Flashback Friday: Girls' generation - Gee | The song that started it all

Flashback Friday: Girls' generation - Gee | Random J Pop

With the Hallyu wave in its fullest effect with BTS and BLACKPINK officially having made it in the US, I wanted to take it back to a song that played a part in starting it all and paving the way. Girls' generation's "Gee".

"Gee" not only changed the course of Girls' generation's career, but put K-Pop on the map in a way that no song had really done before. Girls' generation were 2 years deep into their career (which is like dog years in K-Pop) when "Gee" came out and K-Pop had been around since as far back as the 1920s. But both felt as thought they were brand new and came out of nowhere when "Gee" came around. Even though I was aware of the existence of K-Pop with Se7en and BoA.

I honestly cannot remember how I even came across "Gee". I just knew the moment I heard it that I liked it and that I wanted more of it. And then my descent into K-Pop began. I'd also follow Girls' generation as a result, because OBVIOUSLY. Even though I'd spend much of my time dragging the girls for failing to keep in time with each other, wonder why a group with hundreds of members are only giving me 4-part harmonies, and share my concerns over whether Sooyoung was being fed.

For those who hadn't ever heard K-Pop before nor seen a K-Pop music video, "Gee" was the perfect introductory gateway. K-Pop didn't have anything amazingly distinguishable about it, language aside, which made it easy to 'get', even if you couldn't understand a damn word of what was being sung. Something which mattered not, because a trait of K-Pop as with any good Pop, was that there was a catchy melody.

K-Pop grew into what we know it to be now in terms of its sound and visual aesthetic, but that wasn't always what it was.

The success of "Gee" helped establish a template that SM would stick to when it came to Girls' generation. A template that worked wonders for the follow up "Tell me your wish (Genie)", but one that everybody would start to get a bit tired of by the time "Oh!" rolled around.

A large part of "Gee"'s breakout success was that it embraced what Pop in the West was working hard to emancipate itself from. Pop being cute, bubbly and fun wasn't cool anymore. It didn't sell records the way it used to. So Pop in the US and Europe became far more edgy and Pop acts were crossing over into other genres which were deemed more 'credible'. "Gee" being bubblegum as fuck and sticking to what Pop elsewhere was trying to move away from is what made it feel so refreshing to me. It's unashamed approach gave it conviction. But "Gee" was also just a really fucking good song. 'A good song' is something that many artists, record labels, songwriters and producers seemed to forget about in their pursuit of trying to estrange themselves from Pop. It doesn't matter which style of music you jump ship to, if the music is garbage and the song is bad, then it's bad. Genres and sound types do not define a good song. "Gee" was proof that in 2009, that Pop could still be fun, likeable and give us something great.

"Gee" was wholly unaffected by what was happening outside of K-Pop. But the worldwide exposure that it drew to not only Girls generation, but K-Pop would in turn influence them both to become far more Western leaning to cater to the new audience that they'd acquired. And now K-Pop is what it is.

Girls' generation are effectively in limbo right now. But "Gee" remains a Girls' generation classic and it's stood the test of time.

Chile, that wobbly bassline makes me back go every single time.

I'd give ya'll a link to the song on streaming services, but foolishly, SM entertainment do not have the Korean version of it available. Straight-up blasphemy. Here I am talking about the impact that "Gee" has had on K-Pop, meanwhile SM clearly don't see it. Only the Japanese version is available on streaming at time of writing. I don't acknowledge that one and you shouldn't either.