After eighteen long months of public foreplay, the time has come for K-pop supergroup LOOΠΔ to blast off with their extremely anticipated official debut. The buzz around LOOΠΔ is major and they are hotly tipped to become your new favOriTe girl group. “Finally introducing, LOOΠΔ!” Grimes cutely narrates during her feature on their song ‘love4eva’. But just who is this Live Nation-backed twelve piece who count Elon Musk, Grimes, Charli XCX, Kim Petras, Kim Chi and Nikki Blonsky From The Movie Hairspray as fans?
Creating the LOOΠΔverse
BlockBerry Creative, the agency behind LOOΠΔ, has completely revolutionized the way a music group can be introduced to audiences since LOOΠΔ’s first release in October 2016. Up until now, LOOΠΔ’s rollout has focused on intensely hyped up monthly unveilings of the group’s twelve members; HeeJin, HyunJin, HaSeul, YeoJin, ViVi, Kim Lip, JinSoul, Choerry, Yves, Chuu, Go Won and Olivia Hye. This is why LOOΠΔ’s Korean name, 이달의 소녀, translates to ‘Girl of the Month’ in English. The next part of the story is where things get a lot more interesting for LOOΠΔ’s concept – bear with us because it’s about to get wonderfully confusing.
Essentially, LOOΠΔ can be thought of as K-pop’s answer to the Marvel Universe. This is achieved through each Monthly Girl’s unique solo concept: her own song and a gorgeously cinematic music video which ends up adding a new layer to what is known as the LOOΠΔverse timeline. ViVi’s story, for example, is that she is an android from Hong Kong and her music video for ‘Everyday I Love You’ unfolds as a recollection of her time as a human; HeeJin is theorized to be the predatory character who lures each girl to become part of the LOOΠΔverse, thanks to several breadcrumbs dropped throughout multiple LOOΠΔ videos. The LOOΠΔverse is further expanded by each girl’s individual color, fruit or animal; Yves’ symbolic fruit, an apple, is a running motif which links the girls from sub-unit yyxy whereas Choerry’s fruit (cherry) enables her to interact with the other ODD EYE CIRCLE sub-unit members by helping her turn mirrors into portals in her ‘Love Cherry Motion’ visuals.
LOOΠΔ lore also has it that each girl exists on a Möbius Strip where at any given moment the girls’ narratives could intertwine with another; Orbits (LOOΠΔ’s fan-chosen official fanbase name) uncovered this by accessing dlrowehtanool.com (loonatheworld.com reversed) where viewers are greeted by a webpage simply titled ‘Möbius’ and Kim Lip herself put on her own tin hat when she referenced the Möbius strip in an interview with Dazed. It’s all a bit far fetched for sure, but it’s also engaging as fuck.
Linking the LOOΠΔverse
In order to form those links between the LOOΠΔ girls, flesh out the LOOΠΔverse and present LOOΠΔ as a “3-dimensional” team, three subunits were conceptualized.
LOOΠΔ ⅓ debuted as their first subunit in March 2017 and included the first five girls (HeeJin, HyunJin, HaSeul, YeoJin* and ViVi) with a concept characterized by being “sweet and cute” in nature.
The second subunit, ODD EYE CIRCLE, presented the sixth (Kim Lip) seventh (JinSoul) and eighth (Choerry) Monthly Girls with a radical yet empowering “girl crush concept around the theme of love and attraction”:
The three girls of ODD EYE CIRCLE talk about how you shouldn’t wait for love to happen passively, but should take the initiative to make it happen yourself. Each member poses one unique eye that glows an upward crescent in their representative color. The members are also each associated with a moon.
They are believed to possess unique powers. Choerry has a link to mirrors. Each member poses one unique eye that glows an upward crescent in their representative color.
– BlockBerry Creative.
LOOΠΔ’s third and final subunit (for now…) is yyxy, which stands for youth youth by young, and consists of the final four Monthly Girls: Yves, Chuu, Go Won and Olivia Hye. yyxy’s members are brought together because each girl “denied Eden” and possesses a “neanthropic chromosome yyxy, different to xx or xy chromosomes” which they use to preach about “the ego of the youth.” LOOΠΔ are not content with just revolutionizing the music industry, but the human race itself!
Although the LOOΠΔverse timeline was officially explored and expanded in the group’s sold out February 2018 movie experience, CINEMA THEORY, possibilities in the LOOΠΔverse are endless and meanings behind actions are open to interpretation – like Lady Gaga’s ‘ARTPOP’, what happens in the LOOΠΔverse could mean anything and it comes to you with all its subtexts and fantasies. The LOOΠΔverse is seriously unlike anything else audiences have seen in K-pop, especially in recent years where girl groups are stuck in a rut of cavity inducing and overbearingly cute concepts ruling the roost.
Sound of the LOOΠΔverse
Aside from aesthetically pleasing visuals and a gripping narrative arc featuring more twists and turns than an M. Night Shyamalan movie series, LOOΠΔ’s widespread appeal is also in conjunction with their genre-defying bops. Kicking things off with the French-flavored quirky brass melodies of HeeJin’s ‘ViVid’ (is member ViVi somehow linked to HeeJin’s song?? New theory alert Orbits!), LOOΠΔ’s discography is as versatile as their debuting strategy and forces them to be recognised as a genre-bending musical entity. “Some of their production slays me,” Grimes stated. The LOOΠΔverse can appeal to everyone’s musical palette since it has fused a myriad of sounds throughout its timeline, including but not limited to:
Seductive, James Bond-esque orchestras
Theatrical strings and tango
Spirited 80s dance-pop
Sensual hard-edged R&B
Adorably flirtatious yet thrillingly dangerous pop-trap
Breezy acoustic pop-rock
Alternative SoundCloud R&B
Kim Lip’s sweaty, erotic pop romp ‘Eclipse’ is by far the second major standout from the LOOΠΔverse, and a moment that helped catapult LOOΠΔ’s brave new world to fresh ears and heights – almost quite literally, when NASA included the bop on their official solar eclipse playlist in August 2017 alongside other skinny legends like Frank Sinatra and Pink Floyd.
That leads us to the pièce de résistance of LOOΠΔ’s solography: Olivia Hye’s ‘Egoist’. Accurately described by Rolling Stone as “a song as expansive as the world LOOΠΔ has created,” ‘Egoist’ kicks off with gloomy piano chords clouding over a dark thumping beat and reverberant hand claps before rising to a haunting whistle riff. “Love myself today, let you go today” Hye triumphantly chants over staccato sci-fi synth melodies in the bridge. Of course, the drop is totally where it’s at; drum kicks frolick over waves of majestic future bass chords which strike down like meteors. And ‘Egoist’’s choreography? When Olivia high-kicks into that knee drop? Goosebumps. Honestly, it’s really that magical.
On August 20th 2018, LOOΠΔ was born to the world with [+ +], their debut mini album. The eighteen minute collection is a culmination of everything the group has carved out for themselves already: the dreamy euphoric sounds of ‘Girl Front’ and ‘love4eva’ resurface in ‘Hi High’, whereas ‘9 (열기)’ utilizes cutting-edge sounds in the same vein as the group’s more obscure sounding cuts like ‘Egoist’ or ‘Rosy’. Even the songs are structured so that at times each subunit spars with another; it is truly fascinating to experience how each girl interacts with each other to bring LOOΠΔ together as a fully-fledged twelve piece.
Speaking about her work on the future bass flavored banger ‘Stylish’, songwriter Emma O’Gorman aka OhEm gave us this exclusive insight where she had nothing but songs of praise for these future K-legends: “The LOOΠΔ girls did an awesome job with the song and the vocals. Their team were very easy to work with. They didn’t change much from the original demo, just obviously translated the lyrics. My favOriTe thing is how it’s really interesting to hear the difference between ‘Stylish’s demo and the finished product. My voice is a lot harder so my version is quite sassy, but LOOΠΔ’s is lovely and soft and emotional. It really added a whole new dimension to it. It’s been really fun! We obviously wanted to make it like LOOΠΔ and there was no guarantee they would use it so we tried pretty hard to make something they would like. It’s been such a cool experience. I was a fan of LOOΠΔ before we were asked to do it. I’m so over the moon with it!”
Developing the LOOΠΔverse
This radical debut process didn’t happen overnight. LOOΠΔ’s long rollout is a painstakingly detailed strategy, the result of years and years of brainstorming, a battle plan led by a man named Jaden Jeong. “With the rising competition in K-pop these days, fans’ standards have followed suit” Jaden Jeong correctly states. The Korean A&R guru isn’t wrong. Since K-pop’s rapid global expansion, the K-music scene has become majorly competitive amongst agencies trying to cash in on the ever-increasing global visibility and lucrative possibilities of Korea’s bustling music industry; in 2017 it was confirmed that K-pop is a $4.7 billion industry. Naturally, that’s made it a bit difficult for rookie K-pop acts to attract and sustain vital attention from an increasingly demanding audience: enter BlockBerry Creative with their LOOΠΔ project.
Jeong explains that “it’s important that our group is competitive in such an environment. To do that, we want to bring something completely new. It’s not enough to focus on another hit; we’ve seen many cases where a single hit song doesn’t lead to continued success in the long run.” So LOOΠΔ signifies not just creative brilliance, but a gap in the girl group market. LOOΠΔ’s otherworldly aesthetic and storylines about denying Eden to forge your own path is a conscious protest against the severely limiting ‘innocent’ concept that has become the norm for girl groups in K-pop.[themoneytizer id=”15994-3″]
Considering Jeong’s mentality, it’s clear why LOOΠΔ’s business model focuses on building a diehard fan base as opposed to churning out a few disposable hit singles (none of LOOΠΔ’s music has charted particularly high). That leads into why LOOΠΔ’s marketing strategy just might be one of the best new strategies for a pop group. The traditional debut method, as seen by nine member girl groups Girls’ Generation, TWICE and 9MUSES as well as fellow twelve piece WJSN Cosmic Girls, is to pretty much just plonk the whole group in front of audiences as one big monolith with a collection of songs, in the hope that audiences figure out which members they are drawn to. LOOΠΔ’s process is an aesthetically pleasing spinning on the head of that process – BlockBerry Creative invited audiences to familiarize themselves with each individual member through dedicated solo opportunities before the group even came together as one. A major vehicle for this has been LOOΠΔ TV, the group’s YouTube series which shares one minute snapshots of their days as they awkwardly meet each other for first time, prepare music videos in blistering cold winds and themselves theorize about what things mean in the LOOΠΔverse – Jeong’s clearly done his homework on what makes fan culture tick. We can learn all of their names. Faces. Voices. Now each girl is known to us and we can recognise LOOΠΔ as a supergroup comprised of twelve unique individual talents, thus strengthening the audience’s connection to LOOΠΔ. What you will find is that not only does each girl in LOOΠΔ now have her own core fan base, but these fans combine together to make LOOΠΔ’s overall fan base. It’s been a long winded but genius way of building a dedicated and loyal audience, and it will be interesting to see if and how agencies utilize this forward-thinking strategy for future group debuts. The social media growth from Who’s Next Girl? 1 to Who’s Next Girl? 12 in particular is beautiful and well-deserved, proving that attention to LOOΠΔ has greatly risen these past eighteen months.
Orbits in the LOOΠΔverse
Developing the LOOΠΔverse is unlike anything previous K-pop acts have dared to do and Jeong’s ambitious tactics seem to have achieved everything they intended to; thanks to their addictive tunes, wildly imaginative visuals and a strong origin story not even J. K. Rowling could outdo, LOOΠΔ have been slowly cultivating a seriously zealous fan base. The LOOΠΔverse encourages fans to think as freely and as wildly imaginative as they can, forming connections with other LOOΠΔ fans as they themselves form connections between each Monthly Girl’s place on the Möbius strip. These LOOΠΔtics are as passionate about their wonderfully well thought out theories as they are about ravenously getting their hands on the photocards tucked inside LOOΠΔ’s frequently sold out CDs (which sometimes don’t even come with the CD). LOOΠΔ’s physical CDs have also become a collectable phenomenon among K-pop fans, thanks to each copy coming with individually numbered photo cards, an attendance card required for fan meeting events, and a limited print run.
Orbits time after time demonstrate that they are just as talented as the masterminds behind LOOΠΔ:
They recreate music video sets using 3D software
They design color coded cassette copies of each solo album
the circle is complete. #이달의소녀
— rudayo ☆ (@honeywands) April 24, 2018
They visualize state of the art merch
— Serge Hanna (@sergehanna2011) April 24, 2018
a better look and a few concepts with an explanation illustration at the end
i made it so that it was an imposible shape with a moon for a light with 2 mobius strips on the stick and a cool lil button to finish it off hope you guys like it as much as i did making it!! #LOONA pic.twitter.com/q3ASw5SN51
— Serge Hanna (@sergehanna2011) April 27, 2018
They produce their own LOOΠΔ video games
They map out their own personal LOOΠΔverse theories with highly detailed graphics and movies
Audiences care about what is going on in the LOOΠΔverse and the stats prove it: LOOΠΔ and its subunits have earned a combined total of over 23 million streams on Spotify, 31 million YouTube views and over 30,000 physical CD sales. After striking an international touring deal with Live Nation, the girls took to the stage on June 2nd 2018 at their sold out, two-date PREMIER GREETING: Line & Up event in Seoul, which Orbits attended for 66,000 won ($61) a ticket (hey, BlockBerry Creative have to make back that alleged $4 million investment somehow). Their music has since gone on to secure seriously high profile coverage (we’re talking Billboard, MTV and Rolling Stone) and even earned high praise from Pitchfork. Not bad for twelve girls with talent!
Futuring the LOOΠΔverse
The last time a K-pop group built up a fanbase this hysteric was BTS – and we all know how that turned out. BTS have proven that there is a demand in the West for K-pop music that isn’t a novelty hit like Gangnam Style; with all their hype, LOOΠΔ seems the best bet so far to be the world’s first Korean girl group to hit it big in the West. They’re becoming the first girl group to come from Korea who make international headlines solely for their music, and not for insane plastic surgery concepts or dancing around on pogo sticks.
From the broad universe created and countless fan theories inspired by it, LOOΠΔ’s conception represents the boundless creative possibilities of the human imagination – this is the new dawn of K-pop. Should LOOΠΔ’s team continue innovating the ideas and concepts which made them stand out, there’s no telling how far the group could go.
While the ‘Monthly Girl’ era is over, LOOΠΔ are just getting started. It’s time to stan LOOΠΔ.
*YeoJin was incorporated into LOOΠΔ ⅓ but she wasn’t physically involved in any of LOOΠΔ ⅓’s music or promotions – she was infamously advertised as being the / between 1 and 3. This was redacted in the description for ‘favOriTe’ in August 2018: “LOOΠΔ was designed to be at its maximum potential when LOOΠΔ 1/3, LOOΠΔ / ODD EYE CIRCLE, LOOΠΔ / yyxy, and YeoJin combine.”