From the screams in the audience, most of the 15,000 people at MTV World Stage in Malaysia on Sunday had come for a single reason – EXO.
The rising boy band are K-pop’s latest phenomenon.
When the 12-member band took to the stage for their 30-minute set at Sunway Lagoon’s Surf Beach, fans – dressed in T-shirts bearing the names of their favourite musicians and armed with LED signs and clappers – roared as one, singing along to hits like Wolf and Growl.
The three-hour event also saw performances by Malaysian rapper Joe Flizzow, US hip hop group Far East Movement and Blurred Lines hitmaker Robin Thicke.
With their disarming good looks and schoolboy appeal, it surprised little that EXO were a hit with their young, mostly female teenage fans.
But those weren’t the only reasons why all eyes were on the successful K-pop act.
They have sold more than 700,000 copies of their first studio album, XOXO, as of Sept 4 since its release in June, making them the first K-pop artiste to do so in over a decade.
At a press conference yesterday at Sunway Resort Hotel & Spa, the boys said they were surprised and excited by their feat.
Suho, 22, the leader of sub-group EXO-K, said: “We are very happy to have had this kind of success in Korea and China.
We will aim for an even better album the next time round, and better performances.”
Their success may have something to do with clever marketing strategy.
Collectively known as EXO, the group comprise two sub-groups EXO-K – made up of Suho, Baekhyun, Chanyeol, D.O, Kai and Sehun – and EXO-M – made up of Kris, Xiumin, Luhan, Lay, Chen and Tao.
The two sub-groups perform in Korean and Mandarin respectively, reaching out to a wider market, something EXO acknowledged as their selling point, setting them apart from other groups in the market.
But performing in such a big group has its drawbacks.
“IT’S A GOOD THING, MOSTLY”
Said Kris, 22, leader of EXO-M: “It was hard to get organised in the beginning because it took more time to make everything work, But there are good parts as well – our performances are more powerful and we are able to show more to the crowd. It’s a good thing, mostly.”
The boys are currently working on different member combinations, sometimes performing in just pairs to get varying stage experiences.
“Sometimes we miss the other members, but it makes for a great experience,” said Chen, 20.
It’s been a year of non-stop hard work for EXO and they are just getting started.
“We haven’t had time to celebrate (the album sales) due to our busy schedules,” said Kris. “But maybe, soon!”
EXO will next make their appearance in the region when they join big K-pop names like 2PM, 2AM, SHINee and 4Minute in the inaugural 2013 MBC Korean Music Wave concert at Gardens by the Bay on Nov 16. It is touted as the biggest K-pop concert to be held in Singapore. Following that, they are going to work on an even bigger album than XOXO and potentially, an English album in the near future.
When asked what concept they will work on, they remained tight-lipped.
“It’s a secret. We want you to look forward to what we have to offer,” said Suho.
* This article was written by Noor Ashikin Abdul Rahman and was published on the Loud Asia section of The New Paper, a local newspaper in Singapore.