Big Bang (Korean: 빅뱅), commonly stylized as BIGBANG, is a South Korean pop boy band. The group's formation was chronicled on the television series Big Bang Documentary, from July to August 2006. The show was also aired online on GomTV and on MTV Korea. Initially a six-member group, one member got eliminated out during the airing of the show before the official debut leading to their current line-up of G-Dragon, Taeyang, T.O.P, Daesung and Seungri.
Signed to YG Entertainment, Big Bang went on to release successful singles and EPs. Their first release, the EP Always (2007), spawned the number-one single "Lies" (Korean: 거짓말; Revised Romanization: Geojitmal). Their follow-up EPs Hot Issue and Stand Up were similarly successful. After they received the "Artist of the Year" award from the M.net KM Music Festival and the Seoul Gayo Daesang Award, the group expanded their activities into Japan, releasing mini-albums and airplay singles. Their material would not receive major promotion until the following year with the release of their first physical Japanese single, "My Heaven".
By the end of 2009, Big Bang became the most searched artist in South Korea. They also became the first foreign group in Japan to receive the Japan Cable Broadcasting Award for "Best Newcomer", and the first from Korea to receive the Japan Records award. In recent years, the members have branched out to do solo activities: Taeyang and G-Dragon have released solo materials while T.O.P, Daesung and Seungri have started acting.
2005–2006: Formation and early works
Before the group's debut, several members already had exposure in the entertainment industry. Leader G-Dragon, and lead vocalist Taeyang were signed with YG Entertainment since they were both thirteen years old, were known as GD and YB. T.O.P was an underground rapper under the stage name Tempo. Big Bang made their debut on August 19, 2006 at the Gymnastics Arena in Seoul Olympic Park during the YG Family concert.
Following the performance, the group's first single, "Bigbang", was released. It contained the songs "We Belong Together," featuring labelmate 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 debuted with over 17,000 copies sold in the month of August and later went on to sell nearly 40,000 copies. The second single, "BigBang Is V.I.P", was released in September, selling 21,000 copies that month, and eventually topping 32,000 copies sold. The last single, "Bigbang 03", followed, with final sales nearing 40,000 copies. At the end of December 2006, Big Bang held their first concert, The Real. The following month, their debut album, Since 2007, was released, selling 48,009 copies by the end of February 2007.
2007–2008: Breakthrough success
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. The group also began their Want Youtour, visiting five cities: Incheon, Daegu, Changwon, Jeonju and Busan.
Their first mini-album, Always, was also released in 2007, and marked several changes for the group. Though previously already writing and composing, the group has decided to take more control over their music. G-Dragon composed and wrote most of the tracks included in their first mini album release including the title single, "Lies" (Korean: 거짓말; Revised Romanization:Geojitmal). The mini-album also saw the introduction of electronic music for Big Bang. Receptions were fairly positive, most notably in regards to the song "Lies". Released as the lead single, it became their first #1 hit. Their second mini album, Hot Issue, released that same year, was also fairly successful: the lead-single, "Last Farewell", (Korean: 마지막 인사; Revised Romanization: Majimak Insa) topped various charts, including the Juke-On's chart for eight consecutive weeks. It also won the "Song of the Month Digital Music Award" from Cyworld. Tickets for their Big Bang Is Great concert were also reportedly sold out in 10 minutes.
Near the end of 2007, it was reported that members of the band were hospitalized from over-performing and exhaustion, halting their promotional activities. Reports were later released that Big Bang's 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 mini-album, the group collected numerous awards towards the end of the year, including "Best Male Group" and "Song Of The Year" from the 2007 M.NET/KM Music Festival. They later received the "Artist of the Year" award from the 17th Seoul Music Awards.
As 2007 came to a close, Big Bang ventured overseas to Japan. Their first Japanese EP, For the World, released in early 2008, charted at #10 on the Oricon chart with little promotion. The group also held a concert at the JCB Hall in Tokyo Dome City.
Big Bang returned to Korea after promotions in Japan ended. Although group activities were delayed due to solo projects, their third mini-album of 2008, Stand Up, was released. Featuring Daishi Dance and the Korean rock-band No Brain for several songs,Stand Up exceeded the 100,000 mark in sales. "Day By Day" (Korean: 하루하루; Revised Romanization: Haru Haru), the lead single, topped several online charts and held the #1 position for six consecutive weeks. Following the lead single's success, other songs also charted within the Top 20, with "Heaven" reaching #2, "Oh My Friend" hitting #9, "A Good Man" at #12, and "Lady" peaking at #16 — a total of five songs in the Top 20 for the group.
During the release of their Korean materials, Big Bang released the Japanese song, "Number 1", from their album of the same name, performing the song on Japanese radio programs and TV shows; the album peaked at No.3 on the Japan's Oricon daily album chart. Their Korean follow-up album, Remember, also released in 2008, yielded the #1 single, "Sunset Glow" (Korean: 붉은노을; Revised Romanization: Byulkeun Noeul). "Strong Baby", Seungri's solo track and composed/written by fellow band mate G-Dragon, was promoted in the first qurter of 2009. Though not originally planned for promotion, it garnered much popularity, gaining the maximum number of 3 wins in SBS Inkigayo consecutively. It also received awards in M Countdown and KBS Music Bank. Big Bang received their second "Artist of the Year" award from the 2008 M.NET KM Music Festival award ceremony. At the end of 2008, it was reported that Big Bang earned a total of ₩36 billion (USD$ 24.5 million).
2009–present: Branching out
With the group on break in early 2009, the members pursued solo activities. They later reunited to collaborate with their label's new girl group 2NE1, who had been dubbed "The Female Big Bang", for the song "Lollipop". A music video was also filmed for promotion. Initially used to promote a cell phone, "Lollipop" reached the #1 spot on various online charts.
Their first self-titled full-length Japanese 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 translation of their Korean single, "Heaven", (Korean: 천국; Revised Romanization: Cheonguk) from Stand Up, was composed by Japanese composer Daishi Dance, and debuted at #3 on the Oricon Chart. "Gara Gara Go!" charted at #5. The album itself peaked at #3.
After their return to Korea, the members went back to their solo activities. On August 18, G-Dragon released his debut album, Heartbreaker, alongside several singles, including its title track. Taeyang released two digital singles, "Where U At?" and "Wedding Dress", to promote his second album released in 2010. T.O.P joined the cast of the Korean thriller dramaIris. His character is a mysterious assassin by the name of "Vick." They later reunited to record the song "Koe o Kikasete" (声をきかせて Let Me Hear Your Voice ) for the Japanese drama Ohitorisama ( おひとりさま One Person ). The song was later released as a single, peaking at #4.
For several days in January 2010, Big Bang performed their 2010 Big Bang Concert Big Show in the Seoul Olympic Stadium. The following month, they embarked on their Electric Love tour in Japan. The group returned in February, with the release of "Lollipop Pt.2", the follow-up to their single, "Lollipop", with 2NE1. The song was used to coincide with promotions for LG Cyon's Lollipop phone. and also reached number one on digital charts. Following on, they received the 'Best 5 New Artists' award from the 24th Japan Gold Disc Awards.
On May 17, the group released the music video for their Japanese single "Tell Me Goodbye", in promotional ties with the Japanese re-release of Korean drama Iris. The song proved to be popular gaining favorable reviews. Additionally, tying in with the 2010 World Cup, the group released the song "Shout of the Reds" featuring the Korean rock band, Transfixion andice skater Kim Yu-na. 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. They released their latest Japanese single "Beautiful Hangover" on August 25, 2010.
T.O.P, Daesung, and Seungri are working on solo projects, while Taeyang is continuing promotions for his album. YG Entertainment had revealed that Big Bang will make comeback in Korea on February 2011 after released GD & T.O.P unit and Seungri's mini album in December and January respectively.
Artistry and influences
Throughout their career, Big Bang has received both praise and criticism. Time magazine described them as one of the "most promising" South Korean acts to venture into Japan,while the Korea Times called them "the icons of Korean pop [music]". Bill Lamb of About.com also list them as one of the "top 10 Asian boy bands". Their contribution to their solo material early in their career, most notably by G-Dragon, has garnered praise, with singer Baek Jiyoung stating that she "like[s] idol singers if they are like Big Bang".
During the early days of their career, Big Bang's music was predominately hip hop, 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 material included "catchy vocals, [...] rap and characters". Alwayswas noted for its change of musical styles from their previous efforts, with the group experimenting with electronic music and setting it as the new music trend in Korea. G-Dragon later stated that they hoped "to reach even more fans" with the new direction. In 2008, they recorded "Oh My Friend", a rock-based song, with the Korean rock-band No Brain. In an interview, the group also expressed interests in covering the music genre trot.
Members of the band have branched out to other styles for solo projects. Taeyang's mini-album, Hot, was mainly a collection of R&B songs, with the singer stating that the genre was his "main focus". Daesung's first digital single, "Look at Me, GwiSun" (Korean: 날 봐, 귀순), was a trot song, which drew criticisms 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. Big Bang has been called "rich in variety" for their fans.
Following the release of Always, G-Dragon began involving himself with the production of the group's materials, penning the lyrics and composing the songs "Lie", "Last Farewell", and "Day By Day". His involvement was praised by the Korea Times, who described him as a "genius singer-songwriter". G-Dragon himself described the group 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 [each of the members'] contributing to their own materials, not only do they become in sync with one another, but each person's personality stands out."
Big Bang is choreographed by choreographers Shaun Evaristo and Lyle Beniga. Youngest member Seungri and Taeyang has also helped in the choreography of some of Big Bang's songs. While they once relied heavily on street dancing for their moves, Big Bang have made a transition towards more choreography. Their dance moves have been widely copied and covered. One of the moves, which incorporates the group lifting their shirts to expose their abdomens, quickly gained popularity online and became one of the top searches on the internet.
Image and cultural impact
Big Bang's influence extends beyond the music industry, shaping major trends in the fashion industry. Dubbed as "Big Bang fashion", their style has gained a following throughout Asia. The group first adopted the "hip-hop" image concept for their debut. The release of Always in 2007 was accompanied by a change in image, with the group leaning towards a morepreppy-punk style, including skinny jeans with Converse or high-top sneakers which became a still ongoing trend in South Korea. Taeyang also traded his cornrows for a faux hawk.Seen wearing brands such as Bape, 10 deep, Louis Vuitton, Jeremy Scott, and Phenomenon, Big Bang 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, such as Nike and Reebok high-top shoes. Described as the "most fashionable" one in the group, G-Dragon is known to sport triangular scarves that were later nicknamed "Big Bang scarves". T.O.P also gained a following for wearing sunglasses during performances.
Their styles later became popular on internet fashion portals. Big Bang have been endorsing Fila products since 2006, as well as the Korean online FPS video game Sudden Attack. The group also released their own fragrance, "BB Bud's My First Fragrance" (Korean: 나의 첫번째 향기), in early 2007. In 2009, they released their autobiography bookShouting to the World, which became a best-seller.
Big Bang influenced the creation of the Chinese boy band OkBang, who were described as having "many similarities to Big Bang in terms of musical style, wardrobe and hairstyles".In 2010, the group's Big Show concert was chosen by the South Korean Touristic Committee for their Visit Korea from 2010—2012 campaign, stating that they will "have a big economic impact on the country".