When 2NE1′s “I Am the Best” hit American radio waves last month, it fit perfectly with other top 40 songs with similar electronic hip-hop sounds popular today. This came right after the song reached number one on Billboard’s US World Digital Songs chart and was featured in a Microsoft commercial.
Other than PSY, no other K-pop artist had gained American radio airplay before, making it a huge accomplishment for the quartet, especially since neither they nor their label YG Entertainment promoted it. However, the peculiarity of it all was the fact that “I Am the Best” is a three-year-old song that blew up in South Korea when it first came out. It launched 2NE1 to worldwide superstardom and became their signature song, and yet, it went largely unnoticed to mainstream America.
2NE1 has a very distinct brand which, sound-wise, revolves around an edgy hip-hop, electropop, and reggae fusion. Stylistically, the girls convey a fierce, self-empowered image with crazy fashion-forward styling that is unlike anything else in K-pop or the West. But even though “I Am the Best” is the diamond in their discography, they have lots of other jewels studding their albums. Their best songs aren’t exclusively the singles. So, we’ve come up with a list of 2NE1’s B-sides for anyone ready to dive deeper into their vibe.
This energetic dance track is tucked away in the greatness of their To Anyone (2010) album that saw hits like “Clap Your Hands” and “Can’t Nobody.” Even though, “I’m Busy” is heavy on the Auto-Tune and devoid of Bom’s power vocals shown in “It Hurts,” the production quality, subtle R&B influences, and constant tempo changes make this a fun track with lots of signature 2NE1 sass.
“PLEASE DON’T GO”
For their first full-length album, To Anyone, the 2NE1 members were given solos, but CL and Minzy teamed up for “Please Don’t Go.” This song proved that the maknaes (youngest members) were the best well-rounded performers in the group by showcasing their rapping, dancing, and singing talents. Despite the generation gap between members (Minzy is ten years younger than Dara and Bom), “Please Don’t Go” is a fast tempo, intense track that highlights their youthful energy.
“BABY I MISS YOU”
2NE1’s second full-length album Crush (2014) is filled with experimental electro tracks, but with songs like “Baby I Miss You” the girls slowed it down and put the sass on hold. The minimalist and soulful track was written and co-produced by The Baddest Female (AKA CL) herself who showed a more natural and vulnerable side with yearning lyrics about a past flame with a younger guy.
“IF I WERE YOU”
CL asserted herself as a skilled artist in Crush by penning more than a few B-side songs, and “If I Were You” is another one of those. Maybe CL was broken hearted while writing this and the previous songs because there’s no trace of her or 2NE1’s fierceness anywhere. However, “If I Were You” is a delicate, vocally driven ballad stripped of over-the-top production that allows the emotions behind the lyrics to take center stage. Hey, even the baddest of the bad girls can get played, right?
“GOOD TO YOU”
“Good to You” is another post-breakup ballad written by CL, G-Dragon, and YG Entertainment producer Teddy in Crush. The 2NE1 ladies sing each of their parts staying true to their individual brands. Dara asks “why good girls like bad boys” very sweetly in the hook, and CL slow raps a sharp monologue in the outro. Moreover, the soulful R&B touches complement Minzy and Bom’s voices effortlessly, which drive the whole song. Despite the song being about getting dumped, “Good to You” has a dark sensual feel, especially on the chorus.
2NE1 revived their 2012 Japanese single “Scream” in Crush, with CL penning the Korean lyrics. This ready-for-the-dance floor electropop track with dense synths and intrinsic beats is pure earworm. Like “I’m Busy,” “Scream” is a fun, high-energy song. The track is about partying and drinking and not thinking about the fact that your ex wants you back, which is very appropriately paired with the overall sound. Because just as Minzy says, “turn off the boring music and pump it up.”
Aside from her lyric writing, if there’s anything that solidified the great expectations for CL’s upcoming solo American debut, it’s her overall performance of “MTBD.” The trap and hip-hop hybrid is probably the most twerktastic song in all of K-pop. The different tempos and heavy bass could very well cause — just as the title and lyrics suggest — a mental breakdown with its many sound layers. All of that paired with CL’s classic fierce rapping make for the perfect pop song. Because just as “I Am the Best,” “MTBD” is the future of what pop (and thus Western radio) will probably sound like within three years.
Source: MTV Iggy