This article was written by Jade E. Harley.
K-Pop has proven to be a rather controversial topic in recent years, be it BTS or Blackpink rising to popularity in America or girl group stans spamming fancams under serious tweets, the bottom line is that there are very mixed opinions in online spaces today. I see SO much hate for K-Pop, because people associate it with fans who are ‘cringey’ and then say that everyone who likes K-Pop is a freak. On the other hand there are thousands of fans who go absolutely insane over their favorite groups. Everytime a new album drops, stans will buy multiple copies of it and stream the songs nonstop in order to boost their popularity. I’ve seen someone buy 50 copies of a new album just to give them more sales. This fandom behavior leaves much to be pondered, as an outsider would never know the driving force behind this. The group I am choosing to review today, LOOΠΔ, 이달의 소녀 (lit. ‘girl of the month’), is a prime example of this phenomena.
Loona is a Korean pop girl group, who only rose in popularity during the recent years. It is comprised of twelve members, each of which debuted monthly until all twelve had been revealed, giving meaning to the group’s Korean name ‘girl of the month”. It’s a little bit difficult to learn all of the members at first as there are so many of them, so what I did when getting into Loona was to pick the one that most appealed to me and go from there. I was immediately drawn to Chuu, who is energetic and positive. Her music is upbeat and exciting. I love to stim to it, because the choreography is incredibly difficult to learn. I also find Yeojin to be very pretty and therefore I think about her a lot. Same goes for Go Won as she had her hair dyed blue for the latest album, which makes it easier to remember who she is. As for the other members, I know them via their solo albums and think they are all pretty good, but I cannot pick most of them out in a photo.
As far as music goes, Loona is pretty standard in the K-Pop field: they do the obvious pop songs with rap sprinkled in. What I find to be different about them is that they take the styles of each member and mash them into a pleasing to listen to album. The members are all very different when it comes to their skills. They all have what they were trained to do (dancing, singing, posing, etc.) but they also have their unique charm points. As I mentioned before, Chuu is known for her ability to keep a bright smile no matter what, while some of the other members are more on the serious mature side. This translates into their music. Chuu has intense and exciting songs about love and happiness, and that’s represented in their group tracks when she hits those very high notes and you can hear the excitement in her voice. It may be apparent that I am a bit of a Chuu stan.
As a whole, their music is excellent. It's something a little more than ordinary pop, while still retaining that pleasing simplicity. The vocals are easily one of the best parts of Loona, with the girls being able to flawlessly hit high notes and harmonize with one another in the studio and while performing. That’s not to say the tracks themselves are anything short of incredible, they’re professionally produced so it’s not surprising in the least, but I still think they are very distinctly Loona. I firmly believe that there is at least one Loona song for every person, as it is hard to think of a song of theirs I even slightly dislike. While there may be only four group albums, there are the solo EPs for all twelve girls, along with the three subunits having a few EPs each. Each member’s songs are in a distinct style, which is why I feel like it is easy for new fans to get hooked on Loona. It’s all under the same genre of K-Pop, but each song feels very different to me. I love the energy in Yeojin and Chuu’s solo songs, but the softer more heartfelt sound to JinSoul’s album is just as addicting.
There is also another aspect to Loona that adds to their appeal: The Loonaverse. The Loonaverse is the universe in which the lore of Loona’s music videos exists in. Each video contributes to this web of stories and it is highly analyzed by fans of the group. It’s something that is so utterly confusing and nonsensical but just makes you want to watch every one of their music videos in order to be able to point out like one obvious thing and then feel good about yourself. It adds a whole new level to the viewing experience, as along with the incredible visuals, there is always some sort of absurd theme or meaning to it. Honestly brings me back to ninth grade English class. Each girl plays a character in the universe that shares their (stage) name and face. They exploit K-Pop fans’ shipping instincts by making the ‘characters’ extremely gay. No, I’m not joking. Chuu’s solo song Heart Attack has a video that features Chuu falling in love with and obsessing over Yves. At one point she is fantasizing about spending Christmas with her and feeding each other strawberries… You can see why Loona fans are majority sapphics. The members aren’t public about their sexualities, but a bunch of them have openly supported the lgbt community.
As someone who has been following Loona since their comeback in February of 2020, it is rather easy to fall into the Loona hype. There are countless fans on Twitter, and hundreds of sources to learn just about anything that the group is up to. I personally love following accounts that just post images and videos of specific members. It fuels my need to buy and listen to their albums because I see pretty girls and go apeshit. The members are loveable and talented, and their performances are all around an enjoyable experience. In the fandom itself, I have interacted with very many wonderful people who are just here to enjoy good music, as well as people who are more hardcore fans of the girls. While there are fans who are obnoxious and rude, there are also a lot of people who like to make fun of those fans. It’s all rather entertaining as well as a welcoming space despite everything. I have observed a downside: the rampant consumerism that is pushed on the fans. Success of an artist or group in the K-Pop industry depends on streams, and more importantly, album sales. This preys on fans’ desire to see their favorites succeed, so oftentimes you will see fans on Twitter pushing for people to purchase, and even going as far as to purchase albums for those who can’t. While the want to support your favorite group is heartwarming, it is actively being exploited by executives in this industry.
While K-Pop is a hard space to navigate these days, and K-Pop fandom certainly has its problems, there can be a positive side to an ever growing and evolving industry as it becomes increasingly popular in the West. Loona proves to us that there is still positivity and love out there, and that people can be brought together by music despite language barriers. Whether you want to dive right into the world of K-Pop, or are hesitant about it, Loona serves as a fantastic group for new members and fandom veterans alike.