by “Cupid” fifty fifty (stylized as Fifty-Fifty) became small kpop possible song. Released by independent label Attrakt (stylized as ATTRAKT), the irresistibly bouncing elegy on modern love has become a crossover phenomenon thanks to organic social media virality, clever marketing, and the English “Twin Version”. “Cupid” has so far peaked at number 4 on Spotify’s Global 200 and YouTube’s Global Top Songs, and at number 41 on the Billboard Hot 100. take it to the radio.
So where did Fifty-Fifty and his seemingly unstoppable hits come from? Under the guidance of K-pop svengal Sung-Il Ahn (known as SIAHN), Attrakt smashed the rulebook to compete with big power players like HYBE and YG Entertainment. Realizing that its competitors lacked the financial resources and institutional infrastructure, the indie record label chose innovation.
Attrakt turned to Siahn, the founder of a creative content development group called Givers, to help her start a girl group. “The company wasn’t equipped to form an idol group, so I started consulting,” said the music executive, who was later appointed co-CEO of the label. Variation. “CEO Chun promised me his full support when I told him we had to change almost everything.” And change everything he does.
Under his guidance, Attrakt overhauled all areas of planning and production, including “talent discovery and training curriculum development.” Fifty Fifty members Saena, Aran, Keena and Sio have completed K-pop boot camp in 2022 and have been specially selected to become stars. Rather than dividing the group into a pre-selected sound (as is common in K-pop), Siahn tailored the music to Fifty Fifty’s individual strengths.
“We’re focused on developing each member’s unique traits and improving their weaknesses,” says Siahn. “We prioritized developing a unique identity for the group during the planning phase, which prompted us to find music that would showcase each member’s individual style.” There was a conscious decision to avoid typical K-pop tropes and trends and instead focus on classical pop music with relatable messages.
“My focus was on the music itself rather than on a particular genre or genre,” says Siahn of “Cupid,” which he also co-wrote and produced. “When I played for the members, they got a positive response, which encouraged me to start working on the project immediately.” While artists and producers often have little interaction in the K-Pop world, Fifty Fifty has been involved from the very beginning.
“I spent a lot of time communicating with the members and measuring their reaction to the song,” Siahn continues. “The end result of ‘Cupid’ could have been completely different if they hadn’t liked it.” The group not only loved it, but also connected with the topic. “I believe the unique color of Fifty Fifty comes from the sincere emotions the members express through their music, reflecting their experiences and development as artists and people.”
When it came to “Cupid,” Attrakt also had to think outside the box when it came to marketing. They turned to Siahn and The Givers again. “We looked for active ways to highlight the unique qualities of the group,” says the group’s mastermind. It featured a mini-documentary that garnered millions of views on YouTube, and perhaps most importantly, the English version (called the “Twin Edition”) exploded on TikTok after fans set the pace.
While English versions of K-pop songs are becoming more and more common, they are often released after the original and often sound like an afterthought. This is not the case here. “The ‘Twin Version’ focuses more on the music and message expressed through a slightly different mixing style and arrangement,” says Siahn. “We call it the ‘Twin Version’ because the two songs are the same in some ways but different in other ways.”
“We chose to introduce both versions simultaneously to reach people from different cultural backgrounds,” Siahn continues. It turned out to be an inspiring move, especially as the ‘Twin Version’ virality on TikTok caught the attention of Warner Records. “We are delighted that Fifty Fifty is now receiving full promotional support,” says Siahn. “We offer our most sincere thanks to everyone at Warner for their extraordinary efforts.”
To what does Siahn ultimately attribute the song’s success? “In addition to the English version, time-lapse versions on social media platforms played a vital role in making the song go viral,” she says. “The song’s global appeal has also been strengthened by the massive amount of UGC generated by fans and listeners worldwide. Above all, the message of the song, which the members conveyed sincerely through the music, resonated with people of all ages.”
When asked if K-pop is potentially peaking outside of Asia, Siahn has a macro view. “Defining K-pop is a topic of debate with differing views on whether it’s a genre or a phenomenon of fandom culture,” he thinks. “From the perspective of a K-pop artist, I believe that efforts to succeed in the global market will continue and there will be many victories in the future.” She occasionally adds: “Maybe Fifty-Fifty is one of many examples of success, don’t you think?”