Ten years after their debut, Brave Girls were about to be disbanded, without ever having been recognized in popular media. Members were taking courses on coffee barista, Korean history, and fashion for their next chapters in life. Then their song Rollin’, released in 2017 to little acclaim, staged a miraculous comeback, topping Korean charts recently.
Here are five reasons behind Brave Girls' sudden rise to the top of charts.
1. The Viral Video
A Korean YouTube channel ‘Viditor (비디터)' is well-known for creating reaction videos that compile user comments on Kpop idols' stage performances. Someone casually asked Viditor to make a reaction video on a 2017 song called Rollin’ by BraveGirls, a request that was reciprocated in a video uploaded on February 24, 2021. The reaction video highlighted the girl group’s stage performances at military festivals, where they had earned the title “Millboard (military Billboard) #1.”
Soon the video went viral, hitting more than 13M views within a month and catapulted then soon-to-be-disbanded girls to fame. In just two weeks in early March, it emerged as #1 on the Bugs! chart, and subsequently swept all four major music charts (genie, Melon, and FLO), a feat that is also known as Perfect All-Kill (PAK).
Rollin' set multiple records for:
taking the longest amount of time to achieve PAK (1,467 days since release)
taking the shortest to top charts since being re-discovered (17 days)
and staying on PAK status for the longest number of hours (262 hours) among girl groups!
And all this marvelous turn of events began from a simple reaction video. Unsurprisingly, Brave Girls are extremely grateful to Viditor, as seen in the video below.
2. The Korean Army
While BTS has the support of the global ARMY fandom, Brave Girls enjoy the allegiance of Korean army’s soldiers. Yes, Viditor's video went viral because it shows hundreds of soldiers excitedly jumping and dancing as the girls perform, pumping tremendous energy into the scene.
All Korean male nationals must serve in the military. There are roughly 600K soldiers in service and 3M reserved forces, who may become potential fans ready to commit. Rollin' had been so popular in military bases that senior soldiers would pass down its dance moves to their juniors. So the song would be remembered in barracks even after many were discharged from duty, somewhat like tradition. Even though the song was released 4 years ago, it is reportedly still one of the top songs in the military chart or the “Millboard Chart.”
Brave Girls have gone to more than 100 military bases to perform despite tough conditions and inadequate compensation. Such history spoke to their passion and persistence; and inspired hearts of many.
Source: KFN-TV, YouTube
"They traveled 12 hours all the way to a remote island of Baekryeong to perform for us... I still remember like yesterday Brave Girls' kindness and generosity towards us soldiers."
3. The Song
The reaction video would not have gone viral if the song itself weren’t good. Just listen to this song once, and you will find yourself playing it over and over again. It's a perfect, catchy summer song with a refreshing vibe.
The song Rollin’ was produced by Brave Brothers, who worked on hit songs for numerous K-pop groups, including SISTA, BIGBANG, AOA, Son Dambi, Teen Top, and more. Another person behind the song is Two Champ, who has written songs for K-pop idols like U-Kiss and Afterschool.
4. The Dance
This song, in every regard, is perfect for all generations. The signature Rollin’ dance is easy to follow and trendy enough for Gen Z to post as short forms on social sites, spreading like a wildfire.
The signature “chair” tool they use to dance adds a new energy to somewhat homogeneous dances seen in K-pop.
One passerby gave an insightful remark, “The song is as refreshing as cider but the choreography is as thick as peanut butter.” Their dance moves indeed add a certain charm to the song.
5. The Story
Brave Girls were about to tell their CEO about leaving the company after many years of fruitless labor. Just then, Viditor’s reaction video was uploaded on YouTube. Overnight, they had risen to stardom and were making history in K-pop, from being on the brink of disbanding to achieving the longest Perfect All-Kill as a girl group.
Source: Brave Girls (Twitter)
One may say Brave Girls rewrote the equation of K-pop. They aren't from a large agency, the song was 4 years old, and their ages were way past the perceived industry norm. But they still rose to summer queens in less than a month. Whereas most K-pop idols are much younger with thin and slim physiques, Brave Girls are in their 30s (except Yuna) and in rather strong and curvy shapes.
The group was in fact formed 10 years ago. There was a complete reshuffle in 2016 with seven new members. Of the seven, only four remain. Each one of the remnants would fall into a slump at some point. Every time, they held and encouraged one another.
The story of their persistence and optimism despite years of obscurity resonated with many in Korean society. It sent an encouraging message that our daily struggles are not in vain. With luck, we may be rewarded big time. But even if that's not the case, people we are with today will remember us and cheer for us, as did the enthusiastic soldiers.
In an interview, one of the members Minyoung said she would tell her younger self four years ago this,
"묵묵히 너의 길을 가다보면 언젠가는 좋은 일이 생길거야. 누구에게나 때가 있는 법이니까! 내 옆에 있어주는 소중한 사람들이 있으니 오늘도 힘내자 파이팅!"
Tread your way steadfast, good things will come some day. There's a time for everyone! There are precious people standing by your side. So cheer up, fighting!