KPop groups nowadays seem to be popping out of everywhere. Weeks after weeks, we’d be hearing news that a new group will be debuting in a few days’ time. A mixture of new girl and boy groups will litter in music shows, all nervous and jittery, for their first public appearance.
And if we talk about KPop boy groups, it’s either one of these two that will pop into mind. The reason being is that they are, undoubtedly, one of the most famous KPop act to ever grace the world. EXO and BTS. A top tier household names if we talk about breaking records, selling a million albums, and filling up stadiums. It’s nearly impossible to not know these groups with their face literally everywhere. Billboards, subways, products, and fan projects are posted in different parts of the world, as the fan’s tribute to their beloved KPop groups.
But it’s always a question as to amongst all of these groups, especially, the popular ones, which ones are the best?
EXO. is a South Korean-Chinese boy band created under the entertainment label SM Entertainment. The said label is what you can say, a veteran in the field. Before debuting EXO, it already had well-known and equally famous groups under its name such as TVXQ, Girls Generation, Shinee, and F(x). The band was formed in 2011 and had their debut in April 8, 2012. Their music style primarily incorporates pop, hip-hop, and R&B, including elements of electronic dance music genres.
EXO has quite an interesting concept. Originally, there were 12 members separated into 2 subgroups. EXO-K, which consists of members Suho, Baekhyun, Chanyeol, D.O., Kai, and Sehun, and EXO-M, which consists of members Xiumin, Kris, Lay, Chen, Luhan, and Tao. The plan was to have the subgroups promote in Korea (EXO-K) and China (EXO-M) simultaenously.
However, they were named “SM’s failure” and was called “a waste of investment.” A lot of people weren’t anticipating or was obviously disappointed with the group’s debut. Other than that, they were also heavily criticized for ‘lacking talents.’ After their debut on 2012 with little to no success, the group took a whole year off and came back bigger and better in 2013, with the song Growl that had the whole of South Korea in an LSS frenzy.
With their first album XOXO with the title track Growl having commercial success, it catapulted the group to a whole new level of fame. The album sold 1 million copies, making EXO the first Korean artist to do so in 12 years. Their following albums also had big successes, with each one of them selling a million copies each.
Despite the success, the following years of 2014 and 2015 were not as smooth sailing with 3 Chinese members, namely Kris, Luhan and Tao, filing lawsuit against their label and ultimately leaving the group.
However, members leaving didn’t waver EXO’s determination to gather the world in the palm of their hands and by 2016, it is safe to say they’ve reached worldwide success. Their 3rd album Ex’Act broke the record for the highest first week sales and their title track “Monster” became their first number one on Billboard World Digital Songs chart. The repackage album with title track “Lotto” released just 2 months later, became their second song to chart number one on Billboards. Within the span of just two months, Ex’Act sold over 1.7 million copies, being the third album to reach that milestone, with the media naming EXO “triple million sellers.”
2017 was another year of continuous success where the group just keeps on breaking their own records. The previous year they had Ex’Act as the highest first week sales with 660,000 copies sold but their fourth album The War broke that and received a raging 805,235 pre-orders. Their title track Ko Ko Bop debuted at number one on the Melon Digital Chart.
The group didn’t stop at 2017 and continued to wow the world the following year with their most notable achievements being having their song “Power” as the first KPop song to play at the prestigious Dubai Fountain at Burj Khalifa Lake, Dubai and performing at the closing ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang as representatives of KPop.
EXO’s List of Notable Achievements
- Included in the Top 5 Forbes Korea’s Power Celebrity since 2014
- First South Korean Artist to sell over 1 million copies in 12 years
- Third group to be a quadruple million seller
- Record for the fastest-selling concert in the world
- First KPop act featured on Dubai Fountain Show
- The only non-royal act to be projected on Dubai’s Burj Khalifa
- Performed at the closing ceremony of Pyeongchang Winter Olympics
And that’s not all! EXO has received awards and recognition, not only locally but internationally as well, in between the years of their success.
To start off, BTS or Bangtan Boys is a boy group under the label Big Hit Entertainment, a relatively new music label if you compare it to the others that have been making its mark since the ’90s. It is a seven-member boy group, composed of RM (leader), Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V, and JungKook.
In the beginining of their career, BTS didn’t start off big. First, they came from a newly-formed entertainment label, and prior to their debut, the only exposure and promotion they had were social media websites and YouTube and Soundcloud covers. Furthermore, the label’s original plan for them was not of a traditional idol group but instead, they were supposed to debut as a hip-hop group.
They officially debuted on June 12, 2013 with the album “2 Cool 4 Skool” with its lead single “No More Dream.” It peaked 124 in the Korean charts before ultimately falling off. They were not a hit in 2013, only selling 24,000 copies of their album. Their following single “We are Bulletproof Pt. 2” failed to enter the charts.
Despite that, their charm, charisma, and group dynamics didn’t fail to capture the hearts of their now-fans and after several performances on music shows and variety shows, they received a few New Artists Award by the 2013 year-end shows.
A quick read to their 2014-2015 agenda says that these were the years they had moderate success. Their EP Skool Luv Affair, released in January 2014t topped the Gaon Album Chart and went off to sold 100,000 copies. This also marked BTS’ first appearance on the Billboard’s World Album Charts, peaking at number 3. They also held their fan-meeting with an audience of 3,000 fans in Seoul and have slowly charted the U.S marketplace by conducting a free concert to a limited 200 fans in West Hollywood. It is now safe to say that BTS really did work their way to where they are right now.
Fast forward to 2016, which was their breakthrough year. This was the year where they got their first music show win in SBS’ MTV: The Show, where they have their first 100 million YouTube views, had a tour extension and visited places across Asia, Oceania, North America, and Latin America, topped the Gaon Charts and Billboard World Albums chart and became the first KPop act to remain at the top for several weeks.
Nearing the end of 2016, they received an “all-kill” in Korean music charts with their lead single “Blood, Sweat & Tears,” became the first Korean group to top the Billboard Social 50 chart that month, and received their first “million seller” title with over 1.5 million albums sold.
BTS’ List of Notable Achievements
To religiously list BTS’ achievements would mean endless paragraphs of word vomit. With the amount of achievements they’ve had, a user from aminoapps.com has compiled the most notable ones.
- First Korean album to debut on top of Billboard 200 Album Charts and Billboard Hot 100
- First Korean album to enter the official U.K chart
- Highest Ranking for a Korean Artist on Spotify Global Top 200
- First Korean Boy Group to receive a gold certification by the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America)
- First Korean to win an award at the Billboard Music Awards
- First Korean Group to perform at the American Music Awards
- First Korean Group to reach No. 1 on U.S Itunes Top Songs Chart
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. They’ve achieved so much more in a year and those are something that you cannot invalidate. They have totally captured the essence of what it means to be a worldwide star.
The Bottomline: EXO vs. BTS? (Author’s Opinion)
The recent years, I’ve noticed big changes in the KPop world. Not in the industry itself, it’s pretty much the same all day, all year round, but specifically, with the fandoms. Asking questions such as this group versus that group will only warrant comments after comments of fandom war. Of course, these fans would insist their group is the best among the rest.
This is, especially, true among the fans of these certain groups. EXO and BTS. I have never seen a post or a Twitter thread that just in the slightest way mentions these two groups in one sentence end well in the comments. There will also be a certain population of fans that seem to live day by day looking for fights or insinuating fandom wars online. Not to say all fans are, there is also a healthy number of fans that are just there hyping their group, just stanning in their own little world. Thumbs up to them!
But questions like which one is the best KPop band will prove that these fans would go a long way just to have their points valid, even to the extremity of bullying. During the past few years, I haven’t seen any legit healthy competition between KPop groups.
I hope that fans would understand that their favorite groups are special in their own way, talented and skillful on their own way and that there is no need to compete and invalidate the achievements of others. That other KPop groups practiced day and night with little to no rest just to achieve their dreams and that no one has the right to invalidate these efforts, especially fans of other groups who made unnecessary comments and rumors.
I sincerely hope that one day a healthy competition will stand between these two fandoms.