The wildly popular girl group 2NE1 left a gap in the Korean pop scene following their official breakup last week. Throughout their career, the quartet offered themselves as an alternative to the saccharine and sexy acts overwhelming the Korean music industry, dominating with their aggressive sonic style and forceful personalities.
Over the past seven years, the group released more than 20 singles, ranging from the empowering messages of “I Am The Best” and “Ugly” to the heartfelt melancholy of “Missing You” and “Lonely.” Drawing fans from all over the world, 2NE1 broke numerous records and their final album, 2014’s Crush, retains the title of highest-ranking album by a Korean girl group on the Billboard Hot 100. But along with their hits, 2NE1 had a handful of deep cuts worth remembering long after they’ve called it a day.
“I’m Busy” (2010)
2NE1’s 2010 album To Anyone was an album that featured 12 songs but only two that were not technically singles. But they could have been, especially “I’m Busy.” The pounding, clapping beat and the song’s electronic dance styling, plus distorted vocals, preceded similar sounds on some of 2NE1’s following hits, like the larger than life “I Am The Best.” The empowering message of “I’m Busy” –“All my ladies feelin’ naughty that don’t need no man to party” sang CL– was a recurring theme throughout 2NE1’s career.
While released in Japan as a single, the frenetic “Scream” was released in Korea on the group’s final album Crush as a deep cut and remains one of 2NE1’s most infectious songs. The building electropop song incorporates heavy house elements, sudden tempo shifts, and some fierce vocals before making listeners “Scream” during the looping chorus. The song charted at No. 18 on the Japan Hot 100 upon its release in 2012, and in the same spot on the Korea K-Pop Hot 100 in 2014.
“Pretty Boy” (2009)
It’s not very often in music history that an act’s reputation relies on a single track, but 2NE1 literally owed their career to the commanding “Pretty Boy.” Prior to “Pretty Boy,” YG Entertainment had different plans for the four women but after Dara, CL, Minzy, and Bom sang together formally for the first time things changed. After the quartet recorded the song, their chemistry was undeniable and the company switched things up to debut 2NE1. The synthpop and marching cadences of “Pretty Boy” ushered in a new era for K-pop as 2NE1 offered a new take on what it meant to be a Korean girl group.
“In The Club” (2009)
The R&B sound of “In The Club” was a bit slower than many of 2NE1’s debut-era songs, but provided one of the first venues for the four women to display their melodic voices outside of the bombast of their early promotional singles “Fire” and “I Don’t Care.” Keeping with the group’s typical style, there’s an underlying electronic beat throughout the song as the quartet croons about getting over a relationship.
“If I Were You” (2014)
The jazzy ballad “If I Were You” was one of several tracks on the group’s final album, Crush, that displayed 2NE1’s more soulful side. The punchy rhythm of the song draws on the group’s iconic attitude, but the reflective “If I Were You” retains a more mellow style than most 2NE1 tracks, favoring intense sentimentality over their usual fiery sound.
“Love Is Ouch” (2010)
Straddling the line between ballad and electronic dance song, “Love Hurts” combined 2NE1’s dual strong and soft natures into one mid-tempo track. To achieve this effect, the song combined piano-based orchestral melodies with a pounding electronic beat, balanced by the members’ chanting vocals.
“Baby I Miss You” (2014)
Like “If I Were You,” the ‘90s-evoking “Baby I Miss You” was a deep cut featured on 2NE1’s final album. The smooth pop styling of the slow jam employs synths and a gentle clapping rhythm as a backdrop to the group’s vulnerable vocals. It’s one of 2NE1’s most expressive performances throughout their years together.