To the surprise of absolutely nobody, 2NE1 finally got around to confirming that they had officially disbanded last month.
Unlike most the people I saw on Twitter the day the group called it quits, I was more nonchalant than upset. 2NE1 haven’t promoted in years and with Park Bom’s scandal and Minzy leaving for a better agency, it was only a matter of time before they were kaput.
But as I mulled the group’s end a little more, I started to get a little nostalgic. I earned a reputation in the blogosphere as a 2NE1 hater over the years, but that was mostly because I was a former stan who flipped (and developed a thirst for trolling Blackjacks, let’s be honest). Before discovering 2NE1, I was somewhat familiar with K-pop through the failed English-language crossovers of BoA, Se7en, and Wonder Girls, but it was YG’s quartet that really converted me into a K-pop fan.
For somebody primarily familiar with Western music at the time, the highly accessible 2NE1 were the perfect gateway into K-pop. Their multi-colored hair and kitschy Jeremy Scott ensembles made the members easy to tell apart (just try getting a new K-pop fan to differentiate between SNSD!), and the group’s brand of autotuned electropop closely mirrored the American music scene at the time. I championed the group tirelessly on my blog (which was all commercial Western music at that point) and converted a bunch of my readers into Blackjacks and K-pop lovers.
Eventually, what I liked so much about 2NE1 in the beginning is what ultimately turned me off them. As I dived deeper into K-pop and discovered groups like Brown Eyed Girls, KARA, SECRET and Girl’s Day, 2NE1 started to feel far too familiar to the Western pop music I was growing tired of. Watching Nine Muses’ synchronized choreography and T-ara’s campy concepts was different and exciting to me, while 2NE1 resembled the bad dancing and generic EDM of countless Western pop stars that I was trying to escape.
I still feel the same now, but overall I have a lot of respect and fondness for 2NE1’s career. I’ve been skipping through their albums again, and while some of the stuff has aged as badly as autotuned radio fodder always does, there’s still a certified bop or two for every outdated will.i.am reject. “I Am The Best” is still an absolute monster while “Missing You” and “Lonely” are near perfect pop ballads.
Their impact on K-pop is undeniable and far-reaching. Without a doubt, so much of K-pop’s international recognition is all down to 2NE1 – without them, the genre wouldn’t have nearly as many global fans as it does now. I definitely owe my initial love of K-pop to 2NE1. Without them, my life could’ve turned out very different! I mean, my first paid writing gigs outside of hobby blogging was writing about K-pop, and that eventually led me to a spotty career as an entertainment journalist. Without 2NE1, I’d probably be working in a call center right now.
Thanks for the memories 2NE1. Gone, but not forgotten. Definitely not forgotten, considering that BLACKPINK is the exact same group… Thanks YG?
P.S. Justice for “Hate You” one of their best songs EVAH and also one of their biggest flops…