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Our Story

(Korean: 빅뱅; stylized in all caps) is a South Korean boy band formed by YG Entertainment. The group consists of four members: G-DragonT.O.PTaeyang, and Daesung. Originally a five-piece band, Seungri retired from the entertainment industry in March 2019.[2] Dubbed the "Kings of K-pop", they helped spread the Korean Wave internationally and are considered one of the most influential acts in K-pop.[3][4][5][6][7][8] They are known for their trendsetting musical experimentation, self-production, and stage presence.[9][10]

Although their debut album, Bigbang Vol.1 (2006), was released to lukewarm reception, greater success followed with a string of hit singles: "Lies", which topped Korean music charts for a record-breaking six consecutive weeks and won Song of the Year at the 2007 Mnet Km Music Festival and the 2008 Seoul Music Awards; "Last Farewell", "Haru Haru", and "Sunset Glow". After winning Artist of the Year at the 2008 Mnet Korean Music Festival and the 2008 Seoul Music Awards, the group released four Japanese studio albums—Big Bang (2009), Big Bang 2 (2011), Alive (2012), and Made Series (2016)—all of which were certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of Japan (RIAJ).

After a two-year hiatus in South Korea, the quintet returned with their fourth EPTonight (2011), won them the inaugural Best Worldwide Act Award at the 2011 MTV Europe Music Awards.[11] Their fifth EP, Alive (2012), became the first Korean album to chart on the US Billboard 200. Their third studio album, Made (2016), was preceded by several chart-topping singles and won the group Artist of the Year awards at the 2015 Mnet Asian Music Awards for the third time and at the 2015 Melon Music Awards. Its supporting tour, the Made World Tour, attracted 1.5 million people and set a new record for the most-attended concert tour headlined by a Korean act in history at the time.[12][13]

Ten of Big Bang's singles have reached number one on South Korea's Gaon Digital Chart and have collectively remained atop the Melon charts for a record 51 weeks.[14] It has been claimed that they have sold over 150 million records globally, which would rank them among the best-selling boy bands in the world.[15][16][17][18][19] Forbes Korea ranked them as one of the most powerful celebrities in South Korea from 2009 to 2016 (placing 2nd in 2009, 2012 and 2014); and they were the first Korean artists to be included on the Forbes Celebrity 100 (2016) and 30 Under 30 list of most influential musicians in the world (2017).[20][21]

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.[22] At the time, T.O.P was an underground rapper under the stage name "Tempo".[23] One of his most popular tracks was "Buckwild" with NBK Gray.[24] 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".[25][26] 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.[27][28] The Internet broadcast of the documentary exceeded one million views.[29]

Big Bang held their official debut on August 19, 2006, at Olympic Gymnastics Arena in Seoul during the YG Family 10th Anniversary Concert, which was broadcast the following month.[30] 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.[27][31] The single went on to sell nearly 40,000 copies.[32] The second single, "BigBang Is V.I.P", was released in September, eventually topping 32,000 copies sold.[32] Their last single, "Bigbang 03", followed, with final sales nearing 40,000 copies.[32] The quintet received the award of New Artist of the Month for October in the 2006 Cyworld Digital Music Awards.[33] In December, the group held their first concert, The Real, at Olympic Gymnastics Arena for 12,000 fans.[34] The release of their debut album, BigBang Vol. 1 – Since 2007 (2006) followed. Debuting at no. 3, the album went on to sell over 110,000 copies.[35]

2007–2008: Mainstream popularity 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.[36] They also began the Want You Tour in support of Since 2007, visiting five cities: IncheonDaeguChangwonJeonju and Busan.[37] 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".[38] 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".[39] Released as the lead single, it became their first number one hit and the album sold over 120,000 copies.[38] Topping music charts for six weeks,[40] "Lies" went to become the first song to win the Song of the Month award from the Cyworld Digital Music Awards for two consecutive months, as well as gathering the highest monthly sales in Cyworld's history, with over 200,000 copies sold in September.[33]

Their second EP, Hot Issue, released in November of the same year, contained six tracks all written by G-Dragon, who was also the album's producer.[41] Hot Issue followed its predecessor's success: the lead-single, "Last Farewell", topped various charts, including the Melon chart for eight consecutive weeks, becoming the longest-running number one hit by a boy group.[40] It also garnered the Song of the Month (Digital Music) Award from Cyworld.[42] "Fool" and "But I Love U", other tracks from the EP, also ranked within the top 10.[43] The digital success lead Hot Issue's sales to be moved over 120,000 copies total in South Korea.[44] They also staged their Big Bang is Great concert, with tickets selling out in 10 minutes.

Due to over-performing and exhaustion, several members were hospitalized, halting promotional activities.[47] Despite this, their albums and singles were in high demand, causing the record company to reprint and repackage them for re-release.[48] Riding on the success of their EPs, the group collected numerous awards, including Best Male Group and Song of The Year for "Lies" in the 2007 Mnet Asian Music Awards.[49] They later received the Artist of the Year and Digital Record of Year awards from the 17th Seoul Music Awards.[50] The group earned a total of 12 billion ($11.5 million) by year's end.[51]

As 2007 came to a close, Big Bang ventured overseas to Japan. Their first Japanese EP, For the World (2008),[52] charted at number 10 on the Oricon chart with minimal promotion.[53] 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 such as Daishi Dance and the Korean rock-band No Brain, Stand Up exceeded the 200,000 mark in sales.[54] "Haru Haru", the lead single, topped several online charts and held the number one position for seven consecutive weeks.[55][40] It also became one of the most successful singles of all-time in South Korea, selling over five million digital downloads in South Korea alone. 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".[56]

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", a remake of the song of the same name by Lee Moon-se, released in 1988.[57] "Strong Baby", performed solely by Seungri, was released as the second single. The album went on to sell over 200,000 copies.[56] Big Bang received their second Artist of the Year Award from the 2008 Mnet Asian Music Awards.[58] At the end of 2008, it was reported that Big Bang earned a total of 36 billion ($34.5 million).[51]

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

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,[59] for "Lollipop", a song used to promote a cell phone by LG Cyon. A music video was also filmed for promotion.[60] 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.[61] 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!!)".[62][63] "My Heaven", a Japanese re-recording of their Korean single "Heaven" from Stand Up, debuted at number three on the Oricon Music Chart.[64] "Gara Gara Go!" charted at the fifth spot[65] and the album itself peaked at number three.[65]

Kicking off the new year with the 2010 Big Show concert[66] at Olympics Gymnastics Arena,[67] Big Bang flew to Japan to embark on their Electric Love Tour.[68] 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".[69] "Koe wo Kikasete" was used in the Japanese drama Ohitorisama (おひとりさま, One Person),[37][70][71] and peaked at number four on the Oricon Chart.[72] "Tell Me Goodbye" was included in the Japanese re-release of Korean drama Iris.[73] The song proved to be popular and gained favorable reviews,[73] winning Song of the Year at the 52nd Japan Record Awards.[74] Two promotional singles were also released in their home country: the number one song "Lollipop Part 2" to once again promote LG Cyon's Lollipop phone,[75][76] and "Shout of the Reds" featuring the Korean rock band Transfixion and figure skater Kim Yuna in support of the 2010 World Cup.[77] For most of the year, members individually promoted their own work,[78] including the introduction of the sub-unit GD & TOP with their collaboration album.[79] Big Bang also won several notable awards, including the Best 5 New Artists award from the 24th Japan Gold Disc Awards[80] as well as the Best New Artist award.[81] 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.[82]

 

Big Bang in February 2011

After nearly two-year hiatus as a full group, Big Bang returned to South Korea with their 2011 Big Show concert,[83] showcasing songs from the upcoming EP Tonight.[84] 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,[85] and moved 100,000 units in a week.[86] 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".[87] Seven days after the album's release, it was reported that Big Bang had already earned 7 billion (US$6.6 million).[88] Its lead-single of the same name became a chart-topper on the Gaon Digital Chart, while four other album tracks peaked within the top 10, including the number-two "Café" and the number four "What is Right?".[89] After promotions for Tonight was finished, Big Bang released a special edition album with two new tracks: the chart-topper "Love Song" and the top 3 "Stupid Liar".[90] Their third Japanese tour, Love and Hope, kicked off in May in support of the album. All performances were sold out, and a total of 100,000 fans attended the tour.[91][92]

At the 2011 MTV EMAs, Big Bang won the Best Worldwide Act award as representatives of the Asia-Pacific region with over 58 million votes.[93] "Love Song" also won Best Music Video at the 2011 Mnet Asian Music Awards. At the end of the year, Big Bang participated in the YG Family 15th Anniversary concert tour.[94] This was followed by a release of their third Greatest Hits album The Best of Big Bang (2011) on December 14, which contained a Japanese version of "Haru Haru". 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 ₩78 billion (US$69.4 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.[95]

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

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.[96] Three singles were released to promote the album: "Blue", the lead single, was released a week prior to the album and reached the number one position on all major domestic charts;[97] the second single "Bad Boy" peaked at number two[98] and was the only K-Pop song to be included in Fuse's best songs of 2012 list;[99] while the last, "Fantastic Baby", rounded at number three.[100] The music video for the latter became the band's most popular, having received more than 310 million views on YouTube, the most watched video by a Korean group, until it was surpassed in 2018.[101] 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.[102] 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,[103] and a photo of the group was featured on the Grammy Awards homepage.[104]

 

Big Bang performing in March 2012

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.[105] This marked the official kick off of their first world tour, the Alive Galaxy Tour, in partnership with Live Nation.[106] It was directed by renowned choreographer Laurieann Gibson, with Big Bang performing at 21 cities in over 13 countries,[107] with a total attendance of 800,000 people.[108] Concert footage from Big Show was broadcast in 160 countries through MTV World Stage, which pushed the promotion for their world tour.[109] The Alive Galaxy Tour marked the group's first ever concerts in the United StatesHong Kong and Europe. Due to high demand, additional concerts were held in Los AngelesNew Jersey and London.[110][111][112] The quintet also performed at three Japanese dome venues for the first time, becoming the first Korean artist to perform at all three of these venues during its tour.[113] 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.[112]

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 "Haru Haru".[114] It sold over 23,000 copies on its first day of release and peaked at number two on the Oricon charts,[115] eventually selling over 200,000 copies total[116] and certified gold by the RIAJ.[115] 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.[117] 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.[116] 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.[118] 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.[119] They also received the Best Fan category award at the Italian TRL Awards.[120] After promotional activities wrapped up, the members pursued individual activities for the majority of 2013 and 2014.

Big Bang reunited in November 2013 for their Japan Dome Tour, holding concerts in six different dome arenas in Japan, being the first foreign act to do so. Gathering over 770,000 fans, the tour's total revenue, including tickets sold and merchandising sales, totalled $94 million.[121][122] In October 2014, the group performed at the closing ceremony of the 2014 Asian Games held in Incheon, South Korea, wrapping up the Congratulatory Performance.[123][124] A month later, the quintet embarked on their second Japanese dome tour, which was the first time that any overseas artist performed in five dome arenas of Japan for two consecutive years.[125] By the end of 2014, Big Bang was the Korean artist that attracted the most concertgoers in Japan for the year and the second act overall.[126]

2015–2016: Made, second world tour and tenth anniversary

 

Big Bang performing in Dalian, China during their Made World Tour in 2015

Big Bang was on hiatus for two years while G-Dragon experienced a "career slump" and was unable to find inspiration to write new music for the band, explaining that "In the past, even after coming back from a long, tiring day, I would write at least two songs at the dorm before I slept as if it were my duty. [In 2014], however, things just weren't working out for me so the album kept getting delayed."[127] In 2015, Big Bang made their comeback by releasing special project singles for their album MadeMAD, and E.[128] The first single, M, released in May, included the two songs "Loser" and "Bae Bae", which debuted at number one and number two, respectively, on Billboard's World Digital Songs, making the quintet the first K-pop boy band to top the chart and the second Korean artist to occupy the top two slots simultaneously after labelmate Psy.[129] "Loser" won Song of the Year at the 30th Golden Disk Awards,[130] while "Bae Bae" won Song of the Year at the 13th Korean Music Awards.[131] Both tracks were named by Billboard as one of the best K-pop songs of 2015, with "Loser" topping the list.[132] The following month saw the release of A, which included "Bang Bang Bang" (Korean:뱅뱅뱅) and "We Like 2 Party", that also went on to occupy the number one and two positions on Billboard's World Digital Chart.[133] "Bang Bang Bang" won Song of the Year at the 17th Mnet Asian Music Awards,[134] and was the best-performing single of 2015 in South Korea according to the Gaon Digital Chart.[135] D was released in July and included "Sober" (Korean: 맨정신; Revised Romanization: Maenjeongsin) and "If You". "If You" landed on Billboard's World Digital Chart at number two and topped the Gaon Digital Chart, while "Sober" charted at number two in their home country.[136][137] The consecutive monthly releases concluded with E in August, with the songs "Zutter" (Korean: 쩔어; Revised Romanization: jjeoreo), featuring the sub-unit of GD & TOP, and "Let's Not Fall in Love"[138] (Korean: 우리 사랑하지 말아요; Revised Romanization: Uri Saranghaji Marayo). The latter peaked at number one on the Gaon Digital Chart and on Billboard's World Digital Songs chart.[139][140]

To promote their singles, Big Bang embarked on their second world tour which received positive reviews and was commercially successful. 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.[12][13] By the end of the year, Big Bang had earned over ₩150 billion (US$120 million).[141] Despite the commercial success of the singles, the release of the full album was postponed to add new songs to the album and for the group to rest after four months of promotions.[142] Big Bang continued touring into 2016 for their Made V.I.P Tour, visiting China, Macau, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan and the United States.[143] The group was the highest earning artist of 2016 in Mainland China based on concert revenue, by earning US$70.3 million, accounting for 70% of the entire total box office of South Korean artists in China for the year.[144][145][146] In April and May, they toured Japan for their Fantastic Babys Tour, meeting 280,000 fans.[146][147]

Several projects were launched to commemorate the group's 10th anniversary.[148] The first was the documentary film Big Bang Made, which followed the group through their Made Tour in 2015, released on June 30, 2016.[149][150] The band held a 10th anniversary concert tour, 0.TO.10, from July 2016 to January 2017, which included sold-out stadium shows at Yanmar Stadium Nagai in Osaka, Japan and at Seoul World Cup Stadium in Seoul, South Korea.[151][152][153] The tour drew 781,500 attendees from 16 concerts in Japan,[154][155] and made Big Bang the act with the biggest concert mobilization power for the year in Japan, the first time a foreign act has topped the list.[156] Overall, they gathered a 1.1 million attendance for the tour.[157] The band also held an art exhibition, titled A TO Z, to showcase the history of the group as well as to celebrate a decade with their fans. The exhibition ran from August 5 to October 30 at the S-Factory in Seoul.[146][158] The exhibition travelled to TaipeiTaiwan from June 24 to August 22 in 2017.[159]

After a year of delay, Made was released in December 2016.[160] Two singles were announced for the release: "Fxxk It" (Korean: 에라 모르겠다; Revised Romanization: Era Moreugedda), and "Last Dance".[161][162] The two songs, along with "Girlfriend", took the three top places on the Gaon Digital Chart, selling over one million digital copies combined in five days.[163][164] The same songs peaked at number 2, 3 and 4 on the Billboard World Digital Songs chart, selling 13,000 copies combined.[165] The digital version of Made sold over 1 million digital copies on QQ MusicKugou, and Kuwo, China's three major music platforms in a day.[166] 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.[165] In their home country, South Korea, the physical version of the album topped the Gaon Albums chart.[167][168] Two final concerts were held at Gocheok Sky Dome in January 2017[169] to wrap up their 10th anniversary tour and Made's promotional activities.[169]

2017–2021: Touring, military service, and Seungri's retirement

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.[170] The remaining members continued promotions without him,[171] holding their fifth annual Japanese dome tour, the Last Dance Tour, in November with 14 concerts in four cities with an attendance of 696,000 fans.[172][173] The two final shows of the tour were also held at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul on December 30 and 31.[174] In 2017, YG Entertainment released a reality program starring the group named Run, Big Bang Scout! through YouTube Red, which was the service's first original content to be produced in a country outside of the United States. The first episode of the program was free-released and has gathered over 12.7 million views on YouTube.[175] The following year, the remaining members began their enlistment: G-Dragon on February 27,[176] Taeyang on March 12,[177] and Daesung on March 13, 2018.[178] Seungri was initially announced to enlist on March 25, 2019.[179] The single, "Flower Road", was released on March 13, 2018, as a goodbye to their fans.[180] "Flower Road" set a record in China, reaching over a million sales in 3 days and 14 hours, the shortest amount of time for a Korean artist.[181] The song also topped Billboard's World Digital Songs Chart,[182] and the Gaon Digital Chart, where the song recorded the highest digital index of the year thus far.[183]

On March 11, 2019, Seungri announced his retirement from the entertainment industry due to scandals surrounding the Burning Sun nightclub, resulting in his departure from Big Bang.[184][2] On July 6, 2019, T.O.P was the first member to be discharged from the military.[185] He was followed by G-Dragon on October 25, 2019.[186] Taeyang and Daesung were discharged on November 10.[187] On January 3, 2020, it was announced that Big Bang would be performing at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, which would have marked their first performance as a group in three years.[188] In March, despite reports suggesting otherwise,[189] all four members renewed their contracts with YG Entertainment and were preparing for a comeback[190] that was eventually delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[citation needed]

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