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The mid-2000s K-pop movement spawned many superstars, but few acts have had the enduring impact of the outfit BIGBANG. That’s largely because the Seoul boy band push themselves to create relentlessly modern-sounding singles, and they boast the versatile musical backgrounds needed to pull off constant innovation. Members include a pair of hip-hop enthusiasts (Wu-Tang Clan fanatic G-Dragon and his childhood friend, rapper T.O.P.) and a musician, Taeyang, who grew up playing piano and loving Schubert. This experience gave BIGBANG an immediate edge after they formed in 2006. The group’s debut concert drew 12,000 people, and their first major hit came a year later with “Lies,” an Usher-reminiscent R&B song that paired insistent dance beats with soulful vocals. In subsequent years, BIGBANG maintained a prominent hip-hop influence—G-Dragon and T.O.P. sound especially incisive on 2015’s sinewy, trap-inspired “ZUTTER”—while expanding their sound to encompass swaggering dance-rock, humid slow jams, massive EDM bangers, and dramatic power ballads. BIGBANG have also ensured that their music resonates widely by releasing Japanese- and Korean-language versions of albums and teaming up with peers such as fellow mid-2000s K-pop stars 2NE1—their 2009 bubblegum-electro collaboration “Lollipop” remains a classic.

Seoul, South Korea
August 19, 2006

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