Girl group Fifty Fifty says its presence on Billboard chart ‘unbelievable’

April 14, 2023

An incredible thing happened in the music scene recently, as a rookie K-pop girl group with less than five months since its debut has stayed for three consecutive weeks on the U.S. Billboard’s Hot 100 songs chart.

Fifty Fifty ranked 85th with its single “Cupid” on the latest chart updated Wednesday, rising nine spots from 94th a week ago, after debuting at No. 100 two weeks ago to become the fastest K-pop group to enter the chart since its launch.

It took only 135 days for the quartet, which debuted in November, to first enter the chart. The period is faster than any other K-pop groups that have been on the chart, such as Wonder Girls, TWICE, BLACKPINK, BTS and NewJeans.

During a press conference held in Seoul on Thursday to mark its entry on the chart, the quartet said it had never expected that kind of thing would happen.

New K-pop girl group Fifty Fifty poses for the camera during a press conference held in Seoul on April 13, 2023. (Yonhap)
New K-pop girl group Fifty Fifty poses for the camera during a press conference held in Seoul on April 13, 2023. (Yonhap)

“Actually, I still cannot believe it and appreciate it very much,” band leader Saena said. “We have always thought about how to send our positive energy to listeners since we were trainees, and I cautiously assume such an effort worked.”

Sio said she and bandmate Aran were so surprised that they covered their mouth with their hand when they heard the news about the band’s arrival on the American chart. “I’m honored that we can talk about that before reporters here.”

The song also rose to No. 61 on the British Official Singles Chart Top 100 unveiled last Friday (British time), from 96th in its first week on the chart, and landed at No. 7 on Spotify’s Daily Top Song Global on Tuesday, becoming the highest-ranking K-pop act on the latest chart.

Keena, the band’s rapper, said she once again realized the song’s popularity when she heard it played on speakers while walking past stores or record shops in Seoul’s streets. It was a dream-come-true moment for her, the rapper recalled.

“Cupid” is the main track off Fifty Fifty’s first single album, “The Beginning: Cupid,” released Feb. 24.

It is a retro-style synth pop song with an easy melody, minimal disco beats and funky bass sounds, unlike the typical music style of K-pop idols that features rough and intense sounds, and a simple and repetitive chorus to hook listeners.

The band said it tried hard to understand the song deeply while spending a lot of time thinking about how to deliver its message along with the group’s unique colors of music.

Behind its unexpected rise in overseas music markets was the song’s viral popularity on social media. They include TikTok, a well-known platform for short videos where sped-up versions of existing songs are thriving. A sped-up version of “Cupid” went viral on the platform, giving boosts to streams and its chart performances.

The group expressed gratitude to those who first made the video on TikTok but said what lies beneath the popularity is its music.

“I think people love our music because it is of high quality and contains the right energy that we intended to deliver,” Saena said.

What makes Fifty Fifty’s achievement more surprising is the fact that the group is managed by a minor K-pop agency, while four big companies — SM Entertainment, JYP Entertainment, YG Entertainment and Hybe — are behind most top-selling idol groups. The rookie’s agency is Attrakt, a newcomer label established in 2021, and Fifty Fifty was the first idol group launched by it.

“Our company focused its resources on us and gave us many opportunities, so we thought we should do a good job, mustered as one,” Sio said.

After the unexpectedly rapid rise to stardom, the band became more cautious in choosing what songs to present next time.

“We are burdened by the chart results and pondering over what songs we should drop next time. We’ll make efforts to return with better music that can show our distinctive colors as a group,” Saena said.