Big Bang (Hangul: 빅뱅; stylized as BIGBANG) is a South Korean boy band formed by YG Entertainment. With members G-Dragon, T.O.P, Taeyang, Daesung, and Seungri, they are often cited as one of the most influential acts to shape the K-pop industry by helping spread the Korean Wave internationally and dubbed as the “Kings of K-pop” by the media. and stage performances have been admired by music critics and served as influence to numerous K-pop and international artists.
Despite their debut album, Bigbang Vol.1 (2006), receiving lukewarm reception, success followed with a string of notable hits credited to the quintet, including “Lies” (Korean: 거짓말), which topped major 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” (Korean: 마지막 인사); “Day by Day” (Korean: 하루하루); and “Sunset Glow” (Korean: 붉은노을). After receiving the Artist of the Year award from the 2008 Mnet Korean Music Festival and the 2008 Seoul Music Awards, the group expanded their endeavors to Japan, releasing four studio albums, Big Bang (2009), Big Bang 2 (2011), Alive (2012), and Made Series (2016), which are all certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of Japan.
After a two-year hiatus in South Korea, the quintet produced increasingly innovative and critically acclaimed recordings. Their fourth EP, Tonight (2011), lead to their emergence as the inaugural Best Worldwide Act winner at the 2011 MTV Europe Music Awards. Their fifth EP, Alive (2012), became the first Korean album to chart on the Billboard 200. Their widely acclaimed third album, Made (2016), was preceded by several chart-topping singles, winning the group their third Artist of the Year award at the 2015 Mnet Asian Music Awards and their first at the 2015 Melon Music Awards. The supporting world tour gathered 1.5 million people in attendance, making it the most attended concert tour headlined by a Korean act in history.
Big Bang has a record of 18 number-one songs that have collectively remained atop South Korean’s biggest online music service Melon for 51 weeks, more than any other act. The quintet have sold over 140 million records and counting, making them one of the biggest-selling boy-bands in the world beating out American favorites like the Backstreet Boys and the Jackson Five. Forbes Korea ranked them as one of the most powerful celebrities in South Korea in 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2016. They were also the first Korean artists to enter Forbes’ Celebrity 100 and the 30 under 30 list of most influential musicians in the world, in 2016 and 2017, respectively.
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. At the time, T.O.P was an underground rapper under the stage name “Tempo”. One of his most popular tracks was “Buckwild” with NBK Gray. 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”. 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. The Internet broadcast of the documentary exceeded one million views.
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. 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. The single went on to sell nearly 40,000 copies. The second single, “BigBang Is V.I.P”, was released in September, eventually topping 32,000 copies sold. Their last single, “Bigbang 03”, followed, with final sales nearing 40,000 copies. The quintet received the award of New Artist of the Month for October in the 2006 Cyworld Digital Music Awards. In December, the group held their first concert, The Real, at Olympic Gymnastics Arena for 12,000 fans. 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.
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. They also began the Want You Tour in support of Since 2007, visiting five cities: Incheon, Daegu, Changwon, Jeonju and Busan. 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”. 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”. Released as the lead single, it became their first number one hit and the album sold over 120,000 copies. Topping music charts for six weeks, “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.
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. 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. It also garnered the Song of the Month (Digital Music) Award from Cyworld. “Fool” and “But I Love U”, other tracks from the EP, also ranked within the top 10. The digital success lead Hot Issue’s sales to be moved over 120,000 copies total in South Korea. 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. Despite this, their albums and singles were in high demand, causing the record company to reprint and repackage them for re-release. 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. They later received the Artist of the Year and Digital Record of Year awards from the 17th Seoul Music Awards. The group earned a total of ₩12 billion ($11.5 million) by year’s end.
As 2007 came to a close, Big Bang ventured overseas to Japan. Their first Japanese EP, For the World (2008), charted at number 10 on the Oricon chart with minimal promotion. 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. “Day by Day”, the lead single, topped several online charts and held the number one position for seven consecutive weeks. 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”.
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. “Strong Baby”, performed solely by Seungri, was released as the second single. The album went on to sell over 200,000 copies. Big Bang received their second Artist of the Year Award from the 2008 Mnet Asian Music Awards. At the end of 2008, it was reported that Big Bang earned a total of ₩36 billion ($34.5 million).
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, for “Lollipop”, a song used to promote a cell phone by LG Cyon. A music video was also filmed for promotion. 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. 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!!)”. “My Heaven”, a Japanese re-recording of their Korean single “Heaven” from Stand Up, debuted at number three on the Oricon Music Chart. “Gara Gara Go!” charted at the fifth spot and the album itself peaked at number three.
Kicking off the new year with the 2010 Big Show concert at Olympics Gymnastics Arena, Big Bang flew to Japan to embark on their Electric Love Tour. 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”. “Koe wo Kikasete” was used in the Japanese drama Ohitorisama (おひとりさま One Person), and peaked at number four on the Oricon Chart. “Tell Me Goodbye” was included in the Japanese re-release of Korean drama Iris. The song proved to be popular and gained favorable reviews, winning Song of the Year at the 52nd Japan Record Awards. 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, and “Shout of the Reds” featuring the Korean rock band Transfixion and figure skater Kim Yuna in support of the 2010 World Cup. For most of the year, members individually promoted their own work, including the introduction of the sub-unit GD & TOP with their collaboration album. Big Bang also won several notable awards, including the Best 5 New Artists award from the 24th Japan Gold Disc Awards as well as the Best New Artist award. 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.
After nearly two-year hiatus as a full group, Big Bang returned to South Korea with their 2011 Big Show concert, showcasing songs from the upcoming EP Tonight. 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, and moved 100,000 units in a week. 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 deepened”. Seven days after the album’s release, it was reported that Big Bang had already earned ₩7 billion (USD$6.6 million). 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?”. 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”. 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.
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. “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. 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 “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 ₩78 billion (USD$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.
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. The album was generally well received and praised for showcasing the group’s “progress, musical variety, and a photo of the group was featured on the Grammy Awards homepage.
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. 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.
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”. 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. 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. 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.
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. (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.
To promote their singles, Big Bang embarked on their second world tour which received critical acclaim 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. By the end of the year, Big Bang had earned over ₩150 billion (USD$120 million). In April and May, they toured Japan for their Fantastic Babys Tour, meeting 280,000 fans.
Several projects were launched to commemorate the group’s 10th anniversary. The exhibition travelled to Taipei, Taiwan from June 24 to August 22 in 2017.
After a year of delay, Made was released in December 2016. to wrap up their 10th anniversary tour and Made’s promotional activities.
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. The two final shows of the tour were also held at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul on December 30 and 31.
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. Seungri was set to enlist in the second half of 2018, though as of January 2019, has released no other news.
The single, “Flower Road”, was released on March 13, 2018 as a goodbye to their fans. and the Gaon Digital Chart, where the song recorded the highest digital index of the year thus far.
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. 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”.
Their first EP Always (2007) was a musical departure from their previous efforts, with the group experimenting with electronic dance music and setting it as the new music trend in Korea. 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.
The group mixed a variety of electronic music with soft rock for their third album Made (2016). “Girlfriend” was a “mellow hip-hop throwback to the group’s early days”.
Members of the band have experimented with other genres for solo projects, thus the group has been described as “rich in variety” for their fans. 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 “ou don’t divide pop music by who’s doing it. We don’t say, for instance, ‘white pop’ when white people make music.”
The group is known for maintaining tight control over their career, G-Dragon is known as the member that is most heavily involved in the production of the group’s materials, having a role in producing almost their entire discography spanning ten years, and credited as the main songwriter for the group’s earlier hits such as “Lies”, “Last Farewell”, and “Day by Day”. G-Dragon, T.O.P, and Taeyang also collaboratively wrote “Last Dance”, with G-Dragon co-producing the song.
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. while “Last Dance” is an ode to the band’s time together.
G-Dragon’s contributions were praised by The Korea Times, who described him as a “genius singer-songwriter”. 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.”
Big Bang has received praise for their stage presence and choreographies during live performances. Early in their career, the quintet was choreographed by Seungri The dance for “Bang Bang Bang”, choreographed by Parris Goebel, was one of the most popular dances in 2015.
Their stage fashion is also a highlight: Fuse TV noted that “their outfits are almost as entertaining as their performances.” – have been well received by critics.
In a review of their world tour, The Muse admired the group for playing every song like it’s the last, for their precision delivery and their individual strengths. 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.” Including the group in their list of Best Concerts of the Year 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.”
Big Bang is YG’s most successful artist and was responsible for more than half of YG’s albums sold in Korea from 2014 to 2017 before their hiatus due to military enlistment. 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.”
In recognition of their global popularity, Big Bang is a prominent face of South Korea when it comes to tourism. and voted as the “Top Male Idol Song in the Past 20 Years” in Dong-a Ilbo’s survey of both the Korean public and music experts, that also ranked “Bae Bae”, “Fantastic Baby” and “Day by Day” at fourth, fifth and sixth, respectively.
Their work, both as a group and soloists, have influenced numerous artists, including BTS, while IU started gaining popularity after covering the quintet.
Big Bang’s influence extends beyond the music industry, shaping major trends in the fashion industry. they have been criticized for appropriating hip-hop culture, specifically their use of clothes, color coordination, and hairstyles.
The quintet is known for their multiple hit songs, with the Gaon Chart reporting that music consumers have learned to trust the group’s quality, calling them a “phenomenon” because their material is “consumed evenly by a variety of age groups.” and with a Special Achievement award at the 58th Japan Record Awards.
In 2014, the tenth anniversary of the digital music market release in South Korea, Big Bang was revealed to be the second act with the most digital hit songs in history. They also became the first Korean act to have nine music videos with over 100 million YouTube hits under their belt.
Their first world tour set the record for highest ticket sales in Taiwan, With their Last Dance Tour in 2017, Big Bang broke their own record of being the first foreign act to hold a Japanese dome tour for five consecutive years.