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Nineteen-member-strong boy band EXILE aren't afraid to defy popular expectations of J-pop groups. After the breakup of the band Zoo at the end of the ‘90s, founding member Hiroyuki Igarashi (better known as Hiro) introduced his new band, EXILE, in 2001 after a couple of years under the name J Soul Brothers. The rechristened outfit quickly made an impact on the music industry by embracing the sound of ‘80s and ‘90s American R&B acts like Boyz II Men and New Edition, which had once been very popular in Japan. EXILE used the familiar sound to their advantage in energetic dance-pop numbers such as “Choo Choo Train” and sultry love songs like “Ti Amo.” A lot of the group’s power lies in the abilities of one of the band’s primary singers, Atsushi, who can vocally bounce to the beat or deliver an emotionally wrenching ballad. Besides bringing a fresh sound to the mainstream, EXILE also altered the structure of how a pop unit could function, forgoing the formula of a small group size where every participant sang and danced for a two-singer formation backed by specialized members delivering precise dance moves. EXILE remains a major force today, having ventured into newer genres like EDM and launching a plethora of side groups.

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