EXO (엑소) is a South Korean-Chinese boy band produced by S.M. Entertainment and formed in Seoul, South Korea. Introduced in 2012, EXO has twelve members divided in two subgroups, EXO-K (Korean) and EXO-M (Mandarin), to promote in both South Korea and China. The group’s name, EXO, was taken from exoplanet referring to planets outside the Solar System. They made such an imprint with their debut single, MAMA, released on 8th April 2012 followed by the release of their EP MAMA on 9th April 2012.
EXO’s debut single, MAMA, was released on 8th April 2012, and the EP was released 9th April. MAMA is a Korean term used to address a royalty (like “your majesty”). EXO-K made their debut performance on 8th April 2012 in South Korea’s music program, The Music Trend. And on the same day, EXO-M debuted at the 12th Yinyue Fengyun Bang Awards in China. EXO-K also made their debut performances at Mnet M! Countdown, KBS Music Bank, MBC Music Core, and SBS Inkigayo from 8th-15th April. While EXO-K performed on music shows every week, EXO-M promoted their album through Chinese music programs and variety shows, including Happy Camp. EXO-M also made a guest appearance in Super Junior Super Show 4 (Indonesia leg)and at KCON 2012. EXO also participated in SMTOWN Live World Tour III, making it their first SMTOWN tour appearance.
Alongside their debut single, MAMA, the group released two prologue singles that were included in the EP – What Is Love and History. What Is Love, highlighting the group’s vocal abilities, was released on 30th January 2012 through iTunes and various online retailers from China and South Korea. History was released on 9th March 2012 showcasing both the group’s singing and dancing skills. The single scored great on Gaon Single Chart(#68) and on Sina Music Chart(#6), such an achievement for a prologue single. These two prologues brought more expectations as well as recognitions, and have served as great introductions of the group prior to the release of their debut single.
The group’s promotions quickly paid off when after only a day of its release, MAMA peaked at number one on various Chinese online retailers and music charts. EXO-M’s version ranked 2nd on Sina Album Chart in China; 5th on Gaon Album Chart in South Korea; and 12th on the Billboard World Albums Chart. EXO-K’s version also ranked well on various charts as it peaked 1st on Gaon Album Chart, and 8th on the Billboard World Albums Chart.EXO’s music video for MAMA also garnered a lot of support not only from Korean and Chinese fans, but also from music enthusiasts from all over the globe as MV MAMA (EXO-M Ver.) ranked 1st on Chinese streaming websites, and MV MAMA (EXO-K Ver.) reached 7th on YouTube’s Global Chart.
After a year, EXO came back from EXOPLANET to the mainstream – and they came back strong and “one”. On 15th May 2013, S.M. Entertainment announced the group’s comeback with their first full-length studio album, XOXO. EXO came back to promote as EXO without subgroups, and that all members will promote in both Korea and China together with their comeback single, Wolf. The album gathered over 300,000+ pre-orders before its launch. On 3rd June 2013, XOXO was released with two versions – KISS (Korean Ver.) and HUG(Mandarin). The group came back with a more mature and somewhat eccentric image and style through an album that highlights their skills and talents even more. The group’s album is composed of ten songs of which some were already introduced through their debut teasers.
XOXO became an instant hit right after its release topping all real-time charts of established online music websites in South Korea and in China. Seven out of ten tracks in the album made it to the Billboard South Korea chart, and XOXO also landed on top of Hanteo Album Chart as the total sales reached nearly 120,000 copies a week after its release. XOXO peaked at number one on Billboard World Albums Chart, and the album also made it to the top of Gaon Weekly Albums Chart (Kiss Ver.) and Gaon Weekly International Albums Chart (Hug Ver.). EXO received their first music show award on 14th June 2013 in KBS Music Bank with Wolf, and also topped MBC Music Core, SBS Inkigayo and Show! Champion that week. XOXO continues to receive great support from fans all over the world as the members promote through various local and international music shows.
As for the members, formally introduced as a member on 15th February 2012, Suho is known as the Guardian of EXO and Leader of EXO-K. When he was sixteen, he was casted as a trainee during the annual S.M. Casting System. He made an appearance in TVXQ’s HaHaHa Song back in 2008 with Chanyeol and Kai. In one of EXO’s appearances in Super Junior’s Kiss The Radio (SUKIRA), he described himself as the group’s eomma (mother) – his fragile appearance is complemented by his strong determination to make the group not only successful but also a good role model for the all of their fans.
Baekhyun or Bacon, as what most fans call him, was scouted by a casting agent from S.M. Entertainment and became a trainee through the S.M. Casting System in 2011. Baekhyun embraced music at a young age. He was a member of Jungwon High School’s musical band, and he also won in a local rock festival. He was officially introduced as an EXO member on 30th January 2012. Baekhyun also made a brief appearance at GIRLS’ GENERATION-TTS’ Twinkle MV with Chanyeol, Kai and Sehun. Aside from being a good singer, this GIRLS’ GENERATION Taeyeon-fanboy is also good talker. It wouldn’t be a surprise if he would be seen in future variety shows, as he has a flair in public speaking.
Chanyeol is the Happy Virus of the group. He was casted through the S.M. Casting System in 2008, and was the last EXO member officially introduced on 23rd February 2012. Chanyeol is a good drummer and even formed a temporary band with his classmates back in school. He was enrolled in a private acting instituition when he was sixteen, and also won 2nd place in a televised modeling contest. Chanyeol also made appearances in a couple of music videos. He was part of TVXQ’s HaHaHa Song in 2008 alongside Suho, Kai and Sehun, and was also featured in GIRLS’ GENERATION’s Genie (Japanese Ver.) MV and in GIRLS’ GENERATION-TTS’ Twinkle MV with Baekhyun, Kai and Sehun. Chanyeol is a gentle giant – a big boy with a big voice and a big warm and bright smile.
D.O. or simply Kyungsoo, was casted through the S.M. Casting System in 2010. He was officially introduced as an EXO member on 30th January 2012. Back in school, he was part of a musical band with Hyunsik of BTOB. D.O. is an avid fan of SUKIRA and is very close to his seniors, particularly to Super Junior’s Ryeowook. He may be shy most of the time, but this boy has a good sense of humour and can be very funny sometimes. Aside from having good vocal skills, D.O. has big and round eyes that glitter with such warmth and passion that make fans crazy.
Kai is EXO’s Dancing Machine. Before being casted in S.M. Entertainment, Kai trained in ballet and jazz dance. He won Youth’s Best Contest in 2007 and then became a trainee at SME. Among the members, Kai was the first person introduced and had the most number of teasers before the group’s debut. He was officially introduced on 23rd December 2011 and appeared in twelve more trailers in the next three months. He also made an appearance at TVXQ’s HaHaHa Song and in GIRLS’ GENERATION-TTS’ Twinkle MV, and performed at SBS Gayo Daejun on 29th December 2011 alongside Luhan, Tao and Chen. Kai is SHINee Taemin’s best friend and aside from both being their group’s dancing machines, they look alike. Kai graduated from School of Performing Arts Seoul in early 2012. He is a shy boy who transforms into a fierce yet charming man on stage.
Sehun, acording to some fans, has only two facial expressions – a super happy face and a super derp face. Sehun was scouted on the streets by a casting agent when he was only twelve. After going through four auditions in two years, he was casted in S.M. Entertainment in 2008 and was formally introduced as an EXO member on 10th January 2012. He also appeared in GIRLS’ GENERATION-TTS’ Twinkle MV with fellow EXO members. Being the maknae (youngest/youngest member), Sehun receives much love from all the members. He graduated from School of Performing Arts Seoul. He may be shy and you may see him in his own little world sometimes, but this charming boy with smiling eyes is manly in every way.
Kris is the Leader of EXO-M. Kris was born in China and was living in Canada before becoming a trainee in S.M. Entertainment. He joined the S.M. Global Audition held in Vancouver, Canada and was casted in 2007. Before being introduced as an EXO member, Kris appeared in an intermission video at the Taipei, Taiwan leg of GIRLS’ GENERATION’s Tour in 2011. He was formally introduced as an EXO member on 17th February 2012. Kris loves basketball and used to play in his former school’s basketball team. He is fluent in English, Hangeul, Mandarin and Cantonese. In one of EXO’s SUKIRA guestings, Suho addressed him as the appa (father) of the group as he takes care of the members in such a gentleman way. Apart from being a model-type guy, Kris exudes charisma and confidence in every way. Unfortunately, Kris decided to leave the group during their “Overdose” era, in May 2014.
Also known as Baozi (bun), Xiumin is the oldest member of EXO. He won second place in S.M. Everysing Contest and was casted in S.M. Entertainment in 2008. Xiumin plays soccer very well and is also an expert martial artist. He was formally introduced as a member on 26th January 2012. He is indeed the oldest member in the band, but he definitely doesn’t look like it. Suho once thanked Xiumin and Luhan for being the members he run to at times of pressure involving the members. He may look very young and playful, but Xiumin helps the leaders take care of the members very well. His sweet smile and smiling eyes completes his youthful image, making him more than a talented artist but also a charming guy fans love.
Luhan was introduced as a member on 27th December 2011. He attended Beijing Haidian Foreign Language Shi Yan School before going to South Korea as an exchange student in Yonsei University. Back in 2008, Luhan auditioned in JYP Entertainment’s global audition held in China but didn’t make the cut. In Korea, a scouting agent from S.M. Entertainment aproached him on the street and urged him to audition for the annual S.M. Casting System. He was casted and included in EXO in 2011. He performed in SBS Gayo Daejun on 29th December 2011 alongside fellow members Chen, Tao and Kai. Luhan may look feminine on most photos, but he is very manly. He plays soccer very well andd recently participated in the Asian soccer team. He has a sweet and gentle aura that draw people towards him. Like his ex-member Kris, Luhan announced his leave from the group in 2014 to pursue a solo career in China.
Lay or Unicorn, as fans call him, was officially introduced as an EXO member on 17th January 2012. Lay isn’t new to showbiz as he was already a local celebrity in China before joining S.M. Entertainment’s Global Audition and being casted in 2008. He is also EXO’s Dancing Machine (alongside Kai), and participated in SHINee World Concert in 2011 as Jonghyun’s dance replacement. Aside from soccer, he plays musical instruments very well, too. Lay may look very shy and serious most of the time, but this guy can make the members laugh without even trying just with simple reactions and phrases.
Chen or Chen Chen, as what Kris and fans call him, was officially introduced on 29th December 2011 in SBS Gayo Daejun. He was casted in 2011 through the S.M. Casting System. Chen is one the group’s strongest vocalists but he sure can dance well, too. He may be your typical shy boy, but he transforms into a charming and confident powerhouse when he sings. He is such a gentleman in every way.
Tao was formally introduced on 27th December 2011, the third among the members. He made his first televised performance in SBS Gayo Daejun on 29th December 2011 alongside Luhan, Chen, Kai and other fellow SMTOWN artists. Tao was casted in 2010 through SME’s global casting system. Before he became a trainee in S.M. Entertainment, Tao has joined a number of competitions back in China. He won first place in a free style rapping competition in Hong Kong. He has also established a name on the field of arts as he is an expert martial artist, and has been practising Wushu since he was six. Tao calls himself Kung Fu Panda Tao or simply Panda not only because he is a martial artist, but also because he has these prominent dark circles around his eyes that make him look like a panda. Tao is EXO-M’s maknae and is the member who cries easily. He is both a tough guy and a cry-baby, but he is the member who speaks his mind and heart very well. Unfortunately, in 2015, Tao also decided to left the group and returned to China.
We really think that EXO has found their originality and differentiate themselves from their label mate such as Shinee or Super Junior. They found a way to show that they were talented and that they had their place in the Korean music industry. Their wild side got us to notice them and that’s what we really like about them. That’s why we decided to make a presentation of them as we believe to their potential. Don’t hesitate to check them out and take a look to the music videos and the album review below.
Written By JKod