How did this happen?? This was never supposed to happen! Most of my existence has been dark and depressing; I’ve always gravitated towards the anti-“norm”, and when I came to terms with that aspect during my hormone-rollercoaster adolescence, I started to almost take pride in the fact that I was at least original amongst my peers, if nothing else. I went through a gothic phase, an anarchy phase, a suicide phase… you name it… as long as it was dark and depressing. And esoteric, now that I had embraced being a proverbial outsider.

I’m aware there might be non-native English speakers reading this based on the subject matter, so let me quickly relate “esoteric” to Girls’ Generation: meaning, only SONEs will know what I am referring to, which is what esotericism is—intended to draw interest or be understood only by a smaller, specialized group. For that matter, only SONEs will know what a SONE is. Amidst my dark “transformation” during adolescence, I seemed to develop what I can only describe as the “Maknae stare,” as I was generally always sad or angry. The difference being that Seohyun’s stare is sexy and purposeful, and mine was just my disposition and negative attitude. I hope that little comparison to Girls’ Generation helps exemplify what it meant for me to gravitate towards the dark and esoteric.


The reason I drive that point home is due to the fact that with that type of “lifestyle” came the gravitation towards dark and esoteric music. Pop of ANY kind was out of the question! Even if it sounded good, I felt I could not even associate with it out of principle – if I wanted to be seen as dark, mysterious, and against the normal, there was NO way I could be seen listening to anything mainstream. Socially during that age, it was basically outing oneself as a poser (being fake). Over time, despising something—like a type of music—out of that type of principle will actually start to make that same thing sound terrible no matter what. You become much more nitpicky, critical, and judgmental, making it easier and easier to dislike whatever is being focused on. With that in mind, I have years and years of experience learning how to hate every aspect of pop music of any kind. My best guess at the age in which I started gravitating towards heavier, darker, and more experimental music, and away from anything mainstream was about eleven or twelve years old, and being 25 and a half now it’s been over half of my life! Add on top of that the fact that one doesn’t really possess a fully developed musical preference during the earlier years, and the fact that I also picked up the guitar at twelve years old just adds to the growing passion away from mainstream during such a developmentally important period of anyone’s life (puberty). In over thirteen years of honing my musical ears and preference, very few “mainstream” bands have made it through my gauntlet of requirements for “good” or listenable music… and those are even hard to consider mainstream/pop. For instance, Minus the Bear is one of the more mainstream sounding bands that I have absolutely loved for years, but even they have their extremely experimental and esoteric moments (fun fact: the guitarist was previously the guitarist for an extreme metal band called Botch). Granted, I enjoy old, classic mainstream stuff like Michael Jackson, Journey, Earth, Wind and Fire, Yes, etc., as I definitely inherited some of my parents’ musical influences as a child. Plus it is basically objectively talented, catchy and “good” music that most, if not all, people enjoy.

So how did it happen? How did a blatant pop group break through my hardened, blackened heart—and EARS—after developing such a strong metal-music background for over half of my life (and all of my musical-life)? And a Korean pop group for that matter! I mean, if I have absolutely NO interest in pop music in which I can actually understand what is being said (in English), why would pop of a foreign language carry any more appeal? Being a Social Science college graduate, I know there are varying speculations into the appeal of a foreign language in this context, but I’ll lend some more insight into the exact process I went through.


When I was first introduced to Girls’ Generation (for those who don’t know, yet, SNSD = So Nyuh Shi Dae, or “Girls’ Generation” in Korean) I was shown the music video for “Gee” on YouTube. I truly had no idea what I was in store for; my cousin was the one introducing me to the girls, and he is notorious in my life for introducing me to new metal bands. As it started, I almost thought my cousin was showing me a joke or something like that, thinking he was just going to show me how over the top Asian pop was; but as the video progressed he was adding in little comments about their cuteness, dancing, attractiveness, etc., and I realized he wasn’t joking… so I paid closer attention and thought to myself, “Yeah, they’re definitely cute/attractive, and have cute dance moves, and it’s a catchy song… but why is he introducing me to pop?!” To my knowledge we both equally hated pop, so I was definitely confused. The video ended and we talked about it a little bit, coming to the cuteness consensus, but nothing much more came of that whole situation. It wasn’t until the next day or so, after my cousin had left, when the memory of that video came back into my head, but I couldn’t remember the group’s name or even the name of the song, but for whatever reason I wanted to watch it again, with wider eyes, so-to-speak.

Now, if there’s anyone out there thinking that simply developing a hatred for mainstream music just because one wants to be original, or anti-normal, is an easily broken filter, let me preface the remainder of this account by solidifying just how dark/black/negative my heart actually got at this point (being introduced to Girls’ Generation). Maybe a year prior to being introduced I was finally properly diagnosed with chronic depression—something that had gone undiagnosed and untreated for over thirteen years, as it developed at the same time I was going through puberty, and subsequently when I gravitated towards darker things. This unfortunately wasn’t diagnosed until I underwent very intense therapy after my father suddenly passed away at 53 years old (in 2008). So I’ve had this compounding depression for over half of my life, and then my father (we were really close) suddenly passed away, so I was virtually thrown back into my spiraling depression from back when I was around twelve years old, struggling with suicidal thoughts and tendencies every day. The only solace I received was finally being put on anti-depressant medication… and then nearly two years later, being introduced to Girls’ Generation.


Even writing something like that almost doesn’t make sense. Music has been my “happy place” since I started playing guitar at twelve; it has been my escape from negativity and has been a passion burning stronger every day… but no band/group has had such an overwhelming impact on me compared to Girls’ Generation. Experimental, avant-garde style guitar has always been the musical aspect to move and inspire me the most—artists like Don Ross, Animals as Leaders, Protest the Hero, Into the Moat—being that I am one of those lucky people born with the aptitude for guitar and ability to play by ear, so I have always been jumping from band to band, finding whomever can push my own ability. I taught myself to play, very quickly; this, again, is another reason why I shy away from mainstream music, because it’s usually so simple, and doesn’t push my musical abilities or boundaries at all. Let’s not forget to mention that I went to Musicians Institute in Hollywood and graduated the Recording Institute of Technology program, effectively making me a certified audio engineer. I want music to be my life, and I try to make that very apparent, even in the face of my nay-saying family, contending music isn’t financially viable and should be treated as a hobby.

Girls’ Generation is something special, something different from any group of musical artists I’ve ever experienced. The music is not what particularly speaks to me, although most of their songs are incredibly catchy and have some very interesting riffs and instrument utilization. It’s simply the girls. Obviously they have varying talent levels, but generally speaking they all have the voices of angels. My particular vocal favorites are “Day by Day” and SunYeon’s “It’s Love”: pure aural ecstasy! The Internet thankfully allowed me to continue my “research” of the girls beyond their “Gee” single that I was initially shown. Looking back, I probably took a quite logical and common approach, starting by checking to see if their other music videos/songs were as catchy as “Gee” (which at the time had somewhere around 21+ million views), which of course they were, followed by checking out their website and then subsequently finding the haven for international SONEs (hardcore international Girls’ Generation fans): Soshified. Every new thing I came across involving the girls would lead me to find something else that I loved about them… aside from their very apparent and obvious STUNNING beauty and angelic voices.


Being a fairly typical American (California born and bred), I initially had trouble differentiating the girls and telling them apart, and even thought to myself, how do people (mainly referring to the YouTube commenters) remember all of their names—there’s NINE of them! But before I even realized it, I knew all their names, could easily tell them apart by looking at them, and could even differentiate their voices on an audio-only track (no music video to actually see who’s singing). It became so easy because you start associating things you love about each separate girl, and those idiosyncrasies get engrained into your memory. For instance, as I ventured away from music videos and started checking out variety shows the girls appeared on, I started to notice Sunny’s aegyo (a nice esoteric term for us SONEs and Koreans) and was instantly won over by it, and have basically fallen madly in love with her with the more I learn about her. Also, as I watched all these varying things the girls participated in, I started to notice the little (or big) differences between American and Korean culture. Let me just come out and say that, yes, I have progressed onward from being an anarchist, but I am still someone that isn’t a particular fan of a lot of aspects of governmental involvement, and long story short I have subsequently become quite disenfranchised with a lot of American culture. Korean culture, displayed through the girls, was an absolute breath of fresh air. Take for instance, the fact that in America we put a lot of emphasis on being sexy in the entertainment industry, as opposed to a lot of the shows the girls have been on in which they nearly put cuteness up on a pedestal. I love that! Yes, sexiness is appealing, but when it comes down to it, most guys would want a cute girl for a girlfriend/wife as opposed to sexy. The ones who say differently are the ones who need a cute girl; they just don’t know it yet. Being in America all my life and being subjected to the blatant mainstream commercialism has made me shy away from sexy girls, as they have almost become annoying. Before Girls’ Generation, I thought the U.S. had cute girls… but we don’t hold a candle to ANY of the girls in Girls’ Generation! And by cute, I mean cute looking and being able to act cute—the girls are unmatched and without a doubt the queens of cuteness. And one of my favorite cultural examples would be Invincible Youth. Such a humbling and fantastic show! I’ve learned a lot from that show that I normally take for granted… like how tofu is made!? It was so humbling to see Sunny and Yuri, who are princesses and are normally treated as such, doing insane grunt work. I won’t spoil the show anymore; all I can say is it’s a must watch aspect of Girls’ Generation.


It’s almost as if this breath of fresh air came at the perfect time in my life… when I was experiencing such a relapsed negative outlook on life and humanity, especially after just losing my father. Fate? Ehh, this is already long enough without turning this philosophical.  But it’s not just the cuteness, their overwhelming beauty, and happy-sounding music that helped “Soshify” my blackened heart. Experiencing who these girls actually are, behind the scenes so-to-speak, opens one’s eyes to “purity”, “innocence”, and “humility”, and a myriad of other descriptions that one doesn’t normally experience in your everyday American. You think to yourself, they are better people than I am, and being around them, having them impact and influence me, would make me a better person. Even in the absence of their presence, they make you want to better yourself. One thing you learn fast in “researching” the girls is that they always look out for each other and truly care for each other. Maknae is an obvious example of a positive influence, as she is someone who would always be looking out for your health. Sunny would always be there to cheer you up. Taeyeon would be there to maintain the madness. All of them would be there to help you laugh, and feel warm and comfortable. There are so many things these girls exude through the screen that are nearly impossible to describe. You just feel so comfortable watching them, like you’ve known them for years and you’re just watching a home movie with your friends. And you always watch with a giant smile. Or occasionally even cry along with them. Yep, I’m a 25 year old guy who is outwardly admitting that I’ve cried along with the girls when they were sharing their stories, or inviting their moms along, etc. and I’m sure nearly every SONE can relate. They feel so much more real than any other group/band/artist than I have ever experienced. And it is that connection that is created through how and what these girls share with their fans that was such a breath of fresh air. They really indulge into their lives and personalities, even exposing themselves to brutal social situations amongst their members (i.e. a variety show in which they exchanged what they really thought about each other).


The bond that exists between these girls is a very impacting aspect as well; it trickles down to the fans and creates a very interesting, but cohesive, bond. I have never experienced strangers who will uninhibitedly reach out and indiscriminately befriend any fellow SONE. Most SONEs are honestly the nicest people I’ve ever “met.” This was another aspect to chip away at my hardened heart: it was just so heartwarming to see the compassionate effects that Girls’ Generation was inadvertently causing. It was and still is fascinating to me, hence the reason I felt inclined to document my own account of my Girls’ Generation experience. What is also very intriguing to me is the amount of obsession, from both genders. And the fact that both genders “spazz” about the same things. Like… body parts: legs, butts, s-lines, etc. It’s quite surprising at first to be swooning over how sexy one of the girls is… with a bunch of other random girls. However, what makes it even more intriguing is that these “swooners” are from all over the world and are of such a wide varying age range. And the obsessions run deep, as it very well does with me now.

I’ll give you an example of the serious impact the girls have had on me, where the obsession has taken me currently—I’m now to the point where I have mentally prepared myself to leave the U.S. to hopefully go work for SM Entertainment in Korea (or more specifically, work with the girls). I’ve uprooted my foundations and have started to teach myself Korean, which is surprisingly and thankfully easy! I hope to use my musical background and recording expertise, mixed with my passion for the girls and what they stand for, to get me to where I want to end up… which I guess would ideally be working live sound for their live performances, as that was probably my favorite class at Musicians Institute. However, any job working and interacting with the girls would be a dream come true.


More importantly than impacting my cultural ambitions, the girls have helped to bring me out of a dark and depressing hole, post-father’s passing. The girls fought the genetics I’ve been fighting with over half of my life and won! It sounds cheesy, but in actuality, it means the world to me. No matter what happens in my day, or in my head (which is much more dangerous), I have the solace of the girls. Knowing I can listen to the girls singing about “Kissing You”, while of course imagining they were singing it to/about me, or knowing I can go watch a SoshiSubbed video (that is until I learn Korean…shouldn’t take me too long!) and indulge more into their personalities will always serve as a ray of light to counteract any dark days or thoughts.

If you are someone like I was, reluctant to indulge into this girl group, I dare you to give them a “fair” chance; that is, do enough research on them to actually get to know a bit about the girls individually. If you don’t at least fall in love with ONE of them I will personally pay for your therapy, because you’d have some harsher demons to hash out than I did to be that negative and unreceptive. Even though they are a tight knit group of nine that can look slightly similar at times (especially Seohyun and Yuri, duh), they are without a doubt some of the most fascinating individuals on Earth. They are nothing like each other, and I can virtually guarantee you will fall for one of them in some way or another.

I believe it’s only a matter of time before Girls’ Generation is a household name… scratch that, each individual girl’s name will be a household name. This is a feminist movement disguised as a K-Pop band, and I’m all on board! Jump on board now before you miss being apart of this social revolution: cuteness and femininity are taking over! Thank Buddha!

Image Credits: withlovejess.com, LG, SMTOWN Facebook, Ellesse Spring, Invincible Youth, SM Entertainment
Written by: korie37@soshified
Edited by: bhost909@soshified, michaelroni@soshified

Have a news item that you think Soshified should know about? Leave us a tip or e-mail us at tip@soshified.com.
Follow us on Twitter: http://twitter.com/soshified for the latest on Girls’ Generation.