Hope of new music from the Korean girl group 2NE1 came to a crashing halt on Nov. 25, when the act announced its formal disbandment. After a hiatus of more than two years since Crush was released in 2014, 2NE1’s members had begun hinting on social media over the summer that they’d be releasing a new album soon, but the group’s split brought all expectations to an end.
On Tuesday (Nov. 29), CL and Dara of 2NE1 updated their social media accounts with thank-you messages directed towards fans, during which they addressed the unreleased music. “We all really tried to make things work,” wrote CL on Twitter. “I left everything behind and was in Korea all summer working on our album, but it fell apart.”
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— CL (@chaelinCL) November 29, 2016
In a similar vein, Dara published a note on Instagram and Twitter that also addressed the impending album: “I wanted to give you guys good music in return, but I’m so upset and sorry that we couldn’t.”
Both CL and Dara, the only two artists remaining under YG Entertainment, mentioned the group’s former members, Bom and Minzy, in their letters. Minzy left 2NE1 and the agency earlier this year, after which YG announced that 2NE1 would continue as a trio, and promised to release new 2NE1 music. YG announced last week that it had chosen not to renew its contract with Bom. (The statement regarding 2NE1’s disbanding appears to have since been removed from YG Entertainment’s official site.)
Prior to the news, 2NE1’s members appeared to be gearing up to return to the K-pop scene in full force with new music this year; Bom posted encouraging messages on Instagram, returning to social media for the first time in two years, and Dara allegedly told fans that a music video was in the works. As recently as Nov. 21, CL posted the promise “soon” on Twitter, spurring rumors of an album’s immediate release.
In the past, YG Entertainment also delayed previous 2NE1 releases, and the letters from the pair unleashed a wave of criticism on social media aimed at the agency’s mismanagement of the group.
The group’s disassembling was met with a wave of resignation, and regret regarding the unreleased music, following Minzy’s departure and 2NE1’s ongoing hiatus, after Park Bom was revealed to have imported prescribed amphetamine from the US to Korea, where the stimulant is banned. The members performed as a foursome for the final time together at last year’s Mnet Asian Music Awards; the 2016 award ceremony takes place this week, on Dec. 2.
Throughout 2NE1’s career of seven years, the quartet released two Korean albums and EPs, along with two Japanese albums and an EP that offered a few new songs and translated versions of some of their biggest hits. The act also released a compilation album and several concert albums. The group’s final album, Crush, was released in February 2014 and became the highest-charting K-pop album to appear on the Billboard 200, at no. 61. (It was recently overtaken by BTS’s Wings album, which landed at no. 26.)
A focus on fashion and bravado set 2NE1 apart from many more stereotypical K-pop female acts, and their music ranged from melancholic R&B ballads to hyperactive hip hop-tinged dance music, incorporating multitudes of genres ranging from reggae to trap. Hits like the swaggering electro-house track “I Am The Best,” which eventually was used in a commercial for the Microsoft Surface Pro 3, and the retro pop-rock single “Ugly” spawned a loyal following around the globe, made up of fans known as Blackjacks.