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Big Bang (Korean: ; stylized as BIGBANG) is a South Korean boy band formed by YG Entertainment. The group consists of 4 members: G-Dragon, T.O.P, Taeyang, and Daesung. Member Seungri retired from the industry on March 11, 2019. 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 are often dubbed the "Kings of K-pop" by the media. Their experimental and diverse use of music genres, personal involvement in producing their own records, and stage performances have received a positive critical reception.
After a two-year hiatus in South Korea, the quintet produced increasingly innovative and critically acclaimed recordings. Their fourth EP, Tonight (2011), led 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.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.
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. 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: ? ; Revised Romanization: Nunmulppunin Babo); and "This Love", an adaptation of the American rock band Maroon 5song, 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.
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. 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: ; Revised Romanization: Cheonguk) the top-ten "Oh My Friend", and the top-twenty "A Good Man" (Korean? ; 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).
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, for "Lollipop", a song used to promote a cell phone by LGCyon. 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!! (? 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.
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 [had] 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.
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. 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. 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; the second single "Bad Boy" peaked at number two and was the only K-Pop song to be included in Fuse's best songs of 2012 list; while the last, "Fantastic Baby", rounded at number three. The music video for the latter is currently the band's most popular, having received more than 310 million views on YouTube, the most watched video by a Korean group as of 2017. Buoyed by the singles, the EP was a commercial success, selling in excess of 200,000 copies after one month. 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. 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, 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. This marked the official kick off of their first world tour, the Alive Galaxy Tour, in partnership with Live Nation. It was directed by renowned choreographer Laurieann Gibson, with Big Bang performing at 21 cities in over 13 countries, with a total attendance of 800,000 people. Concert footage from Big Show was broadcast in 160 countries through MTV World Stage, which pushed the promotion for their world tour. The Alive Galaxy Tour marked the group's first ever concerts in the United States, Hong Kong and Europe. Due to high demand, additional concerts were held in Los Angeles, New Jersey and London. 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. 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". It sold over 23,000 copies on its first day of release and peaked at number two on the Oricon charts, eventually selling over 200,000 copies total and certified gold by the RIAJ. 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. 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. 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. 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. They also received the Best Fan category award at the Italian TRL Awards. 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. 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. 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. 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.
2015-2016: Critical acclaim, second world tour and 10th anniversary
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." In 2015, Big Bang made their comeback by releasing special project singles for their album Made: M, A, D, and E. 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. "Loser" won Song of the Year at the 30th Golden Disk Awards, while "Bae Bae" won Song of the Year at the 13th Korean Music Awards. Both tracks were named by Billboard as one of the best K-pop songs of 2015, with "Loser" topping the list. The following month saw the release of A, which included "Bang Bang Bang" (Korean:) and "We Like 2 Party", that also went on to occupy the number one and two positions on Billboard's World Digital Chart. "Bang Bang Bang" won Song of the Year at the 17th Mnet Asian Music Awards, and was the best-performing single of 2015 in South Korea according to the Gaon Digital Chart.D was released in July and included "Sober" (Korean: ; 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. The consecutive monthly releases concluded with E in August, with the songs "Zutter" (Korean?; Revised Romanization: jjeoreo), featuring the sub-unit of GD & TOP, and "Let's Not Fall in Love" (Korean? ? ; Revised Romanization: Uri Saranghaji Marayo). The latter peaked at number one on the Gaon Digital Chart and on Billboards 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). 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. Big Bang continued touring into 2016 for their Made V.I.P Tour, visiting China, Macau, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan and the United States. The group was the highest earning artist of 2016 in Mainland China based on concert revenue, by earning $70.3 million USD, accounting for 70% of the entire total box office of South Korean artists in China for the year. 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 first was the documentary film Big Bang Made, which followed the group through their Made Tour in 2015, released on June 30, 2016. 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. The tour drew 781,500 attendees from 16 concerts in Japan, 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. Overall, they gathered a 1.1 million attendance for the tour. 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. 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. Two singles were announced for the release: "Fxxk It" (Korean? ?; Revised Romanization: Era Moreugedda), and "Last Dance". 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. The same songs peaked at number 2, 3 and 4 on the Billboard World Digital Songs chart, selling 13,000 copies combined. The digital version of Made sold over 1 million digital copies on QQ Music, Kugou, and Kuwo, China's three major music platforms in a day. The album debuted at No. 172 on the United StatesBillboard 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. In their home country, South Korea, the physical version of the album topped the Gaon Albums chart. Two final concerts were held at Gocheok Sky Dome in January, 2017 to wrap up their 10th anniversary tour and Made's promotional activities.
2017-present: 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. The remaining members continued promotions without him, 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. 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. The following year, the remaining members began their enlistment: G-Dragon on February 27, Taeyang on March 12, and Daesung on March 13, 2018. Seungri will enlist on March 25, 2019.
The single, "Flower Road", was released on March 13, 2018 as a goodbye to their fans. "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. The song also topped Billboard's World Digital Songs Chart, 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. The quintet is known for experimentalism and for a "dominating style of music that surpasses genre boundaries". 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". The song "Ma Girl", Taeyang's first solo from the group's first album, was described as "[s]mooth, sexy and bass-heavy" and reminiscent of Omarion. Similarly, Seungri's first solo from the same album, "Next Day" (Korean: , 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. From their EP Hot Issue (2007), the "shibuya-kei-influenced" "Fool" (Korean?; Revised Romanization: Babo) contained a "heavy dance beat paired with a smooth disco coating." "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". They also collaborated with the Korean rock-band No Brain for the rock song "Oh My Friend".Alive (2012) was noted for showcasing the group's voice instead of their usual autotune, being described as having "a mature kind of intensity", with "Blue" being distinguished for including "more interesting electronic samples and production techniques" and "Bad Boy" described as having a "nostalgic" sentiment, being called a "perfect pop song" that "transcends language". Their song "Monster" was praised for its use of the piano and orchestra sound and the composition for "Bingle Bingle" (Korean; 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). which was described as "career-exemplifying". "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 noted for its modern EDM-inspired sound and "Bae Bae" for its "boundary-pushing elements". 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". "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. Taeyang's EP Hot was mainly a collection of R&B songs, with the singer stating that this genre was his "main focus". Daesung's first digital single, "Look at Me, GwiSoon" (Korean: ? ?, , Revised Romanization: Nal Bwa Gwisoon), was a trot song, which drew criticism due to Big Bang's image as "hip-hop artists". For his debut album, Heartbreaker, G-Dragon incorporated a mix of dance, hip-hop, and R&B songs. 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." Additionally, they have been described as "artistic superheroes" for showing "versatility and success in whatever they do" by rivaling companies. 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.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." Internationally, Big Bang is often referred to as a "K-pop" group, a label which they do not appreciate, 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."
Songwriting and themes
The group is known for maintaining tight control over their career, heavily involving themselves since their debut in the production of their music and songwriting, as opposed to many Korean idol groups. 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. In contrast, "Let's Not Fall in Love" halts a relationship from growing for fear of breaking their lover's heart. 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". "Fxxk It"'s use of vulgarity was seen as evidence to their growing age. Their song "Loser" was an attempt to "humanize the group" by discussing their flaws. "Bae Bae" was noted for its metaphor about sex. "Sober" talks about chasing one's dream, 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". The rapper himself describes Big Bang as "an idol group not born of talent but through effort." 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 performing at their Big Show concert in 2011
Big Bang has received praise for their stage presence and choreographies during live performances. Early in their career, the quintet was choreographed by Seungri and frequent collaborator Shaun Evaristo. While they once relied heavily on street dancing for their moves, they have made a transition towards other styles of choreography. One of the moves from their debut single "La La La", involving the group lifting their shirts to expose their abdomens, quickly gained popularity online and became one of the top searches on the internet. The choreography for "Last Farewell", in which the group incorporates the idea of "jump roping" as a dance move, also gained attention. 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." 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 a hit trend in South Korea. Taeyang also traded his cornrows for a faux hawk. Members of the group have also consistently altered their hairstyles and color throughout the years. 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. They were also credited for bringing back "old school" fashion into the mainstream, popularizing brands such as Nike and Reebok high-top shoes. Described as the "most fashionable" one in the group, G-Dragon was known to sport triangular scarves that were later nicknamed "Big Bang scarves" during their promotion of the single "Lies". T.O.P also gained a following for wearing sunglasses during performances. Their use of props during performances - including "an abundance of pyrotechnics, streamers[,] confetti",LED lights,fog, as well as digitalized "fire-breathing dragons and a rotor-spinning helicopter" - 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. 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. In 2012, they ranked number one in the Philippines's Top 3 Mall of Asia Arena concerts, and their concert in Lima was named the best in South America for the year. 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". 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. 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. 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."
"The name Big Bang alone carries significant weight in K-pop. It took about a decade for Big Bang to evolve from a young idol group into a quintet of cultural icons. [...] The fashion-conscious, song-and-dance-loving artists became trendsetters, producing a variety of hip-hop tracks. Everything from their outfits to their hairstyles immediately became the standard. It was not just in Korea either. Big Bang reached beyond Asia, and the members have grown to be truly global stars. [...] Big Bang's first 10 years have been overwhelming and left an indelible mark on Korean pop music history." -- Beyond Magazine
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. They were the first Korean mainstream hip hop idols, being credited for the genre spreading throughout Asia as a representative of the Hallyu Wave.The Korea Times have called them "the icons of Korean pop [music]", and cited how G-Dragon's rise to one of the most accomplished songwriters in K-pop "has inspired many young idol-wannabes to become singer-songwriters."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." 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. After the group won the 2011 MTV Europe Music Award for Best Worldwide Act,Google announced that its subsidiary YouTube would launch its own K-pop channel in recognition of the popularity and success of K-pop. 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". 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. Suk Park, the president of DramaFever, has hailed them as the vanguard of K-pop.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." 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." 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."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." In an article published for the quintet's tenth anniversary, Billboard stated that "no act has enthralled the Korean music world in the past decade quite like Big Bang" 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. Their Big Show concerts were promoted by the South Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism's Visit Korea Committee from 2010 to 2012, crediting the group's "big economic impact on the country." In 2014, the national postal service of the country, Korea Post, honored them by releasing official postage stamps containning images of the group. In 2016, they were chosen as ambassadors for the country's "Creative Korea" tourism campaign. In 2016, Big Bang ranked second on Time magazine's polls for Most Influential People in the World, behind only American politician Bernie Sanders. The same year, Forbes listed the group at number 54 on their annual list of Celebrity 100, having earned $44 million from June 2015 to June 2016. Becoming the first Korean act to appear on the list, the group had the third highest annual earnings ever for a boy band, behind only One Direction and Backstreet Boys. Big Bang was named one of the most influential artists to impact the Hallyu Wave by The Korea Herald, being among the acts that best represent K-pop, and the "Top Male Idol Group in the Past 20 Years" in Dong-a Ilbo's survey of both the Korean public and music critics. Additionally, they were the highest ranking musicians in JoongAng Ilbo's "Most Powerful Figures In Korean Entertainment" list, placing at number four. In 2017, they became the first Korean artists to be included on Forbes 30 Under 30 list of musicians revolutionizing the modern music industry. Songs released by the group, such as "Lies" and "Fantastic Baby" are considered some of K-pop's biggests hits and most iconic songs ever. 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. "Fantastic Baby" ranked at number twenty-two in Rolling Stone magazine's "50 Greatest Boy Band Songs of All Time" list. Additionally, "Fantastic Baby" placed second and "Love Song" thirteenth in Stereogum's list of "Best K-pop Videos". "Lies" was also chosen as the "Song of the Decade" by Mnet's M! Countdown in 2014, 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.
Big Bang performing on their Alive Tour in September 2012
Big Bang's influence extends beyond the music industry, shaping major trends in the fashion industry. Dubbed "Big Bang fashion", their style has gained a following throughout Asia, and became a cultural phenomenon in South Korea. The clothes that the members donned on stage are often copied and sold at Dongdaemun Market. In 2011, Big Bang collaborated with Japanese clothing retailer Uniqlo to create a line of T-shirts which were quick to become sell-out items.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". 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. While the quintet have established themselves as fashion icons, being named one of the most stylish boy bands of all time by western media, they have been criticized for appropriating hip-hop culture, specifically their use of clothes, color coordination, and hairstyles.
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. With the release of the Made singles in 2015, they became the first. 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. 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 in the Top 10. Their follow-up single "Last Farewell" tied the all-time record for the most weeks spent at number 1 on Melon, topping the chart for 8 consecutive weeks. In 2011, they reached the top of Cyworld's Hall of Fame, making them the best selling artist of all time on the chart. Their EP Tonight (2011) became the very first K-pop album to reach the Top 10 on US iTunes chart. In 2015, they became the first act to have three songs in the Top 5 of the Gaon Digital Year End Chart, as well as the first act to hold the first and second spots simultaneously in the same year. They also became the first act to top the Gaon Digital Chart for four consecutive months. Their third album Made (2016), was certified Diamond by the Chinese music service QQ Music and became one of the best-selling albums of all time in China. 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. They are YouTube's most watched Asian group, with over four billion combined views. The music video for "Fantastic Baby" became the first by a K-pop group to surpass 200 and 300 million views on YouTube. 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, while their London shows gathered the largest crowd for a K-Pop concert held in the UK. Their Japan Dome Tour in 2013 became the highest-grossing tour by a foreign act in Japan. Additionally, their Made World Tour, the most attended tour headlined by a Korean act in history, logged several records for the group: the most viewed online K-pop concert in history, the first foreign act to hold a Japanese dome tour for three consecutive years, the only foreign act to hold three concerts in a row at the Shanghai Arena, the first Korean act to hold a two-day concert in Kuala Lumpur, the largest K-pop arena tour in United States history, the first foreign act to sell out three concerts in Hong Kong on two separate occasions, one of the most expensive concerts in Malaysian history, the largest tour in China by any Korean act, and the biggest K-pop concert staged in Canada. Behind the scenes footage from the tour was documented in their first film, Big Bang Made, which became the most viewed music documentary in Korea. Their tenth anniversary concert held at Seoul World Cup Stadium gathered 65,000 people in attendance which was the biggest audience ever for a single headlining act in South Korea. 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.
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^Rasul, Juliana June (April 26, 2012). "Pixie Lott is a K-pop fan". Asia One. Archived from the original on April 29, 2012. Retrieved 2014. Plotting a K-pop collaboration, she settled on working with the Big Bang boys, who were just as keen on partnering up with her. 'I became such a big fan of theirs, and when I heard that they wanted to collaborate as well, I was so excited,' said Lott.
^James Walsh and Joseph 'JP' Patterson. "Sierra Leone's A*M*E Reps K-Pop to the Fullest". MTV Iggy. Archived from the original on November 2, 2012. Retrieved 2013. I first heard K-pop in about 2006, around three years after I moved to London. My older sister came across this group on YouTube called Big Bang, and introduced me to them. She told me to listen to it with an open mind, as they weren't singing in English. I absolutely loved it from the first moment. I was fascinated by the fact they weren't singing in a language I knew, yet I still felt as if I could understand and relate to it.
^Phua, Lynette (August 17, 2012). "Nelly Furtado's love for music is indestructible". Channel NewsAsia. Archived from the original on August 19, 2012. Retrieved 2013. However, there is just one catch. "All the K-pop artistes are making their careers over here in Asia, so the average K-pop artiste is not that easy to phone up," said Furtado, who described herself as being "obsessed with J-pop and K-pop" recently.
^"Teen Top's Changjo & Ricky talks about Bigbang in Elle Girl Magazine". August 24, 2012. Archived from the original on August 10, 2017. Retrieved 2017. If you asked us to pick a senior artist that we really admire, most of us would pick Big Bang. Before we shoot a music video, we try to imitate the gestures and expressions that they do. The angles that Taeyang sunbae-nim makes while dancing, and even the way he moves his mouth while wearing sunglasses.
^"Exclusive Interview with Topp Dogg". February 23, 2014. Archived from the original on November 9, 2016. Retrieved 2016. We are inspired by Big Bang. We want to look up to their musical spectrum and performances, as well as their group and solo activities.
^Interview with Mamamoo. Rainbowbridge World & Polish Kpop World. July 18, 2015. Event occurs at 3:20. Archived from the original on February 14, 2018. Retrieved 2016. I have respected Big Bang from since I was 14. In their music and fashion. I've learn a lot of things from them.
^Mukasa, Edwina (February 1, 2013). "G-Dragon - K-pop's golden boy". Dazed & Confused. Archived from the original on February 7, 2013. Retrieved 2013. Musically, Grimes provided one of her more fangirl moments on Twitter, writing "G Dragon i love you" and "G-Dragon is definitely the pinnacle of pop for me".
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