The winners of our Popdust 40 final spot vote competition
, K-Pop sensations Big Bang
are on the verge of being the first K-Pop act to really crossover to US shores. (Well, unless Psy beats them to the punch.) They have all the elements—the right mix of hip-hop style and boy band crush-worthiness—and they're already one of the biggest things in South Korea since sliced kimchi. It's only a matter of time until they hit the tipping point Stateside, and the group will have their chance on our shores later this year.
The group came into being over a half-decade ago under the guidance of K-Pop music factory YG Entertainment, with the five members assembling from fairly diverse beginnings. G-Dragon—whose song "Crayon" is currently competing in our Pop-Off
—and Taeyang started out as child models at the age of 11, before joining Big Bang in their mid-teens.
Three more members were added to the group—rapper T.O.P., star reality show dancer Seungri, and skilled singer Daesung. Together, they hit the international boy band magic number of five, and were ready for greatness.
Once fully assembled, the group quickly proved ready for the big time with debut album Bigbang, Vol. 1
, including G-Dragon's hit solo cover, with re-written lyrics, of Maroon 5's "This Love":
Things really took off for Big Bang with "Lies," the lead single from their follow-up EP Always
. The piano-led heartbreak anthem brought the group to a new level of popularity in their home country, starting a streak of seven consecutive number-one hits in their country, including such signature tunes as "Blue" and "Haru Haru."
The group extended their reach to Japan with the release of Number 1
, an aptly titled compilation of some of their early hit-strewn EPs, and their first primarily English-language release. The group eventually went on to great success in Japan as well, scoring five straight top ten singles, including the G-Dragon-led dance-pop ballad "My Heaven."
The group cemented their newfound superstardom with a collaboration with girl group and fellow K-Pop megastars-to-be 2NE1, then dubbed the "female Big Bang." The effervescent dance-pop concoction "Lollipop," commissioned for an LG commercial, became one of the biggest hits for either artist, and showcased the group's awareness of international pop, interpolating the hook from the '50s U.S. hit of the same name
The group's international exposure expanded over the course of a couple award-show wins—first at the 2010 Japan Video Music Awards, where the group took home Best Pop Video and Best New Artist (beating Pink and Taylor Swift, respectively).
Even bigger for the group was at the 2011 MTV Europe Music Awards, where the group won the Best Worldwide Act award, receiving 58 million votes to their cause. The entire group was present to accept, and leader G Dragon, who had just been at the heart of controversy for being caught smoking marijuana, was so effusive in his gratitude towards the fans that he seemed to forgot that few people in the audience spoke Korean, delivering most of his speech in his native tongue.
Around this time, the group moved into the fashion world with a partnership with clothing brand Uniqlo, promoting their recent comeback. The shirts set a sales record
for Uniqlo within 15 minutes of going on sale.
Earlier this year, the group released Alive
, featuring their latest South Korean smashes "Bad Boy," and "Fantastic Baby"—though the album sold so well that every song on the EP made the Korean Top 20, including the 48-second intro track.
Most recently, the group released "Monster" from the Still Alive
deluxe edition, a club stomper that became their eight #1 in their home country.
All that remains for Big Bang now is a big break Stateside. They'll get their first crack at the Continentals later this year, when they come to the U.S.
for two gigs, one on each coast, both likely to get Beatlemania-like receptions from Korean-born fangirls and boys, as well as recent American converts. Will it be enough to help them cross over the U.S. market? If the rest of America loves Boy Bands as much as we do—and indicators are fairly positive on that one—we like their chances.