K-pop girl group 2NE1 are one of the driving forces in K-pop's international expansion. The quartet was the first Korean female group to stage a world tour, will.i.am snagged them for his #willpower LP, they have 6.4 million Facebook likes and 2.1 million YouTube subscribers. Hey, they even co-starred on an episode of The Bachelor.
So—as Fuse News' Liz Walaszczyk asked when she was with the girls in South Korea—why only one album after nearly five years together? Leader CL explained, "An album is like a footprint. It's legacy." With Crush, their second full-length album, 2NE1 continue to be K-pop's fiercest females by reminding listeners what made them so unique in the first place. But it's not all familiar: The girls have plenty of new tricks up their sleeves.
Whether you're a big-time 2NE1 fan or they caught your eye on The Bachelor, check out the top nine reasons you should download their new album Crush.
1. Returning to Their Roots
Most listeners' introduction to 2NE1 comes via the ferocious "I Am the Best," arguably their signature tune. With nearly 86 million YouTube views, it's one of the most-viewed K-pop videos ever. From the first notes of album opener "Crush," it's clear that the girls are back: This song has the same Middle Eastern influences heard in "IATB," but over a zippy electro-pop production enhanced by dope rapping and powerful belting. While the quartet played around with reggae pop and acoustic ballads in past singles like "Falling in Love" and "Missing You," this feels like the statement 2NE1 needed to truly make a comeback.
2. Reggae/Trap Hybrid Lead Single "Come Back Home"
Crush's lead single "Come Back Home" mashes two seemingly disparate genres and makes them into one smokin' single. Starting with a bouncy beat similar to Rihanna's "Man Down," the girls croon about losing a lover, asking their baby to "come back home" until the single's production flips into a heavy trap beat. The ambitious song should stand up well next to past 2NE1 singles.
3. We're Getting Four Music Videos!!!
2NE1 have more than half a billion views on their YouTube channel thanks to their high-budget visuals, fierce fashion and dope personas. But according to 2NE1's Korean label, we're getting four more videos to obsess over soon! There will be visuals for "Come Back Home" and its accompanying "unplugged" version. Plus, snappy dance track "Gotta Be You" and bouncy pop track "Happy" will get the MV treatment, too.
4. Potential to Sell A Lot
As one of the top K-pop acts to make moves Stateside, Crush raced into the Top 10 of the iTunes Albums chart despite no American promo. Plus "Come Back Home," "Crush" and "MTBD" are all climbing up the iTunes Pop Songs chart. With its Wednesday release, Crush won't have a full week of sales like other new albums, which could affect its likeliness to hit the Billboard charts. Still, with four music videos already planned, the LP could be a steady-seller versus falling off the chart after one week.
5. Tug at Your Heartstrings, But Throw Your Hands Up
2NE1 manage to convey heart-wrenching concepts without throwing their feel-good vibe out the window. On “Happy” (below), a song that practically begs you to roll your windows down and sing along, Bom croons the brilliant lyric, “I'm not happy, but I hope you're happy” to a lost lover. Similarly, reminisce about your ex with "Gotta Be You," but keep your dancing shoes on amid lyrics about being stuck in a jail named "You."
6. Hello R&B!
While we certainly appreciate 2NE1’s affinity for EDM and Auto-Tuned hits, we absolutely love that R&B receives plenty of shine on this album. Both "Good to You" and "Baby I Miss You" prove that the quartet can deliver clean, crisp vocals on top of soothing piano beats. The latter boasts a synthy lounge vibe with a notable verse from CL, whose flow is right on point.
7. CL the Soloist Truly Arrives on "MTBD"
Watch out Nicki—CL slays on this track. The self-proclaimed "baddest female" completely stuns on standout track "MTBD," the rapper’s solo performance. At the gym? Blast this baby. Need a post-wake up hype song? Done. Need a life hype song? This is it.
8. "Scream" in Korean
2NE1 fans will instantly recognize "Scream" as a 2012 single originally released in Japan. While it's not uncommon for K-pop acts to re-record tracks in other languages—most often re-recording in Japanese and English—some do suffer from awkward translations that don't keep the syncopation like the original. But somehow we think "Scream" actually ended up more fierce with this K-pop rendition. We particularly love Minzy's line in the first verse, "Why you keep callin' me honey?!?"
9. "Come Back Home (Unplugged Version)" to Close the Album
When 2NE1 fans were told one of the "10 new songs" on Crush would be an unplugged version of the single, some may have felt slighted. But ending the album with an acoustic production puts a much-welcome spotlight on the four distinct voices. Bom's powerful belts, Dara's sweet crooning, CL's charismatic rapping and young Minzy's strong, still-maturing vocals. It's a lasting reminder of why this group is so special and why so many fans support 2NE1 as people, instead of just an act with catchy music.