A look at the power of Girls' Generation around the world and the popularity of "The Boys" music video in each country.

We all know that Girls’ Generation is a lovable group of girls who happen to sing and dance. The reasons we all became fans of them are numerous, ranging from their catchy songs, to their beautiful looks, to their dorky personalities. It’s obvious why we are addicted to them. However, it’s not as clear to people who typically do not enjoy pop music, much less Korean pop music produced by a girl group.

I was recently talking to a couple of my friends, and I mentioned to them that I was a writer for Soshified. One friend, a Caucasian male my age whom I have known since primary school, replied, “Dude, a girl group? You know you’re a guy, right?” The other friend, an Asian female whom I went to college with, said, “I have lost all respect for you.” (I did not expect her to have any respect for me anyway, so that was not a particularly huge blow, but that’s beside the point.) Why does it matter that these two people don’t understand how someone like me can like Girls’ Generation? Because that’s the mindset of many music followers in the West, especially here in the United States.

Now Girls’ Generation could be just fine in their own little sphere where they are currently, dominating South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, and other Asian countries. If they decide to stick with Asia and not ever venture out from there, that’s fine by me. They’ve already been more successful in three years than I have been in my whole life so far. But if Girls’ Generation really wants to conquer the worldwide music scene, they must gain a foothold in the United States first.


The girls starting to conquer America with a billboard in Times Square in New York City.

Why does America matter though? It is because the United States is home to the biggest entertainment industry and the biggest music industry in the world. According to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, the United States routinely sells the most total units of music each year (singles, albums, DVDs, video tapes), which of course leads to the most spent on music sales each year. The United States is also home to three of the big four major corporate labels in recorded music: Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, and Warner Music Group, which are responsible for almost 60% of total unit sales worldwide, and the fourth company, EMI Group, is based in the United Kingdom, and takes up 15% of world music market sales shares.

Thus, if Girls’ Generation wants to be considered a worldwide phenomenon, it needs to make sure that it makes inroads into the United States. They have started with their appearances in SMTown and Korea Music Festival, their deal with Interscope Records, and their recent release of “The Boys” this past week. But how does Girls’ Generation grab more slices of the pie? Obviously, the girls have to cater to Western tastes in music and connect to their potential fans. The very first thing they need to do is to learn how to speak English and learn how to speak it fluently. It’s already hard enough for a native English speaker to make it in the music industry in the United States, much less a non-English speaker. You cannot promote your songs in a country if you cannot speak its dominant language, and obviously promotions are key to publicity and sales. The girls must sing their songs in English too. This should not be too big of a problem though, since the girls have historically done well with English covers. It would be best if their pieces were original rather than recreations like most of their Japanese songs as well, because lyrics in another language may not fit the original music, which would alienate both new and old fans alike.

This is especially important because the girls need English to connect with their potential fans in the Western world, where many people can understand English. Many Westerners, and people in the United States especially, have a tendency to only focus on what is familiar to them. They are content with what they know and finding concepts from other countries intriguing at best, and perhaps so weird that they do not care to look into or understand these new ideas. To be able to lessen this gap and make these potential fans feel comfortable, learning fluent English is all the more imperative for the girls.

Once the girls have learned how to speak English fluently, they must settle on an image. While America is known for having many highly sexualized starlets, the girls do not have to follow this case. Ashley Tisdale, Hilary Duff, Amanda Bynes, and many others have found success without selling their bodies. However, the cutesy image that Girls’ Generation has been known for will not work here. Their “Tell Me Your Wish” and “Run Devil Run” themes are a good starting point: cool, sleek, and sexy, without overdoing the sex. Their dances cannot be cutesy and wishy-washy either. They need to have bigger and more powerful moves to be able to make an impression.


This image is not a bad start for their Western expansion.

Okay, so the girls have the language and the image down. Now what? They need to saturate the market with their product without overplayed. This is a very fine line we are drawing here, as it is very easy to step over this boundary. Whatever agency representing the girls will need to put time, money, and effort into making the girls known. This means booking appearances on national television shows, sending copies of their songs to relevant radio stations, putting out advertisements, and selling CDs everywhere music is sold. The girls cannot stay in their Korean or Asian comfort zone. They need to show that they can be relevant in people’s lives in America and around the world.

Of course, none of this means anything if the girls cannot produce decent music. If the girls kept their current musical style and merely transitioned into singing in English, the most success they can hope for is being a flash in the pan like other previously hot vocal groups, including Backstreet Boys, ‘N Sync, Spice Girls, and Pussycat Dolls. They all have achieved millions in record sales, but they only stayed on top of the music scene for a few years at the most. Who are the best selling artists in history, you ask? The Beatles. Elvis. Michael Jackson. ABBA. Madonna. All of these people were pop artists, so pop can sell. But they also produced material that was complex yet enjoyable, and listeners could connect with the music and lyrics without feeling bored. The girls need to step it up a notch and show that their incredible talents in singing and dancing, especially through songs that can appeal to both the more sophisticated palate and the young, fun-loving preference.

Maybe just as important as the music they produce is the people the girls are. While this is one of the two most important elements in succeeding in the West, this point may be the easiest for the girls to achieve. You and I already know that the girls are real people. They do not act like spoiled stars that unfortunately populate the entertainment industry. They are all down –to-earth, caring, dorky, funny, smart, genuine young ladies. They do need to speak English more, again so that their American fans can connect with them. But it would be incredibly refreshing for young stars who are not known for controversies or negative stereotypes to be part of the scene. No sex tapes or DUIs or drug busts are necessary. They don’t just need publicity. They need to be liked as well, right? That can be easily arranged.

Now the aforementioned points are fairly common-sensical and only form the big picture. Many more details are necessary for the girls to be able to succeed in the West, such as hiring the right people to work with: choreographers, producers, writers, composers, agents, publicists, and so on. They need to commit a lot of time here in the United States; they cannot constantly jet back and forth like they do between South Korea and Japan. They may need to start small to prove their worth before moving up to the big stage and playing arenas and stadiums. And above all, they cannot give up just because success doesn’t come to them quickly. Nevertheless, they need to hit all the categories in the big picture to succeed, no matter how many good people they hire and how much time they spend in the country. They have a good start with their first English song of “The Boys” and their first worldwide album release. They do have a strong and smart company backing them up, they have us current SONEs, and they have each other, which form a great base to begin with. Sooner or later, by following this outline, I would not be surprised to see the girls dominate the entire world. And maybe I can finally regain my deserved respect.

Disclaimer: Views expressed are solely those of the author and are not representative of the Soshified community as a whole.

Sources: chart.apis.google.com, girlsgeneration-theboys.blogspot.com, [email protected]
Written by: [email protected]
Contributors: [email protected], [email protected]

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