SM Entertainment had K-pop fans buzzing in January when the company unveiled the lineup for SM’s first all-female “supergroup,” dubbed “Girls on Top” (or “GOT” for short). Revealed during the entertainment company’s annual SMTOWN LIVE event, the new group launched with seven artists, representing some of the biggest acts on SM’s roster — including solo act BoA, Girls’ Generation’s Taeyeon and Hyoyeon, Seulgi and Wendy from Red Velvet, and Karina and Winter from Aespa.
Girls on Top debuted with the seven performers organized into a unit called “GOT the Beat;” SM says GOT will feature other artists and units that “rotate” in and out of the group in subsequent incarnations.
For now though, fans are embracing GOT the Beat, with the video for the group’s first single, “Step Back,” having amassed more than 65 million views since it was released on New Year’s Day. Subsequent clips of the girls at dance practice and launching their “Step Back challenge” have also gone viral, proving that this “supergroup” knowns no bounds when it comes to giving fans what they want — and making an impact.
Rolling Stone caught up with the girls to find out more about their formation, their adjustments to working with new group members and why the bond they’ve formed (and their new group chat!) is helping to bring out new “colors” that fans have never seen before.
Where were each of you when you found out you were in this group and how did you find out?
BoA: I knew that the company was planning the ‘Girls On Top’ project featuring only female artists. When I heard that I would be participating as a member of its first unit, ‘GOT the Beat’, I thought it would be an exciting and fun experience.
Hyoyeon: We had many conversations regarding this project and what kind of concept and song would go well with it. I was at home when I heard about GOT the Beat and I got excited as soon as I thought about performing with the girls.
Wendy: We all got to know about this project a long time ago. I don’t exactly remember where I was when I first heard about it, but I thought making a “debut” again as a new unit with other artists would be a very exciting and fun experience.
Seulgi: After SuperM was formed, I thought, ‘It would be fun to have a female supergroup as well.’ Since there are so many talented artists within the company, I thought a combination of female artists would be unique too. When the planning started to take shape, I was really surprised to hear that I would be joining as one of the members. I never imagined that BoA, Taeyeon, Hyoyeon, Seulgi, Wendy, Karina, and Winter would perform as one team. I think this was possible because it is SM. I was very proud to be a member of an amazing group but also nervous at the same time.
Why is this project so exciting and meaningful to you?
BoA: It’s truly a unique combination of members unlike any unit you’ve ever seen. It’s also a great opportunity to showcase each member’s unique charm and talent as well as the synergy we create when we’re together. The response we received from our fans was amazing, and I was grateful for all the love and support.
Seulgi: The most exciting part was the combination of the members. Everyone is incredibly talented! I wondered what kind of music and performance we would do together and thought maybe we could create something legendary that people would remember for a long time. I thought all this before we started preparing. Each member has an outstanding career as an artist, and to see these artists come together was exciting to both the fans and me. It’s a new kind of chemistry we share that people have never had a chance to see.
Karina: First of all, it’s an honor to be able to perform with such amazing artists. They have so much experience, and I still can’t believe that I performed with them and released a song together as one team! We each have our own unique color as an artist and come from different groups — so to be able to come together like this as one team was very exciting. I am happy to be a part of GOT the Beat.
Did you all know each other before? Aside from SMTOWN events, were any of you friends in real life?
Taeyeon: When I was young, BoA was a role model and inspired me to become an artist. I’m also close with Red Velvet and cherish them as good friends. Thanks to this project, I’ve also become much closer to Aespa!
Seulgi: Everyone is busy with their schedules, so it’s hard to get together unless we’re performing at a SMTOWN concert. This project allowed us to learn more about each other and has made us really close. We even created a group chat!
How would you say GOT the Beat is different from your other groups?
BoA: Since I’ve always performed as a solo artist, this was my first time working as a group and it’s been such a new and fun experience! It was all new for me to be in a studio and the waiting room filled with so many people and energy. Overall, it was a new experience for me to perform with other members. I had a great time!
Hyoyeon: For Girls’ Generation, the biggest age difference between the members is two years, so it felt like close friends performing together. For GOT the Beat, I’m with my childhood role model BoA as well as younger artists who grew up and pursued their dream watching Girls’ Generation perform. So naturally, I was motivated to do my best. I was nervous and excited at the same time.
Winter: With Aespa, it feels like we’re growing together, whereas with GOT the Beat, it feels like a big learning experience by performing with artists I’ve always looked up to.
What is everybody’s role in the group?
Wendy: It’s hard to exactly define everyone’s role as each one of us has a different color in terms of our voice and character. I would say when we work together as a team, we try to do our best in performing our individual parts and bring them together to create good harmony.
BoA, you have been in the industry for many years. What advice have you given the other girls?
BoA: Although I’m the most experienced member, I tried to lighten the mood to create a comfortable and friendly atmosphere rather than trying to give advice. We shared many conversations while spending time together and talked about how we felt after monitoring the performance. The members are all very talented, so I had a lot of fun preparing for this project.
Taeyeon and Hyoyeon, how has being in Girls on Top given you new excitement or motivation for your careers?
Hyoyeon: Girls On Top made me feel the rush and adrenaline that I felt when I was just beginning my career. From watching other members with so much energy, I felt the passion ignite in me.
Taeyeon: I think I’ve always had that “vocalist image” both as a member of Girls’ Generation and as a solo artist — but through GOT the Beat, I was able to showcase my performance skills [too], which was exciting for me.
Karina and Winter, what have you learned from the other girls in the group?
Karina: They shared tips with me on how to make the right facial expressions and gestures that help express the music on stage. I also learned so much from practicing with them, such as the detail of every move. Practicing with them reminded me of my trainee days when I was motivated by watching other peers perform. This helped me improve my skills — so in a similar way GOT the Beat members encouraged me to push myself to become a better artist. It was a great opportunity for me.
Winter: First, they all have much more experience than me, so everything from their performance skills and vocals to dance techniques was impressive and admirable. I was genuinely happy just to be able to perform on the same stage with artists who I’ve looked up to since I was young!
What can we expect from Girls on Top next?Taeyeon: GOT is a project featuring various combinations of members. You can expect new units with different members and a new style of music and performances!
Wendy: Just as many people were surprised by GOT the Beat’s debut and showed us much love, you can expect new music and performances that will continue to showcase our strong chemistry.
Karina: With so much love and support we received thus far, we hope to bring more incredible music and performances in the future.