K-Pop Music Reviews: Girls’ Generation – Gee

Title: Gee

Release Year: 2009


Dear Seohyun, Taeyeon, Tiffany, Yuri, Sunny, Sooyoung, Yoona, Hyoyeon, and Jessica,

Please forgive me for what I am about to do.

NOTE: This isn’t the official music video. For some reason, it wouldn’t embed properly. Please support the girls and also watch their official video HERE.


Even if you’re completely unfamiliar with K-Pop…even if you’ve never even heard of Girls’ Generation…if you have a Korean friend, you’ve probably heard this before. It’s one of the things that come with the territory, along with Starcraft and kimchi.

Girls’ Generation, also known as SNSD (the English acronym for their Korean name – So Nyuh Shi Dae), is a 9-member (!) girl group that was formed in 2007 under SM Entertainment. You might know them from my H.O.T. – Candy review, or from my TVXQ – Keep Your Head Down review.

As I said above, the 9 girls are: Seohyun (real name Seo Joohyun), Kim Taeyeon, Tiffany (real name Stephanie Hwang), Kwon Yuri, Sunny (real name Park Sunkyu), Choi Sooyoung, Im Yoona, Kim Hyoyeon, and Jessica (real name Jessica Jung).

L-R: Tiffany, Sunny, Taeyeon, Yuri, Yoona, Seohyun, Jessica, Hyoyeon, and Sooyoung

They are affectionately known as “The Nation’s Girl Group” and enjoy an incredible amount of popularity in South Korea. They were only the third artist in history to win the country’s most prestigious music award – the Seoul Music Awards Daesang – for two years running.

Everything they touch turns into gold; their most recent album, “Hoot”, instantly rushed to the top of the charts and stayed there for a good two months, even though it is a thoroughly mediocre song.

In fact, most of SNSD’s music are mediocre songs.

Yes, I said it.

I'll go ahead and put one of these on now.

Let me just make this clear: I am a HUGE Girls’ Generation fan. I really am. That list of the girls’ names up there? I wrote them down in about five seconds, I sh*t you not. I love all of them for their unique personalities, their ability to always bring a smile to my face, and the way they inspire me to work harder and strive for my goals.

There are many things that I love about Girls’ Generation.

Their singing is not one of them.

Yes, a few of them can and do sing. Taeyeon, for instance, has a lovely voice that’s on par with some of the best I’ve heard. Tiffany’s voice is deliciously throaty. Jessica’s voice…well, she has her proponents. And Seohyun’s singing abilities are going up day by day.

But…(counts on fingers) that’s 4. And there are 9 members.

Are you telling me that…the other 5 members can’t sing??

Well…no. They all sing. Just not at the level that you’d expect them to, for a supposed “Nation’s Girl Group”. Have you ever heard Hyoyeon or Yoona try to sing something even remotely taxing? It’s like listening to a sea lion try to sing “Thriller” while overindulging on helium and down with a nasty case of the sniffles.

Which brings me to “Gee”.

There’s one good thing I can say about this song, and that is that it only lasts for slightly more than 3 minutes if you take out the intro at the beginning.

Sorry, Jessica.

Yeah. I don’t like the song. Not one bit. To me, it represents everything that’s wrong with the music industry. Faux cheerful, bubbly tunes, a style that is neither electronica nor bubblegum and just stands around awkwardly in the middle, lyrics that don’t have even an iota of poetry to them, and a chorus that sounds like it was manufactured in an assembly line at a chorus-making factory somewhere.

Put simply, it grates on your nerves. In a very. big. way. It’s like the K-Pop edition of “It’s a Small World” – it’s the same cheerful tune that has one goal and one goal only: to imprint itself into your brain and never let go.

Unfortunately, I have something called a conscience. It can get pretty annoying at times. But it’s there, so I fired up iTunes and gave the song a listen again, to catch the instrumental.

And I have to say, minus the voices, the instrumental arrangement is pretty sweet.

Don't worry, Seohyun. Happy thoughts. It gets better from here.

It’s very subtle, but if you listen to the instrumental version carefully, it’s actually quite a complicated arrangement. It starts out simple: steady drum beat, a few electronic chords here and there, some digitally enhanced sounds thrown in for good measure.

By the end of the song, the drum beat has fleshed itself out into a full-on bang-bang background track, and the the electronica has been enhanced, built upon its simple origins into something that, surprisingly, sounds good.

So, “Gee” has thankfully avoided the ignominy of getting 0 out of 5 stars.

Do that a few more times and I just might push it up one more star.

However, it’s still not a good song. Or even a decent one, for that matter. Not even close.

2 out of 5 stars.

Don’t look at me like that. It won’t work…

 

2.5 out of 5 stars.

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