Preeti Patil, Mumbai, Maharashtra
Debuted under SM Entertainment in 2012, a major turning point in the K-pop industry; EXO influenced and succoured fans all over the world. It was the first-ever group to introduce Chinese members in it. The group was initially of 12 members (SUHO, BAEKHYUN, Chanyeol, D.O., KAI, SEHUN, Kris Wu, LAY, Lu Han, XIUMIN, CHEN and Tao) divided into two sub-units EXO-K and EXO-M. These sub-units had 6 members in each group that promoted their music in Korean and Mandarin. They performed in Pop, Hip-Hop, and R&B including elements of electronic dance music genres such as home and trap. Various media outlets described them as the KINGS OF K-POP. The group was also ranked as one of the top 5 most influential celebrities on the Forbes Korea Power Celebrity list from 2014 to 2018. However, currently, EXO consists only of 9 members as the other 3 members had left the agency due to contract disputes.
EXO debuted on 9th April 2012 with the mini album MAMA, they drew inspiration from the superpower theme and released a total of 23 teasers and also included their pre-debut singles What Is Love and History to the album. The album was done by the sub-units, so they were in both Korean and Mandarin languages. Later in 2013, EXO released their full-length album XOXO with the title track Wolf, and unlike the album MAMA their new album was promoted jointly. Later a repackaged version of the album was released with its title track Growl. The same year EXO released their first winter special album Miracles In December which was considered very warm and poignant. In the year 2014, they released their 2nd mini album Overdose with the same title track, now with a switch of music style. Carrying on, their next single December 2014 (The Winter’s Tale) was released and reached number one on the Gaon’s Chart resulting in their first-ever number-one single.
Their second full-length album EXODUS with the title track Call Me Baby was released in 2015, and later a repackaged version with the title track Love Me Right was let out. Later the same year EXO released their second winter special album Sing For You. In 2016, the group released their third studio album EX’ACT with the title tracks Lucky One and Monster, its repackaged version was later released with the title track Lotto which was equally popular. But unlike other albums, this album was released by only 10 members as their other two Chinese members (Kris Wu and Lu Han) had terminated their contracts with SM Entertainment.
In December they again released their third winter special album For Life. Additionally, the same year the member BAEKHYUN released a collaboration with Suzy with the song Dream as well as the members CHEN, BAEKHYUN and XIUMIN debuted with their sub-unit called CBX. Lastly, LAY made his debut as a soloist with the solo track Monodrama. By this time the third Chinese member Tao also had terminated his contract with the agency.
EXO made its next comeback in 2017, with their fourth full-length album THE WAR and the title track Ko Ko Bop was released, it also had its repackaged version named THE WAR: THE POWER OF MUSIC with the title track Power. Once again at the end of the year their winter special album Universe was released.
On the other side, LAY had released his first studio album LAY 02 SHEEP which included his singles I NEED U and SHEEP. In 2018, EXO made a comeback with the album Don’t Mess Up My Tempo with the same title and its repackaged album with the title track Love Shot which was known to every K-Pop lover. This album was considered to have made a huge success. LAY made his 2nd album release with Namanana. This album marked his US debut under the name Lay Zhang.
Later, EXO members evinced their solo debuts. CHEN was the second member of EXO to debut as a soloist with his album April, and a flower and following him BAEKHYUN became the third member to debut solo with his album City Lights. Later on, the same year EXO announced their 2nd sub-unit EXO-SC, which debuted with the members SEHUN and Chanyeol who released their mini album What a life. CHEN also shortly released his 2nd mini album Dear my dear. BAEKHYUN and KAI debuted under the group SuperM, a new SM Entertainment boy group along with the members of different groups of the same agency.
In 2020, the group made a comeback with their 6th full-length album OBSESSION with the same title track. The same year SUHO became the fourth member to debut as a solo artist with the album Self-Portrait and BAEKHYUN released his 2nd mini album called Delight featuring the lead single Candy. LAY also made his 3rd release with the album LIT.
In the mid of 2020, EXO-SC released their full-length album 1 Billion Views. KAI was the fifth member to make a solo debut with his self-titled mini album. In 2021, BAEKHYUN furthered his solo activities and released his Japanese self-titled extended play and also his 3rd full-length album named Bambi.
LAY also released his fourth studio album PRODUCER the following month. Don’t Fight The Feeling, their next comeback was released in mid-year and to the delight fans are happy as LAY made an appearance for the first time after their fifth studio album Don’t Mess Up My Tempo. One of the main vocalists of EXO, D.O debuted as a soloist with Empathy in 2021, with songs like Rose and I’m Gonna Love You. In 2022, XIUMIN, became the seventh member of the boyband, to debut as a solo artist with Brand New.
According to a survey, EXO has won a total of 168 awards with a nomination of 286 in the following years. EXO has received a total count of 23 Daesang Awards and in the year 2018 it was recorded in the Guinness World Records for holding the most Daesang Awards won at the MAMA (Mnet Asian Music Awards). EXO were culturally honoured three times in total, in 2014 they were commentated as Ministers of Culture, Sports and Tourism by the Prime Minister, in 2017 they received a Prime Minister commendation at the Korean Popular Culture and Art Award and lastly, in 2019 they received the Star of Korean Tourism from Ministry of Culture and Korean Tourism Board.
EXO has held plentiful concerts and tours worldwide since their debut. The number of EXO-Ls attending these concerts is purely astounding. A total of 375,910 fans had attended their first tour EXOplanet 1- The Lost Planet and their 2015-16 tour The EXO’luxion had twice the number of EXO-Ls which is 745,820 attendees. The group’s next 2016-17 tour The EXO’rdium had a total of 680,906 fans attending it and The Elyxion the 2017-18 tour had 425,000 attendees. Their last concert until now The Exploration in 2019 had almost 365,000 attendees.
EXO has collaborated with songwriters, producers and globally. At the 2014 MAMA Awards CHEN had an amazing collaboration stage with John Legend along with Tiffany for the song Green Light. In 2015, they collaborated with Walt Disney by releasing a digital single Lightsaber and also featured in a collaboration film related to the movie Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Chanyeol has also collaborated with Far East Movement x Marshmello alongside Tinashe for the track Freal Luv.
It has been 11 years since EXO’s debut and there are a ton of memories made with love and care. Over the years, EXO has cultivated and nurtured a special bond with their EXO-Ls all around the world. Regardless of the ups and downs in the group along with the departure of three members EXO’s momentum hasn’t slowed down one bit. With so many achievements overall, it’s not hard to see why the group is so popular. What’s your favourite EXO song? Tell us in the comments!