In 1993, when she was 12 years old, Beyoncé Knowles took the Star Search stage with five other girls as part of the act Girls Tyme and performed a breathy song and dance routine. It was impressive, considering their ages. But they wound up losing to an all-guys rock group called Skeleton Crew, a moment that now lives forever as a soundbyte in “***Flawless,” one of the best songs on Beyoncé’s new album.
“In my mind we would perform on Star Search, we would win, we would get a record deal and that was my dream at the time,” Beyoncé said of the experience. But ultimately, facing Skeleton Crew helped her “realize that you could actually work super hard and give everything you have and lose.” It was “the best message,” she added, because it made her more determined than ever. That’s why it’s on her album.
But what ever happened to the guys who made it possible, now thrust (somewhat) back into the limelight?
On Friday, December 13th, the day Beyoncé dropped the new album, William Pilipchuk, the lead vocalist of Skeleton Crew, was eating breakfast with his wife when he received an email from a media outlet asking for an interview. “They said, ‘Are you aware that you’re on Beyoncé’s album and it’s huge?’” he told TIME. “And I’ve got cereal in my mouth. It was totally unexpected.”
More than 20 years after Skeleton Crew beat Girls Tyme, Pilipchuk is still surprised the face-off happened at all. “They were 12 years old. I found it really strange of Star Search to pit grown men against little girls,” he said. “I told the guys in the band to pack after the rehearsal because there’s no way we’re going to beat them. They’re too cute.”
Though they won that round, Skeleton Crew didn’t make it far enough to take home the $100,000 grand prize. But their outfits–think lots of denim, long hair and berets–live on on YouTube.
“Everybody had long hair and dated clothes back in 1992,” Pilipchuk joked. “I think Beyoncé and her gal pals were wearing rain coats.
The group took a break from music to focus on their families (though they still play local shows around Detroit). Thanks to their Queen Bey-fueled resurgence in pop culture, however, they’re considering releasing a bunch of new songs in 2014.
“It hasn’t all sunk in yet,” Pilipchuk said. “I think a state of euphoria and bliss will probably set in maybe a couple months from now. We’ve always been a footnote in Beyoncé’s career, but because of this maybe that footprint has gotten bigger.”
Nonetheless, Pilipchuk admitted he still hasn’t listened to “***Flawless,” the song that name-checks Skeleton Crew.
“I have yet to hear or see anything regarding that,” he told TIME. “I’m sure it’s cool. Can you send me a link to it?”
Here’s the song Skeleton Crew played on Star Search: