It’s been eight years since 2NE1 changed the image of girl groups in South Korea. Thanks to their fierce-yet-playful image, the super quartet instantly skyrocketed to the top —raising the bar so high for any girl groups, that even their seniors, such as Girls’ Generation, consider them as inspirations.
2009 will be remembered as the year when 2NE1 changed the image of Korean girl groups up to this date.
2NE1 released three different music videos that totally captured South Koreans’ hearts — “Fire (Space Version)”, “Fire (Street Version) and “I Don’t Care”.
While the space version of “Fire” features their respective personalities, the street version highlights their fierce and powerful side as a girl group — a counterpart of their unofficial single “Lollipop” with Bigbang, which shows their girly side.
Although their debut single instantly catapulted the girls to the top, the Girl Power-themed “I Don’t Care” was the one that made CL, Bom, Dara and Minzy the superstars they are today.
And while wearing colorful fabrics was typical for Korean girl groups at that time (due to their excessive portraying of their “cute” side for their oppas), 2NE1’s style was different.
Before 2NE1’ debut:
The girl group was never afraid to show off their individual colors on stage — making them the most stylish girl group in South Korea. Since then, many girl groups had changed their image from being cutesy to being more classy.
Aside from their styles, 2NE1 is known for their superb performances. Unlike other girl groups, 2NE1 did not usually perform in full choreography. They were connecting to the audiences while they were performing.
The ladies could also turn a simple stage act into a concert-esque one. Lip-synching was also a major no-no for 2NE1. You went upstage to entartain your fans, not to show your skills in Dubsmashing. That’s why their live performance videos had always had the most views on YouTube.
2NE1 is also popular for their catchy musics; thus, even international artists listen to them. The quartet spreads empowerment to people, especially women, through their music.
For example, “I Don’t Care”, “Go Away”, “Hate You” and “Happy” thought us to become independent, but “It Hurts”, “Lonely”, “I Love You” and “Missing You” remind us that it’s alright to express our soft side as humans.
The contents of their albums have always had the right balance. Their singles and music videos were not composed to please an oppa. They didn’t sing or act cute desperately just to please the man they like. Instead, the songs will teach you to love yourself so that oppa would love you either. These are some of the reason why 2NE1 was also called the South Korea’s Little Spice Girls. Their singles were so powerful, that even international acts had shown their appreciation to them.
Speaking of international, 2NE1 was also one of the reasons why your favorite groups enjoy their success internationally.
They are the first girl group that topped Japan’s Oricon Chart, which opened doors to other K-pop acts.
Their immense popularity in Japan in 2011 managed to grab more than 70,000 attendees for their first-ever tour there, and more than 300,000 people showed their interest to the concert. That’s equivalent to six Tokyo Dome, one of the world’s largest stadiums.
Meanwhile, MTV Iggy also declared them as the Best New Band in the World. MTV celebrated it by giving 2NE1 a special mini concert in New York. The mini concert was well-attended and had proven that a K-pop act could stage a show there.
In 2012, the renowned girl group was able to be featured in America’s CNN and Great Britain’s BBC Radio 1. Weeks after that, 2NE1 embarked on world tour, making them the first ever girl group to do so.
In 2013, the the girls received YouTube Gold Award for 1 million subscribers on their YouTube channel. At that time, 2NE1 was the most-subscribed girl group on YouTube, proving how people loved each of their music videos. They also appeared on “The Bachelor”, where they introuce another side of K-pop to American audience.
4 years after they released their last full album, To Anyone, 2NE1 showed that they could conquer the world of music. Their album Crush had become Billboard 200’s highest-charting album at that time, and also the best-selling K-pop album in the US in 2014. Their single “Come Back Home” made them the most-successful girl group in South Korea’s Gaon Chart. To date, 2NE1 holds the record for being the girl group with most number 1 hits in South Korea.
Their last appearance as a group was in 2015 when they performed their signature songs, “Fire” and “I Am the Best”. The performance is still the most-viewed Mnet Asian Music Awards performance by a girl group on YouTube.
2016 was when members of 2NE1 started to pursue their solo careers. CL, as a solo artist, made a Billboard history for being the first Korean female artist to debut on its 100 Chart — thanks to her single “Lifted”.
And although the super girl group is already disbanded, 2NE1 still proved that they could finish to the top. Their last song “Goodbye” topped US Billboard World Digital Songs Chart, making them the only Korean girl group to achieve that feat.
Just like a supernova in the night sky, 2NE1’s innovations in K-pop world will stay for a long time. They might not as strong as other girl groups in terms of longevity, but 2NE1 will always be remembered as the girl group that had set a lot of trends in music and the one that changed the image of K-pop girl groups forever.