Last week, on August 5th, eight-member K-pop group Girls’ Generation landed a comeback with their latest album, FOREVER 1. While the term “comeback” has a different meaning within the world of K-pop — it’s typically used to refer to any new music from an artist or group, no matter how long the gap has been between releases — the term really fits here in the more traditional sense. So go ahead — call it a comeback.
Girls’ Generation, which consists of members Taeyeon, Sunny, Tiffany, Hyoyeon, Yuri, Sooyoung, Yoona, and Seohyun, debuted in 2007, and this new album has arrived to coincide with their fifteenth anniversary. After an extended hiatus that began in 2017 and yielded flourishing solo activities in film, music, and entertainment for many members, the group has reunited for FOREVER 1 (excluding former member Jessica, who exited the group pre-hiatus in 2014 but has also seen solo success for herself).
In 2007, K-pop had yet to grow into the global force it’s known as today, but it was picking up steam. SM Entertainment, one of South Korea’s “Big Three” labels, assembled Girls’ Generation as an answer to the influx of male groups dominating the Korean music scene at the time.
The breakthrough for the members of Girls’ Generation arrived just a few short years later, in 2009, when their single “Gee” began to break records on Seoul’s music shows, a forum that continues to be one of the biggest measures of domestic success for K-pop groups. (For any BTS fans who have seen the viral clip of Suga saying, “Listen boy, my first love story,” that line comes from the opening of “Gee.”)
By the time 2014 rolled around, the act had begun to break into global success, a major feat that coincided with the rise of centralized streaming platforms. Girls’ Generation was cool, flirty, and fun upon arrival, and they have also always been willing to reinvent themselves — they moved away from their colorful girl crush concept into more powerful, sleek eras, crushing each new style along the way.
In 2015, they began to earn titles in South Korea like “Nation’s singers” and “Nation’s girl group.” They were among the very first groups to perform on morning and late night American shows, long before it was common for K-pop acts to appear in such spaces.
Like many girl groups that have followed since, one of the things fans (known as SONEs) love most about the group is the camaraderie and trust between the members. Coexisting with that many people amid that much pressure for a few years is a wondrous feat; coming back together fifteen years means something truly special is going on.