We caught up with FIFTY FIFTY as the K-pop girl group opens up on the global success of Cupid, dealing with pressure, and more.
In the ever-growing world of K-pop, the groups and artists who make it big just a few months after their debut are (but not always) the ones who come from big companies. If not, they have famous members to their name. Girl group FIFTY FIFTY has neither of those. Yet, they managed to jump through these hurdles to become one of K-pop’s biggest breakout stars of 2023 thanks to the viral success of their song, Cupid. It all makes for a success story that feels ripped from a fairytale.
I GAVE A SECOND CHANCE TO CUPID
FIFTY FIFTY is a four-member girl group composed of Saena, Aran, Keena, and Sio. The group was formed under Attrakt and debuted in November 2022 with the EP, THE FIFTY. While their debut album did not light up the charts, it did make a splash amongst critics. Korean music magazine IZM gave the EP a 4.5 out of 5, their highest rating for a girl group, ever. International outlets and publications included the album in their “Best Of 2022” lists while the group’s fans, called Hunnies, sang their debut praises. They have potential, but the breakout moment wasn’t there, yet. It was only in 2023 that the rest of the world would catch up following the release of their first comeback, Cupid.
It should be noted that the group doesn’t have the biggest company or marketing push behind them. What FIFTY FIFTY had going for them was Cupid, an S-tier catchy pop song that perfectly captures the relatable feeling of wanting to be in love but shunning it away when it comes to you. When the track dropped in late February, it became an unexpected viral smash. The song, its Twin Ver. (one of the best English versions of a K-pop song in existence), and its numerous sped-up edits quickly had their foot on the neck of social media.
After becoming the hottest track on TikTok, the song quickly spread to other platforms, brought the group’s Spotify listeners from less than 500,000 a month to 18 million, and climbed the charts in multiple countries. The surprise success of the track can be summed up by the fact that FIFTY FIFTY now holds the record of being the fastest K-pop girl group in history to enter the US Billboard Hot 100, a distinction NewJeans used to hold. Just like that, FIFTY FIFTY went from an underrated group with bangers to one of the hottest new acts . Below, we chatted with the girls as they reflected on their breakthrough moment, why Cupid is so loved, and more.
How would you describe who FIFTY FIFTY is as a group?
SAENA: I’d say FIFTY FIFTY is a one of a kind group with its own unique color and vibe.
SIO: Just like the name FIFTY FIFTY, we’re a team that can express a diverse set of colors and charms.
How would you describe your style of music?
SIO: The genres of music that we’ve been putting out so far are mostly easy-listening songs, but there’s a lot more diverse styles that we want to show in the future. We hope to continue working hard to establish our own color and try out various genres at the same time.
ARAN: If I can describe our style of music, it’d be “surprise.” We’ll continue to experiment with new styles and genres, so I hope people would be pleasantly surprised by the changes that we’ll go through down the road.
What was the concept behind Cupid?
SAENA: The typical Cupid that we know is widely known for connecting love between two people. However, the Cupid in our song does quite the opposite, and does a terrible job at doing so. This makes FIFTY FIFTY feel that love is not real despite the two chances given to him. The lonely FIFTY FIFTY solely relies on Cupid for love but blames him when things don’t go well as planned.
KEENA: But as soon as we take the initiative to be in charge of our own fate, we come to realize that we no longer need Cupid. That’s when we overcome fear and transform into the new version of ourselves, breaking away from Cupid that we used to depend on.
SIO: We wanted to convey a message of winning the love through our own efforts without taking a shortcut or getting help from someone like Cupid.
ARAN: While working on the song, we also talked about how we’ve been putting in a lot of effort after our debut. We thought this would be a good opportunity to reflect our strong and independent growth process, so we decided to blend in some of our thoughts into it.
Keena, you participated in the writing of Cupid. What was it like getting to work on the song?
KEENA: It really means a lot! I’m super thankful for the opportunity to participate in our song once again. Not only did I want to do better than before, but also wanted to make sure my voice blends well with the song, and also make my rap part unique so that whoever listens to the song could instantly recognize my voice.
Cupid has been taking over TikTok and the charts as of late. How does it feel to see the song go viral on social media?
KEENA: I remember being so excited when I first listened to our song on TikTok after it was released. I felt grateful to see so many people listening to our music and making it into memes or short clips.
ARAN: When I first heard that our contents were beginning to go viral on TikTok, I was so surprised when I saw the total views of our videos. I was like, “No way, I can’t believe we made it this far!” I’m just tremendously thankful of all the people around the world tuning into our contents.
When you recorded Cupid, did you realize that it was going to become the viral hit that it became?
SAENA: I remember getting hooked on the main theme melodies after listening to the chorus part of Cupid for the first time. The melodies are catchy and the lyrics are lovely, so it made me feel good when I was recording it. I assumed this song would be popular to a certain extent, but it’s unbelievable that it’s gotten so much more love and attention that I thought it would.
SIO: I agree with SAENA. I didn’t expect the song to be a big hit, but I thought the song was so good, especially the catchy chorus part. I definitely thought that we could live up to the expectations of our fans.
The group has been active for just over a half a year yet you’ve already received hype and praise from fans and media outlets. How does it feel to be getting all this attention so soon?
SAENA: I still can’t believe it! I just want to say how grateful I am for the people who have loved us and supported us throughout our journey. Because we’re receiving so much love from so many people around the world, this inspires us to do better, and to bring out the best parts of ourselves.
SIO: Just four months ago, we never dreamed of receiving this much love! We’re most grateful for our fans along with all the people who helped us to become who we are today. Also, I’d like to thank our members for sticking together as a team and keeping up the good work.
ARAN: I really didn’t expect to get this much attention, and even if we had, I’d be surprised at the amount of attention we’ve received. I’m not sure if we deserve all this hype, but all I want to say is that we’re always going to try our best to become artists that deliver great music to our audience.
KEENA: I feel a bit overwhelmed these days, but in a good way! First of all, I’m so happy to have made my debut as an artist I’ve always dreamed of being, meeting our fans with music that I participated in writing. As much as we receive love and positive energy from them, this motivates me to not forget about where we started and promise myself to work hard as a team.
Do you feel a pressure to meet expectations?
ARAN: I don’t think I’m feeling too much pressure yet because I think I’m surrounded by people who support me and keep me motivated at all times! But if there’s any pressure, it’s most likely the pressure to improve and to become a better artist.
SAENA: I agree with ARAN. Just to echo what she said, I also feel a lot of pressure to do better because I want to return all the love and support we received from our fans with great music.
As a rookie girl group in a busy industry, what do you think it is about FIFTY FIFTY that lets you stand out from the crowd?
SAENA: I think it’s definitely the synergies that get generated when we come together as one as a result of combining our distinctive voices and individual colors.
KEENA: For sure. I think our biggest strength as a group is our voice colors, which helps us to present a really broad spectrum of music. We also have a really good chemistry in real life, and I think that’s what makes us stand out on stage.
What can fans expect from FIFTY FIFTY for the rest of 2023?
SIO: I look forward to bringing even better music in the near future! Please stay tuned for more.
SAENA: We have a lot in the works right now in terms of new music, new contents, new looks, etc. I can’t wait to show what we’ve got going on right now. We promise to keep you posted!
Cupid is all about finding that special someone in your life. What advice would you give fans on finding that special love?
ARAN: I believe that someone special comes into our lives once in a while, so I hope we live each and every day to the fullest!
KEENA: I’d tell people to stop trying so hard to meet someone special in their lives. I believe in the saying that the right person will come along at some point, so if I go with the flow and be sincere with everyone that I meet in my life, maybe that special someone will come to you.
For new Hunnies, what other songs of yours do you recommend they check out?
SAENA: Our title track Higher from our debut EP album THE FIFTY. I promise you will feel upbeat and feel like you’re up in the clouds once you listen to it 🙂
SIO: I recommend Tell Me from our debut EP album, which would go well with the current warm weather! It’s a perfect song for a late afternoon spring breeze.
ARAN: I’d say Higher because it represents our colors and first impression of us as a group.
KEENA: I want to recommend Tell Me, which is a song that I participated in with ARAN. The contrasting voice colors of the two members blended with witty lyrics sound really catchy, so I highly recommend everyone to listen to this song, especially our new HUNNIES!