(Story by Jang Woo-young) Girls of the Records, tearing up the stage!
Girl group Loona has completed "So What" promotions. Expectations were high for Loona returning a year after "Butterfly", and it lived up to them through a new appearance, deepened lore, and denser message. Not only did the group garner global attention, it also climbed to a first music show win since debut as the group completed an intense six weeks of promotion.
Loona's new album was its first in about a year, following last February's [X X]. Though the hiatus was long, in the meantime Loona released lead single "365" and met fans by holding Premier Greeting - Meet & Up. As if to say people had awaited Loona, lead single "365" topped the Billboard World Digital Single sales chart. That's where one realizes the global attention that Loona is receiving.
Returning with new mini album [#] after a year, Loona exuded intense energy. As it offered a different concept than preceding "Hi High" or "Butterfly", expectations were pointed towards how Loona would handle girl crush. Through the title track "So What", the group's girl crush was unveiled.
As if on cue, the whole world responded. [#] topped the iTunes album charts in 56 countries including the U.S. immediately on release, setting an all-time record among K-pop girl groups. The #1 real-time trend globally on Twitter was also Loona's, proving the group's global newsworthiness.
Not only did the album climb to #4 on the Billboard World Album Charts, title track "So What" also placed at #4 on the digital sales song charts, as Loona's name appeared clearly on seven Billboard charts.
As it received global attention, the group also had impressive domestic activities. Loona topped the global charts and weekly album charts in both Hanteo and Gaon charts, firmly showing that it was back.
Awareness of the group rose as individual members showed off their variety show charms in TV programs such as Saltier Tour, Weekly Idol, and TMI News and radio shows like "Brothers' Radio" and "Idol Radio". On music shows, they flaunted changing outfits each stage and an intense, charismatic synchronized choreography, being said to have "tore up the stage" as "stage masters".
As a result, Loona won the major achievement of a first music show win since debut: the group embraced the 1st place trophy on Mnet's MCountdown broadcast on the 11th. It had been 1255 days since first member Heejin's debut on October 5, 2016, and 572 days since the 12 members' full group debut on August 18, 2018 (based on the debut concert).
Having broken the records they themselves set, as the nickname "Girls of the Records" goes, Loona climbed to first place in the girl group brand reputation rankings for March 2020 as a wonderful conclusion.
Q&A with Loona
Q. You've just completed "So What" promotions, and I'm curious how you're feeling.
Chuu: "Unfortunately our broadcast activities couldn't physically be together with Orbits due to the timing, but we were able to promote well day after day thanks to our precious Orbits who cheered for us every day. I think it was a really satisfactory promotion, where we were able to show Orbits good performances with the skills we honed through the long year of hiatus."
Q. There must have been some pressure such as coming back after a year and doing a girl crush concept. Was there something or some time that helped you to let go of worries and burdens? Curious to know how you overcame them.
Heejin: "We've never shown a tough image, so I was more worried rather than burdened that many people might find it jarring. But I had fun on my own preparing because it was a concept I wanted to try. When the music video came out and many people turned out to like it, I think I naturally put down that concern."
Q. "365" was intensely received, and that heat continued over to "So What". Many are considering you to be the "Girls of the Records" as you have set many records.
Kim Lip: "I'm very honored to receive a title like "Girls of the Records" through this promotion. I think it was only possible because so many people waited for us and showed us love. I hope we can continue to set new records with Orbits!"
Q. The So What challenge was also popular. Do you have reactions and a clip that left an impression?
Jinsoul: "First, I was so moved that more fans participated than I expected! Also, we prepared a hard version and an easy version, but most people participated in the hard version. They did so well even on the little details, as expected of Orbits! It was such an impressive challenge that it's hard to just pick one person. Diverse compositions, and even people who matched our outfits! The videos made me so proud."
Q. What was the most memorable thing from this promotion?
Vivi: "I think the most memorable thing would be Loona's first win. I'm so grateful to Orbits who gave us such big joy that we never even imagined, and the emotions that welled up at that moment is what stands out in my memory."
Q. Conversely, anything you were disappointed by in this promotion?
Choerry: "I'm a bit disappointed that we didn't have many days to actually meet the fans. It's a huge source of strength to hear the fans cheer when we're on stage, and it's a bit disappointing that we couldn't hear that live this time."
Q. Many have also commented that you "tore up the stage" through changing outfits and synchronized choreography. Was there something you wanted to focus on showing off on stage, and things you put particular care into?
Olivia Hye: "We wanted to show you performances that you wouldn't get tired of even if you watched every day. We put a lot of thought into everything from styling to individual gestures, and considered heavily about how to show you good performances while also expressing the message we put into this album."
Q. You achieved your first music show win since debut. Congratulations. Curious to know how you felt when you were nominated.
Go Won: "It was the last week of "So What" promotions so we thought "Let's finish out this promotion well!", but I was so so happy to hear that we were nominated for first place. I was even more overjoyed and grateful because I know it's not an easy thing to be nominated."
Q. How did it feel when you were announced as winners? Many members were tearful, and I'm curious about your emotions and feelings at that moment.
Yves: "When we were first announced as winners, I was so shocked that I couldn't even hear what was going on around me. I know that a win is not something that we can achieve on our own power, so the first thing that came to mind was gratitude for everyone who helps the Loona members including me, and for Orbits. I've often thought that I want to repay this gratitude, and I'm so happy that this win can begin to do that in a small way, and I also think that the members will be encouraged to work even harder with even better energy."
Q. What does this win mean for Loona?
Olivia Hye: "It's a new opportunity granted to Loona. I think it's an opportunity to show off Loona's new appearance to many people one more time. You've given us a new opportunity with this win, so I'd like to not miss it and show you even better things."
Q. Curious to know how this trophy will affect future activities for Loona.
Heejin: "Getting this win at the end of promotions made me realize even more greatly the hearts of our fans who are cheering for us from places we can't see right up to the end. Strengthened by that encouragement, I want us to become singers whom fans can be proud of, and singers who always have a humble mindset and won't forget about where we started."
Q. What do you think was the driving force and reason behind "So What"'s first place win?
Yeojin: "I think the biggest reason that "So What" was able to win was because Orbits exist! We can shine on stage because there are Orbits who see us and find happiness. That makes us encouraged and want to work harder, so I think the biggest reason and driving force for our win is Orbits. Orbits, thank you always!"
Q. Please provide a word for Orbits who supported this promotion.
Hyunjin: "Orbits! Thank you for always encouraging and loving us. Thanks to you we got to experience a win, and we get to feel lots of emotions and experience many new things. We'll work even harder and show you lots of good things! Love you Orbits!"
Q. Curious to know your new goals for future activities and for 2020.
Kim Lip: "I hope that in 2020, we can be together with Orbits while always being healthy! We'll become a Loona who provides music that pleases the eyes and ears, and a good message too."