Today we continue our exploration of K-pop tunes and bangers with one written by a group that stands apart. This group, K/DA is fictional. It was created by Riot Games to promote the League of Legends world championship last year.
The virtual K-pop group K/DA consist of League of Legends champions re-imagined as pop stars. The song “POP/STARS” debuted at the game’s championship in Incheon, South Korea. The group does include some real singers, including two members of the K-pop group (G)I-dle. Miyeon sings the parts of Ahri, a nine-tailed fox champion, while Soyeon sings the ninja Akali’s parts. The additional characters of Evelynn and Kai’Sa are played by the American singers Madison Beer and Jaira Burns, respectively.
K/DA, which is a gaming reference to a player’s ratio of kills/deaths/assists, was really just designed to promote new skins for the game. The characters Akali, Ahri, Evelynn, and Kai’Sa were all given new cosmetics, along with additional backstories. For those of you who don’t know of, or play League of Legends, I know most of this may sound like nonsense, and I apologize.
After it was released, “POP/STARS” topped the Billboard chart for World Digital Song Sales. It continued to gain popularity, climbing above to other K-pop hits. “Tempo” by EXO, and “Fake Love” by BTS were just two. But still, beating out some of the most popular K-pop bands is no joke.
When it comes to the actual content of the song, like most other pop songs, “POP/STARS” is repetitive and catchy. You shouldn’t expect to hear any clever witticisms in the lyrics. They mostly consist of pump up phrases that exude bravado. Which, when I think about it, is pretty similar to the BLACKPINK song we covered yesterday. I wouldn’t be surprised if Riot took some inspiration from their success. Or maybe that’s just a common theme of K-pop singles.
Throughout the song we do get a few references to the virtual characters, with lines like “I’m a goddess with a blade”. Others, like “I’m the realest in the game” are as clever as the lyrics get with a simple double meaning. But the goal of “POP/STARS” isn’t to try to be clever, it’s to entertain. And just by looking at the sheer number of views its music video has, I think it’s safe to say that it succeeded.
I’m a casual League of Legends player, and first heard about K/DA when Riot rolled out the first look of the new skins. While I remember liking the music video fine, it didn’t do much to change my perception of League, or K-pop, for that matter. Truth be told, I didn’t really give it much thought at all.
And, after listening to “POP/STARS” again, I have to admit that not much has changed for me. Again, it’s fine. But I wouldn’t go calling it one of my favorite songs, by any means, except maybe in the category of “songs by virtual bands that are based on video games”. But the music video is great.