2NE1 – 2NE1 2nd Mini Album

August 7, 2011 at 5:53 pm | Posted in 2NE1 | Leave a comment
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  1. I Am The Best
  2. UGLY
  3. Lonely
  4. Hate You
  5. Don’t Cry
  6. Don’t Stop The Music

2NE1 is one of the few Korean girl groups I can count on to put out great music and they’re back with their second mini-album. This time they’ve done things differently with the marketing for the mini-album. Instead of using their usual fierce look for the album’s photoshoot they mixed it with cute cartoon/anime renditions of themselves. In addition, four of the six songs were released monthly prior to the album’s release date. Each track has its own video and the five newer songs were performed live in comeback specials. It allowed fans to eagerly anticipate new music and this marketing kept the girls on everyone’s mind. 2NE1 is one of the biggest groups in Korea and it doesn’t seem like they want to let go of that title anytime soon.

I Am The Best is a standard 2NE1 club banger and like all their other opening tracks it’s incredibly infectious. While is shares similarities with their previous up-tempos, there’s also a lot that sets it apart. For one, it’s got a more hardcore electronic feel that is immediately apparent with the loud, gritty synth riffs that open it. The composition becomes busier as CL sings the title repeatedly until it goes into the main melody which is accompanied by catchy chanting, “bam ratatata tatatatata.” Also, the use of auto-tune/vocoder has been cut down which is nice because they don’t need it. The verses are filled with a variety of synths that range from deep to high screechy beats. Bom leads the first verse and she’s never sounded so fierce. Her vocals exude confidence and this marks her first time starting a verse for one of their club bangers. She’s usually relegated to a small part of the verse unless it’s a ballad so it’s nice to see other members take on a larger role. Dara comes in next with her sugary vocals while CL and Minzy, as usual, kill their raps. CL takes over completely for the chorus which is a bombardment of heavy synths and despite being repetitive, it’s spectacular. With just a few simple words CL drills the chorus into your head with her tough vocals, “naega jeil jal naga.” The girls switch up their order in the second verse and Minzy leads with another great rap while CL closes the verse with a relaxed rap. Between the rappers, Bom performs with a sweet voice and Dara gets to show off her confident vocals. An exotic Middle Eastern influence is infused into the synths during the bridge and CL delivers with high energy vocals. They jump right back into the addicting chanting which closes the track on a perfect note.

UGLY is the only new song and it’s not what I was expecting at all. When I first saw the title, I assumed 2NE1 was going to be singing about a no-good guy. Instead, they’re singing about themselves and it makes this song a lot more interesting. The verses have an air of sadness due to the acoustic guitar and halfway through it is replaced with synths that carry the same feel. Bom always does well in these types of songs but I can never get over how gorgeous CL and Minzy sound when they’re not rapping. Even Dara sounds stunning and right before the chorus the tempo increases. The tone suddenly becomes positive and the chorus features electric guitars which make this the first 2NE1 song to have a rock influence. The first time I listened to it I felt that the chorus clashed heavily with the rest of the song but after a few listens it sunk in and I love it now. It’s sung solely by CL and she does a fantastic job. The chorus not only contrasts with the verses in sound but it’s also brighter which is odd considering the lyrics but it works, “I think I’m ugly/and nobody wants to love me/just like her I wanna be pretty/I wanna be pretty/don’t lie to my face/tellin’ me I’m pretty.” Like the verses, the bridge is tame and Dara takes over with her lovely high vocals as the rest of the group provides the backing vocals.

The first and only ballad, Lonely, is driven by an acoustic guitar. I love that there’s no percussion in the melody because it puts emphasis on the girls’ vocals. It’s their rawest song and vocal performance to date. The melancholic atmosphere that the guitar creates is touching and it pulls at your heartstrings even more when they start singing. CL starts with her deep, sultry vocals and is followed by Minzy who uses the same beautiful tone. Dara adds another element to the song with her high vocals and the “I don’t know” lines sung by the other vocalists are addicting. Strings are added into the chorus and they enhance the tragic mood. Bom leads the chorus while Minzy takes over for the second half and in the second chorus CL leads instead of Bom. They all sound amazing and they put so much emotion into their delivery “baby I’m so lonely lonely lonely lonely lonely.” The bridge has them singing in stronger vocals and the final chorus is filled with lovely ad-libs. This one of their most mature songs and it proves, once again, that they’re a versatile group. Hate You is a mid-tempo break-up song and it’s introduced with pulsing synths before it explodes into the chorus. CL seems to be taking over all the choruses so far on the mini-album and this one is no exception. Her carefree but attitude filled vocals are infectious along with the unique synth melody. The hook is by far the most memorable one on this mini and CL kills it, “hate you eheheheheh/I’m fine living without you.” The verses are made up of a variety of beats and Minzy, Dara, and Bom sing with fun, confident vocals. Bom’s section in the verses is a bit more interesting due to the aggressive backing vocals. All of them get a piece of the bridge and Bom closes it off with her strong voice. The track is not that energetic but its groovy melody is too amazing to ignore.

Bom gets a song all to her self and Don’t Cry is a worthy follow-up to her last solo. The piano carries a bittersweet feel and I like how it picks up when the synths make an appearance. Her vocals are emotive and strong which keeps them from being drowned by the production. The synths mellow out in the pre-chorus for an ambient sound and Bom sings in a deeper voice. She sounds gorgeous and the synths return to their hectic sound before the chorus. The chorus contains a heavy beat and the dance-pop elements that are mixed in bring it to life. Bom’s energetic, bright vocals manage to retain the emotion from the verses and this pushes forward the bittersweet mood , “it’s okay baby please don’t cry.” Don’t Stop The Music is the oldest song on the mini and I’m glad it made it on here because it’s another hot club banger. This is the only song to heavily use vocal effects and it came out shortly after their debut album which might explain why. It’s more dance-pop than the first track and it has a groovy hip hop feel to it. The energy in the verses is addicting and the drumline gives off a slight jungle sound. CL, Minzy and even Dara deliver excellent raps that will easily get stuck in your head. The backing vocals in Dara’s sections have been changed from “fiore” to “yayaya” which isn’t as catchy but it doesn’t break the song in any way. The chorus is performed solely by Bom and it’s the most infectious part. Her vocals infuse a lighter feel into the melody and the loud, pulsing synths make it irresistible. The post-chorus is very repetitive but it’s really fun, “don’t don’t don’t don’t don’t don’t/don’t stop the music.” I love the second verse because CL and Minzy increase the energy as they rap in a faster pace to the jungle beat. The only time the energy dies down is in the bridge where the girls sing rather than rap but the beats come back harder for the final chorus.

Conclusion: 2NE1 just keeps getting better with every release. Their second mini-album is more polished and cohesive than their first which shows how much they’ve matured since their debut. Their vocals sound better and each member continuously shows growth and improvement. The employment of vocoder on their vocals has been reduced which will please many fans who were turned off by it on To Anyone. Despite being in a trend dominated industry, they still manage to keep their music fresh and exciting.

Recommended Tracks: I Am The Best, Hate You, Lonely, UGLY and Don’t Stop The Music

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