Kick around this K-pop blogospere for long enough and you’ll eventually get to write about the return of a true legend. Forever 1 celebrates Girls’ Generation’s fifteenth anniversary – a huge milestone for any idol act. I know I’m not alone in counting the group among the most foundational forces that cemented my love for K-pop. It’s hard to be objective about them.
Forever 1 is a fan song on steroids, merging the sentimental nature of this comeback with euphoric dancefloor drive. Nods to the past are omnipresent, from the song’s early-10’s sound to a literal sampling of debut track Into The New World during the bridge. SM producer-extraordinaire Kenzie is in charge of the track, continuing a long-lasting partnership that began with that epic debut. I love the idea of legacy in pop music, and the power of this through-line buoys Forever 1’s appeal.
As a pop song, this is right up my alley. I’ve missed these kind of maximalist, energy-turned-up-to-eleven tracks in K-pop. Girls’ Generation could’ve gone the typical ballad route or opted for something more subtle and sexier in tone. Instead, Forever 1 lays all its cards on the table. This is in-your-face, celebratory pop music. It’s a little treacly and definitely on the nose, but it’s also anchored by an appealing melody, driving energy and mammoth chorus.
The fizzy electro texture recalls hits by early-10’s peers Icona Pop, minus any hint of their grit. It’s a candy-coated, shout-along hook, urging listeners to remove their critical hat and surrender to the rush of emotion. With this in mind, Forever 1 arrives as an exclamation mark on the group’s legacy. It may not be as definitive as their best singles, but I’m more than pleased with the sentiment. It’s time to turn the volume all the way up and join them in their well-deserved victory lap.