Two of the world’s biggest boy bands, BTS and EXO have popularized K-Pop globally. But who’s more popular?
It’s difficult to establish which boy band is more popular, as their popularity varies from country to country. However, it’s thought that EXO is more popular in South Korea, whilst BTS is popular internationally. Nevertheless, it’s undeniable that both groups have taken the world by storm.
Read on to learn more about how BTS and EXO fare in this popularity contest.
Though both bands herald from South Korea and are a part of the K-Pop wave, there are marked differences in their music.
Both bands emerged around a similar time, though EXO had their debut in 2012 and BTS debuted in 2013. Whilst EXO was originally formed of 12 members and now has 9, BTS is formed of seven members.
The differences in their musical styles have often been put down to their different management companies. BTS works with Big Hit Entertainment and EXO works with SM Entertainment, which is acknowledged as being the biggest management company in South Korea.
Whilst BTS are known for their ambition and production of grand albums with strong themes and social commentary, EXO is recognized for being amazing live performers.
When it comes to comparing the popularity of the boybands, social media is a great place to start. Both bands have huge followings across social media platforms, but there are a few differences.
On the Instagram platform, EXO has a solid 7.7 million followers while BTS flies ahead with 29 million followers. Clearly BTS has more popularity on the platform, which could indicate their wider appeal.
The trend continues on YouTube, where EXO has 6 million subscribers to their channel and BTS has just under 34 million. That’s a huge margin that is mimicked in the number of views their videos have received.
Whilst these figures seem to speak for themselves, and clearly show that BTS seems to have found more mainstream popularity across the globe, this may not be the case in some countries.
A Weibo poll in China showed that EXO is the most popular K-Pop band in the country, whilst BTS didn’t even make the top three. The group used to have 4 Chinese members, which may have helped them to spread their music in the country.
They’ve also been dubbed ‘The Nation’s Pick’ by the Korean government and are public ambassadors for tourism in the country. Not to mention the fact that they performed at the 2018 Winter Olympics closing ceremony.
National and International Commercial Success
It may be that EXO has received more success in their home country and China, whilst BTS have gained more of a following in the US.
BTS has also worked with many other artists in the US and has developed a fan base which includes Halsey and Steve Aoki. They even released a collaboration with Halsey called ‘Boy with Luv’, in which she sings in Korean.
Rolling Stone dubbed them “K-pop kings” who “have taken the sound of Seoul to the top of the U.S. charts”.
In terms of certification, BTS was the first Korean group to receive an RIAA Certification and was also the first Korean act to win an RIAA Platinum Certification for an album, which is a clear indication of their commercial success.
Whilst EXO doesn’t have any RIAA certifications, they do have multiple certified albums in South Korea, as do BTS.
It seems that BTS might take the crown in a worldwide popularity contest, but in South Korea, EXO seems to be just ahead.
Listen to the Steve Aoki remix of ‘MIC Drop’ by BTS, which made them the first Korean group to receive an RIAA award.