A Death, a Resurrection: the Demise of Girls’ Generation and the Return of The Pussycat Dolls
As anyone who’s ever committed their time, love, attention and, most of all, money to a girl group should know by now, the relationship is a fleeting one: be it the result of inflated egos, contract disputes or diminishing chart returns, most girl groups suffer from turbulence…or just a sudden, awful crash and burn.
Take the revolving door member roster of the Sugababes, the macaroni-strewn food fight that ended 3LW, or Geraldine Horner née Halliwell‘s most infamous departure from The Spice Girls (the root of abandonment issues found in all millennial girl group fans): these troupes are but fleeting pop wonders – dreams that glitter until they don’t anymore.
This week, already, is starting off with a bittersweet bang.
First, the bad – the very, very sad: three of the members of one of South Korea’s most iconic girl groups, Girls’ Generation – Tiffany, Sooyoung and Seohyun – have opted not to renew their contracts with S.M. Entertainment in order to pursue their dreams of acting instead, thus forever altering the group’s line-up. (Yes, #JusticeForJessica – but her exit happened over three years ago.)
The label insists that the Girls’ Generation brand isn’t going away. Taeyeon, YoonA, Hyoyeon, Yuri, and Sunny all did re-up their contracts with the agency, after all. And, to be fair, it’s very possible that the group will go on as a five-piece unit. Just look at what they’ve done with TVXQ: down from five to two, yet still preparing for yet another comeback.
That being said, the downfall of SNSD as we (mostly) know them represents a huge loss for the K-Pop community.
With a full decade under their sequined belts since their 2007 debut, they’re veterans in a game that’s notoriously short-lived. During their imperial phase in the late ’00s to early ’10s, GG were considered untouchable, credited for the resurgence of female idol popularity in South Korea, earning dozens of awards with smashes like “Gee,” “Run Devil Run,” “The Boys” and “I Got A Boy” and breaking records at a time when K-Pop was way more of a foreign concept to Western audiences than it is today.
Hell, they even performed on David Letterman.
The upside, if loyal Sones are desperate to find a silver lining, is that the split appears to be completely amicable. (Yes, one’s first impulse might be to pull a Tyra Banks – WE WERE ALL ROOTING FOR YOU, TIFFANY – but the grown response should be to let these ladies pursue their passions. Just scream into a pillow in the meantime.)
And at a time when equally beloved troupes are fading at record speed – 2NE1, Sistar, T-ara, the list goes on – and just after their 10th anniversary album Holiday Night (which felt entirely like closure rather than a new beginning, let’s be real with ourselves), it’s not all that surprising that we’ve landed here.
But then again, there’s always the glimmer of hope of another comeback.
It doesn’t always happen – and rarer still is when it’s actually executed well – but the return of a girl group is becoming almost as inevitable as their demise. Just look at Bananarama: reforming in their original line-up nearly three decades later. (Get ready for the Girls Aloud reunion in 2043.)
One group’s now ready to rev up the nostalgia machine: The Pussycat Dolls are officially plotting their official return.
Granted, PCD was always a unique and sexy beast: the brainchild of Robin Antin, the burlesque troupe was solely a live dancing squad – at first. But due to mega-popularity in pop culture, and plenty of guest stars in their LA revues, Antin finagled a deal with Interscope to turn them into jealousy-inducing, button-pushing, beep-flaunting sleek pop products.
It was also no secret that the music was mostly centered solely around Nicole Scherzinger – barring the few occasions when rebel warrior Melody Thornton went rogue and did an extended run or two during a live show.
After a string of hits in the mid-to-late ’00s, the troupe ultimately toppled due to rising tensions as the leading Doll decided to finally feel the full Beyoncé fantasy. (She did vaguely stay in the group for a while, which was unsubtly renamed The Pussycat Dolls Featuring Nicole Scherzinger – it didn’t go over well with Melody.)
Scherzy’s scattered solo moves resulted in some major blessings for fellow flop aficionados: from chart-bottoming debut banger “Whatever U Like” (Her Name Is Nicole is still listed on Amazon – get ready for it!), to shattering a young girl’s dreams live on national television, to running to Europe to get everyone wet and breathless with her puakenikeni. The rest of the girls embarked on solo projects and got their own shine in time, too.
Even with a whole lotta history, the squabbles of the past seem not so bad in retrospect. That’s where we retreat when the going gets tough, right? The good times! And apparently, it’s time once again to dust off that PCD workout DVD.
Will time be kind to PCD in 2017? Will we remain just as jealous that our girlfriends (now likely wives) aren’t nearly as hot, freaky or raw as them? Will peak TMZ-era fame thirst anthem “When I Grow Up” just sound a bit desperate a decade later? Will we still want to have groupies (boobies)? Can Kimberly Wyatt still do the mid-air leg split?
Admittedly, it’s hard to fathom that the group will make sense at a time when their brand of come-hither, hyper-sexualized seducto-pop is most definitely not what’s popping right now. That is, unless they’re planning to reinvent themselves and start singing trop-pop-infused self-empowerment anthems about being relatable and perfectly imperfect with features from Alessia Cara and Hailee Steinfeld. Actually, let’s not even put that into the universe.
Still, the idea of Scherzy & Co. taking to the stage in any capacity in the next year is simply too delicious to disregard. They’ll inevitably have to do interviews together where they delve deep into the drama. And it’s not as though they weren’t consistently serving up incredible dance breaks and solid pop bops during their all-too-brief reign. (Take, for example, album track “Elevator” penned by industry unknown Stefani Germanotta.)
All we can do is wait (a minute) and see.
If this week reinforces anything, it’s the Buddhist mindset: in life, all things are impermanent. Attachment leads to suffering. And Nicole Prescovia Elikolani Valiente Scherzinger will never be stopped.