• XXI

A Guide to Second Generation Girl Groups

In this day and age, thanks to the globilization of the "K-pop" music genre, a lot of young people are fans or at the very least very well-acquainted with Korean acts. I'm sure there are but a few people that are up-to-date with current trends and haven't heard of BTS or BLACKPINK.


But who came before these megastars? What transpired before Korean acts were able to travel back and forth from South Korea to the United States on a whim and sell out concert halls in the process?


While there are both men and women to be credited for making the first small steps to popularize K-pop outside South Korea, both solo acts and group acts, I'll be focusing on the girl group side of things.


In this handy, if I do say so myself, guide, I'll try to help newer K-pop audiences familiarize themselves with girl groups of the previous generation of K-pop artists, the one that peaked in 2008 and started exiting the stage around 2012 to make space for the next generation of talented ladies to grace the K-pop stage with their presence.


While certainly most of these groups are either inactive or completely disbanded, the mark they left in the industry is not one to be dismissed so easily just because they no longer regulary release new music (as groups, because many of them are still very succesful soloists). Many of this generation's girl groups are inspired by these ladies and some, if not all, have claimed themselves to be fans of at least one of these groups!


If all that wasn't enough to capture your attention, maybe the promise of stellar music and amazing stage presence will. Without further ado, here are the ladies who dominated South Korea, Japan, East Asia and beyond!


Girls' Generation

While very hard to imagine one being into K-pop and never having heard of the biggest girl group ever, I'll pretend that's the case and give them a proper introduction. Girls' Generation debuted in 2007 and while they gained some attention with "Into the new world" (at this point this song is basically synonymous to "feminism" in South Korea) and subsequent singles from their first, eponymous, Korean studio album, it wasn't until 2009 that the group really blew up and became what Koreans affectionately call "The Nation's Girl Group. The song featured above, "Gee", set the golden standard for how your average Korean girl group looks and sounds. Bubblegum pop and that cool and natural "girl next door" image is what characterizes Girls' Generation and their influence in the industry can be felt even today; just take a look at most of K-pop's girl groups, a lot of them fit the visuals and sound of "Gee". At their peak, Girls' Generation was comprised of nine members, Taeyeon, Yoona, Jessica, Tiffany, Seohyun, Yuri, Sooyoung, Hyoyeon and Sunny. Nowadays, Jessica is no longer a part of the group, but while Tiffany, Seohyun and Sooyoung chose to leave the company that Girls' Generation debuted under, they are still very much part of the group! Girls' Generation proved that girl groups can go head to head with boy groups and on many occassions even outperform them, something unheard of up until they hit the scene. They have succeeded in pretty much every field they tackled. At the peak of the Korean wave's influence in Japan, Girls' Generation were at the very front, becoming one of the most succesful Korean acts in Japanese territory and becoming the first Korean girl group to sell over a million units, with the release of their first Japanese studio album, also called "Girls' Generation".