I’d like to dedicate this space on my blog to express my thanks to 2NE1. Regardless of whether or not my readers are familiar with this group or K-Pop, I think this post is worth the read because it showcases how music can transcend borders to not only entertain people, but to also positively change and unify people.
Synopsis: Just when Thanksgiving comes around, my favorite K-Pop group disbands. This unexpected turn of events led me and other fans to reflect on how much we’re thankful for that group.
I woke up this morning checking my newsfeed as usual. To my surprise, I saw 2NE1 as one of the trending topics. I immediately thought that 2NE1, my all-time favorite K-Pop group, was going to have their first comeback as a trio instead of a quartet (since one of their members, Minzy, announced her departure in April).
I was extremely nervous-excited for the remaining group members – CL, Dara, and Bom.
Deep down, I believed that they were going to dominate the music world again while remaining faithful friends to each other (especially to Minzy). Throughout their career, they have never failed to wow the world with their experimenting of multiple genres and styles. Their most recent album, Crush (2014), received high rankings by the Rolling Stone, Billboard, and other music reviewers. In the past, their group-anthem, “I Am the Best,” topped the charts in America, France, Japan, South Korea, and other countries worldwide.
For the most part, I was nervous because some of K-Pop’s most popular and dynamic groups – Girls’ Generation, Super Junior, Wonder Girls, etc. – have been receiving negative criticisms for either dropping or letting go of their members. On top of that, the companies that manage those groups are so focused on forming new groups that they often neglect the very groups that made them household names in South Korea.
Speaking of new K-Pop groups, I remembered how the managing company of 2NE1 – YG Entertainment – formed a group that was meant to be the “New 2NE1” – Blackpink. I have no idea what YG was thinking when it formed that group because it’s nothing compared to 2NE1. One of the major differences between the groups is that Blackpink consists of members that meet South Korea’s beauty standards, while 2NE1 challenges them by defining their own beauty standards.
When I witnessed the 2016 debut of Blackpink through the release of their music videos “Boombayah” and “Whistle” on YouTube, I was shocked to see how quickly they became internet popular. When I discovered 2NE1 back in 2010, their coinciding debut music videos – “Fire (Space Ver.)” and “Fire (Street Ver.)” – received more than two million views a couple of weeks after their release. On the other hand, Blackpink’s coinciding debut music videos received more than ten million views within the first five days of their release.
“If Blackpink can successfully amass a fanbase that quickly, then what’s the use of keeping 2NE1 around? Plus, Blackpink is more physically attractive than 2NE1.” That’s most likely what YG is thinking, and that was what clouded my mind despite how much I detested that thought.
With just a click on the trending topic “2NE1” on my news dashboard, I discovered the inevitable: 2NE1 disbanded.
I opened my Twitter to confirm the heartbreaking news.
I saw the trending hashtag #ThankYou2NE1.
After reading the tweets with the hashtag, my heart and lungs normalized themselves. Even though all the BlackJacks (2NE1 fans) felt heartbroken like me, they expressed their thanks for the group and wished them continuing happiness. There was no reason to feel depressed when 2NE1 left the music world as legends.
I’d like to dedicate this space on my blog to express my thanks to 2NE1. The following contents is an approximate chronology of my BlackJack-experience.
“Fire (Space Ver.)”
This was the first 2NE1 music video that I saw. Funny story: My childhood friend wanted to search for “Fireflies” by Owl City on YouTube, but accidentally searched “Fire” instead. After we listened to the song together, she asked me if the song is in Japanese, since I was studying Japanese in middle school in 2009. I told her no and that I had no idea what language the song is in. The song was so cool that I decided to keep a mental-note of it.
(They were the first K-Pop group I ever listened to. Before them, I was actually listening to a Korean singer named BoA. At the time, I was only listening to her English and Japanese songs, not knowing that she has K-Pop songs and that she is Korean.)
“Fire (Space Ver.)”
Long after I saw “Fire (Space Ver.),” I decided to look up the song again only to find this alternate music video in the related search results. I was highly confused as to why the song had multiple music videos, since I didn’t know of any other singers who also did that. After watching the street version, I became highly addicted to the space version and Asian music in general.
(Little did I notice G-Dragon from the K-Pop group BIGBANG cameo’d in this music video, since I didn’t know who either of them were yet.)
“I Don’t Care”
To add to my confusion about the group is this music video. After many long nights of dancing my ass off to “Fire (Space Ver.),” I came across this R&B song. It took me the entire length of the music video plus an extra minute just to realize that this is the same girl group that sings my favorite kick-ass dance song.
(As time passed by, I grew to appreciate the song’s simple yet puissant message: girls can live independently from guys.)
This song seemed okay, but I jammed along to it anyways.
(This was my first BIGBANG music video. I had no idea who they were until a couple of years later. Also, I had no idea that this was a music video to advertise a cellphone called “Lollipop” until many clicks later.)
“(Try To) Follow Me”
Yay, another energetic song by 2NE1! It was time for me to start locking my bedroom door so that I can copy their dance moves in private.
(Honestly, I wasn’t that into dance songs until I discovered BoA and 2NE1.)
“Clap Your Hands”
“I didn’t know that they did hip-hop,” said the innocent me that had no idea that all of their songs are actually hip-hop based and never paid much attention to hip-hop music.
(I was used to hearing hip-hop music in my school bus, but it would just bypass my brain after going through my ears.)
It was around this time that I started to listen to 2NE1 more than J-Pop singers.
(I originally encouraged myself to listen J-Pop because, as I mentioned earlier, I was learning Japanese in middle school.)
(I still didn’t know that 2NE1 is a Korean group, but I continued to listen to their music without trying to understand the lyrics.)
I honestly didn’t like this song the first time I heard it. CL’s extremely autotuned voice make me cringe. But after a while, the song grew on me, and I began to believe that these girls were savage because of the taunting English lyrics and the music video’s ending.
Moreover, as I kept replaying 2NE1’s music videos, I grew to appreciate these reoccuring messages: girl power, self-care, self-awareness, and inner beauty.
No lie: I literally saw the premiere of this music video. I was mindblown by the visuals, music, and dance in that order. 2NE1’s distinguishable artistic-style set them apart from all the “kawaii” (“cute”) Japanese singers that I knew, as well as made them fierce! After discovering “Fire (Space Ver.)” a little less than a year ago, I officially become a BlackJack.
(This was the first time I ever associated myself with a music fandom.)
(I immediately showed this music video to the friend that showed me “Fire (Space Ver.).” She, too, instantly loved that video.)
It was good for my dancing body to take a break from 2NE1’s dance songs. After listening to this song, I no longer felt confused by how the group jumped from genre to genre. Instead, I was highly amused and convinced that they can sing any kind of music. I also realized that I had never listened to Asian female singers sing various genres before; most of the Asian female singers I knew of seemed restricted to singing cute, anime-sounding songs while non-Asian female singers were free to sing whatever genre suits their voice. It did not matter if 2NE1 had “the voice” to sing the genres mixed in their songs because they wanted to display their true artistry and timeless, diverse human thoughts and feelings.
I was surprised to hear Bom sing solo. I found it odd how such a sad song can sound so upbeat. Eventually, this song as well as 2NE1’s upbeat sad songs hold a special place in my heart.
Whoa, another solo song by one of 2NE1’s members, Dara. This video was where her beauty radiated and captivated me. She became the first 2NE1 member that I researched and fell in love with. Even though she isn’t Filipino, her “pinay-pride” (love for the country where the foundations of her fame were established) despite her initial mistreatment made me appreciate her cultural openness, as well as strive to become someone who is both accepting and understanding of different people.
It didn’t matter how close I was with the people that surrounded me because, for some strange reason, I feel lonely. Whenever I watch the music video, I feel like each 2NE1 member who are spiritlessly and aimlessly walking through life.
“Can’t Nobody (English Ver.)”
My ears had to be rewired again because I had no idea that they were singing in English the whole time! I was under the impression that 2NE1 would have an English album, so I yearned for that album to come to America soon.
Although 2NE1 never released an English album, I learned that three of the members – CL, Data, and Bom – are fluent in English while Minzy knew some English from school and YG Entertainment. Additionally, I was able to comfortably share that English music video with my family and friends without having puzzled thoughts about 2NE1’s native tongue.
(From hereon out, I tuned in to 2NE1’s Korean and Japanese songs.)
“I Am the Best”
“This is their anthem,” I told that same friend who helped me discover 2NE1. This song is so empowering that whenever I listen to it, I feel like “a billion dollar baby”.
“I Hate You”
It’s been a while since I’ve seen anime. Well, this music video isn’t a Japanese anime, but it has some iconic features from Japanese anime: abnormally large eyes, tiny mouths, round faces, dramatic fight scenes, and a combat team.
Uh oh. My face felt mushy and tears were tricking down my cheeks. How can these girls sing a song about feeling ugly with smiles on their face? Well, here’s how I interpreted the music video: No matter how negatively I think of myself, I want to appear happy on the outside so that I can try to trick myself into feeling happy and kill my depression (even though there will always be times where those negative thoughts will resurface again).
(This is the first 2NE1 song that made me research the English translation of the lyrics.)
“I Love You”
This song sounds like it should be heard in a fashion runway or stylish store. Anyways, as soon as I heard this song, I had the strange urge to look up fashion runway videos on Youtube and vogue to them. Instead of feeling like the plastic dolls models are portrayed to be, I felt like a valuable being worth framing.
(Sadly, I don’t watch fashion runway videos anymore.)
“The Baddest Female”
CL definitely seemed “not bad meaning bad / but bad meaning good, ya know?” Haha, those lyrics caught me off-guard when I first heard them, since they seemed like really bad English lyrics. The message was understandable to me, but I wonder if foreigners who learned English as their second language knew enough American slang to understand the phrase that CL said.
CL’s solo debut also made me cross my fingers for Minzy’s solo debut. Unfortunately, my wish never came true.
“Falling In Love”
I don’t like beaches, but I definitely love having the summer mood. Hearing this reggae song from 2NE1 kept on reinforcing my belief that 2NE1 is one hell-of-a revolutionary K-Pop group.
(Before this song, there weren’t really any reggae K-Pop songs.)
“Do You Love Me”
This 2NE1 music video became the most enjoyable one for me to watch as soon as I learned that all of the members had the freedom to direct the video using cameraphones, freestyle dance, and play inside their boss’ mansion.
(Justin Bieber’s “Beauty and A Beat” music video is nothing compared to “Do You Love Me” because Justin obviously didn’t input much creativity into it except for his party persona.)
This is the only song I know where I hear bubbly sound effects. Anyways, even though 2NE1 decided to stick to the conventional matching of the melody to the sad mood of the song after who knows when was the last time they did that, I easily understood the narration and my heart easily weakened just like when I hear “Lonely.”
“Come Back Home”
This was the comeback all the BlackJacks were waiting for. Watching this music video made me feel like I was watching a futuristic sci-fi movie, which felt amazing because I am a huge fan of sci-fi and sci-fi has experienced a growing popularity with “Doctor Who,” “Breaking Bad,” Marvel movies, and much more.
“Gotta Be You”
Seeing neon colors again since watching “Lollipop” years ago made 2NE1 seem young and refreshing.
Again, 2NE1 sings an upbeat sad song. I actually had no idea that this was a sad song when I initially listened to it. Reading through the English lyrics made me think that the sad mood of the song even more overshadowed than that of their other song “Ugly.” Yet, the song holds a similar message to “Ugly”: to try to be “Happy” in a dull world that may influence you to think otherwise.
Beyonce isn’t the only performer that can pump up the crowd by yelling through the mic. CL’s yells throughout the performance constantly reminds the world that 2NE1 isn’t just coming back; they’re coming back to “Crush” people with their killer yet lovable personalities. Those things and the fact that this song is their second studio album’s title track makes the song worthy of being called the group’s second anthem. (The first anthem being “I Am the Best,” of course.)
“MTBD” (“Mental Breakdown”)
From hereon out, I knew that CL owned the stage with and without 2NE1.
Weeks after “MTBD” was released, I was apalled to hear that the song includes a voice track of someone reciting holy verses from the Qur’an. I did not know much about the Islamic faith, but neither did CL and YG Entertainment. So, when some of the Muslim BlackJack were bashing other BlackJacks, CL and YG Entertainment for the cultural misappropriation in the YouTube comments section, I thought that the ignorant do not deserve such criticisms.
Ever since some Muslim BlackJacks sent hate mail to YG Entertainment and requested that the voice track be removed, their request was never fulfilled, and the comments section on YouTube was changed to hold more comments about embracing and learning about each other’s cultures.
Finally, I get to see a K-Pop music video with diverse beauties and fearlessness of cursing in English.
(P.S., this music video is in English. It’s hard to understand what she’s saying though unless you look up the lyrics.)
I know that it’s time to move on from 2NE1, but it’s still hard to believe that will no longer release songs together.
I just hope that BIGBANG doesn’t leave the company soon.