Review

Song Review: Girls’ Generation (SNSD) – Forever 1

Girls' Generation - Forever 1Kick 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.

 Hooks 8
 Production 9
 Longevity 9
 Bias 10
 RATING 9

67 thoughts on “Song Review: Girls’ Generation (SNSD) – Forever 1

  1. Aw, this review warms my heart. I had the exact same feelings– almost too sweet, but still perfect. I enjoyed the song immensely and the chorus puts a huge, dopey smile on my face. SNSD is my forever love and this comeback really is something to behold.

    The rest of album is surprisingly good as well! I think it’s much more fun than Holiday Night and has a lot of personality (everyone’s flipping over “Villain” but the frenetic, glitchy “You Better Run” really grabbed my attention, especially coming from SNSD).

    Liked by 2 people

  2. My thoughts, in order:
    1) Holy white noise, Batman!
    2) I love monkey!
    3) I know we don’t usually comment on visuals, but these ladies all look like they could use a sandwich.

    As for the song itself, yeah this is the kind of song that groups that have had a hiatus and come back a few years later put out.

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      • Oh come on, the wording was a bit blunt, but you know what they meant. “Wow, these women in their late 20s/early 30s have bodies that look more like they’ve been enforced to look good on a camera lens than would be comfortable than most people. Hopefully they’re doing all right.”

        I get some people would prefer there be no mention of bodies in media at all, and I generally don’t bring it up. But dieting is a huge part of the culture, so of course it’ll come up in discussion.

        Liked by 4 people

        • Yes. The expected conformity to be pin thin in kpop is insane for both girls and guys. There are still so many regular articles on junky kpop sites about how so-and-so ate only one apple, a sweet potato and a glass of milk every day for a week to lose weight before promotions, as if that is a good thing to do.

          Liked by 4 people

          • At least most SNSD fans understand that idols’ weights aren’t just their own choices and that they get pushed to be underweight to maintain careers as celebrities and not an endorsement for long term health or a standard to replicate. Partake in K-Pop long enough or be over 25 or so and it’s pretty damn obvious. The sad thing is that most of the members have actually gained quite a bit of weight and muscle tone (Yoona and Sooyoung come to mind for specific examples). I’m hoping that even just a few young fans realize that NO ONE is “naturally thin” to the point idols are without deprivation, help from someone like me or a plastic surgeon, and/or an underlying health condition. Now people have seemingly moved on from justifying how underweight SNSD members were to Blackpink, especially Rosé and Lisa.

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  3. this is my favorite song of 2022, hands down. sorry chiquita, cyberpunk, and nonstop, you’ve officially all been dethroned

    seeing as how snsd are my ults, i fully expected to enjoy this song, but didn’t expect it to absolutely knock it off my socks. the year has been very short on memorable hooks and production, but this might be a new signal for great songs to come

    the chorus is one of the most satisfying ones i’ve ever heard, with its sm-trademarked layered vocals and soaring melody. as for the instrumental, it’s absolutely perfect, with its over-the-top dance-pop sound and blazing synths and bass. i’m not sure which song i’m reminded of, but it’s definitely pointing to kim petras’ 2021 hit “future starts now.” its peak kpop, and is quite possibly up there with my favorite snsd songs ever

    hooks: 10
    production: 10
    longevity: 9
    bias: 10

    rating: 9.75/10

    i only gave longevity a 9 because i’m too hesitant to give the song an instant 10, but i suspect it’s gonna age super well in the future

    Liked by 1 person

  4. it’s so nice to have this big euphoric pop sound back on the scene, and who better to do it than the queens of kpop? every member sounds and looks amazing, and the song just feels great to listen to. A+ all around.

    the whole album is strong, but you better run is insane. it almost sounds like a st. Vincent song, with the super distorted synth/guitar licks.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Once I heard it I knew you would like it haha. I love it too but if I compare it to TWICE’s recent anniversay song (it’ll be a while before they can make one for their 15th!!) I give that one the edge, although there isn’t much between both songs in terms of greatness for me. That’s probably because you’re more of a Girls’ Generation fan while I’m clearly a TWICE fan. What would we be without some bias 😉 Either way, both songs already have a happy place on my playlist 😛 Girls’ Generation still making music together after 15 years is great and this is a wonderful song for their celebration. I hope TWICE will follow their example 🙂 There are some really good songs on the album as well. I just listened to it once but I’ll come back to it for sure.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Yeah, I love it. If the worst thing I can point out about this track is its undeniable cheesiness and overt fanservice, then I think they knocked it out of the park all things considered lol.

    Most are gonna be caught up in the nostalgia of it all and I think it’s perfectly valid in this instance. I can’t really imagine a track doubling as both a long-awaited comeback *and* an anniversary single sounding like anything else to be honest 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Literally the only group that can have me up at 5 am, waiting for (and then rocking out to) their new song. A part of me checked the site to see if Nick was also up getting the review in early lol….

    I love this song so much, it makes me so emotional and feels super comforting too. They were my first kpop group back in 2011, so their celebration also feels like a reminder of how far, I’ve come aswell. It’s a fan song that actually makes me feel something. It’s inspiring almost just because of the feat they’re back for.

    The album is great too and everyone sounds so good.

    We probably won’t hear from them soon after these promotions are over, so if anyone knows any variety appearances they’re making let me know.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Just here to say that this is pretty great, yeah. This isn’t a patch on their absolute best work and I do sometimes think it would be a little better in a slightly less strident key, but this is pretty great.

    I’m going to try to listen to the album at some point today, but I am also incredibly sleep-deprived and have a mounting to-do list, as I am chasing some deadlines. Hoping I don’t pass the fuck out later, lol.

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  9. I’ve been missing maximalist dance bops like this in k-pop for a long time. And now, I hear this masterpiece. This song is so heart-warming that I have no words to describe how great it is.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I really love the chorus of the song, but honestly, that is really the only part that sticks to me. The verses don’t really draw me in. I’ll give this a day or two for me to settle my thoughts because I’m not too sure how I feel about the song as a whole, despite the chorus being really great. Perhaps the fact that the nostalgia factor does not really apply to me because I wasn’t a K-pop fan when they were still active, even though through this blog, I have been introduced to their discography.

    As I said, I’ll let it sink it for a while, listen to it when I have some sleep. (its 12 AM in my area)

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  11. i think this song is a testament to snsd’s longevity and greatness. it’s a celebration of a true legend in the scene, the mother of all girl groups, and i love it with all my heart.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I’m really happy to see them together again as a full group, but I’m not sure how I feel about this song. It kinda sounds like one of those Produce 101 “pick me” songs, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but SNSD is a 15 year old group, I mean… come on…

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    • This is a sound they pioneered. Of course they’d revel in it for their anniversary. Is there an album song you would’ve preferred they made the title track? What did you want from the comeback?

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      • Wdym “of course”? Holiday Night was also an anniversary comeback and sounded nothing like this lol
        About the album, Forever 1 is actually the only song I didn

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        • They took a very similar approach with Holiday night. Holiday also had a sound that could’ve easily been written off as generic, but again was a style that SNSD pioneered. This album doesn’t have double title tracks so there isn’t an all-night equivalent.

          I definitely see how the chorus could be unappealing. it is rather high.

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          • Okay… I have to both agree and respectfully disagree. This is DEFINITELY the core sound that SNSD made their bread and butter with, but I can also see how many newer K-Pop fans might be completely lost in that regard. If you look at any of SNSD’s major releases since the time period many K-Pop fans consider 3rd gen and beyond (so 2012/2014 – 2021ish), most of them stray from their core sound OR reinterpret it by weaving the bubblegum pop of their early releases with new genres. (I’m going to try to make paragraphs, but it almost always condenses them when I hit send, so sorry if the format winds up being weird!)…

            -2012 gave us The Boys (which was definitely a departure from their earlier sound) and Dancing Queen, which has more of a funk instrumental and keeps their vocals a bit lower and jazzy.
            -2013 was IGAB… I don’t think more needs to be said about that! 😹
            -2014 was the year of Mr Mr (which to me had the most similar vocal line to their older and album songs, especially the pre chorus and chorus along with the key change) but it definitely had a very heavy EDM, electropop and R&B feel.
            -2015 gave Catch Me If You Can (again, another no brained), Party, which is probably their most generic title track, in my opinion… it really could have gone to any group as a “summer song” and missed their core sound. Then Lion Heart wound up being a bit too retro to be familiar? I think they did a good job with it, but it doesn’t scream “SNSD” to me.
            2017 – All Night.. not much to say here other than SNSD hit the retro trend about 3 -4 years earlier than most other groups. Finally, Holiday. I think this is the closest they came to core sound since 2012 with the exception (for me) of Mr. Mr.

            If that’s all you have to go on and have become accustomed to the more BP or ITZY type songs (or the polar opposite dial our sound back groups like IVE and NewJeans), I can see why people would be confused about Forever 1 as a title track. I also think expectation wise, a lot of people, especially the newer fans, were probably expecting an extension of their more “mature” sound and visuals from Oh!GG. Considering it’s the full group and not the Oh!GG unit, it beats me why they would think SNSD wouldn’t go back to their core sound for a 15th reunion. God forbid that women in their 30s might still want to have fun with a song and deliver a song their longtime fans can appreciate! 🙄

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  13. Oops I sent it accidentaly LMAO, so…

    Wdym “of course”? Holiday Night was also an anniversary comeback and sounded nothing like this lol
    About the album, Forever 1 is actually the only song I didn’t like. I’m just not a big fan of the ultra high pitched chorus, that’s all.

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  14. I like the title track fine. I think it will have to grow on me.
    But I really like the track You Better Run – it’s like too-many-notes jazz-fusion filtered through a Kpop lens that makes it much, much better.

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  15. Love it! Amazingly strong verses and a chorus that grow ls with repeated listens.

    I hear the Icona Pop influence for sure (still the best song Charli Xcx has written)…I’m also hearing a little similarity to Brave Girls Chit mat ba ran in the verses vocal melody…

    me thinks- Girls Generation is the most important kpop group of all time.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Lovely lyrics, cheerful beat, but the production on the voices makes it sound almost chipmunky. Will sound way better live because we all know these girls can actually sing. Can’t wait for the live version! Unless it’s purely the effect of my shitty speakers in which case apologies and welcome back to the queens.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nope, the vocal production is definitely odd. After more listens, I haven’t quite decided what I think about it. It feels especially jarring when you move to track two, which opens with such classic SNSD vocal color.

      Liked by 2 people

  17. it’s a very early 2010s’ sound (it reminds of charli xcx production for icona pop and “i love it!”).
    very nostalgic, great mv (the aesthetic is very nowadays twice’s mvs and that makes me happy since snsd paved the way for them).
    idk but why but i didn’t feel so excited now that it droped… maybe i was waiting for something more ‘epic’? maybe… i’m satisfied and that’s a good song. but it didn’t feel like the right approach after a long wait. it’s cute but that’s it.

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    • My sentiments exactly. I get that it’s their 15th year anniversary and they feel the need for it to feel festive, celebratory and we got all of that but maybe I was expecting a little more ‘villain’ and a little less ‘gee’? The title track is a little cutesy if I’m being honest. But having said that I liked the rest of the tracks with the title track being my least favourite. The rest of the tracks are what I expected from a 15 yr old group. More sensuality, vocal maturity, while maintaining the charms of snsd. All in all the album is still a 9/10 for me. Welcome back, queens.

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      • i need to listen to the full album asap – i heard a lot of positive comments about it. honestly it would be nice to have something like ‘you better run’ as a double title… but i guess that would be too much since they’re overworked just with one song + their personal schedules. the comeback stage will surely warm me up – sm better put some money in the promotions!

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  18. I looooove this song! Thank you SNSD! I don’t know but this gives me Into the New World vibes, just sounds happy and hopeful! I’m glad they went for this style rather than too sexy/mature.

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  19. I am so curious as to your thoughts about this album as a whole. I think that there are a lot of strong B-sides!
    I’m really liking this, single too. I was scared that SM would give us a generic anniversary song, but they really seemed to have pulled out all the stops for this comeback!

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  20. This comeback is all over the place. Here a giant squid monster, there a chorus on a cruise ship with CGI palm trees, even an (unintentional?) lyrical shout-out to Jessica’s recent novel basically dunking on the group. The chorus isn’t objectionable, though I’m finding it shout-y and cheesy in a Sinatra “I Love You Baby” sort of way. There are a lot of people in this group with very distinct singing voices.

    Sorry for the unfamiliar-sounding comments; SNSD’s peak era was before I got into kpop.

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    • I keep hearing “I Love you baby” as well aka “Can’t take my eyes off of you”. A million people have covered it, but the original was Frankie Valli.

      Liked by 1 person

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