There’s a misconception about me (especially among the Filipino community — y’all know who you are) that I hate 2NE1, but it’s simply not true. Do I think 2NE1’s the most over-hyped and overrated girl group in K-pop today? Sure. Do I enjoy upsetting the Blackjacks, who are the worst fandom in Asia because they so closely mirror humourless low IQ American stans? Of course. Do I think CL is the Diana Ross and Beyonce of our generation who’s being held back from a glittering solo career by a bunch of useless dead weight who could never possibly survive without her spectacular swag? Well, that goes without saying.
But that doesn’t mean that I hate 2NE1! They’re a’ight, and I’ll always be indebted to them for turning me into a full-time K-popper with their To Anyone album. You just have to accept their flaws, and understand that almost everything they do musically is usually going to be some generic rehash of something they already did before. They’re like the Katy Perry of K-pop in that way.
The quartet’s new album, Crush, provided the expected instant gratification that comes with watery radio-friendly electro-pop, but it’s all starting to wear thin now following a few days of dedicated play. Still, it’s pretty stong by K-pop album standards (which are almost always more filler than killer), and there’s a few good bops in there that I’ll probably listen to sporadically for the rest of the year.
Here’s my top four, in no particular order.
My initial fave Crush electro slush was “Gotta Be You” because of that superb opening synth riff, but it quickly lost its impact after a few days. I’ve now moved on to the album’s title track, which works so well because it’s essentially just a remix of one of 2NE1’s finest moments, “I Am The Best.” It’s definitely not single material, but it’s a fun nod back to 2NE1’s glory days.
Baby I Miss You
After the atrocious “Falling In Love” and the guilty pleasure that was “Do You Love Me,” it was a huge surprise when 2NE1 dropped one of last year’s best ballads, “Missing You.” The foursome stay winning with the slow jams on Crush, with the melancholy “Baby I Miss You” reigning as the best of the bunch (narrowly edging out the also very good “If I Were You).” It’s plaintive and vulnerable, without sacrificing too much of 2NE1’s trademark ‘tude in the process.
MTBD (CL Solo)
“MTBD” is “The Baddest Female” on steroids with a dose of “Doom Dada” and Major Lazer’s “Bubble Butt.” It’s more proof that CL is the fiercest, flyest, most fucking flawless pop tart around who should be occupying the spot that Nicki Minaj somehow currently holds.
I’m so confused as to what the actual singles from Crush are supposed to be. I thought they were “Gotta Be You” and that “Come Back Home” trash, but then I see that a “Happy” music video is out. What? Anyway, “Happy” is the song that should be leading Crush as the main single — it’s typically radio-friendly and hooky like all of 2NE1’s hits, but avoids the 2NE1 trap of trying too hard to be different (and failing) like their ‘reggae’ music, or descending into the stale American electro that makes up the bulk of the group’s discography. The sunny pop-rock production is middling on its own, but is incredibly potent when underlining the song’s self-pitying lyrics. It’s uncomfortably touching and poignant, expertly tapping into everybody’s lowest ‘poor me’ moment and then hiding it all underneath a painted smile. Definitely one of 2NE1’s strongest singles yet.
P.S. “Scream” is obviously the best thing since sliced bread, but it doesn’t count since it’s a Japanese single from two years ago. I can’t with them adding “Scream” but ignoring their last four Korean digital singles, but whatever.