Have you ever looked at One Direction and thought, “You know, they’re okay, but they’d be really great if they just had seven more members and a wolf concept?”


Well, tough, because EXO happened anyway.

EXO is one of the biggest names in K-pop today.  A unique mix of rap, hip-hop, rock, and R&B, the band has been one of the most popular subjects on Tumblr ever since their debut last year—trailing only One Direction on the site’s list of popular tags.

But until yesterday, EXO had never even released a full album.

Why are they so popular despite being so new and untested? It might help that they are a 12-member band full of hot boys. Imagine the passion of the Justin Bieber fandom multiplied twelve times over, and you begin to glimpse the intensity surrounding EXO.

Oh, and there are 66 possible ways to pair them up if you’d like to ship them.

GIF via shirtlessboys/Tumblr

Here’s everything you need to know about EXO, and why they’re the weirdest, most unexpected pop sensation you’ll hear about this year.


“EXO” is short for exoplanet, because they’re intergalactic superstars. But that’s not the weirdest thing about EXO. The weirdest thing is that the group has maintained a fanatically invested fanbase for more than a year... without actually releasing any music.  

In Korea, pop groups usually debut with singles and teasers for their upcoming album. But before they even debuted, in January of 2012, EXO released no less than twenty-three teasers for the album that finally dropped yesterday. XOXO, which the band has also released through iTunes, came out eighteen months after the teasers for it were released. 

If you were waiting that long for your favorite song to drop, you’d be invested, too.


While they’re based out of Korea, EXO is actually split into two sub-groups: a Korean performance team, EXO-K, and a Chinese Mandarin language performance team, EXO-M. In the video for their first single, “MAMA,” their studio, SME, filmed a two-minute long introduction that spun a wacky mythology wherein EXO-K, the Korean subunit of EXO, and EXO-M, the Chinese subunit, each formed half of the roots of the tree of life. The video implies that they split apart and turned into two superhero groups. Kind of like if the Justice League and the Avengers also sang and danced.