It was “a party in here” at the Prudential Center in Newark NJ, right outside New York City, on August the 17th, 2012. The K-pop powerhouse girl group, 2NE1 was in the house singing, dancing, rapping, and DJing their repertoire of songs with lyrics like “all I wanna do is make you rock, let’s take it to the top, it’s never gonna stop…” And, trust that absolutely no one wanted it to stop that night.
The Prudential Center concert was the second stop on their 1st world tour, billed the 2012 New Evolution Global Tour. It was also their first concert on the United States, and pretty much outside Asia. The concert started off with a bang. The girls were atop 4 mobile platforms, singing in Korean their most popular track “I Am the Best”, in Korean it’s “Neaga Jeil Jal Naga”. Even if you didn’t know what they were saying, the very pronunciation of that phrase “Ne-Ga Che Cha La-Ga”, sounds like a declaration. A declaration “I am the best”! Straightforward and simple, Q.E.D. The girls were not only making a declaration tonight, they were demonstrating it.
2NE1, pronounced just like “twenty-one” or “to anyone”, is a 4 member girl group from South Korea. The members comprise of Park Bom called Bom, Sandara Park known as Dara, Lee Chae-rin called CL, and finally Gong Minji known as Minzy. The concept of 2NE1, whose name originates from a hybrid of 21st Century and New Evolution, was originally announced by their agency, YG Entertainment, in 2004 and didn’t make their debut until 2009. This would be an astounding, in American terms, 5 year training period for its members.
YG Entertainment is a South Korean record label and talent agency. It was founded in 1998 by Yang Hyun Suk, who was a former back-up dancer in the very first Korean pop group Seo Taiji & Boys. And yeah, Seo Taiji & Boys is pretty much a Korean version of Heavy D and the Boyz. YG stands for Yang Goon, which essentially is a way of saying Mr. Yang in Korean. YG Ent has many talented artists under its label, includingBig Bang who are a boy-band that will be performing at the Prudential Center in November, Tablo who is a really talented rapper who attended Stanford University, Psy who is now known around the world for theGangnam Style horse dance and recently returned to Korea from the United States after having talks with Justin Beiber’s representatives.
The girls of 2NE1 clad in stylish black leather outfits underneath colorful Adidas jumpsuit jackets continued after “I Am the Best” with their sensational hits “Fire”, and “Clap Your Hands” or “Pak Su Chyo”. As they would do throughout the entire concert these girls were prancing, jumping, stepping, gliding and swirling on the stage platform. The stage platform was in the shape of a triangle with the base towards the crowd. The base of the triangle served as a forward stage, while the head of the triangle was cut-off by the main stage. The stage platform also had a middle stage that connected the two legs of the triangle in the middle.
Amid all that jumping around on stage were a few more subdued numbers that swept both singers and audience alike with emotion. In singing “I Don’t Care” 2NE1 started off sitting on a couch serenading the crowd why they didn’t care about some playboy, telling him to take a hike. Later on in the concert the girls of 2NE1 donned large overcoats and sang the soulful and mournful “It Hurts”. The design of the microphone was very ingenious. It looked like a leafless bramble bush.
Although 2NE1 has been compared to Destiny’s Child the most, the group they evince the most is probablySalt-N-Pepa and maybe TLC. 2NE1 comes off as edgy and counter-cultural, especially when compared to the other really popular K-pop girl group. In one of their music videos these strong ladies use baseball bats to break glass displays in rebellion, which isn’t really a Destiny’s Child forte, and neither is singing about being “Ugly“. With 2NE1’s rapping, singing and dancing skills, to be accurate, they are probably best described as a hybrid of both kinds of groups. What’s really remarkable about these girls and K-pop in general, is they can be edgy without all the personal drama. At least so far.
2NE1 by the end of this year, will have thus far released two full studio length albums, To Anyone in 2010 and New Evolution in 2012. They have also released two EP albums, the self-titled 2NE1 at their debut in 2009 and 2NE1: 2nd Mini Album in 2011. Will.i.am has been working very closely with 2NE1 since 2010 and the resultant English album appears will be coming out in 2013, titled Blackjack. Blackjack is also the name of the official 2NE1 fan club. Anyone who’s familiar with gambling will immediately make the connection. The game of blackjack is also called…, you guessed it, Twenty-one. Thankfully, not many of their fans know this.