EXO ( Korean: 엑소) is a South Korean-Chinese boy band produced by S.M. Entertainment. Formed in 2012 inSeoul, South Korea, EXO comprises twelve members separated into two subgroups, EXO-K and EXO-M, promoting their music simultaneously in both South Korea and China respectively. Their name was taken from exoplanet,a term referring to planets outside of the Solar System. Their debut single “Mama” was released on April 8, 2012, followed by the release of their debut EP Mama on April 9, 2012.
In January 2011, producer Lee Soo-man of SM 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 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 both 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 and news concerning the group did not surface until October 2011, when Lee briefly discussed about the group’s concept plans in an interview with The Chosun Ilbo.
In December 2011, the group finalized their name to EXO, with the names EXO-K for the Korea subgroup and EXO-M for the China subgroup. The twelve members were introduced individually through twenty-three different teaser trailers released from December 2011 to February 2012.Kai, Lu Han, Tao, and Chen, the first four members introduced, debuted their first public performance at the SBS’s Gayo Daejun event on December 29, 2011.
2012–present: Debut, Mama
EXO-K and EXO-M’s prologue single “What Is Love” was released on January 30, 2012, through iTunes and various online retailers from China and South Korea,where the single peaked at number eighty-eight 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 sixty-eight on the Gaon Single Chart and number six on China’s Sina Music Chart.
A concert showcase for the group was held in Seoul’s Olympic Stadium on March 31, one hundred days after Exo debuted their first trailer on December 21, 2011. Approximately 3,000 fans from 8,000 applicants were selected to attend the showcase.A second showcase was held in the Great Hall of the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing, China 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 performed at China’s 12th Yinyue Fengyun Bang Awards that same day.One day after release, “Mama” reached number one on various Chinese online retailers and music charts.Exo-M’s album peaked at number two on China’s Sina Album Chart, number five on South Korea’s Gaon Album Chart, and debuted at number twelve on the Billboard World Albums Chart, while Exo-K’s album peaked at number one on the Gaon Album Chart and debuted at number eight on the Billboard World Albums Chart. Exo-M’s “Mama” music video peaked at number one on Chinese streaming websites, and Exo-K’s version reached to number seven on YouTube’s Global Chart.