Imagine if Richard Simmons ran a hyper cute K-pop girl group based loosely on the Power Rangers, and that group was being bankrolled by the Vespa scooter helmet industry. Now imagine that they’ve cooked up the most infectious and comic K-pop song of the year, and have an equally zany MV to boot. Congratulations, you’ve imagined Crayon Pop’s “Bar Bar Bar!”
There’s not many K-pop songs that debut poorly and then make a long climb up the charts, but “Bar Bar Bar” is an understandable exception. Starting off at #143 on the Gaon chart back in June, the Crayon Pop girls and their jumping gear have hopped all the way to the top spots in the past week or so (update: #8 on Gaon for the week ending on 7/27). Hand it to their rambunctious MV, which has finally gone viral after a month’s sleep. It’s racked up over a million views on YouTube, while the practice video and drama version have 555,000 and 900,000 respectively. Crayon Pop have performed on over half a dozen music shows, and an ever-growing number of idols are mimicking the dance or paying lip service to the song itself. “Bar Bar Bar” is a certified hit, but why?
If you’ve seen the video by now, you’ll know the answer. Even though the members are all in their early to middle twenties, the song takes aegyo to weird, parodic heights. Dressed up and dancing like a wild cross between magical girl anime characters and jazzercize video instructors, they’re working within the small budget of their label, Chrome Entertainment. Forced to be creative, Crayon Pop became just that and more, and for it they’re standing out.
While other groups take on far more fantastic and swift dances, the choreography to “Bar Bar Bar” is probably more difficult only because I imagine it’s hard to keep your cool when striking heroic poses and wearing motorcycle helmets. Saluting, readying for a sprint, and blasting imaginary kamehameha waves at the camera, these ladies muscle themselves into the loony, guitar-driven beat. When they start “jumping, eh jumping!” in what is now dubbed the “five cylinder dance,” you may just end up doing the same, if you’re not too busy laughing on the floor.
Silly though it is, many perceptive K-pop fans will recognize the not-so-subtle ways that “Bar Bar Bar” pokes fun at the try-hard choreography of our favorite idol groups and their masterfully constructed, magical dance boxes. Crayon Pop by contrast are prancing around at a run-down amusement park, like they know that today’s top entertainment items are tomorrow’s forgotten, unhip antiques. Not that Crayon Pop think they’re going to last forever; “Bar Bar Bar” is indeed a novelty song, and it’s full of itself.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=izQaKCXgLE0]
However novelty songs are often good — the easiest comparison being “Gangnam Style” — and “Bar Bar Bar” is definitely in that league. But whereas “Gangnam Style” had huge promotion and top-dollar overproduction to help make it into a sensation, “Bar Bar Bar” is such lightning in a bottle because of how eccentric the song itself is. It’s a haywire party starter, an all-ages cardio workout, a fantasy Korean re-do of rock n’ roll, a nonsensical mutation of the Sailor Moon theme, or any combination of those, with a pinch of awkwardness mixed in. Badass megagals like 4Minute wouldn’t be caught dead singing it, and depending on where your tastes lie, that’s an alright thing.
Alright enough, in fact, that “Bar Bar Bar” gets a well-deserved 4.5/5. With this song, Crayon Pop are flawlessly pulling off the kind of music their moniker suggests, and it’s hard to imagine them doing any better. Unless, of course, Richard Simmons was actually in their next video. They couldn’t be more colorful than that.