Girls' Generation Reflects On a Decade As K-Pop Icons, Their Fans & Future

Girls Generation, 2017
Courtesy of SM Entertainment

Girls' Generation

"We were able to reach 10 years together because we were brave and strong every step of the way," says Taeyeon.

Girls’ Generation have been bringing their bright brand of pop to the Korean music scene since 2007. With breakout hit “Gee” in 2009, they became undisputed leaders of a generation of girl groups and have since released hit after hit. And, earlier this month, they released a special 10th anniversary album, Holiday Night, that debuted atop of the Billboard World Album chart -- their third time topping the tally. 

In light of their 10-year celebration, the eight current members of Girls’ Generation took some time with Billboard to reflect on their substantial career. Check it out below:

For nearly a decade you’ve been the top girl group in South Korea. How does it feel to reach your tenth anniversary? 

Taeyeon: I feel really proud and find it meaningful that we have made it this far together.

Seohyun: 10 years have already passed and it was indeed a long time. But because I had the members beside me, I was able to make my bad days into good ones. We motivated each other and gave one another strength. I believe that is the reason why we were able to come this far.

Yoona: I’m extremely happy that we have become the group that we are today. Thank you everyone for giving us so much love!

Sunny: I didn’t notice that time has gone by so quickly! I am immensely happy for us.

Hyoyeon: I’m really proud of us for reaching [our] 10th anniversary and I am also thankful to the members. I really want to thank our SONE for staying by our sides!

Yuri: I just want to say that I’m thankful that I was able to spend my youth full of passion along with the members, my lifelong friends, without regrets. I also want to thank and congratulate our fans for 10th anniversary, since we were able to shine this bright because of you.

Tiffany: Congratulations to both the girls and the fans for 10 years and I still find it pretty unbelievable and amazing that we were able to reach such a milestone and I’m honored. Also, I had a fun time celebrating together at our fan meeting.

Looking back to your debut single “Into the New World,” the song and music video were about your futures. Did you ever expect what was ahead of you? 

Seohyun: I think we were always imagining about what the future will be like. Whenever we were together, we would talk endlessly. We would talk about the little things and also talk about how we would be like in 10 or 20 years. We talked about what our dreams are and what our dream wedding will be like. And we all decided to be the bridesmaids and the wedding singer for all of our weddings.

Yuri: I think we always thought that no matter what and no matter how many years passes by we will always be Girls' Generation. I believe that we will always be holding that in our hearts and do our best from where we stand.

How has your creative process changed over the years? 

Seohyun: We believe that the level of participation in the creative process has increased over the years. In the beginning, we did our best to express and work on the concepts that were given to us. But over the years, we came to understand our music styles and how we can best express ourselves through the songs and concepts. And through this we were able to discuss our opinions more on what genre will sound best for our group and also write lyrics for the songs.

You went back through time in the teaser videos for “Holiday Night.” What were some of the members’ stand out moments throughout your career?

Taeyeon: There are so many memories. We made a lot of memories during the 10 years, and there were so many moments where I felt happiness from the smallest things. Even when I look back, they’re all happy memories for me. If I were to choose a memorable moment, then it would be when so many of our fans loved our album[s]. I also remember making memories when we did our concert tour[s].

Seohyun: I will never be able to forget how I felt on the day we first performed our debut stage. It’s really hard to just pick one happy memory. But if I have to pick one, then I think I was the happiest being on stage with my members every single moment.

Yoona: The happiest moment was the time when we held our concert and the time when we won the grand award. There are so many memorable moments, but I think the most memorable moment was when we first debuted. I also remember making a lot of memories together when we went overseas for photoshoots.

Sunny: I still remember the moment when we said our goodbyes to our audience at our first concert. I will never be able to forget what I felt that moment.

Hyoyeon: The most memorable and happiest moment was when Girls' Generation went on a world tour. I was happy to be able to meet our fans worldwide and sing our songs to our fans.

Yuri: As a member of Girls' Generation, I was happy every single day and every single moment was memorable for me. There are so many happy and good memories that I made.

Tiffany: During the 10 years, we have had such an amazing time because there were so many memories and so many things we were recognized for thanks to our fans along the way. But if I have to choose, then it has to be our first debut back in 2007. And the other memorable moment would be our 10th anniversary. These two moments are the dearest moment to me.

You’ve had numerous popular singles over the past decade. What are some of the member’s favorite?

Sooyoung: For me, it would be our fist album Into the New World. These days we are listening to the songs from our fist album again and I feel like this was the album that showed Girls' Generation’s identity the most and it is also my most favorite album.

Taeyeon: I love the song “Party.” The song is a refreshing song, and isn’t too conceptual and that you will never get tired of listening to. I feel like the song best represented Girls' Generation’s true selves.

Seohyun: Our first album, Into the New World, was definitely the album that showed the bright and cheerful members at the time of our debut.

Sunny: When I think back, I feel like the style, the dance, and the overall concept for the song “Oh!” best suited us. Out of all the albums, I think I love our sixth album that celebrates our 10th anniversary the most.

Hyoyeon: I think I liked the song and the concept of “I Got A Boy” the most. I really like the unique concept and the powerful choreography of the song. There’s also a twist in the music when the beat changes, so it’s one of my favorite songs.

Yuri: I loved all of our songs and our album concepts. But out of all the songs, I think I liked “Genie” a lot because I remember that the concept of the song was very extraordinary and the song was good too. And I also loved our debut song “Into the New World.”

Tiffany: I think that there are a lot of songs that are my favorite but in terms of personal style, I still look back on the unit TTS. TTS was the unit that I was directly involved with the productions and I’m still really, really proud of what we had put together not just visually but musically at that time and age. But for Girls' Generation, the bar and the standards are different from what I personally like right now. But as I look back on everything, I have to say that it’s “Into the New World” because it represents the message and the story behind this group.

Visually I find that “Gee” and “Genie” from the 2009 era is what made Girls' Generation such an iconic image.

What can you tell us about the album and new singles? 

Sooyoung: For this album, we really wanted to focus on expressing the true style of Girls' Generation. When we were selecting the songs, our decisions were not centered upon trying new, adventurous concept, but songs where we can give back the best of us to our fans and show good performances. That is the reason why I feel that the songs from our new album are meaningful and contain messages filled with our gratitude and appreciation for supporting and loving us for 10 years. Also, we chose our title song[s] because [they] best defined Girls' Generation and through [these] song[s] we will be able show our energy that our fans are hoping to see from us.

Taeyeon: Since this was our 10th year anniversary, we wanted to show more than just one concept. That’s why we chose to do double title tracks for this album and filmed both music videos. I think I thought about our fans a lot as I was working on this album. So I was constantly thinking about whether our fans would think of our songs. I really do hope that everyone love our songs.

Seohyun: We have double title tracks for our album and we have a different concept for each title song. “Holiday” is about celebrating our 10th year anniversary together and shows the energetic and fun side of us. “All Night” is dreamy, but exciting at the same time. This title song will show a new side of Girls' Generation and will make you want to dance along with us.

Sunny: When we were recording our songs for the new album. I recorded each song as if the members and I were telling stories we wanted to have our fans listen to. I feel like this album is comprised of songs that best represents us.

Hyoyeon: Our new song will make you think of “Into the New World” and “Party” right away. The song is full of energy and it’s a song that will make you say ‘it’s Girls' Generation’s song!’ Hope you love and listen to our songs a lot.

Yuri: Our new album is very party-like. Everything sparkles! So, stay tuned for more!

For the members who participated in the songwriting process of Holiday Night, how was it writing the lyrics for these songs, especially a title song?

Seohyun [who co-wrote “Holiday” and “Sweet Night”]: As I was writing the lyrics for the title song, I focused on how to best represent the overall mood of the song. I listened to the song a lot and chose the theme to write my story about. The inspirations behind each story of my lyrics were based on my experiences and imaginations rather than getting inspirations from elsewhere. I feel that listeners will be able to fully connect with me through the lyrics only when the lyrics come from my story and not someone else’s. I’ve also found it important to have the lyrics sound natural to the ears when it’s actually sung. Especially during the high notes, I sing along with the lyrics to make sure that the each word sounds natural as possible.

Yuri: For this album, I wrote the lyrics for “It’s You (?? ??)”, which is specially dedicated to our fans who have been with us throughout the years. So it’s a song that I cherish a lot, and working on the lyrics for this song was very special to me. It was about 3 years ago when I received a letter from a fan and the words from the letter had deeply moved me. I took the words from the letter that had touched me and wrote them into my lyrics journal. And I had written the lyrics for this song as if I was replying to the fan who had written the letter and expressed it as if I was having a conversation with our fan. I usually take notes on how I felt the moment reading poems or novels, or on how I felt at certain moments which I refer to when writing lyrics and make sure the lyrics fit the overall mood of the song.

Though more and more male idol groups have been lasting 10 years, you’re one of the few girl groups able to do so, while staying on top. Why do you think that’s been possible?

Taeyeon: We respected one another and made sure to understand each other a lot. I believe we were able to reach 10 years together because we were brave and strong every step of the way. We grew up together and we are a team no matter what.

Seohyun: We talked to one another a lot. Everyone is different. We made a lot of effort to understand one another and made sure to listen to everyone’s opinions.

Yoona: I think it was really important that we understand one another. I believe that we were able to come this far because we made sure to respect and understand one another well during all these years.

Sunny: Being considerate is the key. I always made sure to be considerate to one another and our members also made sure to be considerate towards me. Whenever I felt that they were being understanding, I felt really thankful. I truly think that it was how we bonded and that we were able to make it this far together.  

Hyoyeon: It was possible for us to be together for 10 years because we understood each other. We made efforts to understand and be considerate to one another. I think the Girls' Generation of today was possible because of all that we have achieved together and have walked towards our goal hand-in-hand.

Yuri: As a member of Girls' Generation, I really felt that we all did our best to understand one another so we were able to lean on each other. And it was through the love and support of our other member, ‘SONE’, that made it possible for us to stand by each other for 10 years.

Tiffany: I’m so proud of the 10 years. It was not easy but I think Girls' Generation members showed each other a lot of sacrifice, dedication and responsibility. But most of all, love is the definitely the reason why we are still going on strong. We’ve been together long enough to know each other and support each other and I think that’s how it got us this far.

Courtesy of SM Entertainment