Girls' Generation and the New Korean Wave
Shin-Hyun, Ahn, SERI Quarterly
New Korean Wave, Girls' Generation, Summer Sonic 2011, K-pop, content industry
On August 14 nine young women went on stage at Summer Sonic 2011, a Tokyo rock festival that regularly hosts global stars like Stevie Wonder, Metallica, and Coldplay, as well as Japan's highest profile musicians. Though Girls' Generation1 are not "rock musicians," they nonetheless captivated the audience with their striking black outfits and boots, tight choreography, and energetic singing, proving themselves worthy of sharing the stage with acts like the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Suede, and Avril Lavigne. In an interview with CNNGo before they took the stage, Girls' Generation member Tiffany revealed the extent of their ambitions by declaring "We need to be nine Beyoncé's!"2
In fact, the strong reception for Girls' Generation in Tokyo should come as no surprise. Since the group's debut four years ago, it has become a leading force in the "New Korean Wave" of Korean pop culture that has won over fans in Europe and Asia.
LEADING THE NEW KOREAN WAVE
Success at Home & Abroad
Girls' Generation is no overnight success. Every member of Girls' Generation has undergone rigorous training over three to seven years at S. M. Entertainment, Korea's largest talent agency and its principal star maker. In the case of Girls' Generation, rumors were already afoot that this new group would be "super girls" even before they appeared in public. When they released their debut single "Into the New World," sporting a wardrobe that ranged from school uniforms to roller skates, Girls' Generation became an instant smash hit. The girls were soon making the rounds of Korea's entertainment and reality TV shows as clean cut and energetic teenage stars.
In January 2009, after a heavy publicity campaign in Seoul, Girls' Generation released "Gee," their signature song and their first overseas hit. With its catchy chorus of "Gee gee gee gee baby baby," a storyline of innocent adolescent love, as well as sophisticated choreography, and fashionable outfits, the video for "Gee" caught the attention of fans in Japan, China, and Southeast Asia. By August 2011, the video had 50 million views on YouTube.
Follow up hits like "Genie" (2009), "Oh!" and "Run Devil Run" (2010), further cemented the status of Girls' Generation as Korea's girl supergroup.
Success in Japan
In June 2010, S.M. Entertainment announced that it had signed a contract with Universal Music Japan for sale and promotion of Girls' Generation albums in Japan. Two months later, "Girls' Generation Arrival," a DVD with seven music videos, was released. In its first week, the DVD opened at third on Japan's Oricon weekly music DVD ranking,3 with sales of 23,000. In the first half of 2011, Girls' Generation toured Japan for 14 performances, and then released their first regular album, "Girls' Generation" in June. With sales of 500,000 copies in its first month, "Girls' Generation" became the third double platinum album by a Korean artist in Japan (after BoA and TVXQ)4. DVD and album sales in the first half of 2011 alone brought in ?2.6 billion in Japan.
Into the New World
Demand for K-pop is spreading beyond Japan and Southeast Asia to include North and South America, Europe, and the Middle East. K-pop's expansion is being bolstered by fans sharing and reproducing music videos on Youtube and social networking sites, where its popularity and presence grow daily. At the center of this lies S.M. Entertainment's singers, who could be seen at the "S.M. Town Live World Tour in Paris" at the Zenith de Paris in June.
"SMTown Live" was a performance of S.M. artists to promote Korean singers in Europe. With only one concert scheduled, all 7,000 tickets were sold in 15 minutes, months in advance. After hundreds of European fans formed flash mobs in front of the Louvre to sing songs and perform Girls' …
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Publication information: Article title: Girls' Generation and the New Korean Wave. Contributors: Shin-Hyun, Ahn - Author. Magazine title: SERI Quarterly. Volume: 4. Issue: 4 Publication date: October 2011. Page number: 81+. © Not available. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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