- Erol Ozan
Rerouting En Route
“Some beautiful paths can't be discovered without getting lost.”
- Erol Ozan
“We are all migrants through time.”
- Mohsin Hamid, Exit West
Need Versus Want
“Wise men speak because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something.”
From left to right Yuri, Hyoyeon (blonde), Sooyoung (back), Sunny (front), Seohyun (back), YoonA, Taeyeon, Tiffany
"Girls, do you know what time it is? It MUST be party time."
And it is! It's Girls' Generation's 13th group anniversary!
"Girls’ Generation is a miracle."
- Tiffany Hwang (Tiffany Young) (2017)
In honor of the best girl group of all time in the entire world, Girls' Generation, and their 13th group anniversary on the 5th, here is a tribute from 2007 through now: their first and most recent music videos as a group, their newest sub-unit "Oh!GG," their story and their latest solos.
(Above) "Into the New World," Girls' Generation's debut track
But if you're not a SONE (prounounced "Sew-One,"), a member of the Girls' fandom, why should you care? Many good reasons:
1) Girls' Generation is South Korea's "Nation's Girl Group" and the girl group with the reputation, credibility, public support, and image to change the landscape for South Korean women AND k-pop.
2) You know how most Western celebrities are arrogant, pampered, entitled jackholes? Yea, well, that doesn't fly in South Korea. While many "k-netz" (Korean netizens), as they're called, overreact in the opposite way, they also are refreshingly intolerant to the narcissism that plagues most Western celebs, who are often given a free ride because they're "popular rich and/or talented artistes." In SK, humility and gratitude are a must, and those found to have attitude problems are quickly shown the career exit door. They have standards, in other words. So you can love many k-pop groups openly and feel the ones you support are (mostly) decent people. That's a wonderful feeling.
3) The k-pop system is a mechanism unlike anything in the West. Trainees move out of their homes anywhere from eight years to late teens and live in groups dorms owned by their music agencies with their friends/fellow trainees. They train for years--generally, at least four--in singing and dancing (generally 8-15 hours a day), foreign languages, music composition, music theory, personal styling, skin care, hair & make-up, media skills, variety show entertainment and have regular psychological evaluations to make sure they can endure the stressful spotlight, long-term. They undergo video and performance evaluations, anywhere from weekly to monthly, depending on the agency. They have weekly group weigh-ins; diets are mandatory and trainees are cut who cannot achieve and maintain an ideal body standard, as they are trying to be "idol" performers and meant to be the highest standard in terms of talent, visuals, etc. If a trainee doesn't show regular improvement in terms of skill or breaks company rules (having a cell phone, dating within their early years, etc), they're almost always kicked out.
Depending on the musical tastes and ever-changing climate, it's common for an agency to have "cast" members in a group, even record songs, then postpone or outright cancel the group. Members
can also be replaced by new trainees at any time up until the group's debut (if there's ever a debut).
If this happens, trainees either leave the company and hope and pray to find a new one, or wait another 2-4 years and hope the company debuts another group that will fits their image and talents.
As an example, in the top photo, Hyoyeon, the blonde, trained the longest at her agency, for seven years. Sunny, the other one with pink hair, second from the left, trained the shortest, for five years (including another agency before her current one). In having spent their childhood living, training, and growing together, they bonded deeply. This is evident in the clip below, when Tiffany, on a segment about mothers, revealed for the first time to anyone outside of her agency and group members that her mother died (she revealed last year, the cause was suicide):
4) They had comebacks cancelled when their debut didn't perform up to expectations. So, when they finally started to gain some success after years of struggle, they faced a new challenge--female k-pop fans jealous of the Girls' being backstage near or performing onstage with the male groups they loved. The hate against the Girls' was so intense, boy group fans groups plotted online to give the Girls' a "Black Ocean," during a concert where they performed with top male groups. You see, lightsticks are a huge part of k-pop fan culture, so when the Girls' stepped onstage to perform, everyone turned off their lightsticks and went silent. Another time, boy group fans made lightstick "X"'s when the Girls' performed, meaning the Girls' were "X'd" out from the show, because they are "bad." For a Confucian-based culture, "saving face"--not publicly embarrassing others or yourself--is extremely important, so this was extremely demeaning and insulting.
5) They work their tails off. ALL the Girls' are the faces/spokeswomen for many brands, have appeared on countless variety and talent programs, been in many CBs, modeled for various companies, hosted numerous TV programs, award shows and radio shows, etc. have become actresses, DJs, soloists, U.N. ambassadors.
6) Their songs have been soundtracks for trying times in South Korea, like when their terribly corrupt (now-former) President Park Geun-hye was impeached on the 9th of March 2017, protestors celebrated the historic day by dancing to their debut, "Into the New World." Students also used it to protest for educational equality:
7) They released "Gee," the song South Koreans voted "Top Kpop Song of the Last Decade."
8) They are absolutely hysterical.
9) People applaud Girls' Generation continued success because you feel their goodness, and their doing things for the right reasons. They radiate genuine love and that's why we SONEs are diehard--we reflect their love back to them and have this gorgeous, simple give-and-take of love.
They came to the USA in 2012 to break new ground for upcoming South Korean kpop artists when it wasn't common to do so (go Wonder Girls for also blazing this path!!!) Here they are in 2012 on the most popular American late-night show Late Night with David Letterman, right after the Super Bowl (the biggest sports competition for American football, one of the USA's biggest sports, with high TV viewership, for foreign readers who may not know), singing in ENGLISH, which only two of them spoke.
10) After they lost 1 member...
Remember the North Korean defector from two years ago who drove into South Korea through the military blockade?
Yea, he's a Girls' Generation fan too (from smuggled in music, no doubt, as North Koreans can't legally listen to anything other than North Korean artists their "Great Leader," Kim Jung Un endorses [whose songs are all about him and North Korean greatness, unsurprisingly)
Now for some more music--because it should boil down to that, right?
(Above) Their latest group single, "All Night."
(Above) Oh!GG, their newest sub-unit, featuring YoonA, Hyoyeon, Taeyeon, Sunny, Yuri
(Below) The Girls' newest music releases
(above) ^^^Sunny sings at 1:28 in this special song benefiting UNICEF
"Right now, it's Girls’ Generation
Going forward, it's Girls’ Generation
Forever, it's Girls’ Generation
Girls' Generation, we love you!"
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