How Does EXO Stack Up Against Seniors TVXQ and Super Junior?


Two years after their debut, idol group EXO is on a steady advance.

On December 9, with the release of their mini album “Miracles in December” and their title track “Christmas Day,” EXO has taken over all of the major music charts. Even before the official release of the album, the pre-orders numbered around 400,000.

With their steep upward climb, EXO, from the label “second year rookie group,” has quickly become “K-Pop’s leading group.” News agency Daily Sports’ recently made a ranking of the top ten most influential entities in K-Pop, voted on by authorities in the industry. Following SM Entertainment, YG Entertainment, Melon, and G-Dragon, comes EXO, in 5th. After G-Dragon, who was in 4th, EXO is the second most influential singer/group.

This past November, at the “2013 Mnet Asian Music Awards” held in Hong Kong, EXO was awarded ‘Album of the Year,’ the biggest award of the night. Earlier this month, they also were voted ‘Best Group’ at the 2013 Chinese Music Billboard Newcomers Awards.

According to Ilgan Sports, how does EXO hold up against their seniors TVXQ and Super Junior?

>First, does EXO’s popularity surpass that of their seniors?

One way to see the power of a group’s fans is through album sales, and in that respect, EXO has definitely surpassed their seniors. With their latest album “Miracles in December,” the pre-orders numbered approximately 400,000 copies. 

If this is combined with their earlier album “XOXO” (including the repackage), their album sales would reach 1,300,000. This leaves the group in second place in the dust by a whopping 1,000,000 sold album copies. Moreover, each of EXO’s four albums this year have made it onto Gaon’s top 10 music chart with their numbers of album sales. EXO achieved all of this even in the midst of an album recession, beating out TVXQ’s “Mirotic” with 300,000 albums sold. The 300,000 was a record that no one thought could be beat, but EXO proved everyone wrong.

What’s more surprising is that EXO’s music rating, which has always been a weakness for their seniors, is high. Their songs “Christmas Day” and “First Snow” are currently number one on different music charts, and another of their songs is also near the top of the charts. There had been the view that male idols at SM have somewhat different tastes in music as their Korean fans, but EXO has, again, broken that view.

If there’s something else about EXO that sets them apart, it’s their performances. TVXQ has the number one ticket power in Japan, Super Junior has the widest distribution of fans in the world, and EXO has amazing performance power. One official at a performance agency said, “Just looking at their global scale fandom, and their popularity in China, EXO is already top-class. As they’ve only had one full album so far, their repertoire for concerts is a little limited, but as soon as they come out with a second full album, they will be able to start doing world tours.” 

Officials at SM said, “Starting with this year’s hits ‘Wolf’ and ‘Growl,’ we’re looking at nearly 1,000,000 album sales for EXO’s first album. They have had a really special year, with explosive popularity both at home and internationally. They are worthy of the name ‘album king.’” 

>What is the true nature of EXO’s popularity as seen by experts?

EXO is the ‘perfect product’ created after much trial and error by SM. They far surpass the level of the average idol, and the exceptional planning by SM also led to the formation of a powerful fandom.

Composer Park Hyun Joong said, “SM’s artists each have their own flavor, but in EXO’s case, they give off a strong feeling of creating popular music. Their hit song ‘Growl’ was created by Shin Hyuk, who worked with Justin Bieber, as well as other international composers. The members are also exceptional in their singing and performance. They’ve evolved past the level of the average idol.”

Kim Tae Kyu, a music critic, also talked about EXO’s popularity: “The space for an idol group to satisfy teenage fans had been empty. We needed a group to carry on after Seo Taiji, H.O.T, TVXQ, and Big Bang, and EXO has filled that void for us. SM’s fandom management system has also grown a lot. They now expertly plan for and consumerize teenage contents.”

What do you think? How does EXO compare to the older groups like TVXQ, Super Junior, and Big Bang?