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How K-Pop Supergroup LOONA Made It All the Way Into the American Top 40 — as Told by the Fans Who Made It Happen

Ever since “Gangnam Style” turned the world upside down with an infectious hook and a viral dance, K-Pop has managed to make its way deep into the Western world’s conscience — and it hasn’t left its place ever since. For many years now, millions of fans over the world have found themselves entirely captivated by the music and the messages Korean artists have to offer, which has pushed them to show unstoppable dedication and passion for their idols all through social media — turning, more than once, the unimaginable into a reality.

One of the groups that has caught powerful international attention ever since their debut is LOONA — a 12-member girl group formed by BlockBerry Creative. From the moment this project was announced, it has been praised for its authenticity, ambition and brilliant execution.

While their Orbits, as their fanbase is called, can be found in any part of the planet with exceptionally diverse backgrounds and interests — a conversation with any of them will let you know exactly why LOONA is so special: their sounds take on the most appealing characteristics of modern music while maintaining an ethereal, other-worldly sonic aesthetic that’s constantly evolving, and their lyrics portray beautiful metaphors and showcase deep interpretations on themes such as romance and self-love.

At the same time, their music videos are anything but superficial — each builds a developing storyline that takes place in the fictional ‘LOONAVERSE,’ partially inspired by quantum physics, which has led to fans creating lengthy theories and making detailed connections as to understand the complete tale that’s being told throughout the years. As if that wasn’t enough, the talented young women of LOONA are well-versed in singing and dancing, making for some of K-Pop’s most breathtaking live performances, and have striking personalities that make every single one of them worth obsessing over.

via @loonatheworld on Instagram

Shooting for the moon, landing among the Stars

Mainly due to the fact that BlockBerry is a small, lesser-known record label — LOONA hasn’t managed to reach the popularity status that some of their peers managed by widely-known companies have. However, their growth is exponential and more evident with every piece of music they release: since the phrase ‘Stan LOONA’ ever became a staple on Twitter, even for those who aren’t familiar with K-Pop, the group has managed to make their mark all over the planet through the power of social media and the effort of a fanbase that wants them to have an even bigger platform. In 2020, LOONA released their third mini-album titled [12:00] (read as midnight), debuting into Billboard’s Top 200 chart in the United States — thus becoming the first-ever fourth-generation Korean girl group in history to achieve the said feat.

Along with their latest release came “Star,” an English-language version of their track “Voice,” that instantly became a fan favorite thanks to its euphoric, “Blinding Lights”-esque 80s vibe. This led the song to have its own music video — but did not get an official single treatment by BlockBerry Creative. Nevertheless, Orbits realized the potential of this outstanding track and started organizing campaigns to request it on radio stations all over the country. This incredible effort, along with a warm reception by American listeners, led the song to start climbing in popularity.

On March 6th, Ryan Seacrest announced that “Star” had reached the American Top 40 chart at #38 — and to this day, fans refuse to slow down their crusade as it’s evident that the general audience is connecting with the song. A Twitter account called @loonatheradio has been largely credited by Orbits as the force leading this operation, informing their followers every day of new ways to promote the track — and even contacting stations themselves to get to notice LOONA. The project’s five organizers, Mirna, Khaos, Danielle, Alexis, and Antonio, are using social media as a tool to spread the word about art they deeply believe in. Their story is an exciting depiction of well-executed marketing tactics in the 21st century and the power of passion.

@loonatheradio and the never-ending power of fan promotion

Our head admin jumped the gun the moment they heard ‘Star’,” explains one of @loonatheradio’s current administrators when talking about the origins of the project, “and not really knowing the radio system at the time, they were like ‘Oh my gosh, this has a nostalgic vibe to it that Americans would definitely love! How do I get it on the radio?!'” To anyone who’s ever been a major fan of any entertainment-related entity, this feeling is entirely understandable — being deeply passionate about something naturally leads to a desire to support it, and encouraging others to find out about the gem they were missing out on. 

It’s common for young people to have their enthusiasm and its following efforts dismissed, minimized and denied by those who don’t understand it — but as it’s been proved time and time again, fans don’t need a degree to crack the code to getting a hit on the music industry or organizing thousands of people to reach a certain goal.

Outsiders may not realize the careful planning that goes behind fan campaigns: “The initial goal of the @loonatheradio project was to start in the United States because that’s where promotions seemed to be focused and then gradually branch out to other parts of the world as we grew more comfortable with how it worked. The radio game is really a lot more tricky than it seems and it takes into account social media requests, local participation, and fandom effort with streaming and purchases,” say the administrators, showcasing how challenging the work becomes.

“Given that there are five of us mainly working with the rapidly growing number of stations playing the song, it can be overwhelming at times because we’re all volunteering to do this and have to balance our real-world responsibilities too!” The need to constantly carry out promotional work while still respecting all other personal duties doesn’t seem to slow them down just yet, though — as they recount a time when one of the administrators considered taking a break but ultimately decided against it after seeing “Star” gain popularity on Mediabase. “‘Star’ was a gift for Orbits — but us, working to get it this far, is our gift in return to them.

“One of the most rewarding things I’d say is seeing ‘Star’s gradual growth on Mediabase (we recently entered the Top 30), the Billboard Pop Airplay Charts, the 6-week streak at #1 we managed to get on Most Requested Live, and the unexpected appearances and eventual debut on Ryan Seacrest’s American Top 40! It’s been so wild that the response has boomed and we genuinely think it’s in part because Radio DJs have gotten a chance to meet LOONA and appreciate the song for what it is. It’s gotten some interesting remixes too that we’ve had a chance to listen to as time goes on, but so far the original remains our favorite!”

In the era of fancams and Stan Twitter, K-Pop fans continue to ignite fires all over lands that once seemed unreachable— and the Western audience can’t avoid them any longer. Perhaps what makes LoonaTheRadio and the phenomenon of “Star” so fascinating is simply a combination of factors that range from the radical change of promotion and marketing in music thanks to social media and the growing involvement of fans, to the admirable strength behind united, young people sharing a passion.

You can listen to “Star” on all streaming platforms, and follow @loonatheradio on Twitter to catch up on the latest K-Pop revolution.

Featured Image Credit: LOONA/BlockBerryCreative

 

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