K/DA, an animated band that was invented for a video game, are uniting gamers and pop stans IRL
In the last little while, you may have seen four intriguing anime-like girls splashed across your TL: they’re a band that’s already inspired memes, a burgeoning fanbase and a whole lot of internet intrigue with a pummelling poppy bop music video for “POP/STARS”. Riding the current K-pop wave, the band looks set to rise up. What makes them different though, is that they aren’t exactly real.
K/DA are a virtual girlband, created by Riot Games to promote the arrival of some new, in-game purchasable ‘skins’ in the wildly popular online battle game League of Legends. They debuted at the Worlds Finals opening ceremony, an event which concluded an annual month-long battle between e-sports teams from around the world. Ahri, Akali, Evelynn, and Kai’Sa are the game’s four latest champions, who in another LoL universe form a band.
Read more about the unreal K-pop girl group united gamers and pop stans alike below.
WHAT MAKES A VIRTUAL GIRL GROUP LIKE K/DA?
K/DA first appeared earlier this month, when Riot Games lifted the lid on their unexpected musical success-story during the League of Legends world championship finals in South Korea. The group appeared on-stage alongside their IRL counterparts, with the help of some pretty impressive augmented-reality tech as they debuted their song “POP/STARS”. This was intended to act as promotional material for the new ‘skins’ (extra features and accessories you can buy for avatars in the game for around $10) the characters are wearing in the performance and subsequent music video. The song features a combination of Korean and English-spoken vocals, making K/DA a perfect blend of K-pop and indulgently sweet girl group power (think Girls Generation meets Little Mix and Hatsune Miku).
Although each member already existed as a character within the game itself, the League of Legends official fandom site says that the K/DA pop-group exists “in an alternate universe where the pop music industry has become largely popular” (sounds like a galaxy I wanna live). According to The Verge, this isn’t the first time Riot Games has dabbled in the music industry either, having previously worked on a heavy-metal influenced group called ‘Pentakill’, who also feature in the game.
WHO ARE ITS MEMBERS?
The group consists of four female ‘champions’ from within the world of League of Legends, who have now been reintroduced by Riot Games to a wider audience as members of a pop fantasy supergroup. KD/A are voiced by four real-life singers who have come together to form a girl group in another universe of the game and IRL. It’s all very meta.
‘Ahri’ is voiced by Miyeon, a member of K-pop group (G)I-dle, and is considered lead singer of the group, alongside Evelynn. You can easily identify her with her fox ears and a huge crystal tail. The story from the latest game lore goes that she began as a young pop princess, but she’s keen to shed that image in favour of something more edgy and ‘high fashion’. She’s apparently got her own perfume range, and is the face of FOXY cosmetics.
‘Evelynn’ is basically a sexy purple demon in League of Legends Lore, characterised as a succubus. In the girlband, she is represented by singer, actress and hugely-followed Instagram star Madison Beer. Beer previously dropped her album As She Pleases. Eve is known as a bit of a diva, apparently, but the character is fiercely determined, previously telling POP SHINE: “I’m an artist, not a socialite. I won’t apologise for high standards.” Her personal fans are known as ‘Deevas’.
‘Kai’Sa’ is represented by fairly new on the scene singer-songwriter Jaira Burns, who also released an EP called Burn Slow earlier this year. Kai’Sa is listed as the group’s main dancer. In the League of Legends game, her character becomes trapped in ‘The Void’, a terrible dimension teaming with deadly monsters. She emergs from the Void as a pro assassin with some great tattoos.
‘Akali’ (Soyeon of (G)I-dle) is the group’s rapper, and an early fan favourite online. Akali has become a low-key style icon for her turbo neon look from the game, with a face mask and body paint. This look also appears in the neon graffiti covered train carriage of their debut music video. She’s described as a ‘punk ninja’.
WHO IS STANNING?
It’s kind of unsurprising that the whole K/DA deal has taken off so much – the world needs a new girl group serving looks, vocals, and IRL/URL stage presence. Since being uploaded to Youtube last week, the “POP/STARS” music video has garnered a huge 52 million views, while the song topped the US Apple Music K-Pop charts, and reached number five on Pop. Fan art has been popping up across the Reddit community, DeviantArt and Twitter. Lots of people have made it clear they’re getting back into the video game following the group’s debut too, so A+ for marketing.
There’s plenty of the usual fan theories stirring up too, with many fans convinced that Evelynn and Akali are dating – ships are, of course, vital to any pop group stanning.
When speaking to Variety, a representative for Riot Games said “while we don’t have any set plans as of now, it’s been fun chatting about where this could go over the past couple days since it launched”.
ARE K/DA LEADING THE VIRTUAL POP FUTURE?
What was essentially some creative promotional marketing could be the forefront of an interesting new branch of pop. I mean, we’ve seen similar things before – the Gorillaz have already achieved worldwide status as a ‘virtual band’ fronted by real members, so what’s to say K/DA couldn’t continue to build upon that potential. Perhaps with developed AR technology, the characters could tour in hologram form without the physical appearance of the singers behind them.
Hatsune Miku is another example of a virtual superstar with longevity – she’s a virtual pop princess created originally by Japanese software developers, who launched a program that allowed users to take Miku – an eternal 16-year-old, with knee-length candy blue pigtails and big anime eyes – and create songs with her as they wished in open source. Since 2007, users of the Crypton Future Media package have added music videos, hundreds of thousands of songs, and fan art to the iconography of the cyber pop star. She’s sold out shows across the world, collaborated with Pharrell, and opened for Lady Gaga on her ARTPOP tour. She has over 100,000 songs in her discography and a globe-spanning number one album. Other examples of popular vocaloids include Megurine Luka, Kagamine Ren, Len, and Kaito.
Surely, K/DA’s current sweep of the globe cements K/DA as a legit contender for future chart domination. Maybe the world is ready to embrace an entirely fictional girl-group, maybe not, but we certainly stan – watch the music video for “POP/STARS” below.