Log on to Twitter. Actually, don’t, it’s the Bad Place. But if you do, you’ll see that the running joke and/or rallying cry – at least across vasts portions of K-Pop Stan Twitter™, and various pockets of Gay Twitter™ – is “Stan Loona.”
Got a problematic politician? A popular Western pop star? Any viral tweet? Look somewhere in their mentions: there’s probably someone encouraging readers to spend their time stanning Loona instead. It’s been happening for a while. It’s even popped up on protest signs.
And indeed, it is the right choice.
There’s good reason for their amusingly over-the-top fandom and their incredible sense of humor (and, obviously, passion): they’ve probably out-hyped any other rookie Korean girl group by far, painstakingly launching member by member – and sub-unit by sub-unit – over the course of two years or so. (If you’ve not been following along for the ride, here you go.) We’ve got to know them very well for months before they were even fully Loona. It’s been an endless barrages of daily vlogs (so many vlogs), teasers (so many teasers), Grimes “features” (eh…) and…well, just a lot of waiting for them to genuinely pop.
The weird thing with Loona is that they’re, like, kind of flopping at home.
Not terribly! But not amazing, either – or at least what the Internet might have you assume. They’ve still never won a music show in Korea (a big deal), and they’ve not yet won at any major Korean award shows, either. The only really big title they’ve won, naturally, was an international victory at the MTV Europe Music Awards. They’ve bizarrely become most popular, at least on The Internet, everywhere but exactly where they’re from. It’s kind of wild.
[× ×] for instance, the repackage of their debut mini-album [+ +] which was released on February 19, came in at a modest No. 10 in Korea, compared to the original’s No. 2 debut last year. (No. 4 on the US World Chart, of course.) That’s not bad, but…it’s not BLACKPINK‘s numbers, either. (And no, I’m not Pitting Women Against Each Other. In theory, they both could win just as hard.)
But also, as much as they need the support (and revenue) to continue on as a unit, fuck the general public for not having taste! Because they’ve nailed this comeback.
Everything about “Butterfly” is majestic, especially the dancing: it’s the best pop choreography of 2019, hands down, and I won’t be surprised if it goes down as one of the most intricate routines of the year. (Also, it’s another prime example of “Western pop stars should be ashamed of themselves in comparison.”) I mean, come on: the way these twelve girls actually emulate a butterfly, hair-flipping and fluttering their arms and flowing sleeves? It’s a beautiful display.
The song’s beat breakdown is mesmerizing too. I’m never one for a beat drop as a chorus in a pop song usually, but “Butterfly” defies my rules. It’s works, as do the cries of “fly like a butterfly!” It’s weird, and doesn’t quite make sense as a “typical” K-pop lead single. That’s probably why it’s also stayed with me beyond the usual burnout after 24 hours.
And also, the music video! So subtly meaningful, incorporating all of the different Loona lovers (Orbits) around the world and emphasizing inclusivity and diversity. (All around the world, pretty Orbits…) Also, that cover art is quite literally art. Stunning! Sure I’ll join your butterfly cult, girls…
The rest of the repackage is great, too: “Satellite,” “Curiosity” (not a Carly Rae Jepsen cover), “Colors” (a fan favorite) and “Where You At.” I highly recommend giving the full collection a listen: it’s a solid offering of modern K-pop, but it’s really the title track (“Butterfly”) that makes the girls stand out as having their own unique image/sound/color(s).
Furthermore, also, and then, too: the live music show performances have continued to improve and impress each time – the lush lighting, the outfits, the synchronized fluttering. It’s all really, really excellent.
In short, I’m not entirely sure what the ladies of Loona need to do to get it to really take off in their home country, mainly because I’m…not Korean. I have no idea if their imagery isn’t connecting, or if their agency just isn’t getting them the visibility with marketing and performances that they need. (BlockBerry Creative isn’t part of The Big 3, after all.) Or maybe LOOΠΔ isn’t SEO friendly. Are they not seeing all the Loona memes?! Maybe Kim Chi needs to tweet about them more. Or there need to be more Buzzfeed articles about them being billionaire lesbians getting married. I don’t know. I DON’T KNOW.
But I do know that their potential still exists. Perhaps they just need to kick off that Japanese debut already, followed by a Western crossover effort. Is it time for the girls to go global rather than worrying about domestic domination?
Whatever they do, they deserve to fly…like…well, a butterfly. (Wing! Wing! Wing!)
Anyway, stan Loona.
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“Butterfly” was released on February 19. (iTunes)
Photo credit: Blockberry Creative