Exo (Korean: 엑소; often stylized as EXO) is a Chinese-South Korean boy band based in Seoul. Formed by SM Entertainment in 2011, the group consists of twelve members separated into two subgroups, EXO-K and EXO-M, performing music in Korean and Mandarin, respectively. The group officially debuted on April 8, 2012, with Suho, Baekhyun, Chanyeol, D.O, Kai, and Sehun under the Korean subgroup while Xiumin, Luhan, Kris, Lay, Chen, and Tao under the Mandarin group.
The fastest-selling Korean artist in twelve years, Exo rose to fame with their breakthrough hit "Wolf" and solidified their success with "Growl," winning the Disk Daesang at the 28th Golden Disk Awards and the Album of the Year at the 15th Mnet Asian Music Awards for XOXO, making them the youngest boy band to do so. Exo has also set the record for being the highest-charting Korean male act on Billboard 200 with their third extended play, Overdose.
In May 2011, at a Hallyu business seminar held at Stanford University, Lee Soo-man spoke about a strategy of debuting a new boyband, in which they would be divided into 2 subgroups, promoting the same music simultaneously in South Korea and China by performing songs in both Korean and Mandarin. After several changes, in December 2011, the group finalized their name to EXO, with the names EXO-K for the South Korean subgroup and EXO-M for the Chinese subgroup. Their name was taken from the word exoplanet. They debuted their first televised performance at SBS's annual Gayo Daejun event on December 29, 2011.
2012: Debut and Mama:
EXO-K and EXO-M's prologue single "What Is Love" was released on January 30, 2012, in mainland China and South Korea. The single peaked at number 88 on South Korea's Gaon Single Chart. On March 9, the group released their second prologue single "History", which was written and produced by Thomas Troelsen and Remee. The single peaked at number 68 on the Gaon Single Chart and number six on China's Sina Music Chart.
A concert for the group was held in Seoul's Olympic Stadium on March 31. Approximately 3,000 fans from 8,000 applicants were selected to attend. A second concert was held in the Great Hall of the Beijing University of International Business and Economics on April 1.
EXO-K and EXO-M released their debut single, "Mama", on April 8 followed by an EP, Mama, on April 9. On April 8, Exo-K performed on South Korea's music program The Music Trend, while EXO-M made their debut in China's Top Chinese Music Awards on the same day. A day after release, "Mama" reached number one on various Chinese online retailers and music charts. Exo-M's album reached number two on China's Sina Album Chart, number five on South Korea's Gaon Album Chart, and number twelve on the Billboard World Albums Chart. Exo-K's album peaked at number one on the Gaon Album Chart and at number eight on the Billboard World Albums Chart. Exo-M's "Mama" music video reached number one on Chinese streaming websites, while Exo-K's version reached to number seven on YouTube's Global Chart. In late April 2012, Exo-M performed as a guest act for Super Junior's Super Show 4 concert tour in Jakarta, Indonesia.
In November 2012, EXO won Best New Asian Artist Group at the 2012 Mnet Asian Music Awards. EXO-K received three nominations at the 27th Golden Disk Awards, winning the Newcomer Award. EXO-M received the Most Popular Group award at the 2013 Top Chinese Music Awards.
2013: XOXO, commercial success and Miracles in December:
XOXO was released in June 2013 to two versions, a Korean-language "Kiss" edition and a Mandarin-language "Hug" edition. Unlike during the Mama era, when EXO-K and EXO-M had separate promotions, XOXO was jointly promoted. The subgroups collaborated for the album's lead single, "Wolf", but the rest of the album was recorded separately. A few days after its release, the songs in XOXO topped almost every real-time chart from online music websites of South Korea and mainland China. The two versions collectively peaked at number one on the Billboard World Album Chart a week after release. Lead single "Wolf" peaked at number one on three of South Korea's music programs, earning the name "triple win." "Wolf" also won a trophy on MBC Music's Show Champion, but the song fared worse on music download charts, reaching to only top thirty spots in recorded charts from both South Korea and China.
A repackaged version of XOXO, with three additional tracks, was released on August 5, 2013. The reissue's lead single, "Growl", was unveiled via YouTube on August 1, 2013, in the format of a music video. On August 18, "Growl" achieved 10,554 points on The Music Trend charts, setting a new number one record on the show. "Growl" reached number one on all four of Korea's major music programs, winning a total of ten trophies in three consecutive weeks. The single peaked at number three on Billboard's Korea K-Pop Hot 100 and number two on the Gaon's Singles chart. As of October 2013, all versions of XOXO have collectively sold over 910,000 copies, breaking the record for being fastest-selling K-pop artist in twelve years.XOXO was named Album of the Year at the 2013 Mnet Asian Music Awards, making EXO the youngest ever boy band to win the award. The album's single "Growl" was also honored Song of the Year at the 2013 MelOn Music Awards.
EXO's second EP Miracles in December was officially released December 9, 2013 through South Korean commercial outlets and online music stores. Exo jump-started album promotions through their reality show EXO's Showtime, which premiered on November 28, 2013 on the cable channel MBC Every 1. Baekhyun, Chen, and D.O. performed the EP's lead single, "Miracles in December", at M! Countdown on December 5.
2014: Overdose, Kris' and Luhan's lawsuit and Fanclub Production:
EXO's third EP, "Overdose", released on May 7, 2014, performed exceptionally well on real-time music charts.
On May 15, 2014, S.M. Entertainment confirmed that EXO-M's leader, Kris, had filed a lawsuit against the agency to terminate his contract, leaving the band with 11 members. On October 10, Luhan filed a lawsuit against SM Entertainment to nullify his contract, mainly because of health issues. By the end of the calendar year, EXO was Japan's biggest-selling K-pop artist of the year.
^ Luhan is currently an inactive member, due to his lawsuit against SM Entertainment since October 10, 2014.,
^ Kris is currently an inactive member, due to his lawsuit against SM Entertainment since May 15, 2014.
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