I’m currently obsessed with Korean pop group 2NE1 (pronounced “twenty-one” or “to anyone,” your choice). A lot of Korean girl groups (Girls’ Generation most obviously) are super-cute in a smiley, wanna-be-your-girlfriend, High School Musical sort of way. 2NE1, on the other hand, are badass bitches. In one of their songs, “Go Away,” one of them raps, “All you do is act the fool, you ain’t shit without your crew.” Wait, what? Obviously, English-language lyrics are few and far between (though there is a fully English-language version of recent single “Can’t Nobody” on their 2010 album To Anyone), but the song titles on the two EPs and one album they’ve released to date convey an image that’s equal parts hedonism and hostility—track titles include “I’m Busy,” “Clap Your Hands,” “Try to Follow Me,” “I am the Best,” “Ugly,” “Hate You,” “Let’s Go Party,” “I Don’t Care,” “Fire” and “Don’t Stop the Music.” And the music maintains the intensity promised by such evocative, slogan-like titles. The production—the overwhelming majority of which is by Teddy Park—throws rave, hip-hop, bizarre sound effects, alt-pop-friendly choruses worthy of Avril Lavigne or Kelly Clarkson (but better than most of what either of them puts out these days) and pretty much anything else that sounds good into the sonic blender and tosses one ball of awesomeness after another at the listener. And the group’s videos are, quite frankly, retina-searingly brilliant. I’m putting a half dozen after the jump.
This is “I Am the Best,” one of the singles from the group’s latest EP, Ugly:
Here’s “Can’t Nobody”:
Here’s the remarkably straightforward and restrained “Go Away”:
Here’s the first video of theirs I ever saw, “Fire”:
Here’s the second video I saw, “Follow Me”:
And here’s 2NE1’s first single, as guests on “Lollipop,” a track by Korean boy band Big Bang (also produced by Teddy Park):