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EXO (pronounced /ˌɛkˈsoʊ/ ek-soh; Korean: 엑소) is a South Korean-Chinese boy band produced by S.M. Entertainment. Formed in 2011 in Seoul, South Korea, EXO was comprised of twelve members separated into two subgroups, EXO-K and EXO-M, performing music in Korean and Mandarin, respectively. Their name was taken from exoplanet, a term referring to planets outside of the Solar System.

EXO made their official debut on April 8, 2012 with the release of their debut single, MAMA. The single was a moderate success; EXO-M's version topped mainland Chinese music charts after only one day of release, and EXO-K's MAMA music video reached to number seven on YouTube's Global Chart. The group's two albums, the 2012 debut EP Mama and the 2013 comeback studio album XOXO, were major commercial successes, selling over 1.5 million units in total worldwide. With XOXO, EXO became the youngest boy band to win Album of the Year at the Mnet Asian Music Awards, and the fastest-selling K-pop artist in twelve years. The lead singles off XOXO, "Wolf" and "Growl", were K-pop hits, landing first place trophies on music shows from all three of Korea's major free-to-air broadcast stations. The latter also peaked at number three on Billboard's Korea K-Pop Hot 100 chart.

In May 2014, member Kris filed a lawsuit against S.M. Entertainment to nullify his contract, as of the submission date of the lawsuit the band promoted with 11 members. Following Kris, Luhan and Tao both filed lawsuits, leaving EXO as a nine member group.

The group received numerous rookie awards in 2012, and has since won over 40 awards since their debut in April 2012.



In January 2011, producer Lee Sooman of S.M. Entertainment announced his plans to debut a new boy band in March or April 2011. Temporarily named M1, the group appeared to have consisted of only seven members when a photo of them in a dance studio was leaked online. In May 2011, Lee spoke about the group in a Hallyu business seminar held in Stanford University. In the presentation, he explained his strategy of separating the group into two subgroups, M1 and M2, and have them promote the same music in South Korea and China, performing the songs in both Korean and Mandarin. Lee planned to launch the group in May 2011, but their debut was delayed due to member changes and other planning. News concerning the group did not surface until October 2011, when Lee briefly discussed about the group's concept plans again in an interview with The Chosun Ilbo. Once the members and plans were finalized, the group began to prepare for their official debut.

In December 2011, the group finalized their name to EXO, with the names EXO-K for the South Korean subgroup and EXO-M for the Chinese subgroup. The twelve members were introduced individually through 23 different trailers released from December 2011 to February 2012. Kai, Luhan, Tao, and Chen were the first four members introduced, and they debuted their first televised performance at SBS's annual Gayo Daejun event on December 29, 2011.

Debut and MAMA

EXO-K and EXO-M's prologue single "What Is Love" was released on January 30, 2012 through iTunes and various online retailers in mainland China and South Korea. The single peaked at number 88 on South Korea's Gaon Single Chart. On March 9, the group released their second prologue single "History", which was written and produced by Thomas Troelsen and Remee. The single peaked at number 68 on the Gaon Single Chart and number six on China's Sina Music Chart.

A concert for the group was held in Seoul's Olympic Stadium on March 31. Approximately 3,000 fans from 8,000 applicants were selected to attend. A second concert was held in the Great Hall of the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing on April 1.

EXO-K and EXO-M released their debut single, "MAMA" on April 8 followed by an EP, MAMA, on April 9. On April 8, EXO-K made their debut performance on South Korea's music program The Music Trend, while EXO-M made their debut in China's Top Chinese Music Awards on the same day. A day after release, "MAMA" reached number one on various Chinese online retailers and music charts. EXO-M's album reached number two on China's Sina Album Chart, number five on South Korea's Gaon Album Chart, and number twelve on the Billboard World Albums Chart. EXO-K's album peaked at number one on the Gaon Album Chart and at number eight on the Billboard World Albums Chart. EXO-M's "Mama" music video reached number one on Chinese streaming websites, while EXO-K's version reached to number seven on YouTube's Global Chart. In late April 2012, EXO-M performed as a guest act for Super Junior's Super Show 4 concert tour in Jakarta, Indonesia.

In November 2012, EXO won Best New Asian Artist Group at the 2012 Mnet Asian Music Awards. EXO-K received three nominations at the 27th Golden Disk Awards, winning the Newcomer Award. EXO-M received the Most Popular Group award at the 2013 Top Chinese Music Awards.

XOXO, commercial success and Miracles in December

In May 2013, S.M. Entertainment revealed teaser photos for EXO's comeback album, the first studio album XOXO. Unlike during the MAMA era, when EXP-K and EXO-M had separate promotions, XOXO was jointly promoted. The subgroups collaborated for the album's lead single, "Wolf", but the rest of the album was recorded separately.

XOXO was released in June 2013 to two versions, a Korean-language "Kiss" edition and a Mandarin-language "Hug" edition. A few days after its release, the songs in XOXO topped almost every real-time chart from online music websites of South Korea and mainland China. The two versions collectively peaked at number one on the Billboard World Album Chart a week after release. Lead single "Wolf" peaked at number one on three of South Korea's music programs, earning the name "triple win". "Wolf" also won a trophy on MBC Music's Show Champion, but the song fared worse on music download charts, reaching to only top thirty spots in recorded charts from both South Korea and China.

A repackaged version of XOXO, with three additional tracks, was released on August 5, 2013. The reissue's lead single, "Growl", was unveiled via YouTube on August 1, 2013, in the format of a music video. On August 18, "Growl" achieved 10,554 points on The Music Trend charts, setting a new number one record on the show. "Growl" reached number one on all four of Korea's major music programs, winning a total of ten trophies in three consecutive weeks. The single peaked at number three on Billboard's Korea K-Pop Hot 100 and number two on the Gaon's Singles chart. As of October 2013, all versions of XOXO have collectively sold over 910,000 copies, breaking the record for being fastest-selling K-pop artist in twelve years. XOXO was named Album of the Year at the 2013 Mnet Asian Music Awards, making Exo the youngest ever boy band to win the award. The album's single "Growl" was also honored Song of the Year at the 2013 MelOn Music Awards.

EXO began working on their comeback EP Miracles in December shortly after completing the promotional cycle for XOXO. In October 2013, EXO-M confirmed in an interview for IQIYI that the members are currently working on new material and told fans to not believe in rumors regarding their comeback. The EP, consisting of six tracks, had pre-sale orders amassing over 400,000, hitting a new record. Miracles in December was officially released December 9, 2013 through South Korean commercial outlets and online music stores. EXO jump-started album promotions through their reality show EXO's Showtime, which premiered on November 28, 2013 on the cable channel MBC Every 1. Baekhyun, Chen, and D.O. performed the EP's lead single, "Miracles in December", at M! Countdown on December 5.


On 1 April 2014, S.M. Entertainment announced that EXO would be having a comeback on April 15. The company then began to reveal individual teaser photos. The title track of the upcoming album will be called "Overdose".

On April 15 at 8PM (KST), EXO held their comeback showcase, broadcast live online through Samsung Music, where they revealed their performance and music video for "Overdose" for the first time. They also performed to their major hit songs. EXO-K and EXO-M will be separate for promotions for "Overdose," promoting in Korea and China at the same time. Due to South Korea's ferry accident, EXO-K who originally scheduled to make their comeback stage on April 18 at Music Bank, on April 19 at Music Core and on April 20 at Inkigayo have decided to postpone to next week. EXO-M will attend their comeback stage at Global Chinese Music on April 19 as scheduled. Their 2nd mini album which suppose to be released online and offline on April 21 also have been rescheduled to May 7, 2014. EXO's "Overdose" performed exceptionally well on real-time music charts, achieving an 'all-kill' within just seven hours of its release.

In May 2014 member Kris has started a lawsuit against S.M. Entertainment to nullify his contract, as of the submission date of the lawsuit the band promotes with 11 members.

COUNTDOWN, Winter Olympics, international recognition & Don't Mess Up My Tempo

On January 16, "Power" became the first K-pop song to be played at The Dubai Fountain at Burj Khalifa Lake, Dubai. Seven of the members (excluiding Lay and D.O.) traveled to Dubai to view the first showing. It was supposed to be played until the end of the month but its run was extended until March 31.

On January 31 EXO released its first full-lenght Japanese album COUNTDOWN. The album debuted at number one on the weekly Oricon chart, selling approximately 89,000 copies, which made them the first non-Japanese group whose debut single album and studio album both reached number one on the weekly Oricon chart. On February 9 COUNTDOWN was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of Japan.

In early February it was announced that EXO would perform at the closing ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics on February 25, as representatives of K-pop alongside CL. In March 2018, the Korean Mint Corporation announced it would create official commemorative medals for EXO, honoring the band for its contribution to the global spread of Korean culture as representatives of K-pop. The nine medals, one commemorating each member, were unveiled on April 18 at a ceremony in Seoul.

On October 4, S.M. Entertainment announced that EXO will be having a comeback on November 2 with a full album, Don't Mess Up My Tempo. The title track would be called "Tempo". It was also announced that Lay had participated in the making as well, as he recorded for the Chinese version of the release and also filmed for the music video.

The album would be released in three versions, "Allegro", "Moderato" and "Andante".

Associated Groups



Stage name Birth name Date of birth Fictitious powers Nationality*
Name Hangul Hanja Hangul Romanized
Suho 수호 金俊勉 김준면 Kim Joonmyun

May 22, 1991

Water South Korea
Baekhyun 백현 邊伯賢 변백현 Byun Baekhyun May 6, 1992 Light
Chanyeol 찬열 朴燦烈 박찬열 Park Chanyeol November 27, 1992 Fire
D.O. 디오 都暻秀 도경수 Do Kyungsoo January 12, 1993 Earth
Kai 카이 金鍾仁 김종인 Kim Jongin January 14, 1994 Teleportation
Sehun 세훈 吳世勳 오세훈 Oh Sehun April 12, 1994 Wind


Stage name Birth name Date of birth Fictitious powers Nationality*
Name Hangul Hanja Hangul Romanized
Xiumin 시우민 金珉錫 김민석 Kim Minseok March 26, 1990 Ice/Frost South Korea
Lay 레이 張藝興 장이씽 Zhang Yixing October 7, 1991 Healing China
Chen 金鐘大 김종대 Kim Jongdae September 21, 1992 Lightning South Korea

Former Members

Stage name Birth name Date of birth Fictitious powers Nationality*
Name Hangul Hanja Hangul Romanized
Luhan 루한 鹿晗 루한 Lu Han April 20, 1990 Telekinesis China
Kris 크리스 吳亦凡 우이판 Wu Yifan November 6, 1990 Flight Canada
Tao 타오 黃子韜 황쯔타오 Huang Zitao May 2, 1993 Time control China

*Nationality states where members currently hold citizenship
*Bolded as the team leader


  • Official Fanclub: EXO-L
  • Official Color: Cosmic Latte


Main Article : EXO Discography

Korean and Mandarin


  • [2012.04.09] MAMA
  • [2013.12.10] Miracles in December (MID)
  • [2014.04.21] Overdose
  • [2015.12.10] Sing for You
  • [2016.12.19] For Life
  • [2017.12.26] Universe

  • [2013.08.05] Growl
  • [2015.06.05] Love Me Right (Repackage)
  • [2016.08.18] Lotto
  • [2017.09.05] The War: The Power of Music
  • [2018.12.13] Love Shot

  • Korean

    • [2012.01.30] What Is Love
    • [2012.03.09] History
    • [2012.04.08] MAMA


    • [2015.11.05] Love Me Right ~romantic universe~
    • [2016.12.07] Coming Over
    • [2019.10.15] Bird

    See also: Members collaborations.
    • [2013.12.29] 2013 SBS Gayo Daejun Friendship ~Make The Miracle Share Your Dreams (#1 You Are A Miracle)

    Concert and Tours


    Awards and nominations

    Main Article: List of awards and nominations received by Exo

    EXO have been recipients of 57 awards from South Korea and mainland China. On June 14, 2013, a year after their official debut, the band received their first number-one win on South Korean music program Music Bank with the single "Wolf." The following weekend, the song achieved number-one wins on Show! Music Core and The Music Trend, becoming a "triple win" hit. It also won a champion trophy on music program Show Champion.

    External links


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