To stand out among the tons of K-pop girl groups making waves this year, there seemed to be only two options: Either ooze sexiness with skin-barring outfits and pelvic-thrusting dance moves or stay sweet with fluffy skirts and repeated camera-winks. Most girl groups took the former option, and made some noticeable impact, but without any long-term success.
Then came Crayon Pop, who flipped the scene with the unthinkable. Neither sexy nor cute, they were, intead, straight-out absurd. Their breakout single “Bar Bar Bar” is centered around a dance move called the “Straight-Five-Engine Dance” and a unique stage ensemble of big bicycle helmets and eye-popping tracksuits. It’s helped the group become one of the most talked-about acts this year. The quirky concept has inspired parodies and dance covers all throughout Korea and, thanks to its viral success, the song has finally landed on the coveted No.1 spot of K-Pop Hot 100.
The five members — Ellin, Soyul, Gummi, Choa and Way in their signature helmet and tracksuit getup — sat down with Billboard for an exclusive video interview to discuss their sudden rise to fame, new record deal with Sony Music Korea and what to expect from their hotly-anticipated next single.
“In the beginning, we weren’t sure [about our popularity] because we would go straight to practice after our daily schedule,” says lead dancer Ellin. “We found out about our growing popularity when people started telling us ‘You guys are really popular!’ That’s when it started really hitting us. We can also tell by the amount of video covers coming up on the Internet lately.”
With their latest single’s music video and choreography now generating global attention, the group recently landed a deal with Sony Music Korea, raising questions about the possibility of their debut beyond Korea.
“We don’t have concrete plans to crossover and debut in a foreign country as of now,” the group says. “But we really, really want to meet our foreign fans that have been supporting and loving us.”
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The girls — ranging from ages between 22 to 25 — have a large fandom of men in their 30s to 40s. They say it’s because they are like a breath of fresh air in K-pop.
“There’s even a new epithet called ‘Pop Guys,'” explains vocalist Way. “It’s used for older men that like us. We have a lot of fans that are in their 30s. We heard we are like a rejuvenator for working men that are restless from the corporate life because of our bright energy.”
There are some that doubt Crayon Pop will be anything but a one-hit wonder, but the girls are out to prove haters wrong with their highly anticipated follow-up track in September in the hopes to quiet down all doubts.
“Our next track has been selected, but not the concept,” the group reveals. “I think a lot of people like us not only for our uniqueness but also for the fact that they receive fun energy from watching us. So I think [our next concept] is going to be fun which will go well with the funky track.”