BIGBANG is a South Korean all-male group formed and signed under YG Entertainment. It consists five members – G-Dragon, T.O.P, Taeyang, Daesung, and Seungri. The group is often referred to as one of the most influential idol groups in South Korea and is credited for helping spread the Hallyu Wave internationally. They are also dubbed by the media as the “Kings of K-pop”.
BIGBANG is known for experimenting with various music genres and being personally involved in the production of their own songs, albums, and stage performances.
The group wasn’t initially met with warm reception upon their debut, but they skyrocketed to stardom with the continuous success of their songs a year into their career.
BIGBANG holds the record for the most number one songs in South Korea’s biggest online music service, Melon, with 51 weeks, more than any other idol groups in the country. They have also sold more than 150 million records, making them one of the biggest-selling boy bands in the world, even beating favorites Backstreet Boys and the Jackson Five.
Forbes Korea ranked BIGBANG 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 (2016) and 30 under 30 (2017) list of the most influential musicians in the world.
2000 to early 2006: Formation
Before they became part of BIGBANG, some of the members have already been exposed to the entertainment industry. G-Dragon and Taeyang were the first two to train under YG Entertainment since they were 11 years old.
While training to debut as a hip-hop duo with Taeyang, G-Dragon was approached by YG Entertainment for possible candidates for a boy group they were planning to launch at the time. G-Dragon then tapped his childhood friend, T.O.P, eventually leading the then-underground rapper (formerly known as ‘Tempo’) to audition for the label.
Seungri first appeared on television as a contestant on Let’s Cokeplay: Mnet Battle Shinhwa, where first generation idol group Shinhwa searches for members to form the “second-generation Shinhwa”.
BIGBANG’s original lineup was originally composed of 6 members and included Daesung and Hyun-seung, who both auditioned for the group. Hyun-seung, however, was dropped from the group before their official debut.
The group’s formation and eventual formation was documented on television and broadcasted online, exceeding one million views at the time.
2006: Official Debut
On august 19, 2006, BIGBANG held their official debut at Olympic Gymnastics Arena in Seoul during the YG Family 10th Anniversary Concert. They released their first single Bigbang shortly afterwards. The single included the songs “We Belong Together”, a track featuring their labelmate Park Bom, “A Fool’s Only Tears”, and “This Love”, which is an adaptation of Maroon 5’s song re-written and performed by G-Dragon. The album sold almost 40,000 copies, an unprecedented feat at a time when physical album sales are dying in South Korea.
In September 2006, the group released their second single, Bigbang Is V.I.P, which sold 32,000 copies, followed by Bigbang 03, which also sold 40,000 copies.
By October, just two months after their debut, BIGBANG received the New Artist of the Month for October at the 2006 Cyworld Digital Music Awards.
In December, BIGBANG held their first solo concert, titled The Real, at the Olympic Gymnastics Arena in front of 12,000 fans.
It was followed by the release of their debut album, BigBang Vol. 1 – Since 2007, which debuted at number 3 in the charts and sold over 110,000 copies.
2007: Breakthrough success
BIGBANG released their live concert album, The First / Real Live Concert on February 8, 2007, selling 30,000 copies by the end of the year. The group also began their Want You Tour in support of Since 2007, which included stops in Incheon, Daegu, Changwon, Jeonju, and Busan.
On August 16, 2007, the group released their first extended play (EP), Always, which also marked several changed for them. The EP introduced a new BIGBANG with the members taking on a more active role in the production of the album and consequently moving away from the hip-hop roots.
G-Dragon wrote most of the songs included in Always, including the title track “Lies”. The EP also saw the introduction of electronic music for the group, a relatively new flavor in South Korean music.
Reception for the EP was generally positive, particularly with the lead single “Lies”, which became BIGBANG’s first number one hit. After topping music charts for six weeks, it also became the first song to win the Song of the Month award from the Cyworld Digital Music Awards for two consecutive months, aside from registering the highest monthly sales in Cyworld’s history with more than 200,000 copies sold one month after its release.
BIGBANG’s second EP, Hot Issue, was released in November 2007 and contained six tracks all written and produced by G-Dragon. The same with Always, Hot Issue was also received well by fans and critics. Its lead single “Last Farewell” topped various charts in Korea, including the Melon chart for eight consecutive weeks, eventually being recognized as the longest-running number one hit by a boy group. “Last Farewell” also won Cyworld’s Song of the Month Award in the Digital Music category.
Other tracks from the EP, “Fool” and “But I Love U”, also ranked within the top 10. Hot Issue was considered a digital success with sales of over 120,000 copies in South Korea alone.
In the same year, BIGBANG staged their Great concert and sold out tickets within 10 minutes.
However, due to the amount of comebacks and activities lined up for the group, several members were hospitalized due to exhaustion brought by over-performing. Some of BIGBANG’s promotional activities were temporarily halted by YG Entertainment. But despite the temporary break, there was high demand for BIGBANG’s albums and singles, leading YG Entertainment to reprint and repackage their albums for re-release.
With the success of their EPs, BIGBANG bagged several awards including Best Male Group and Song of the Year for “Lies” at the 2007 Mnet Asian Music Awards, as well as Artist of the Year and Digital Record of the Year award from Seoul Music Awards. The group was also recognized for earning a total of ₩12 billion ($11.5 million) by the end of 2007.
2008: Japanese debut
After breakthrough success in 2007, BIGBANG entered the Japanese music market with the release of their first Japanese EP, For the World, on January 4, 2008. The mini-album charted at number 10 in Japan’s Oricon chart despite minimal promotions. The EP was then followed by a concert at the JCB Hall in Tokyo Dome City.
BIGBANG returned to South Korea after their Japanese promotions and started doing solo projects, causing a slight delay on their group activities.
On August 8, 2008, the group released their third Korean EP, Stand Up, featuring artists Daishi Dance and Korean rock band No Brain. The EP sold more than 200,000 copies, while the lead single “Day by Day” topped online charts for seven consecutive weeks. It also eventually became one of the most successful singles of all time in South Korea, selling more than five million digital downloads in South Korea alone. Another top-five song, “Heaven”, is included in the EP, while “Oh My Friend” charted in the top 10 and “A Good Man” charted in the top 20.
In between Korean promotions with Stand Up, BIGBANG released the Japanese song “Number 1” from their first Japanese studio album of the same name, which peaked at number 3 on the Oricon daily album chart. The group performed the song on various Japanese radio programs and TV shows.
On November 5, 2008, BIGBANG release their second Korean studio album, Remember, which produced the number one single “Sunset Glow”. The song is a remake of a Lee Moon Se original released in 1988. Remember also included “Seungri’s solo track, “Strong Baby”, which was promoted as the second single. The album sold more than 200,000 copies and by the end of the year, the group won their second Artist of the Year Award from the Mnet Asian Music Awards.
In 2008 alone, BIGBANG reportedly earned a total of ₩36 billion ($34.5 million).
2009: Solo endeavors
In early 2009, while BIGBANG was taking a short break as a group, the members started pursuing individual activities as well as product endorsements. Their reunion was brought about by their collaboration with then-upcoming girl group 2NE1, dubbed as “The Female Bigbang” of YG Entertainment. BIGBANG and 2NE1 worked together in the song “Lollipop”, a song used to promote LG Cyon.
Following the release of the song “Lollipop” and its accompanying music video, BIGBANG also released the digital single “So Fresh So Cool” to promote the beer brand “Hite”. However, the group’s youngest member Seungri was not included in the commercial as he was not yet of legal drinking age at the time.
In August 2009, BIGBANG released a self-titled Japanese studio album under Universal Music and promoted two lead singles, “My Heaven” and “Gara Gara Go!!!””. “My Heaven” is a Japanese re-recording of their original Korean song “Heaven” from the album Stand Up. It debuted at number 3 on the Oricon Music Chart, while the single “Gara Gara Go!!!” charted at number 5 and the album peaked at the third spot.
In November 2009, the group released the Japanese single “Koe wo Kikasete”, which was used in the Japanese drama Ohitorisama. The song charted for sixteen weeks and peaked at number 4 on the Oricon Chart. It was also one of the three singles pre-released by BIGBANG for their would-be 2011 album, Big Bang 2.
2010: Big Show Concert
The group kicked of the new year with their 2010 Big Show concert at the Olympics Gymnastics Arena in Seoul, followed by their Electric Love Tour in Japan.
On June 9, 2010, BIGBANG released their fourth Japanese single, “Tell Me Goodbye”, which was included in the Japanese remake of the hit Korean drama Iris. The single peaked at number 3 on the Oricon Daily singles chart and number 5 on the Oricon Weekly singles chart, while the title track went on to win Song of the Year at the 52nd Japan Record Awards.
On August 25, 2010, the group released another Japanese single, Beautiful Hangover, alongside a music video with two versions: an advised version and a revised version. The advised version of the song premiered on August 10, 2010 and was only played on night-time television, while the revised or re-edited version premiered on August 24.
Beautiful Hangover charted for eight weeks with peak positions of 5 and 7 on the Oricon Daily Singles and Weekly Singles Chart, respectively.
Back in South Korea, BIGBANG also released two promotional singles – “Lollipop Part 2”, which was another song to promote LG Cyon’s Lollipop phone, and “Shout of the Reds”, featuring Korean rock band Transfixion and figure skater Kim Yuna.
For most of 2010, the members focused on individual activities and promotions, including the introduction of the sub-unit GD & TOP as well as their collaboration album. This year also proved to be another successful year for the group as they won several notable awards, including Best New Artist Award at the 24th Japan Gold Disc Awards, as well as Best Pop Video and Best New Artist at the MTV Video Music Awards Japan 2010.
2011: Return from hiatus
After a hiatus of nearly two years, BIGBANG returned as a full group in the South Korean music industry with their 2011 Big Show concert, performing songs from their upcoming EP Tonight. The comeback album registered a pre-sale order of 10,000 copies in Cyworld, beating the record of 6,500 copies previously set by TVXQ in 2008. In a matter of week, the pre-orders ballooned to 100,000.
Seven days after the official release of Tonight, the group was reported to have already earned ₩7 billion ($6.6 million). The lead track of the same name also became a chart-topper on the Gaon Digital Chart, while four other songs charted within the top 10, including “Café” (number 2) and “What is Right?” (number 4).
After wrapping up their promotions for Tonight, BIGBANG released a special edition album with two additional tracks – “Love Song”, which topped the charts, and “Stupid Liar”, which peaked at number 3. The group also embarked on their third Japanese tour, Love and Hope, in May in support of the special edition album. All performances in the Love and Hope tour were sold out and a total of 100,000 fans attended.
The group continued their immense success in 2011, winning the Best Worldwide Act at the 2011 MTV EMAs after garnering 58 million votes as representatives of the Asia-Pacific Region. “Love Song” also won Best Music Video at the 2011 Mnet Asian Music Awards.
At the end of the year, BIGBANG was part of the lineup of the YG Family 15th Anniversary concert tour. The concert series was immediately followed by the release of their third Greatest Hits album, The Best of Big Bang, on December 14. The album, containing a Japanese version of their hit song “Day by Day’, topped the Oricon Daily chart on its first day of release and sold over 14,000 copies within the first week.
It was reported that the group earned around ₩78 billion ($69.4 million) in 2011 alone despite the fact that they only promoted for half of the year. The estimated earnings included BIGBANG’s revenue concert for SBS’ Big Bang Show, their 2011 Big Show Concert, and their Love and Hope Tour in Japan.
2012-2014: International recognition, first world tour
As early as January 2012, YG Entertainment began releasing teasers for BIGBANG’s fifth Korean EP, Alive, which was officially released in February in digital and physical formats. Pre-orders for the EP went to as high as 260,000 copies in two weeks with three singles released for the promotions.
The lead single “Blue” was released one week prior to the EP’s official release and reached number 1 position on all major domestic charts. The second single, “Bad Boy”, peaked at number 2 and was the only K-pop song included in Fuse’s Best Songs of 2012 list. The third single, “Fantastic Baby”, charted at number 3 with a music video that currently holds the most number of views for any music video released by the group. The official music video for “Fantastic Baby” currently has a total of 345 million views on YouTube making it the most watched video by a Korean group.
In international charts, BIGBANG took five spots out of the top ten on Billboard K-pop’s Hot 100 and charted at number 150 on Billboard 200, earning the group the recognition of being the first Korean artist with a Korean album to achieve the feat. Their immense popularity in and out of Korea also put BIGBANG at the 24th spot of Billboard’s Social 50. Their international success also gave BIGBANG recognition from Time magazine and a feature on the Grammy Awards homepage.
The release of Alive coincided with the group’s annual concert, Big Show 2012, held at the Seoul Olympic Park Stadium from March 2 to 4. The three-day series of shows was another sold out spectacle for BIGBANG attended by 40,000 fans. The Seoul concert also served as the official kick off for their first world tour titled “Alive Galaxy Tour” in partnership with Live Nation.
The concert was directed by renowned choreographer Laurieann Gibson and was scheduled to have stops in 21 cities in more than 13 countries, expecting 800,000 people. Footage from the Big Show concert was broadcast in 160 countries through MTV World Stage, which further pushed the promotion for the Alive Galaxy Tour.
The Alive Galaxy Tour also marked BIGBANG’s first concert performances in the United States, Hong Kong, and Europe. Due to high public demand, additional shows were held in Los Angeles, New Jersey, and London. It was also the first time for the group to perform in three dome venues in Japan, making them the first Korean artist to perform in all three venues. BIGBANG concluded their Alive Galaxy Tour with concerts in Osaka and a three-night stint in Seoul in January of the following year.
On March 28, 2012, BIGBANG released the Japanese version of their Alive EP in both digital and physical formats, including two additional Japanese tracks. The physical copy of their album also included a bonus Japanese version of their hit song “Day by Day”. The album sold more than 23,000 copies on its first day alone and peaked at number 2 on the Oricon charts. The album eventually sold over 200,000 copies and was certified gold by The Recording Industry Association of Japan.
The group began their Japanese promotions for the album at the 2012 Springroove Festival alongside top American and Japanese hip hop artists. BIGBANG became the first Korean act to be invited to the festival along with their labelmates 2NE1.
On June 3, BIGBANG released the special edition album Still Alive in celebration of the success of their comeback. Still Alive featured four new songs including two Korean tracks, one of which is the lead single “Monster”. The album sold more than 100,000 copies within the first month of its release. On June 20, a special Monster edition of the group’s Japanese album Alive was also released.
The success of their special edition album further boosted BIGBANG’s international success and gave them a wider global recognition as proven by the album’s peak position at number 11 on the Billboard Social 50.
On November 30, 2012, the group won three awards at the 14th Mnet Asian Music Awards including Best Male Group and Artist of the Year, while G-Dragon took home the Best Male Solo Award. BIGBANG also won the Best Fan category award at the Italian TRL Awards that same year.
After wrapping up their promotional activities as a group, the members went back to pursuing solo endeavors for most of 2013 and 2014.
In November 2013, BIGBANG reunited for their Japan Dome Tour, which included stops in six different dome arenas all over Japan, making them the first foreign act to do so. The group gathered more than 770,000 fans for the concert tour and was reported to have earned $94 million in total revenue.
In October 2014, the group performed at the closing ceremony of the 2014 Asian Games which was held in Incheon, South Korea. A month later, they embarked on their second Japan Dome Tour. The said tour made BIGBANG the first foreign artist to perform in five dome arenas in Japan for two consecutive years. And by the end of 2014, they gained recognition for being the Korean artist that attracted the most number of concertgoers in Japan for the year and the second act overall.
2015 to 2016: Second world tour and 10th anniversary
BIGBANG made their comeback after a two-year hiatus with the release of special project singles for their upcoming album Made: M, A, D, and E. The first single titled M was released in May 2015 and included the songs “Loser” and “Bae Bae”, which debuted at number one and number two on Billboard’s World Digital Songs chart, respectively. This also made the group the first K-pop boy group to top the chart and the second Korean artist to occupy the top two slots simultaneously after their 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 also made it to Billboard’s list of best K-pop songs in 2015, with “Loser” ranked at number 1.
In June 2015, BIGBANG released A as the second installment in their MADE series. The album featured the tracks “Bang Bang Bang” and “We Like 2 Party”, which also eventually went on to place number one and two on Billboard’s World Digital Chart. The group won Song of the Year at the 17th Mnet Asian Music Awards for “Bang Bang Bang”, which was also South Korea’s best-performing single in all of 2015 according to the Gaon Digital Chart.
D was released in July of the same year, and included the songs “Sober” and “If You.” “If You” topped the Gaon Digital Chart upon release and made it to number 2 of the Billboard World Digital Chart. “Sober”, meanwhile, charted number 2 in domestic charts.
In August 2015, BIGBANG concluded the project singles with the release of E which included the songs “Let’s Not Fall In Love” and “Zutter” by their sub-unit GD & TOP. “Let’s Not Fall In Love” peaked at number one on the Gaon Digital Chart and on Billboard’s World Digital Songs chart.
To promote their singles for the then upcoming MADE albums, BIGBANG embarked on their second world tour with the first stop in Seoul on April 25 and April 26. The tour gathered 1.5 million fans around the world, making it the largest tour by any Korean act. By the end of 2015, the group reportedly earned more than ₩150 billion (USD$120 million).
However, despite the success of the singles, YG Entertainment decided to postpone the release of the full album to add new songs and let the members rest after four months of continuous promotions.
In 2016, BIGBANG continued with the Made V.I.P. Tour, adding stops in China, Macau, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, and the United States. With the recent tour, they were also recognized as the group with the highest earning in Mainland China for the year 2016 based on concert revenue. BIGBANG earned $70.3 million, which is equivalent to 70% of the total box office of all South Korean artists in China for the year.
In April and May, they toured Japan once again for their Fantastic Babys Tour, attended by 280,000 fans.
Also in 2016, several projects were launched to celebrate the group’s 10th anniversary. First on the line was the documentary film “Big Bang Made”, which was released on June 30, 2016. The film followed the group during their Made Tour in 2015.
From July 2016 to January 2017, BIGBANG held a 10th anniversary concert tour, 0.TO.10, which included sold-out stadium shows at the Seoul World Cup Stadium in Seoul, South Korea and Yanmar Stadium Nagai in Osaka, Japan. In Japan, the tour was attended by 781,500 fans from the 16 concerts in the country, giving BIGBANG the recognition of being the act with the biggest concert mobilization power for the year in Japan, the first that a foreign artist topped the list. Overall, the tour gathered 1.1 million fans in attendance.
BIGBANG also held an art exhibit, titled A TO Z, to showcase the group’s history and celebrate a decade with their fans. The exhibition ran from August 5 to October 30, 2016 at the S-factory in Seoul and travelled to Taipei, Taiwan from June 24 to August 22, 2017.
After one year of postponement, Made was officially released in December 2016. Two singles were announced for the release – “Fxxk It” and “Last Dance”. These two songs, along with the song “Girlfriend” grabbed the top three spots on the Gaon Digital Chart and sold more than one million digital copies combined in just five days. The three songs also peaked at numbers 2, 3, and 4 on the Billboard World Digital Songs chart, collectively selling 13,000 copies.
Made’s digital version sold more than 1 million copies on QQ Music, Kugou, and Kuwo, China’s three major music platforms, in one day. The album debuted at number 172 on the United States Billboard 200 chart with 6,000 equivalent album units, 4,000 of which were from traditional album sales. This earned BIGBANG their second entry on the chart. They also debuted at number 1 on the World Albums chart and the Heatseekers Albums chart. Domestically, the physical version of the album topped the Gaon Albums chart.
BIGBANG held two final concerts at the Gocheok Sky Dome in January 2017 to wrap up their 10th anniversary tour and all promotional activities for Made.
2017 to 2018: Touring and military service
On February 9, 2017, BIGBANG’s oldest member, T.O.P, enlisted for his two-year mandatory military service as a conscripted policeman. While T.O.P was serving in the military, the group’s remaining members continued promotions.
In April 2017, YG Entertainment released the reality program, “Run, Big Bang Scout!” through YouTube Red. It starred all five members and was YouTube Red’s first original content produced outside of the United States. The program’s first episode was a free release and registered more than 9.6 million views on YouTube.
For the rest of 2017, members G-Dragon, Taeyang, and Daesung focused on individual promotions, with G-Dragon and Taeyang embarking on their respective world tours and Daesung promoting in Japan.
The group held their fifth annual Japanese dome tour, the Last Dance Tour, as a foursome in late 2017. The tour began on November 18, 2017 with 14 concerts across four cities in Japan – Fukuoka, Nagoya, Osaka, and Tokyo – and was attended by 696,000 fans. The tour then added two final shows held at the Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul on December 30 and 31, and was attended by 70,000 fans.
In 2018, the other members started enlisting in the military one by one. G-Dragon was the second member to enlist on February 27, followed by Taeyang on March 12 and Daesung on March 13. Their youngest member, Seungri, is set to enlist in the second half of 2018.
On March 13, YG Entertainment released BIGBANG’s song “Flower Road”, a song recorded by the group in 2016 as a farewell gift to fans while they are in the military. “Flower Road”, despite not having any promotions, set a record in China after reaching more than one million sales in 3 days and 14 hours, the shortest amount of time for any Korean artist. It also topped Billboard’s World Digital Songs Chart and the Gaon Digital Chart, being the song with the highest digital index of the year thus far.
On April 6, “Flower Road” also achieved a ‘Triple Kill’ on Gaon for topping their download, digital, and streaming charts.