "shed light on the rise of Korean music across Europe."[213] Jacques Peterson from The Sydney Morning Herald credited their success for giving a “idiosyncratic twist” on their genre that breaks the mould of the idol group formula.[214] Suk Park, the president of DramaFever, has hailed them as the vanguard of K-pop.[23] The Michigan Daily have described Big Bang as a rare group that "both innovates and defines the direction a genre takes," affirming that the group and its solo acts "have left a musical imprint that has affected the global music market."[215] Mark James Russell, an entertainment journalist based in Seoul, praised the group for defying categorization, stating how "[o]f all the mainstream acts, they’re doing the most to push boundaries of what is considered K-pop."[22] Anna Fifield from The Washington Post claimed that they "have defined and redefined South Korean pop music. They've defied the idea that so-called K-Pop is inevitably sugarcoated and factory-produced, and that boy bands are all about pretty faces and lip-synching."[22] Los Angeles Times praised their constant re-imagination of sound and image, calling Big Bang as "one of the most inventive, aesthetically visionary acts in its genre."[205] In an article published for the quintet's 10th anniversary, Billboard stated that "no act has enthralled the Korean music world in the past decade quite like Big Bang" [150] later adding that they have "shaped the Korean music industry" and were enabled to "surpass international boundaries and shirk off the limitations of K-pop's youth-focused industry."[169]

In their honor, their Big Show concert was chosen by the South Korean Touristic Committee for their Visit Korea from 2010—2012 campaign, crediting the group's "big economic impact on the country."[216] The group continues to be a prominent face of South Korea when it comes to tourism,[217] being chosen by the South Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism to be ambassadors for the country's "Creative Icon" slogan in 2016.[218] In 2016, Big Bang ranked second on Time magazine's polls for Most Influential People in the World, behind only American politician Bernie Sanders.[219] That same year, Forbes listed the group at no. 54 on their annual list of Celebrity 100, having earned $44 million from June 2015 to June 2016. Becoming the first Korean act on there, the group had the third highest annual earnings ever for a boy band, below only One Direction and Backstreet Boys.[220][221] Big Bang was named one of the most influential artists to impact the Hallyu Wave over the past twenty years, being among the acts that best represent K-pop,[222] and as the "Top Male Idol Group in the Past 20 Years" in Dong-a Ilbo's survey by both the Korean public and music critics.[223] Additionally, they were the highest ranking musicians in JoongAng Ilbo's "Most Powerful Figures In Korean Entertainment" list, ranking at number four.[224] In 2017, they became the first Korean artists to be included in Forbes 30 Under 30 list of musicians revolutionizing the modern music business.[225] Titles released by the group have become some of K-pop's most iconic songs, with "Lies" being credited as their breakout and signature song[226] and "Fantastic Baby" as "one of the biggest K-pop hits ever."[227] In their list of "The 21 Greatest K-Pop Songs of All Time," Spin magazine lists "Bad Boy" at number thirteen and the song "High High" by the duo GD & TOP at number seven.[228] "Bad Boy" also was the first K-Pop song to be included in one of Fuse's best songs of the year lists,[159] while "Fantastic Baby" ranked at number twenty-two in Rolling Stone magazine's "50 Greatest Boy Band Songs of All Time" list.[229] Additionally, "Fantastic Baby" placed second and "Love Song" thirteenth in Stereogum's list of "Best K-pop Videos."[230] "Loser" was named by Billboard the best K-pop song of 2015.[231] In 2016, "Lies" and "Day by Day" were revealed to be, respectively, the second and the fifth most downloaded songs in South Korea since 2006.[232] "Lies" was also chosen as the "Song of the Decade" by Mnet's M! Countdown in 2014,[233] and voted as the "Top Male Idol Song in the Past 20 Years" by both the Korean general public and music experts, that also ranked "Bae Bae", "Fantastic Baby" and "Day by Day" at fourth, fifth and sixth places, respectively.[223]

Big Bang performing at the Alive World Tour in September 2012

Their work, both as a group and soloists, have influenced numerous artists, including Jill Scott,[234] Pixie Lott,[235] A*M*E,[236] Dakota Fanning,[237] Nelly Furtado,[238] Jaden Smith,[239] Cho PD,[240][241] Astro,[242] BTS,[243] Teen Top,[244] Monsta X,[245] Chang Kiha,[246] Younha,[247] Dynamic Duo,[248] Zion T.,[249] Sonamoo,[250] Topp Dogg,[251] Nu'est,[252] Mamamoo's Hwasa,[253] Got7's BamBam,[254] Block B's U-Kwon,[255] iKon,[256] and Grimes. The latter also stated that K-pop, in particular G-Dragon, has influenced her musical style "more visually than anything else."[257][257][258] The Chinese boy band OkBang was specifically fashioned after Big Bang and was stated to have "many similarities to Big Bang in terms of musical style, wardrobe and hairstyles."[259] Filipino singer-actress Glaiza de Castro draws inspirations from Big Bang and their stage presence when performing original Pilipino music and acting.[260] Rapper BewhY, the winner of Show Me the Money 5, revealed he started rapping after listening to Big Bang.[261] Citing Shinhwa, the longest-running boy band in South Korea, as their influence and role model,[262] Big Bang's own influence extends beyond the music industry, shaping major trends in the fashion industry.[263] Dubbed "Big Bang fashion," their style has gained a following throughout Asia,[25] and became a cultural phenomenon in South Korea.[175] The clothes that the members donned on stage are sold in boutique stores such as DongDaeMun.[49] In 2011, Big Bang collaborated with Japanese clothing retailer Uniqlo to create T-shirts in promotion of their Japanese comeback. It was reported that the items were "sold out within 15 minutes of the store's opening."[264] National Sun Times called the members "five of the most daring, dapper dressers in the world," and praised their style for always being "bold, innovative and trend-setting."[265] Their impact on Korea's fashion industry was highlighted in Vogue Korea's exhibition in Seoul marking 100 years of the country's fashion history.[266] While the quintet have established themselves as fashion icons, being named one of the most stylish boy bands of all time by western media,[267] they have been criticized for appropriating hip-hop culture, specifically their use of clothes, color coordination, and hairstyles.[268]

Fandom

Korean fan clubs play an essential role in the K-pop industry; their structure and operation is different from Western fan clubs.[269] Each club has its own name and color: Big Bang's fans dubbed themselves the V.I.P. (named after the single of the same name) and hold crown-shaped yellow light sticks.[270] Credited for the spread of the "fan-rice tower," Big Bang has encouraged their fans to buy bags of rice and bring them to their concerts; the group then donates the rice to a charitable cause. For their first show in months, 12.7 tons of rice were donated from 50 fan clubs around the world.[95] Despite their Korean heritage, the group are noted for having an international multicultural fan community.[203] Celebrities across Asia have also identify themselves as V.I.P.s, including Angelababy, Jiro Wang, Shu Qi, G.E.M., Song Hye-kyo,[271] Cho Yeo-jeong,[272] Ailee[273] and Glaiza de Castro.[260] In 2016, V.I.P.s were named the top fan base of 2016, beating against the fan base of popular artists such as Demi Lovato, Britney Spears and Selena Gomez in an online poll.[274]

Accolades

Big Bang has amassed numerous achievements and awards, setting several records in their home country and overseas. Their lyrics and musical composition have resonated among fans and critics, having won multiple Song of the Year awards from numerous award shows, including in the 13th Korean Music Awards, for "Bae Bae."[110] They were crowned Artist of the Year at the 17th Seoul Music Awards in 2008[275] and at the 7th Melon Music Awards in 2015.[276] The group currently holds the record as the only artist to win more than one Artist of the Year Award from the Mnet Asian Music Awards, having won in 2008, 2012, and 2015.[277] The group won multiple Best New Artist awards during the early days of their career in Japan.[71][77][79] Emerging as MTV EMA's 2011 Best Worldwide Act, Big Bang was acclaimed as an international icon.[89] They have won three World Music Awards, including Video of the Year for "Fantastic Baby".[278] Big Bang became the first and only Korean act to win an award at the MTV Italian Music Awards when they took home the Best Artist from the World award in 2016.[125] The quintet has been honored with the award for Most Influential Group in Asia at the 5th Gaon Chart K-Pop Awards[279] and with a Special Achievement award at the 58th Japan Record Awards.[280]

In 2014, the tenth anniversary of the digital music market release in South Korea, Big Bang was relevead to be the second act with the most digital hits songs in history. With the release of Made, (2016) they became the first.[281] Their albums Hot Issue (2007), Stand Up (2008), Remember (2008), Tonight (2011) and Alive (2012) were also cited as some of the most successful digital albums in history.[282] Their breakthrough hit was the 2007 "Lies," which would stay on Melon Chart's Top 100 for over 54 weeks, the first song to spend over 50 weeks on chart, including 22 weeks on Top 10.[3][283] The following "Last Farewell" tied the all-time record for the most weeks spent at number 1 on Melon, topping the chart for 8 consecutive weeks.[40] In 2011, they reached the top of Cyworld's Hall of Fame, making them the best selling artist of all time in the chart.[284] Their album Tonight (2011) became the very first K-pop album to reach the Top 10 on US iTunes chart.[285] With Alive (2012) they became the first artist to occupy five out of the ten spots on the Billboard K-pop Hot 100 Top 10.[158] Their single albums "M," "A," "D," and "E," all released in 2015, made them the second Korean act after labelmate Psy to chart at the number one and number two simultaneously on Billboard's World Digital Songs chart, repeating this feat three times.[109] In 2015 they became the first act to have three songs in the Top 5 Gaon Digital Year End Chart, as well as the first act to hold the first and second spots simultaneously in the same year.[286] With the release of Made (2016), they broke their own record of fastest selling foreign act in China, surpassing a million copies sold in one day.[142] They are YouTube's most watched Asian group,[287] with over 3,7 billion combined views.[288] The music video for "Fantastic Baby" became the first by a K-pop group to surpass 200 million views on YouTube.[289] They also became the first Korean male group to have five videos with 100 million YouTube hits under its belt, for "Fantastic Baby," "Bang Bang Bang," "Good Boy," "Loser" and "Bad Boy."[290]

Big Bang 0.TO.10 concert in Seoul

Their first world tour set the record for highest ticket sales in Taiwan,[291] while their London shows were the gathered the largest crowd for a K-Pop concert held in the UK.[292] Their Japan Dome Tour in 2013 became the highest-grossing tour by a foreign act in Japan.[293] Additionally, their Made World Tour, the biggest campaign undertaken by a Korean act,[294] logged several achievements for the group, including most viewed online K-pop concert in history,[295] first foreign act to hold a Japanese Dome Tour for three consecutive years,[296] the only foreign act to hold three concerts in a row at the Shanghai Arena,[297] the first Korean act to hold a two-day concert in Kuala Lumpur,[298] the largest K-pop arena tour in United States history,[299] the first foreign act to sell out three concerts in Hong Kong on two separate occasions,[300] one of the most expensive concerts in Malaysian history,[301] highest attendance ever for a Korean act in Chengdu, China,[302] largest Chinese tour of any Korean act,[303] and the biggest K-pop show staged in Canada.[304] The tour generated the documentary Big Bang Made, the most viewed music documentary in Korea.[305] Their 10th Anniversary concert held at Seoul World Cup Stadium gathered 65,000 audience and became the biggest audience ever for a solo concert in South Korea.[306][307]

Discography

Main article: Big Bang discography

Filmography

Documentary film

Tours

Publications

  • Shouting Out To The World, 쌤앤파커스 (28 January 2009) ISBN 8992647603

See also

References

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