After sweeping the Mexican Kid’s Choice Awards with the most orange blimps, CD9, the country’s reigning princes of pop, broke cultural and language barriers by releasing their newest song “Get Dumb” featuring K-pop girl group Crayon Pop this week. The boy band premiered the track onstage with the female act on August 20, but the show didn’t air until Tuesday, marking its official debut. In spite of social media posts teasing the collaboration all month, the song still surprised fans and award show viewers.
— Mario Aragon (@aragonsbook) August 20, 2016
While rare (and often horrible), collaborations between K-pop stars and Western artists do exist, especially with Americans. Back in 2012, Snoop Dogg featured on the U.S. version of Girls’ Generation’s “The Boys,” and Kanye West delivered an opening verse on JYJ’s 2010 song “Ayy Girl.” Though K-pop stars have covered Spanish-language songs or incorporated Spanish lyrics into their work, CD9’s collaboration with Crayon Pop is the first time a Latino artist has appeared on a K-pop song. Moreover, K-pop stars are usually the ones reaching out to American pop stars, whereas in this case, it was CD9 making the call to South Korea.
Most Latino K-pop fans are first introduced to the genre through a friend’s recommendation. In CD9’s case, that friend was band member Alan, who played BIGBANG’s “Bang Bang Bang” for the rest of the guys one day and blew them away. After that listening session – and after getting a primer in K-pop’s massive popularity in Latin America – the band did their research and eventually reached out to Crayon Pop.
Outside of the fandom, the most prominent names in K-pop in the U.S. are Psy, CL, and BIGBANG, with Crayon Pop being next in line. Choa, Soyul, Way, Geummi, and Ellin are recognized as the quirky girl group who jumped in helmets and colorful tracksuits in their viral music video “Bar Bar Bar.” But even if you didn’t catch their video, maybe you came across the cover by these Taiwanese twin toddlers, who eventually made it onto Ellen. Perhaps most notably, the group opened for Lady Gaga’s ArtRave tour in 2014.
On the other hand, CD9 started out its career in 2013, influenced by One Direction’s “we’re-a-boy-band-but-we’re-a-cool-boy-band” concept. They profited heavily from the way One Direction refashioned the boy band formula, as well as the void they left behind after their hiatus. CD9, who released their first single independently, later signed with Sony Music Mexico. Their first full-length album, The Party, went gold within the first month of release; their latest album Evolution went platinum. CD9 boasts over 3 million Facebook fans, and their Twitter has 1.3 million followers. Without a doubt, Jos, Alan, Bryan, Freddy, and Alonso are the most popular boy band in Mexico, with a growing fanbase in the rest of Latin America (The Party Tour had multiple stops in Peru and Colombia last year).
“Get Dumb” checks most of the boxes that make a K-pop song a K-pop song, like a pulsating EDM/pop hybrid and a mix of Korean and English lyrics. Yet the track lies somewhere between a High School Musical tune and full-on K-pop banger like “Bang Bang Bang.” And like all good K-pop songs, “Get Dumb” is a head-bobbing, infectious earworm. As CD9 told Remezcla over email, “‘Get Dumb’ is a sound without borders. We love its rhythm, we want everyone to dance to it with us, and we think it sounds amazing with Crayon Pop’s involvement.”
Whether or not the song opens up a pop cultural exchange between Mexico and South Korea or gives way to more cross-cultural collaborations, CD9 and Crayon Pop started out with a leg up, making music industry history. An Akon feature on the Wonder Girls’ “Like Money” did almost nothing for them. A feature on a song with Mexico’s hottest boy band, though, will at least increase Crayon Pop’s profile in Latin America – and maybe introduce Korean teens to CD9 and other Latinx artists. And hey, “Get Dumb” may even get radio airplay, which is more than any K-pop act can say about their American collaborations.
Check out the “K-Mex” (Spanish, English, and Korean) version of “Get Dumb” below: