In recent weeks, something has been shifting in Girls’ Generations’ world. First, the legendary girl group, who went on an indefinite hiatus in 2017, opened a TikTok account, immediately sparking rumours. Was it just to promote Taeyeon’s latest comeback, which occurred around the same time, or was a reunion on the way? It was a curious move for an act who haven’t been up to much, unless they collectively shared a desire to show off how well they can pull off the latest viral dance.
Then, it was reported that they are in talks to hold their first activity as a full group in four years with an appearance on comedian Yoo Jae-suk’s variety series You Quiz On The Block. Although a date has yet to be confirmed, it’ll likely take place sometime in August, coinciding with Girls’ Generation’s 14-year anniversary. Perhaps they just want to celebrate the big day together and on TV, but is there a better day to announce your return to the stage than in the same month you made your debut? We certainly can’t think of one.
Girls’ Generation might just be toying with us and could soon make clowns of us by not actually returning to the stage, but there’s a reason why their fans – also known as SONES – are holding their breath for big news. In the western pop world, reunions might be inevitable when an artist retires or goes on hiatus – with comically short gaps between them quitting and getting back into their career – but there’s less of a certainty a comeback, particularly with a full group, will be made in K-pop. To have the eight-member group back (or, at a very long shot, have former member Jessica back to make it nine) would be an absolute win.
Should Girls’ Generation return, it’ll be more than just a pop group making a comeback after a few years away, but the re-arrival of artists who feel like so much more than that label. Thanks to their shining personalities and approach to their work and fans, Girls’ Generation have long been considered not just idols, but a sort of family for SONES – elder sisters or best friends who also happen to make some of the catchiest pop songs and pull off some of the most powerful performances. Especially at times like the one the world finds itself in right now, who couldn’t do with that kind of support system to lean on?
Regardless of how long they’ve been away or how unsure their comeback is, whenever a legend returns you have to grab the opportunity with both hands. K-pop girl groups don’t come much more legendary than Girls’ Generation, who broke into the US and western market long before BTS and BLACKPINK, and even before PSY’s ‘Gangnam Style’ became a global viral smash and turned whole swathes of new people onto K-pop.
They did so thanks to their way around an infectious pop hook, flawless performances and, in later years, more experimental-leaning collage of sounds. When they released ‘The Boys’ in 2011, it sparked international interest in the group that might not have translated into huge mainstream success overseas but certainly began to open the door for attitudes to K-pop to change. With the interest in Korean artists that exists right now, a Girls’ Generation reunion would see them finally being able to reap all of the rewards they should have gotten the first time around.
A Girls’ Generation comeback would also give us the return of a strong girl group with plenty of empowering moments. Their lyrical content on some tracks might have been criticised for centring themselves in relation to men, but that was far from the whole story. ‘The Boys’ found the group owning their sexuality, telling the titular boys: “I can tell you’re looking at me / I know what you see […] Soon as I step on the scene / I know that they’ll be watching me.” Girls’ Generation might be under the male gaze, but the women are the ones calling the shots here – confident and assured in their declarations, and not relying on the men watching them to feel good.
In the years since that track’s release, female empowerment anthems have become much more commonplace in K-pop and it would be exciting to hear what Girls’ Generation would come out with now, especially as artists in their 30s in an industry that largely revolves around youth.
Girls’ Generation’s reunion might not be confirmed yet but we hope the crumbs they’ve been leaving us of late are building up to a big reveal that will make SONES worldwide happy. As one of K-pop’s most legendary groups, we’d be lucky to experience even the briefest of comebacks from them.