Up close and personal with Girls' Generation

By Korea Times, KF and CJ E&M

Posted at Feb 02 2013 12:00 PM | Updated as of Feb 02 2013 08:00 PM

Photo grabbed from Girls' Generation's music video for latest single "I Got A Boy." Left to Right: Sunny, Tiffany, Taeyeon, Seohyun, Yoona, Yuri, Hyoyeon, Jessica, Sooyoung.

SEOUL, South Korea - Even in their everyday clothes, the members of Girls' Generation looked lovely as they arrived for a round of press interviews in Apgujeong, Seoul earlier this month.

Six years since their debut, the nine girls are back in the K-pop scene with their fourth full-length album “I Got a Boy.”

The title track “I Got a Boy,” released on January 1, surprised many who did not expect the hip-hop-style rap and electronic dance music from Girls' Generation.

With the change in sound came a change in the girls' styles. Gone were their trademark girly look, replaced by a punk, retro and military styles. They even ditched their signature high heels in favor of sneakers, which allowed them to dance more.

However, the album received mixed reviews. Local music critics and fans were rather negative, claiming the music is too difficult.

“We expected this. When we first heard the songs, we wondered whether we could sing and dance to this,” the youngest member Seohyun said. “We know people prefer songs with easily recognizable, repeating hooks, but we can’t remain the same. This is the result of us trying to present something new with a broad perspective musically.”

But Billboard complimented the album, which combines electronic dance music, classic and modern R&B and 80s new wave, “should more than satisfy not only K-pop fans but also listeners of all types of popular music.”

Billboard said “I Got a Boy” is “one of the most-forward thinking lead pop singles heard in any country," even saying Girls Generation "set the bar truly high for pop in 2013.”

Tiffany, who was born in the US, was thrilled about the Billboard review. "I read the review directly in English and so delighted to see the expressions describing our music, performance and fashion.”

Hyoyeon, widely acknowledged as the group's best dancer, was elated with the introduction of a hip hop element in their music.

"I love the music that I can dance to and immediately fell in love with this song. It’s fresh and exhilarating,” Hyoyeon said.

Tiffany added, “When we saw the choreography first, we thought this was only for Hyoyeon.”

But all the members learned the dance routine perfectly. “It was more like what we did when we were trainees,” Taeyeon said.

Sooyoung likened performing the song to finishing a marathon. “At first, we had to take a 20-minute break after dancing to the five-minute song.”

Despite the tough practice, the group now seems to know how to enjoy being on stage.

Glamorous as they are on stage, the members seem like ordinary girls in their twenties offstage.

During the interview, Tiffany called other members “my girls” with affectionate eyes and Sooyoung pointed out Taeyeon’s red socks matched her red sweater.

The lyrics of “I Got a Boy” are more like girls’ chattering at a coffee shop over a variety of topics and Girls’ Generation is no exception. They don’t have much free time and spend time with each other a lot, which created a strong bond among them over a six-year period.

“We talk a lot when we get together. It could be about fashion, food or television shows, including our performances,” Yoona said.

When some members do individual activities such as appearing in a television drama or appearing in a musical, the other members are cheering them on.

“I was so proud to see Yoona and Yuri appearing in dramas ‘Love Rain’ and ‘Fashion King,’” Tiffany said.

Sunny said when a member blames herself for not giving a good performance, the others are there to give support and encouragement. "We are Girls’ Generation who love Girls’ Generation," she said.

After a one-month promotion in Korea, the girls will be busy internationally, as they will leave for Japan to embark on their second arena tour in February.

Korean singer Psy opened up a new era of K-pop with “Gangnam Style” last year and Girls’ Generation will have more opportunity in reaching farther across the globe with this album.

“Psy obviously changed everything and it paved a road for K-pop. If we have a good chance, we hope to go abroad and promote our music,” Tiffany said. “We could head to the U.S. or the U.K. Why not a world tour?”

For more, visit www.enewsworld.com.