When talking about Girls’ Generation, one of the most succinct ways to describe them would be to say, “female idol group”. But do those words truly describe them for who they are? Not in the slightest. The only accurate words in that description would be “female” and “group”. However, the context of the word “idol” is completely wrong in this case. Nowadays, the word “idol” is synonymous with “pop singer”, or someone that is active in many parts of the entertainment industry. Not only does the accepted meaning of the word not describe the girls in full, but it can also burden them with unfair prejudice from the general public. So if they aren’t an “idol group”, how would we go about describing them? For me, I prefer to call them “artists”. Maybe not necessarily on the same level as some of the greatest musical artists of our time, but calling them “idols” is understating how much talent they have and how much hard work they put into getting where they are today.

The dictionary definition of the word “idol” is “someone you admire”, or you could even say is “role model”. But in reality, because of expanding pop culture, a variety of shows were spawned based off of the new “an idol is an entertainer” definition, such as “American Idol” and subsequent variations all around the world. However, these kinds of shows only made the new definition mainstream. It already had its own niche in Asia where the term had been used to describe many people involved in the entertainment industry. Unfortunately, riding on the coattails of the term “idol” was a stigma that was almost impossible to shake off. It was a stigma saying that you were only there to look pretty and that you had no real talent for anything else. Even the members of Girls’ Generation have faced such accusations before. Yet, here they stand as one of the most successful groups that are currently active. Can it be considered fair to brush aside talent backed by years of hard work, only to have the general masses throw them to the side because they are “idols”? Of course not. Still, such behavior persists, and it not only burdens Girls’ Generation but others as well.

Some might argue that it’s only fair that they be called idols because they undergo a “grooming” process through many years of training. It is a fair argument, but at the same time, the same could be said of people that are just singers. The only difference would be that they only focused on one aspect, whereas those who are considered idols went through a more diverse training regimen. Does the hard work they put in make them any less of an artist? For example, is a person who participates in a triathlon any less of an athlete than a pure swimmer? Obviously not, as they just practiced for more than one thing.

Let’s take Taeyeon for example. She is an idol by definition, but definitely much more than that. Out of all the members, Taeyeon loves singing the most. Taeyeon has even stated that she would like to become the kind of singer who could sing a wide variety of songs. She is a student of music: someone who continually strives to become better and isn’t content with being stagnant. On the flip side, you have Hyoyeon, maybe not the most prodigious of singers, but definitely a dancing virtuoso. Is she any less of an artist than Taeyeon? Of course not. She merely has a different talent, a different form of expression that is more suited to her. While on the topic of artists, we can’t forget Jessica with her “amazing” talent for drawings and paintings. Her drawing of Sunny received such rave reviews and international coverage that michaelroni’s “The Cucumber” even reported that she received an offer from a famous art museum to display her drawing. Jokes aside, the members of Girls’ Generation are obviously more than just “idols” that are pretty with no talent, so why not recognize them as artists?

The girls spend an extraordinary amount of time trying to move beyond the little box that is defined by being an “idol”. Yuri and Sooyoung wrote the lyrics for “Mistake” and “How Great is Your Love?” respectively, and if that isn’t considered a step towards being an artist, then I don’t know what is.

Sooyoung herself has mentioned on KBS 2TV’s “Star Life Theater” that she wanted to be considered as more than just an idol that could dance, but as an actual artist. A part of her essay reflects on the path she took as an idol, stating that she thought it was art. Sooyoung further explains that it is difficult to determine the full spectrum of art, but continued by saying that art can be influenced by the emotions in an individual’s life.

There is a lot of truth in what Sooyoung says about art. It is difficult to gauge what should be considered art. But it shouldn’t mean that if someone takes a different path that they can’t be considered an artist like others can. If art can be considered an expression of emotions, then regardless if it is the dancer who dances, the author who writes, the painter who paints, or the singer that sings, each and every person can become an artist. However, not everyone should be called an artist. Obviously, people have attempted to tread these paths before. Some fail right away, while others make it farther, and there are those who are capable of continuing down that path but choose to not walk down it. So then, who can be considered an artist? For me, the answer is the people that aspire for excellence: those people who work tirelessly to improve, to continue to chase their dream despite the obstacles they counter, and to leave more than a fleeting impression behind, creating an everlasting path that others can draw inspiration from in order to achieve even greater heights.

Girls’ Generation does this and more. Since the group’s debut, the members have faced challenges both as a group and as individuals. The songs they promoted weren’t always similar to their personal tastes, but they took what they were given and did the best they could with it. The multitude of criticisms the girls have faced throughout their careers in not only singing, but dancing, acting, song-writing and whatever else they have attempted were taken to heart and used to make themselves better. Jessica herself stated in an interview that she strives not only to spread Girls’ Generation around the world, but also K-Pop so that younger artists like her sister, Krystal from f(x), may one day surpass even her own achievements.

No one can deny the talent that Girls’ Generation possesses, and no one can ignore just how much hard work and dedication they put into getting where they are today. We should leave behind the mainstream definition of an “idol”, which says that they are mere “entertainers” or “talentless people who only look good”, acknowledge the effort they put into being respectable artists, and not make slight of their dreams to pursue new heights. Girls’ Generation is a group of artists that continue to hone their talents in hopes that their work will inspire other people. They are so much more than idols.

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

Written by: SeraphKY@soshified
Edited by: michaelroni@soshified, FrozenArctic@soshified, bhost909@soshified
Contributions: taengsoshi@soshified, MoonSoshi9@soshified

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