Four reasons BigBang still got it MADE
Ahead of BigBang's two-night concert here, M looks at why the quintet still stands out from the K-pop pack
As far as as K-pop boy bands are concerned: A-list quintet BigBang's success remains unsurpassed.
Here's why: There's their four-part MADE album, an accompanying world tour that includes huge arenas in North America and the extraordinary feat of having every one of their new singles achieve "perfect all-kill" - an individual song topping all of South Korea's major music charts - upon release.
BigBang's dominance in K-pop is unheralded.
Since their 2006 debut, G-Dragon, T.O.P, Taeyang, Daesung and Seungri have been in a league of their own.
Ahead of their two-night concert here this month, we look at the different sides of BigBang that make them winners who rule the roost.
When BigBang released their album Alive three years ago, the boys had fans in awe of their cutting-edge fashion sense. Remember those oxygen tanks and gas masks? The steampunk-esque, futuristic get-ups?
For these K-pop idols, creativity has no boundaries. With MADE, they have turned into marketing geniuses.
Instead of releasing a full-length album conventionally, they launched MADE as a "series". There were several singles, with each comprising an A-side and a B-side track, and the singles have been released one at a time, on the first of every month since May.
The singles are simply titled by a letter derived from the word MADE. So far, M, A and D have been triumphant, sweeping charts everywhere.
We can't wait for E.
Unlike other groups who farm out songwriting tasks to their team of professional wordsmiths, BigBang members have always had a hand in penning their tracks.
For a couple of their new hits, leader G-Dragon took the lead, with Taeyang and T.O.P credited as co-songwriters.
My favourite tunes are Bae Bae, a trippy, sexed-up ride, and Sober, a deliriously fun romp.
Both tracks - and their colourful, unconventional music videos - show BigBang at their best when they are pushing the envelope.
They thrive and excel as the anti-heroes of K-pop.
Bae Bae is, hands down, one of the most adult-themed Korean songs in years.
It is filled with sexual innuendoes.
Sober is dreamy, surrealistic and bizarre, with scenes of the boys stumbling in boxes of confetti and chasing a mysterious golf cart across an open field.
Like it or not, BigBang never fail to make clean-cut boy bands - those who dare not deviate from K-pop's structured mould - look like pathetic schoolboys.
It has been three years since BigBang, as a fivesome, appeared on Korea's variety TV show circuit.
To promote their new songs on MADE, they went on popular talk shows Happy Together and Yoo Hee Yoel's Sketchbook, showing audiences their relatively unseen, candid sides.
On Happy Together, the guys were relaxed and hilarious.
T.O.P pulled off a flirty dance move with comedian Park Myeong Soo and Daesung joked that he had "chosen to forgo his sight for style" (he was sporting long bangs that covered his eyes).
Taeyang and G-Dragon recalled a youthful time when they were so hungry they sneaked into their manager's room to steal snacks.
On Yoo Hee Yoel's Sketchbook, Taeyang even spilled G-Dragon's "secret", telling everyone that the charismatic group leader has a habit of feigning illness in front of his crushes.
To which, G-Dragon laughed and joked: "I just get instinctively sick when (it comes to) someone I like".
In an industry of overly tactful, diplomatic, media-savvy celebrities, BigBang are a breath of fresh air.
Last month, G-Dragon appeared on Korean cable channel JTBC's programme Newsroom, where he spoke frankly on what gives BigBang their edge over the likes of EXO and SHINee.
"What sets us apart is that we write our own songs, which appeal to the public. And the public likes our songs," he said.
Host Son Suk Hee then pointed out that the discussion "might make EXO and SHINee fans angry".
G-Dragon's nonchalant reply? "They might get mad, but it's true, so there's nothing that can be done about it."
In May, T.O.P showed everyone who was boss on social media by lashing out at a netizen's critical post on his Instagram account.
A fan, apparently tired of T.O.P's frequent posting of photos, had written: "Oppa (Korean for older brother), I like you but please stop posting, I can't see other people's Insta posts. I love you and love you, but please stop posting."
T.O.P retorted curtly: "Then, please unfollow. This is my space."
WHAT: BigBang 2015 World Tour MADE In Singapore
WHEN: July 18 and 19, 6pm
WHERE: Singapore Indoor Stadium
TICKETS: $168 to $368 from Sports Hub Tix (www.sportshub.com.sg/sportshubtix)