Crayon Pop was a South Korean girl group formed under Chrome Entertainment in 2012. The group consisted of five members: Geummi, Ellin, Choa, Way and Soyul. On 19 April 2017, the group announced their contracts with Chrome Media had ended in March and they had gone their separate ways, although they would not be officially disbanding. On 30 May, it was revealed that Way, Choa, Geummi and Ellin would continue to promote as Crayon Pop under Chrome Entertainment, but Soyul had chosen to leave the group.
The group was initially named Hurricane Pop, and consisted of members Serang, Geummi, Ellin, Choa, and Soyul.
Chrome Entertainment's CEO, Hwang Hyun-chang, did not consider candidates who were taller than 165 cm or had a sexy image, because he wanted a group of ordinary girls.
Soyul was the first member to be accepted, and Geummi was the next to join. Serang, under the name Mari, had formerly been the leader of the disbanded girl group Coin Jackson. Ellin was referred to Chrome Entertainment by Chrome's dance choreographer and was accepted after her third audition. Choa was recommended to the company by Way, her twin sister. Way had been invited to audition, but was unable to do so because she was a member of the indie band N.Dolphin. Singer Bumkey was involved in the audition process and also supervised the group's vocal training.
The group recorded their first song 'Bing Bing' as Hurricane Pop. In January 2012, they performed the song live for the first time in Hangzhou, China. The performance of 'Bing Bing' was filmed for the Chinese television drama Curry Campus. A music video for their song was filmed in February, but Serang left the group in May to pursue an acting career. After Serang's departure, Way was given another chance to join the group and she left N.Dolphin.
Shortly before their debut the group's name was changed to Crayon Pop, as Chrome Entertainment thought the name Hurricane Pop would be insensitive in light of Japan's tsunamis.
The members' stage names were chosen by the company's CEO, although several of them had input into the choice.
2012: Debut with Crayon Pop 1st Mini Album and Dancing Queen
Crayon Pop began their promotions in Japan in May 2012, using their time there to film music videos for "Bing Bing".
The group released both the Korean and Japanese music videos in June. The music video for their debut single "Saturday Night" was released on 17 July, followed by a Japanese version, as well as an alternate version with new footage, on 24 July. Crayon Pop's first EP, Crayon Pop 1st Mini Album, was released digitally on 18 July and included both "Bing Bing" and "Saturday Night".
The group made their official stage debut the following day on 19 July, performing "Saturday Night" on Mnet's M! Countdown. Crayon Pop's debut did not receive much attention and their album was not commercially successful. Chrome Entertainment's CEO later revealed that the album had depleted all the company's money.
Crayon Pop released a digital single album, "Dancing Queen", on 24 October 2012. Besides the title track, it also included a remixed version of "Bing Bing". In order to stand out from other girl groups, Crayon Pop wore tracksuits instead of more feminine clothing. After seeing a performance of "Dancing Queen", Kangin and Shindong of Super Junior praised the song and group, with Shindong saying "I'd love to produce a girl group like them".
Crayon Pop was only invited to perform on music shows three times, and they were not able to have a typical promotion cycle. As a result, they took to the streets and promoted "Dancing Queen" with guerrilla performances, which often took place in extremely cold weather. Chrome Entertainment also produced a reality web series about the group, titled Crayon Pop TV.
Through these activities, Crayon Pop developed a loyal fanbase, especially of "uncle fans" called "Pop-jeossi" (from the Korean word ajeossi). Their fanbase got a lot of attention later in their career for always wearing helmets to support Crayon Pop.
2013: Success in Japan, "Bar Bar Bar" and rising popularity
Crayon Pop returned to Japan and held a mini-concert on 6 January 2013 in Shibuya, Tokyo. Tickets went on sale on 11 December 2012, and sold out in less than an hour. As a result of considerable demand from fans unable to purchase tickets, Chrome Entertainment announced that another Japanese concert would be held at a later date, and a second mini-concert was staged in Osaka on 22 February.
On 25 January, Crayon Pop began promoting the remixed version of "Bing Bing", which included a popping dance break to Daft Punk's "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger" instead of the original rap verse. They had a "delinquent schoolgirl" concept with new choreography, and wore tracksuits or school uniforms with tracksuit pants.
On 19 May, a third Japanese mini-concert was held in Shibuya, Tokyo.
On 8 June, Crayon Pop performed a preview version of their new song "Bar Bar Bar". The unusual dance featured choreographed jumping, and they wore scooter helmets, polo shirts, and tracksuit pants with skirts. A story version music video was released on 13 June, a week before the song's digital release on 20 June. Three days later, a dance version music video was released. Filmed with a budget of only 380,000 won (US$347), the music video went viral and Crayon Pop drew interest due to their unique stage outfits and choreography. This music video has more than 59 million views on YouTube as of July 2020.
As "Bar Bar Bar" went viral, it began to climb the Korean digital music charts, eventually reaching the upper positions of most major real time chart listings. It stayed at the top of Billboard's Korea K-Pop Hot 100 chart for more than a month, and ranked number 1 for the first time eight weeks after release.
"Bar Bar Bar" solidified its viral status when a parody video was aired on a segment of SNL Korea on 13 August. That same day, it was announced that Crayon Pop had signed a contract with Sony Music Entertainment, who were inspired by the groups' creativity and uniqueness and saw their global market potential.
Crayon Pop scored their first music show win when "Bar Bar Bar" won first place on Music Bank on 30 August, beating EXO's "Growl".
On 9 September, a "Global Version" music video was released ahead of Crayon Pop's second mini album, The Streets Go Disco, which was released on 26 September under the Sony Music label. This album consisted of their four previous singles and remixes of those songs. A music video for the title track, "Dancing Queen 2.0", was released along with the album.
"Bar Bar Bar" earned Chrome Entertainment US$2 million in the year after its release, and Crayon Pop was able to move from their small row house in Nonhyeon-dong to a luxury "villa" apartment due to their increased income.
Crayon Pop's rising popularity also brought them criticism. Netizens accused the group of being affiliated with the right-wing website Ilbe after Way used the phrase nomu nomu (노무노무) on Twitter.
This phrase was popularized on Ilbe and was used to criticize former president Roh Moo-hyun. It was then discovered that Chrome Entertainment's CEO previously mentioned the website on Twitter. CEO Hwang responded by saying he was registered on many popular online communities, including Ilbe, in order to gather information about singers and girl groups. He also stated that Way's phrase was an example of aegyo and she was not even aware of the website. However, the controversy continued and several of the group's scheduled events were cancelled after criticism from the public. Online auction company Auction stopped broadcasting its new TV commercial featuring Crayon Pop after widespread customer complaints. The controversy resurfaced in January 2014 after Ellin allegedly used the Ilbe hand sign, but Chrome Entertainment explained that Ellin was forming the letter "E" with her hand, and all the Crayon Pop members have alphabet hand signs that signify their names.
Due to Crayon Pop's increased popularity, they had more opportunities to perform. They held a lot of concerts and events in South Korea, Japan, and even Australia.
On 22 November, Crayon Pop collaborated with Norwegian duo, Ylvis, to perform a special stage at the Mnet Asian Music Awards in Hong Kong.
Crayon Pop received their first major award, Best New Female Artist, while Ylvis won the International Favorite Artist award. Crayon Pop received many other awards throughout the awards season, including the Hot Trend Award at the MelOn Music Awards, Artist of the Year on KBS Song Festival, New Rising Star at the Golden Disk Awards, the New Artist Award at the Seoul Music Awards, and the Hot Trend Award at the Gaon Chart K-Pop Awards.
Crayon Pop released a Christmas single, "Lonely Christmas", on 26 November. The music video was released on 1 December and featured costumes designed by Gu Donghyun on OnStyle's Fashion Killa. They had their comeback stage on M! Countdown on 5 December, and promotion continued through the end of the month. The song peaked at number 12 on the Gaon Digital Chart and was number 1 on the Social Chart for four weeks in a row.
2014: Uh-ee and Lady Gaga tour
Crayon Pop's sixth single, "Uh-ee", was released on 1 April. The music video had more than one million views on YouTube in one day, and featured cameos from DJ DOC's Kim Chang-ryeol, Bumkey, and comedian Yoon Sung-ho. The song is an electro house dance song mixed with trot music, and Crayon Pop wore hanbok-inspired clothing while performing. The song peaked at number 8 on Billboard's K-Pop Hot 100 and number 10 on the Gaon Digital Chart before promotion prematurely ended due to the sinking of the motor vessel Sewol on 16 April.
(As seen in the video above) One of their back dancers went viral and even made headlines in South Korea because of his facial expressions and overall enthusiastic participation in the back.
Crayon Pop went on to release various soundtracks and ChoA made her acting debut.
Crayon Pop performed in various countries throughout the year. They went to Mainland China, the United States, Jakarta, Taiwan, Shanghai and in their own country.
From 26 June to 22 July, the group was the opening act for Lady Gaga's ArtRave: The Artpop Ball concert tour in Milwaukee, Atlantic City, Boston, Montreal, Buffalo, Toronto, Chicago, San Antonio, Houston, Dallas, Las Vegas and Los Angeles.
Lady Gaga had asked Crayon Pop to open all 29 concerts in North America, but they only agreed to one month because they needed to work on their first full-length album.
On 4 October, Crayon Pop took part in the First Chrome Family in Japan Concert in Shinagawa, Tokyo. At this concert, it was announced that Crayon Pop would make their Japanese debut in 2015.
On 7 October, it was announced that Crayon Pop had signed with Japanese record label Pony Canyon, and a mini album, Pop! Pop! Pop!, was released in Japan on 19 November. The album includes three previously unreleased tracks: EDM remixes of "Bar Bar Bar" and "Uh-ee", and "Bbyong Song", a new song written by Song Ji Hoon of Dumb & Dumber. In its first week of release, the album ranked number 48 on the weekly Oricon Albums Chart. Crayon Pop held three mini-concerts in Toyosu and Shibuya, Tokyo on 6 December to promote the album.
In October, Crayon Pop was chosen as public relations ambassadors by the Asian Injury Prevention Foundation and Save the Children to help promote the 7% Project, a nationwide campaign in Thailand for increasing motorcycle helmet use among children.
2015: FM and Japanese debut
On 22 January, the group released a song for Chinese New Year, "123 Happy New Year". The song was a collaboration with the Chinese boy group, DT Boys, and is Crayon Pop's first Chinese release.
Crayon Pop's second mini album, FM was released on 27 March. The title track, "FM", was written by hitmaker Shinsadong Tiger and has a "female warrior" concept. FM was their most expensive Music Video.
The group's first Japanese single, titled "Rarirure" (ラリルレ), was released on 22 July the same year. The song debuted at #25 on the Oricon Charts. A second Japanese single, "Dancing All Night", was released on 18 November and debuted at #17.
2016–present: Japanese promotions, first Korean album, indefinite hiatus, Soyul's departure and Reunion
Crayon Pop's first Japanese studio album was released on 20 January 2016. The album included their previous Japanese singles as well as Japanese versions of their Korean songs. Later that month, the group held concerts in Tokyo, Nagoya and Kobe as "Crayon Pop 1st Japan Tour 2016". The Nagoya concert was filmed and released on DVD as Pop in Japan on 16 March.
On 7 September, their official YouTube channel released a teaser for their pre-release digital song 'Vroom Vroom', later fully releasing the song on the 9th. Before their official comeback, their company Chrome Entertainment announced their upcoming album would be a 'renewal', and that the members would play a large role in the process.
The group released their first Korean studio album Evolution Pop Vol.1 with lead single "Doo Doom Chit" on 26 September.
After a few weeks of promotion on various music shows, it was announced member Soyul would be on a short hiatus after developing anxiety disorder during the preparations for the album. The group continued promotions as 4.
On 24 November, Soyul announced through her official Daum Cafe that she was engaged to ex-idol Moon Hee Jun. The sudden announcement gained much attention from the general public, and later it was announced that the two would wed in February 2017.
On 1 February 2017, Chrome Entertainment released a statement discussing Crayon Pop's impending contract expirations, announcing their contracts would expire in March and they had previously not discussed the issue of re-signing with the company.
On 19 April 2017, Chrome Entertainment released a statement about the groups' contracts, stating that they had expired, and the girls had gone their separate ways, with Choa and Way looking to sign with musical agencies, Geummi and Ellin "preparing for new activities" and Soyul remaining "on break" (due to her marriage to Moon Hee Jun).
While disbandment was not confirmed, the members would be focusing on their solo careers, in effect putting the group on indefinite hiatus. Chrome Entertainment later released a statement contradicting this, saying Way's contract ended in May, not in March as previously stated.
On 8 May, it was confirmed that although both parties had repeatedly denied the rumours of a pregnancy and shotgun marriage, Soyul was pregnant and would be giving birth to a girl the same month.
On 31 May, an announcement was made that Geummi, Ellin, Choa and Way signed a non-exclusive contract under Chrome Entertainment to promote as Crayon Pop, however their solo careers would be managed by other labels. The statement specified that the group would be on a hiatus while the members worked on their solo careers. It was also revealed Soyul had withdrawn from the group to focus on her new family. In a separate statement, Chrome Entertainment wrote "Soyul in her current situation is dedicated to parenting, so Crayon Pop will act as a 4-member group, for the time being".
After news of Geummi's signing with Climix Entertainment on 26 September, Chrome Entertainment reiterated that Crayon Pop had not disbanded, and that while group activities would be managed by the company, solo activities would be handled by other companies the girls had signed with.
On 1 July 2019, Way appeared on YouTuber Asian Boss's channel and revealed some details that happened in the past when they were in Crayon Pop, for example that the tour they did with Lady Gaga got them into dept in stead of making them money because they had to pay for all the expenses themselves. She is currently promoting herself as a YouTuber.
On 22 December 2019, Soyul, ChoA and Geummi were featured on Way's YouTube channel where they reacted to old Crayon Pop videos. All of them, with the exception of Ellin, were featured on KBS2's The Return of Superman, where Soyul's family are regular cast members.
Ellin was not present because she allegedly scammed a man of 1 billion won (approximately $864,070) by pretending to be in a romantic relationship with him. This became referred to as a “romance scam,” which is a form of fraud in which the perpetrator feigns romantic emotion towards a victim to gain their affection and uses the victim’s trust to commit fraud. She has since apologized for it.
Strawberry Milk is Crayon Pop's first subgroup, featuring twins Choa and Way. Chrome Entertainment announced the subgroup (also called a unit or sub-unit) on 29 September 2014. Their debut album, The 1st Mini Album, was released on 15 October, along with a music video for the title track, "OK". The album did fairly well, with ~5000 physical sales and ~25.000 digital sales.
In 2017, both Choa and Way started a YouTube vlogging channel, which the two would share together and post regularly. At the beginning of December, it was announced via the twins' Instagram accounts that they would release a Christmas duet titled 'Christmas For You' on the 16th of that month.
On 5 September 2019 they released "My Universe" as Choa & Way, not Strawberry Milk and promoted their song one time on The Show.
Nine Muses, 4Minute, Girl's Day, Sistar, Secret, Orange Caramel, Rainbow, 2NE1, Dalshabet, Stellar, Miss A, After School, Spica, Hello Venus, Wonder Girls, f(x).
Crayon Pop's Wikipedia, Strawberry Milk Wikipedia, Aminoapps, THE K-POP, Mnet K-POP, ALL THE K-JAM, WayLand, hkgolden
Crayon Pop was one of my favorite groups and I still watch and listen to them a lot! They are great if you need some energy. Such an unique group. They really all acted their part and gave it their all. I followed them since their debut and it was such a great journey, I remember being so happy for them when they finally got a hit with bar bar bar. I 10/10 recommend Way's YouTube channel and My Universe is really pretty. I really miss them as a group, but given their ages I wasn't surprised they stopped promoting as a group. I'm just glad they still get along well and are able to look back upon their time in a good way.
Let me know what your favorite song/concept/style/member was? Did you enjoy Crayon Pop?