Artist Spotlight – 2NE1

It seems in the world of Kpop girl bands there is a push to be sugary sweet and aesthetically pleasing. Even when a girl group is supposed to be ‘edgy’ they always seem to be somewhat diluted. When I say diluted, I mean that they are either presented as ‘sassy girls’ and don’t seem to be representing the girl power message that made the Spice Girls famous. It seems like they appear to be ‘sassy’ in their outfits but are still girly girls that look good and smile. Easy to digest and handle.

But then there was a change, coming into the fray were the fabulous 2NE1. These four ladies of 100% kick ass girl power. These are the kind of girls that can steal your boyfriend and laugh about it.

Under the YG umbrella, they are the sister group of K-pop giants Big Bang. As a fan of Big Bang, you could assume that I have an automatic bias but no. There are some other artists under YG Entertainment that I don’t much care for but as soon as I heard the first single from these girls I knew that I wanted to hear some more.

Of course I’m not stupid to not recognise the marketing ploy, they are rebels and present the girl power message to the T (just as their management team would want them to) and are presented as the anti-girl group.

What makes them a group to keep an eye out for?

1. Image

Their image is feisty, strong and colourful. They are the kind of girls to take fashion risks (at least their stylists are anyways). These girls are comfortable in either wacky hip hop style or in tight jeans and sexy dresses. They even collaborated with out there designer Jeremy Scott and he loved working with them so much that a working relationship has been established.

For me, it seems 2NE1 is all about presenting strong girls who aren’t getting dressed to please men (which can be said for other girl groups) but rather for themselves. They don’t care if guys notice, if they do then they have to work damn hard to get a shot with them. It’s all about the confidence and swagger and that to me is such a powerful thing for young women like myself.

Looking into the K pop bubble as an international fan I cannot identify with K-pop female groups, there are a couple of songs that I like but they all seem to give off a vibe of ‘pretty but dim’. When I see 2NE1 in their loud and bold outfits, it makes me feel happy and pleased that they aren’t taking themselves too seriously as ‘the perfect girls’.

YG have taken these girls to a whole new level marking them out distinctively in the already crowded girl group market.

2. Production/ Music & Lyrics

This is Kpop, you know there has to be some sort of machine behind them right. But thankfully that machine knows how to create great music for these girls. Teddy Park (former member of hip hop group 1TYym now producer for YG) has created an edgy, urban sound that has become synonymous with these girls. Their sound is heavily electronic and at times has an R&B edge to it that makes you want to dance. Teddy knows that the average Kpop song for girls is too sweet so he’s giving 2NE1 the power to sing anti-boyfriend songs such as ‘I Don’t Care’.

The song is about a boyfriend that seems to be doing all of the wrong things but because the singer has the right amount of strength it doesn’t bother her as he is just a waste of her time. Essentially the message is, ladies stop wasting your time on stupid guys. Just what every girl needs to hear! Watching the behind the scenes activities of YG on their reality TV show ‘2NE1 TV’, Teddy explained that he felt that message needed to be heard by every girl and this was the only way guys learn that their behaviour isn’t great and need to change.

Another song that I think needs to be played at all times is ‘I Am the Best’:

This song is self-explanatory. The myth of the female star is that she must be modest but these girls just kicked that theory to the curb and came out fighting. This is for all of the haters out there! This song is so motivational and is one of the songs to play when you’re having a bad day. For me, they make the kind of music that they want to listen to, not just for the sake of being pretty or lamenting a lost love. Music that they can dance, sing to and also make them feel better about themselves.

The alterative to them is well Gee by SNSD. We all know how that goes right. I’ll take 2NE1 any day.

3. Members

YG entertainment certainly knows how to pick talented people. Each member is talented in their own right and together they make a formidable group.

CL – Leader and rapper. This girl has so much swagger and charisma on stage. She is strong and has a cool vibe about her. In behind the scenes footage she is polite, kind and funny. She is also a very good rapper and this is recognised by fellow rapper Teddy. She works alongside Teddy to write the music and the raps. Being the leader she is definitely in charge. She shows that being a woman in charge is a powerful thing.

Bom – This girl has some serious pipes on her! Her voice is the strongest in the group and can be heard distinctively in all of their songs. Her voice is powerful and matches up to the charisma shown by CL.

Minzy – Watching all of the videos it is clear to see that she’s a great dancer. she always seems to give the best ‘face’ to camera. When performing she twists and moves her body all over the place! She also has a strong and husky voice that adds rich texture to all of 2NE1’s songs.

Dara – Sweet Dara, looks small and innocent but she has a cool and swaggerific vibe about her. Although her vocals aren’t that great and she only gets minor parts in songs she is still of great value to the group. She always gives 110% in performances.

4. Future overseas success

It is clear to me that their sound has been perfected to fit a western audience. YG knows that by creating a group that can easily fit into the western market it can generate huge financial reward and can also grow the agencies profile and rank. So these girls who may seem a bit out there in the K-pop world can easily slot comfortably into the unique and different American and British charts.

They have even been working with Will I Am of Black eyed Peas fame and I’m eagerly awaiting their collaboration. They have the swag and the image to do it. But I can’t help thinking that they will struggle.

We all now Western music fans can be very sceptical, hence the death of boy bands and girl bands. We want to authenticate our music, we want songwriters not pretty boys and girls singing someone else’s song. Although the teen market doesn’t seem to mind, others seem to prefer a more stripped back approach to music. This is what made Adele so huge. She was a breath of fresh air in the over hyped electronic dance sound music market.

2NE1′s music I feel can be already heard on the radio and there’s nothing new looking at it from a Western perspective. But, all it takes is one killer song and a great producer to create music that captures people.

Also they have to understand that unlike K-pop fans who are devoted and give their stars great status (hence the title idol) western audiences are fickle. There is no blind devotion, the band has to deliver constantly in order to keep people interested. The western fan is more lax in that department, buying cd’s, going to concerts and maybe purchasing merchandise as souvenirs.This might be a shock to stars that are used to blind devotion and worship from their fans.

Saying all of that, for me I know that they can do it. I mean these girls are fierce and are bringing Girl Power back. There is definitely no sugar in their tea!

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