Girls’ Generation was huge before the likes of Blackpink and Red Velvet arrived on the scene; its debut in 2007 elevated K-pop to the world stage
It’s hard not to talk about entertainment or celebrity without mentioning K-pop nowadays. But it was not always like this. The K-pop boom took hold internationally in the 2000s and the stars who rose to fame during this time were dubbed the second generation of K-pop.
The first generation of K-pop stars consisted mostly of boy bands and solo female artists, the most recognisable of which include BoA.
The second wave in K-pop put girl bands in the spotlight. Their success is what ultimately gave way to the celebrity training culture that produced the likes of Blackpink.
Girls’ Generation’s formation in 2007 set off the unofficial start of second-generation K-pop. Also known as SNSD, an acronym for the band’s Korean name So Nyeo Shi Dae, the group initially consisted of nine members including Taeyeon, Sunny, Tiffany, Hyoyeon, Yuri, Sooyoung, Yoona, Seohyun and Jessica, who left in 2014.
The group went on an indefinite hiatus a few years ago with an earlier report in May 2021 saying that they may make a comeback this year. In May, it was reported that eight members of the group comprising Seohyun, Sooyoung, and Tiffany, may reunite and make a release together.
The group released hit songs including “Gee”, “I Got a Boy”, “The Boys”, and “Mr Taxi” in their first album Into the New World. The band’s popularity earned them the title “The Nation’s Girl Group”. Their song “Gee” holds the record as the most downloaded idol group song in the history of South Korea.
“Gee” dominated South Korean music charts including Gaon Monthly Digital Chart and Melon. It became the only song to top the Gaon Monthly Digital Chart for two consecutive months and it topped Melon for a total of eight weeks, a record yet to be broken.
The group grabbed the title of the most awarded girl group of all time. According to Guinness World Records 2018, no other girl group in the world has received more accolades at a single award show than Girls’ Generation. There they received a total of 13 accolades at the Melon Music Awards.
The next generation of K-pop
There’s no doubt Girls’ Generation is an icon of second-generation K-pop. A new generation of K-pop bands aspires to their level of success.
During an appearance on MBC’s South Korean Foreigners in 2020, Mi-joo and Kei from Lovelyz revealed Girls’ Generation to be their role model; Hyoyeon and Sunny shared beauty secrets and tips on how to keep their romance under the radar with the members of Lovelyz.
Chaeryeong from ITZY also revealed her love for Girls’ Generation, saying that she fell in love the first moment she saw members of Girls’ Generation perform. At the Asia Artist Awards in Vietnam, she met one of her idols, Yoona, a moment that almost brought her to tears.
The group’s tremendous impact has resulted in how K-pop groups are now formed. Training academies have popped up across Seoul where young girls go through rigorous lessons and auditions to become K-pop stars. Members of Blackpink trained under YG Entertainment leading up to their debut in 2016.
These trainee programmes continue to be hugely popular, with K-pop hopefuls from around the world descending on Seoul to get coached on singing and dancing.