2NE1’s ‘Crush’ fun but too much

2NE1’s Crush fun but too much

Since I was a middle-schooler, one of the more memorable qualities of my older cousin is her fanatical adoration of South Korean pop, known as K-Pop. Shinee, Infinite, Super Junior, Wonder Girls – she loved them all. I never really got into it, but I did once spend a couple hours watching K-Pop music videos on Youtube. One song that got my attention was 2NE1’s “I Am the Best,” which I genuinely enjoyed but could not get out of my head for weeks. The girl group – made up of members CL, Park Bom, Sandara Park and Minzy – released their second studio album “Crush” digitally Feb. 27. The album does maintain the talents and memorability of “I Am the Best.” However, its overproduction can sometimes overwhelm the girls’ vocals and creates an uncomfortable atmosphere that, while some may enjoy, often brings shivers down my spine.

The first song on the album, also called “Crush,” has both good and very bad points to it. The opening beat sounds remarkably similar to the enjoyable “I Am the Best,” and both songs exude complete arrogance. But while “I Am the Best” remains light-hearted and excited, “Crush” can sound way too dark and, to be honest, bratty. The tone of the song’s opening and CL’s verse just sound obnoxious. The vocals are a mish-mash of good and bad. Park Bom’s verse is amazing; her powerful voice is striking, especially compared to the vocals of the chorus.

“Crush” captures the (over?) confidence of these rich, beautiful popstars. A translation of the Korean lyrics surprised me; main dancer Minzy sings how if anyone thinks they “can dance like me, come on out. I’ll kill you by myself.” Call me violent, but I think that’s pretty fierce. K-Pop often includes bits of English to appeal to a broader world audience. But the English lyrics here sound really odd; the refrain includes repetitive chanting of “They love me cause I’m hot. They love me cause I’m cold. They love me cause I’m real. They love me cause I kill.” This is a repetitive mess; the refrain doesn’t really mean anything and is delivered in a monotonous tone. The boldness of “Crush” can be both impressive and off-putting; delivered with varying vocal performances, this song makes me feel mixed.

Though “Come Back Home” can sound nice, it feels like two completely different songs mashed together. All the verses feel very reggae, with bouncing synthesizers and few vocal effects. The lyrics describe the longing for a loved one, how people can feel “at the end of the world” when they’re alone. All the girls sound appropriately sad and yearning. With the exception of part of the song. There’s a very noticeable shift as the bass drops and CL drawls, “Come back home,” holding out hooomme way too long. Suddenly, it’s a different song, full of effects and an overly unpleasant tone. The girls, sped up like Alvin and the Chipmunks, repeat “Come, come, baby baby, come, come” over and over. This pretty much destroys the emotional momentum of the song; the excessive use of vocal effects sound emotionless and nullifies the sorrowful tone created by the reggae portion of the song. But suddenly – it just stops. It goes back to the reggae. There’s no transition, nothing to link the two parts. The song shifts back and forth a few more times, but by this point, I don’t even care. Any of the emotion I could have felt is gone. Though exactly half of “Come Back Home” impresses me, it’s held back by its emotionless, overly-produced counterpart.

And in case you were wondering, this song’s music video was released March 2. It’s completely crazy. It’s all futuristic, the lip-syncing is off, and it’s trying way too hard to mean something on a more symbolic level. But the special effects are good, the girls look cool, and at least it’s trying to be deep. It’s a total trip.

The pop-sounding “Gotta Be You” opens with a annoying, deep computer-like voice – just like Miley Cyrus’s “Bangerz.” Not a good sign. But Miley’s rapping doesn’t even come close to CL’s. Describing the regrets of a relationship and the lingering feelings, her flow is impressive. She asks to be locked “again in the jail named you.” The refrain includes marching-band-like drums and fast rhythmic phrasing that I particularly enjoy. The beat picks up at the pretty catchy chorus, and while Bom’s vocals are not her strongest here, “Gotta Be You” still is enjoyable. Though I hate the deep computer voice that reminds me of Miley Cyrus.

“If I Were You” is a beautiful, well-composed song. Describing the confusion of being in a loveless relationship, the song reminds me of early 2000’s R&B. All the members sound beautiful, particularly Minzy in the refrain. It’s a bit repetitive, essentially a minute long song repeated thrice. I didn’t even know I was that nostalgic for early 2000’s R&B, but I guess I needed “If I Were You” to remind me.

“MTBD (CL Solo)” is a short, yet amazing piece of work. CL’s rapping – amazing. She is in total control. Her personality is just so captivating. “MTBD” utilizes similar production techniques to other songs on the album, but here it works. Autotune of CL’s voice creates an engaging, foreign-sounding beat that you can’t help but enjoy. This is why the darker tone of the CL Solo works, while some of the album fails; while other songs can be too muddled by overproduction (probably at the hands of some studio hack), “MTBD” sounds clean. CL works well with the production, and one never overpowers the other as focus switches back and forth between the two. It’s careful not to overstep its bounds while still being experimental and creative enough to be interesting. The last few seconds are a tad obnoxious; CL sings and whines, asking “How painful is this life?” I’m willing to pretend these last few seconds don’t exist. Though it’s only like 3 minutes long and only features one member of 2NE1, “MTBD” is impressive.

2NE1’s “Crush” is enjoyable to listen to; the girl band’s members are clearly talented performers, and the album’s sound is exciting and edgy. However, it can be too much. Overproduction and the album’s overall busyness often hold it back. But I certainly will look at K-Pop in a new light now. Though I’ll never be as obsessed as my cousin, maybe next time she plays her K-Pop, I’ll listen with her.