What happens when Girls’ Generation becomes Ajummas’ Generation?

September 7, 2015
Red Velvet, a girl group likely to succeed S.M. Entertainment's Girls' Generation, poses at the 2015 Dream Concert at Seoul World Cup Stadium on May 23, 2015. (Yonhap)

Red Velvet, a girl group likely to succeed S.M. Entertainment’s Girls’ Generation, poses at the 2015 Dream Concert at Seoul World Cup Stadium on May 23, 2015. (Yonhap)

SEOUL (Yonhap) — Girl groups are like fashion. One day you’re in, the next day you’re out.

By that logic, Girls’ Generation has outlived people’s expectations, topping music charts, local or international, eight years after its debut.

But even the act once considered the most invincible is being dethroned — “Party,” GG’s first single after Jessica left, managed to lead Gaon Music Chart for only a week, an indication of a weakening fan base. “Lion Heart,” its fifth album, fared even worse, opening at No. 4.

In an apparent effort to prepare for the group’s inevitable downfall, S.M. Entertainment last year launched the five-member Red Velvet, whose youngest member is just 16 years old.

It’s not just S.M. DSP Media rolled out a new group for the first time in six years after Kara and RAINBOW last month. The six-member act April debuted with “Dreaming” on Aug. 24 and will likely benefit from the fan base its older sisters have cultivated.

“We feel a tremendous sense of responsibility as ‘the second Kara,’” Somin, one of April’s members, said. “We don’t want to tarnish their image.”

Somin is one of the two members who were chosen through the reality program “Kara Project: Kara The Beginning.”

April is the youngest girl group with an average age of 17.5. Its youngest member, Jinsol, is only 13.

Even on the boys’ side, BigBang will have its successor, a seven-piece act called iKon, later this month, YG Entertainment said. Two of its members, B.I and Bobby, have already appeared on Mnet’s popular rap competition program “Show Me The Money 3,” raising anticipation for its upcoming debut.

Star Empire, the agency that manages ZE:A, said its own follow-up, a boy band named Impact, will launch later this year.

Even though idol groups are costly — agencies spend up to 3 billion won (US$2.5 million) to nurture one — management agencies say the result is well worth the investment.

“Once an idol group takes off, it can raise an enormous amount of profit by performing both at home and abroad,” a head of an agency told Munhwa Ilbo, a local daily, on Aug. 27. “We make these bold investments to continue this virtuous cycle.”