I can’t believe that it has actually been 10 years since 2NE1 made their debut. May 17, 2009. (Technically, they made their debut on May 6th. However, for us fans, the 17th holds more significance since the girls made their debut on their home turf: the stage.)
Four girls with explosive stage presence. One of the best selling girl groups of ALL TIME. One of the first K-Pop groups (of the 2nd generation) that got recognition in the West. (Forbes, MTV Iggy, Rolling Stone, Fuse, Pitchfork, and many others.) CL. Dara. Bom. Minzy.
To those of you who don’t know, or want to reminisce…
2NE1 was kind of a big deal. Touted as the “Female BIGBANG”, 2NE1 were introduced with their brother group in March of 2009 in their collaborative effort, Lollipop. Even though it was just a CF song, it managed to create a lot of buzz for the girls. They made their official debut in May with Fire. In a time where girl group were either cute or sexy, 2NE1 offered something different. It was in-your-face. It was bold. It was refreshing. It was something only they could offer. Not to mention that it worked!
With the help of singles Fire and I Don’t Care, 2NE1 then went on to win 3 awards at the 2009 MAMAs.
In 2010, 2NE1 seemed very eager to shed their image as the counterpart to BIGBANG. They did just that with their first album, To Anyone. They still maintained their edge while appearing sleeker and more feminine. With their singles Can’t Nobody, Go Away, and Clap Your Hands, the group only got bigger. They also proved that they could stand on their own and were deserving of their success.
Ah, but who could forget 2011? Alas, you only need to remember four words: I AM THE BEST. The monster hit of 2NE1’s career. Even if you don’t know (or like) 2NE1, you gotta admit I AM THE BEST is a signature song for this group. A signature K-Pop song.
However, let’s not forget about their other singles. There was Lonely, Hate You and Ugly. All these songs showed that 2NE1 were multi-faceted. They all sound different are all about different subjects. Yet, on their second EP, they (along with Don’t Stop The Music) don’t sound awkward AT ALL.
Personal note: I got into K-Pop back in 2008/2009. I had heard about 2NE1 back when they debuted. However, I didn’t get into them until 2011, when their 3rd EP came out. It was so much fun following the 2NE1 back in 2011, when they were BUSY. We got so much content.
2012 and 2013 weren’t as fruitful, but our girls still churned out good music. I Love You was a bit out of left field, but they still made it work. In fact, it’s one of my favorites. Then came Falling In Love, Do You Love Me, and Missing You, which I personally claim as one of 2NE1’s ballads, if not their best.
Then came the roller coaster of 2014. It started out great, with the release of Crush. Once again, 2NE1 returned to form, bringing their strong presence onto the stage. They promoted the songs Come Back Home, If I Were You, and Gotta Be You. They also released a video for the song Happy.
The girls subsequently went on tour. They celebrated their 5th anniversary in the Philippines, and everything went well…
Or so we thought. Then came a scandal. Bom was falsely accused of importing drugs back in 2010. In reality, she had been taking her prescribed pills that came from the US. She was not aware that her specific pills (amphetamines) were banned in her home country. However, she was able to prove that the pills were for personal use and not for illegal use. There was no further police investigation. Even though Bom’s situation was explained, it did not stop the netizens from being brutal. It got to the point where she effectively went into hiding. (Unless 2NE1 had to perform on tour.)
It put a damper on things, and as fans, we didn’t know what would come.
2015 came and went. Then in December, we got what would end being 2NE1’s last performance. For a while, I think we all held onto hope that something would come out of it.
2016. Minzy had left the company in April, and therefore, the group. There was talk of a summer comeback. Summer came and went. Nothing. Then came November. A breakup was announced. Two months later, we got one last single, the appropriately titled, Goodbye.
More than what they accomplished, is what they taught us. To be ourselves. To be confident. To be different. To be independent. To be open. To be honest. To be vulnerable. To love ourselves. That we can be all these things and still be ourselves.
Alas, for all the triumphs, there were also struggles. Dara feeling she had to work harder to compensate for what she called ‘lack of talent’ and feeling that she had to keep up with the others. CL lamenting the demise of the group and how she wishes things worked out differently. Bom’s drug “scandal” and the wrath that came after. (I’m sure we’re all happy Bom soldiered on and was able to return to music. We all know, even subconsciously, that her situation could have ended differently.) Minzy not even opening up to us until late last year. She then confessed that she had been battling depression, and that she was at her lowest, ironically, when 2NE1 was singing ‘I AM THE BEST’ in front of a crowd of screaming fans. The girls having to deal with being called the ‘ugly group’. Not only by netizens, but also by their boss.
Not to mention that the breakup of 2NE1 didn’t feel right. It felt rushed. It didn’t feel like it was on the girls’ terms. All the girls have mentioned on more one occasion that they did not want to break up and how burdened they felt afterwards.
Contrary to what some might believe, none of the group members are to blame for 2NE1’s break up. Minzy especially. She left her old company (decided not renew her contract) because she chose to fight for herself and her sanity. She never had an identity outside of 2NE1. Was it so wrong that she would want to have something of her own? Is it wrong after that after seeing her members having some sort of solo career, and her company offering nothing in return, that she would go elsewhere? Keep in mind that, when Minzy left, there were NO indications, at that point, that 2NE1 would be coming back.
The unfortunate part is that 2NE1 have yet to tap into their full potential, both solo (Funny how we thought Minzy joining a new company meant more musical output. Not that fans are ungrateful. Perhaps we’re greedy! Dara’s doing everything but releasing music, which is what she wants. CL is mostly MIA, although she has been seen lately. Bom just got to releasing a single, 5 years after 2NE1’s last major release, and a witch hunt that should’ve never gotten to the extent that it did.), or as a group. Could you imagine where 2NE1 would have been if all the girls were allowed to tap into their creative abilities? All the songs we’ll never get to hear. Locked away for no good reason. All the songs our maknaes could’ve produced/co-produced. For now, all we have are “what ifs”. (Alright, that’s enough of that. Off the soapbox.)
With all the above now said, even with all these struggles, we still have a reason to smile. Watching our girls celebrate their 10 anniversary, I dare you to not be giddy. Seeing them laugh, reminisce, and being the 4 dorks we know them to be is so precious. If it wasn’t for all the suffering we have gone through, it would almost be that no time had passed. Everything we’ve gone through, on this roller coaster ride, was worth it. I’m proud to say, that even after all this time, I’m still a proud Blackjack. First and foremost. And even though we (understandably) lost some of our own (perhaps they were out of hope), our girls made sure to let us know that there was a light at the end of this tunnel. We made it, Blackjacks! 😭
P.S. No matter what anyone says, 2NE1 is 4. Therefore, even if you have a bias in the group, you love and respect ALL FOUR girls. These four brilliant girls have helped to contribute to the group’s success. Don’t let ANYONE tell you different.