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Before Big Bang’s major debuted, each member had his own degree of success and popularity in the entertainment industry. Leader G-Dragon and lead vocalist Tae Yang have already been with YG Entertainment since they were both twelve years old, both known as GDYB back then (as Tae Yang’s real name is Young Bae).4 Member T.O.P was well known as an underground hip-hop rapper while Seung-ri was first introduced to the entertainment industry through the show Let’s Cokeplay Battle Shinhwa. After the lineups for the group was finally made, the television network M-net released an eleven episode documentary that showed the members in training before their debut as an official group. The first six episodes detailed each individual member’s background and motivation for becoming a singer. The documentary portrayed the arduous process of training by showing their dancing and singing practice sessions. Beyond being just a behind-the-scenes reality show, the series also eliminated various candidates unfit for Big Bang. Two members, SO-1 and Seungri (Lee SeungHyun) were considered for elimination, but they were given second chances to showcase their abilities in singing, dancing, and performing. However, this eventually resulted in Yang Hyun Suk (the CEO of YG Entertainment) dropping SO-1 because he lacked stage presence and was “too shy”. On the other hand, Seungri was able to successfully impress Yang with his dancing and singing skills, thus making the group. This documentary made the group members even more known before their debut in the Korean entertainment industry as Big Bang. Before deciding on an official name for the group, the members had suggested several names, such as “Apex”, “Stump,” and “Diamond” before deciding upon “Big Bang.” To celebrate the end of the trials and the official lineups, producer and founder of YG Entertainment Yang Hyun Suk gave each the member a custom pendant. Big Bang made their official debut at the YG Family concert, held on August 19, 2006 at the Gymnastics Arena in Seoul Olympic Park. Debut and success
Prior to the release of their first album, the group had a unique release schedule, with three EPs released within a span of a few months. Big Bang released their first single, The First Single Album, on August 29, 2006, spawning the Top Ten-hit single “This Love”, a remake of the American boy band Maroon 5’s own single.1 The single debuted with 17,159 copies sold in the month of August5 and later went on to sell approximately 39,655 copies6. Big Bang’s second single Big Bang is V.I.P. was released a month later on September 28, 2006, selling 21,000 copies in that month.7 It finally netted sales of 32,503 copies.6 On November 22, 2006 they released their third single entitled B I G B A N G 0 3, following the success of their previous singles with the final sale of 29,138 copies.6 Later in the year, Big Bang’s own official fan club was created, calling themselves the “V.I.P.” (in reflection of their second single “Big Bang is V.I.P.”). Unlike other fan clubs, Big Bang’s fans do not have a balloon color for showing support at concerts; instead, fans wave black and white BB (obviously standing for Big Bang) handkerchiefs/bandanas. At the end of December 2006, Big Bang held their very first concert titled The Real. They also released a music video of their song “My Girl”, which featured member Tae Yang as the soloist. The following month, their first debut album Since 2007, which was essentially a compilation of songs from their previous singles, was released; it sold 48,009 copies by the end of February 2007.8 “Lies” and breakthrough success On February 8, 2007, Big Bang released their live concert album entitled 1st Concert Live Album – The Real, which sold 26,787 copies by the end of 2007.9 From May through to July 2007, the group also held their first national tour concert in Korea, with the headline Want You, touring a total of five cities: Incheon, Daegu, Changwon, Jeonju and Busan. Despite being fairly new, the members dissolved into their own solo activities for 2007. Lead vocalist Tae Yang was expected to release a solo single in September 2007, which would have made him the first member to do so. According to representatives for YG’s Yang Hyun-suk, this solo endeavor came about as a result of Tae-yang’s recent performances as well as his vocal contributions to another artist under the same management Lexy’s album.4 Despite the rumours, it would be a year later that Tae Yang would release his solo album. Another member, T.O.P. (Tempo), was also cast into the drama I Am Sam and was also featured in Red Roc’s music video for “Hello,” where he shaved his hair. Other Big Bang members have featured in various songs, with Dae Sung in Nemo’s digital single, “이제,우리..” (“Now, Us”), released on October 15, 2007. G-Dragon was featured in “So In Love Part 2” and Tae Yang in “조금만 사랑할걸” (“I Should’ve Loved You only a Little”), both songs from renowned Korean artist Kim Jo Han’s album Soul Family with JOHAN, released on October 25, 2007. After the solo activities, Big Bang rejoined together to released the first of their mini albums in August, entitled Always, with the group holding a Showcase/Fanmeeting for promotional activities. Taking control over their music, leader G-Dragon took charge on producing and writing some of the songs on the album. The mini-album was released to positive reviews from fans and critics alike, especially the song “거짓말,” (“Lies”) which group leader G-Dragon wrote and composed.10 The song became the group’s first song to be a breakout hit, reaching number-one on SBS’s Popular Songs show on September 9, 2007, their first to do so, follow by MBC’s Music Core, KBS’s Music Bank and Mnet’s Countdown and numerous online and offline charts for many consecutive weeks. However, despite the success, G-Dragon was accused of copying a chord from FreeTempo’s “Sky High” for “Lies”. Avoiding the controversy, Big Bang then went on to release their the title track from Always as their second single, with the music video being filmed in Hawaii. The music video was released in November 2007. The mini-album was successful enough for Big Bang to collect numerous awards by the end of 2007, including “Best Male Group” and “Song Of The Year” from the 2007 M.NET/KM Music Festival.11 Later in 2008, Big Bang also collected the prestigous “Daesang” from the 17th Seoul Music Awards.12 To capitalize the success of their mini-album, Big Bang announced that they were going to release an official album in November; however, another mini album was released instead, entitled Hot Issue. The album yielded another strong single for the group, “Last Farewell,” mirroring the success of “거짓말 (Lies)” and topping various music charts and winning “Song of the Month Digital Music Award” from Cyworld yet again, beating strong competitors such as Girls’ Generation, Wonder Girls and F.T. Island. It also topped Juke-On’s chart for eight consecutive weeks. Big Bang held their second round of concerts on the 28th of December to the 30th, with the headline Big Bang Is Great, where tickets were reportedly sold out in 10 minutes. Despite this, various members were hospitalized due to sickness and injuries from over performing and exhaustion,15 thus halting and limiting their promotional activities for a while. A representative for YG Entertainment then addressed the issue by stating that though the group would perform at the MBC Music Festival on the 31st, they would cancel everything else on their schedule for the first week of next year. It was later reported in the year that Big Bang’s albums and singles have been in high demand, causing the record company to reprint and repackage it for re-releases. Expanding overseas and solo activities After the breakthrough success in South Korea, Big Bang ventured out overseas towards Japan. Kicking off 2008, their first Japanese album For the World was released, with previous singles appearing on the album, in addition to a Japan-only song, “How Gee” (a new remix version from “How Gee” by Black Machine). All their previous songs were also re-recorded in English. For The World debuted at #14 on the Oricon chart (the official music chart in Japan) and eventually crawled its way to #10, despite lack of promotions. On the 28th and 29th of March, Big Bang held their own concert in JCB hall in Tokyo Dome City. The group then proceeded to release a 4th mini-album in late May titled With U, with a corresponding single of the same name. Aside from the title single, the mini-album included many of their earlier hits, such as “Last Farewell” and “This Love”, rerecorded in English. The solo song “My Girl”, sung by Tae Yang, was also rerecorded into Japanese. Upon returning to Korea soon after their Japanese activities, the members separated into their own individual solo activities. While the youngest member, Seungri, tried his luck in theatre by starring in musicals such as Sonagi (based on the popular, classic novel) earlier the year and is set to act in his first movie, “Why did you come home?” starring Kang Hae-Jung (which will release in theaters in November), member Tae Yang finally released his anticipated solo mini-album, Hot, which proved to be a success, topping online and public charts with its lead single, “Look At Me Only”. The decidedly R&B album and its lead single was heavily choreographed with dance moves that were later parodied by many comedians. G-Dragon soon after released a digital remake version of the single entitled “Look Only at Me 2”, which was not as heavily promoted. Instead, G-Dragon spent much of the first half of the year composing and producing songs for other artists, such as collaborating with pop-star Uhm Jung Hwa in her album, Disco. Dae-Sung also released a digital single — surprisingly, it was a trot number titled, “Gwisoon, Look at Me” (a composition-gift from G-Dragon) that was rather successful. While promoting the single, he spent time on variety programs, regularly appearing in SBS Yoo Jae-Suk’s “Family Outing”. T.O.P, on the other hand, collaborated with several artists, being featured in several popular singles such as Gummy’s I’m Sorry and Uhm Jung Hwa’s Disco. On August 8, 2008, Big Bang reunited to release their 3rd mini-album, Stand Up — which featured collaborations with the group Daishi Dance, and Korean rock-band No-Brain in their latest punk rock single Oh My Friend19 — promoting it with the lead song, “Day After Day” (하루하루). Like previous albums, leader G-Dragon was heavily involved with the production of the album, having compose and written a majority of the songs with the exception of “A Good Man” – which was composed by fellow group member T.O.P. The mini-album had exceeded the 100,000 mark for sales, a breakthrough for the group.20 Stand Up has so far yielded some of Big Bang’s strongest singles, with the lead single “Day After Day” topping several online charts21 and staying at the number-one spot for 6 consecutive weeks.22 In addition, severals of their songs also made it to the Top 20 of the charts, with “Heaven” at the number two spot, “Oh My Friend” being ninth, “Nice Person” at twelfth and “Lady” being sixteenth – a total of five songs in the Top 20 for the group. On the 6th of October 2008, Big Bang’s title track “Number 1” from their album of the same name was leaked onto the internet. This is their 3rd Japanese album, and their first full one. On the day of it’s release on the 22nd of October 2008, Big Bang’s “Number 1” reached 3rd on Japan’s Oricon album chart. They were the only new act to be on the chart at the same time
G-Dragon Stage Name : G-Dragon Real Name: Kwon Jiyong (권지용) Date of Birth: August 18, 1988 (age 20) Debut: 2001 G-Dragon Education: Seoul Korean Traditional Arts Middle & High School Position: Composer / Rapper / Leader
Tae Yang Stage Name : Tae Yang; SoL Former Stage Name : YB Taekwon Real Name: Dong Youngbae (동영배) Birthdate: May 18, 1988 (age 20) Debut: YG Family 2nd Album 2002 Position: Choreographer / Vocalist
T.O.P Stage Name : T.O.P Former Stage Name : Tempo Real Name: Choi Seunghyun (최승현) Birthdate: November 4, 1987 (age 20) Education Background: Seoul Art College (Majoring in Musical) Position: Beat Boxer / Composer / Rapper
Dae Sung Stage Name : Dae Sung; D-Lite Real Name: Kang Daesung (강대성) Birthdate: April 26, 1989 (age 19) Education Background: KyeongIn High School Position: Vocalist
Seung Ri Stage Name : Seungri; V.I Former Stage Name : V & Victory Real Name: Lee Seunghyun (이승현) Birthdate: December 12, 1990 (age 17) Position: Choreographer / Vocalist