Trends come and go pretty quickly in music, particularly in the K-pop industry, but the staying power of some hits can’t be denied. On March 7, 2012, Korean boy band BIGBANG released the music video for their single “Fantastic Baby,” and fans around the world have been saying “Wow, fantastic baby” ever since.
While they were already dominating the local popular music scene, the South Korean act produced one of the few K-pop songs to garner attention internationally with “Fantastic Baby,” in part thanks to the song’s dynamic sound and the stimulating visual feast that is the music video. The boisterous, genre-blending sound was something altogether new for the act at the time, while the seditious music video promoted music as a form of rebellion.
After debuting as a group with more old-school R&B and hip-hop leanings, BIGBANG had become known both for sentimental tunes and more upbeat dance tracks, but the swaggering “Fantastic Baby” ushered in new era that poised the group as one of Korea’s most ambitious acts.
The single, one of three from their Billboard 200-charting Alive EP, drew on electropop and hip-hop to form a full-on banger, paving the way for many of BIGBANG’s more club-ready releases, most notably G-Dragon and Taeyang’s trap-heavy “Good Boy” in 2014 and 2015’s “Bang Bang Bang.” Moving forward, the quintet’s songs began exploring more diverse sonic styles, releasing hit after hit that surpassed the limitations of any one genre. Their latest hits, 2016’s “Fxxk It” and “Last Dance,” exemplified this: the former was an electronic hip-hop track, while the latter was a pop-rock ballad.
As for the video itself, “Fantastic Baby” featured the fivesome in a futuristic world tinged with traditional Korean elements, showing some members ruling over disciples and others literally chained to walls, as they strained to change the world around them while dropping memorable catch phrases like “boom shakalaka” and “I wanna dance.” Things came to an end with a giant dance party and BIGBANG being crowned kings upon thrones.
With the exhilarating song and a video that took K-pop to a whole new level through its creative flair, “Fantastic Baby” has gone on to become one of the most-watched Korean music videos on YouTube aside from those by Psy; as of the anniversary, it has been viewed more than 279 million times.
This immense visibility has led “Fantastic Baby” to have a long-lasting effect on Hollywood in the five years since it was released. In 2012, just months after “Fantastic Baby” came out, an episode of Glee featured the song as background music while the male characters learned to emulate K-pop boy band dance moves. Three years later, “Fantastic Baby” was still making an impact internationally and was featured in the trailer for Pitch Perfect 2, although the song was not included on the film’s official soundtrack.
As one of the biggest Korean songs ever, “Fantastic Baby” is, truly, fantastic.
Watch the music video for BIGBANG’s signature song right here: