The Music Safari: The BIGBANG Theory

The stylish members of BIGBANG (from left): Taeyang, Seungri, G-Dragon, T.O.P. and Daesung

If you wanted to dive into the world of K-Pop and were turned off by PSY’s atrocious foray into the music industry (please do not even try to defend Gangnam Style), give it a second chance and start off with BIGBANG.

While the rest of the world was slowly warming up to the prospect of a boy band revival, South Korea was eons ahead in their transformation of the boy band machine. Now, it is no longer acceptable for boy bands to just sing and dance and look put-together; they have to look flawless, have their own fragrance, endorse the latest technology, have a massive, hysterical fandom, start fashion trends, make headlines and basically dominate the world.

BIGBANG is nearly there.

Members G-Dragon and Taeyung had already been exposed to the entertainment industry as dancers and child models. T.O.P was an underground rapper while Seungri was also a dancer that had struggled through auditions to make it to the group. Daesung was recruited through open auditions, immediately impressing with his strong vocals. Together, the five members of BIGBANG were trained and perfected by YG Entertainment, a massive record label and talent agency.

Known for their eccentric, over-the-top style

After debuting in 2006, it took about a year before the group ventured overseas to Japan and eventually to most of Asia. Accolades soon followed and a slew of No. 1 records found the group at the top of the K-Pop empire. A world tour has brought them international recognition as additional dates had to be added to the US leg due to high demand from fans.

Their most recent Korean-language EP, Alive, offers the best of K-Pop. All of the tracks were written by G-Dragon with the occasional contribution by T.O.P. The EP sits at No. 1 in South Korea and Taiwan, even making notable headway on the US charts.

The first single “Blue” is a bit subdued compared to the group’s usual affair but really allows the guys to showcase their singing abilities. Of course, the standout is Daesung’s soulful vocals. T.O.P.’s deep voice and fast-paced singing perfectly balances G-Dragon’s high-pitched melodies. Every member has something to contribute. Gone are the days when being part of a boy band was just showing up and having your name on the ticket — now every member has to bring something unique to the group.

A highly recommended track is “Bad Boy” because of its origins in R&B. Its smooth production will almost have you forgiving them for being bad boys. There isn’t a single weak track on this “mini album.” On the special edition of this EP, listen to T.O.P spit flow on “Still Alive.” Check out Daesung’s powerful solo on “Wings” and when you’re ready for a work out, make up your own moves to club favorite “Fantastic Baby”.

Ready to try more K-Pop? 2NE1, Girls’ Generation, Super Junior and SHINee are all top groups that will certainly get you hooked on a genre that has taken the world by storm.

BIGBANG at the Prudential Center in Newark November 2012

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