K-pop girl group Brave Girls were debating disbanding. Now, thanks to a viral Youtube clip, they’re sweeping the charts. How did this happen?

As much as K-pop blesses us with new music consistently, it is also one of the harder industries to stay relevant in. With as many as 50 acts debuting every year, artists often find themselves waiting for years before their big break. This, of course, isn’t always possible: some have to contend with their status as underdogs, while others disband and try other avenues. 

In their own words, K-pop act Brave Girls were prepared for a similar fate in 2020, right after ending promotions for their song ‘We Ride’. After years of moderate success and multiple line-up changes, the group was wondering whether it was time to call it a day. Two of the members, Yuna and Yujeong, had already moved out of their shared dorm. 

Just this past week, however, Brave Girls snagged their first music show win with their track ‘Rollin’’. This marks the longest time between a group’s debut and their first win on a South Korean music show. Earlier today, ‘Rollin’’ achieved its fourth win. Last week, it bagged a “Perfect All-Kill”, reaching No. 1 on all South Korean music charts simultaneously. 

If this sounds like a story of serendipity, here is another nugget that might blow your mind: ‘Rollin’’ came out in 2017, and it’s all thanks to a viral Youtube compilation that Brave Girls are now back on the circuit and promoting again. 

On February 24th, a three-minute compilation of Brave Girls performing ‘Rollin’’ on various South Korean military bases, superimposed with fan comments, was uploaded to YouTube. Most clips were from the group’s performances on the K-Force Special Show, a special channel broadcast by the South Korean Ministry of Defense for troops serving all over the country. 

While Brave Girls had been virtually unknown in mainstream K-pop, word-of-mouth on the video painted a different picture. “I was able to endure my mandatory service thanks to them. [This song] enhanced our combat power.” said one comment featured in the video. “We will win wars if they play this song [during battle],” said another. 

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Thanks to a whopping 72 performances on the K-Force Special Show, Brave Girls were a constant presence on what is known as the ‘Millboard’. A portmanteau of the words ‘military’ and ‘billboard’, the chart refers to songs that are popular among active members of the military. ‘Rollin’’ was so popular in the military that the seniors would teach the song to new recruits, earning the group the nickname ‘President of the Military.’ 

Ironically, a day before the video blazed across the internet, Brave Girls were seriously considering disbanding. 

“Honestly, as soon as we hit 2021, members said that maybe the time has come to wrap things up. We agreed that it was time to meet up and talk about disbanding the team. We had that talk on February 23,” Member Yujeong told Geunhwang Olympic (as reported by Aju Business Daily), an entertainment YouTube channel.

“Our self-esteem was at rock bottom. We started saying, ‘Nothing seems to work for us. Let’s look for other jobs,” she told the channel.  

Even when the group’s popularity started climbing, they were wary of the success: “We all thought the hype won’t last long so we told ourselves not to get overly excited.” 

Contrary to what they expected, ‘Rollin’’ now sits at 7.8 million views, with Brave Girls releasing a remastered version of the song. The group will also celebrate its 10th anniversary next month, ringing in the milestone with a bang. 

Check out ‘Rollin” by Brave Girls: