2NE1 (Korean: 투애니원, IPA: [tʰu.ɛ.ni.wʌn]) was a South Korean girl group that consisted of Bom, CL, Dara, and Minzy. The group was formed by YG Entertainment in 2009. After appearing alongside boy band Big Bang on the promotional single "Lollipop", the group rose to fame with the release of their eponymous extended plays 2NE1 (2009) and 2NE1 (2011), and studio albums, To Anyone (2010) and Crush (2014); all of which peaked at number one on the Gaon Album Chart. The group also had nine number-one hits on the Gaon Digital Chart, which include "Go Away", "I Am the Best", "I Love You", and "Come Back Home".
Left to right: Dara, CL, Bom and Minzy
|Origin||Seoul, South Korea|
The lead singles off of their first EP, "Fire" and "I Don't Care”, instantly brought the group to national attention, both achieving success in South Korea and other parts of Asia. "I Don't Care" received the Song of the Year award at the 2009 Mnet Asian Music Awards, making them the first music group to win a daesang in the same year of debut. They continued their success with their first studio-album To Anyone and 2011 sophomore EP, the latter of which produced the four chart-topping singles "Don't Cry", "Lonely", "I Am the Best" and "Ugly". Following their 2012 single "I Love You", the group embarked on their New Evolution Global Tour, which made stops in 11 cities in seven countries in Asia and North America, and set a milestone in the industry for being the first world tour for a K-pop girl group. Their final studio album Crush in 2014 became the highest charting K-pop album on the Billboard 200 at the time, peaking at number sixty-one.
The quartet also conducted a parallel career in Japan, first releasing a Japanese version of their second EP Nolza (2011) and following up with the studio albums Collection (2012) and the Japanese version of Crush (2014). Following a long hiatus, Minzy left the group in April 2016, while the remaining members disbanded that November. Their final single "Goodbye" was released on January 21, 2017.
Known for their unique fashion, stage presence and charisma, 2NE1 was considered one of the most successful and popular South Korean girl groups during the span of their career. They have reportedly sold 66.5 million records, which would make them one of the best-selling girl groups of all time. Billboard magazine ranked 2NE1 as one of the best K-pop girl groups of the past decade while The New York Times named 2NE1's New Evolution Global Tour stop at the Prudential Center in New Jersey as one of the "Best Concerts of 2012".
2NE1 was first mentioned by the South Korean press in late 2004. Both Spica's Bohyung and Fiestar's Linzy were trainees alongside the 2NE1 members, but they were eliminated before the group's debut. In early 2009, YG Entertainment formally announced the group would consist of four members and would debut in May of that year. The company stated the group had trained for four years and that their debut album would contain songs produced by 1TYM's leader Teddy Park. The group's name was initially announced as "21" but due to the discovery of a singer with the same name, the group was quickly renamed "2NE1". The name, when pronounced in Korean to approximate English as "To Anyone" or (US) "Twenty One", combines the phrases "21st century" and "New Evolution".
2009–2010: Debut and commercial successEdit
2NE1's first extended play (EP) 2NE1 (2009) was preceded by two singles, the first of which, "Lollipop", was recorded with label mate Big Bang and released on March 27, 2009, to promote the LG Cyon phone. Though a music video was filmed, "Lollipop" was not promoted because of its product advertisement affiliation, which caused issues with the network chart eligibility. The second single, "Fire", was written and produced by 1TYM's Teddy Park. It was released that May and includes elements of hip-hop and reggae. Two versions of the video for "Fire" were produced—a "space" version and a "street" version. Within the first 24 hours of release, both of the videos received over one million views. The song "Fire" and "2NE1" became popular online search terms. The final single, "I Don't Care", was released alongside their first eponymous EP in July. Promotional activities quickly followed to demonstrate a softer, more feminine image of the group to contrast the edgier image previously portrayed in "Fire". "I Don't Care" became the most-downloaded song of that month, later winning Song of the Year at the 2009 Mnet Asian Music Awards.
Although group members recorded and released their own solo materials in August, 2NE1 performed a reggae version of "I Don't Care" on Inkigayo in September; the reggae version became popular and it was released to digital outlets on September 3 as a digital single. Buoyed by the success of their singles, sales of 2NE1 reached 100,000 copies by the end of the year. 2NE1 later performed at the 6th Asia Song Festival, representing Korea alongside three other groups and winning the Asian Newcomer's award.
In February 2010, 2NE1 released "Try to Follow Me" through digital outlets to promote the Samsung Corby cellphone with no prior announcement or promotion. The song peaked at number one on the Gaon Digital Chart. In mid-2010, 2NE1 traveled to Los Angeles and London to record English-language songs for an American debut album with music producer will.i.am of The Black Eyed Peas. The group recorded 10 songs in their initial sessions. In that September, the group released their first full-length album To Anyone, which debuted at number seven on the Billboard World Album Chart. Prior to its release, the album had received 120,000 preorders. Four of To Anyone's twelve tracks were released as singles; the top-five hits "Clap Your Hands", "Can't Nobody", "It Hurts (Slow)" and the chart-topping "Go Away". A fifth song called "Don't Stop the Music" was recorded as a "special gift for Thai fans" and was also used in conjunction with the group's Yamaha Fiore endorsement. At the 2010 Mnet Asian Music Awards, 2NE1 won the most accolades out of any group that night: the "Artist of the Year", "Best Music Video" for "Can't Nobody", "Best Female Group", and the "Album of the Year" award.
2011–2012: Japanese debut and international expansionEdit
On January 19, 2011, "Can't Nobody (English Version)" was released on the Japanese digital retailer Recochoku as a ringtone and ringback tone. The following month, an accompanying music video was made available for download through iTunes Japan. The group's Japanese debut single "Go Away" was released as a ringtone on March 9, and was later used as the theme song for the Japanese television program Mezamashi TV. On March 16, 2NE1's first Korean EP 2NE1 was made available in Japan; promotional activities were canceled due to the Tōhoku Earthquake and tsunami. 2NE1 debuted at number 24 on the Oricon charts, selling 3,860 copies in its first week of release. Initial plans for their official Japanese debut on Music Station were postponed until later that year due to the earthquake, though the group participated in the Naver "Pray for Japan" campaign alongside other Korean celebrities to raise funds for earthquake victims.
The group returned to South Korea and released their second EP 2NE1 (2011), which bore the number-one hits "Lonely", "I Am the Best"—which also won the "Song of the Year" award at the 2011 Mnet Asian Music Awards—and "Ugly", as well as the top-three hit "Hate You". The EP itself was a major success, topping the Gaon Chart and selling over 108,000 copies. Spin Magazine ranked the EP as the sixth best pop album of 2011, placing ahead of Coldplay, Ellie Goulding and Rihanna. Following the end of promotions in August, 2NE1 held their first sold-out solo concert at the Olympic Hall in Chamsil Olympic Park, Seoul, on August 26, 27 and 28 before flying back to Japan.
The group re-recorded their second EP 2NE1 (2011) in Japanese; the EP was re-issued as Nolza the same year, peaking at number one on the Oricon charts and selling over 48,000 copies. Japanese-language versions of "I Am the Best", "Hate You", "Go Away", and "Lonely" were released as singles. The group also commenced their 2NE1 First Japan Tour – Nolza on September 19 and 20 at Yokohama Arena. That October, MTV's Iggy held a global competition in which 10 bands from all around the world competed in a voting competition for the title of "Best New Band". With their song "I Am the Best", 2NE1 was awarded the title on November 10, 2011, making this their first US award. 2NE1 performed at New York City's Times Square in December to accept the honor. At the end of 2011, 2NE1 was nominated for the Japan Record Award for "Best New Artist", losing to Japanese girl group Fairies.
On March 28, 2012, 2NE1 released their first full-length Japanese album Collection along with their second Japanese single "Scream". The album includes Japanese versions of their Korean songs such as "Love Is Ouch", "Fire", and "I Don't Care", and a cover of Madonna's 1984 hit song "Like A Virgin". Multiple editions of the album were released, some of which include a DVD containing the group's Japanese and Korean music videos, according to Oricon's music website. The album peaked at number 5 on the Oricon Daily Chart and went on to sell over 32,000 copies in Japan.
Later that year, 2NE1 and label mate Big Bang were invited to perform for the first time at 2012's Springroove festival in Japan alongside some top American and Japanese hip hop artists. 2NE1 and the subgroup GD & TOP had been invited to play at the festival the previous year but it was canceled due to the Japanese tsunami and earthquake tragedy. 2NE1 also collaborated with Japanese hip-hop group M-Flo for the song "She's So (Outta Control)", which is included on M-Flo's sixth studio album Square One. "She's So (Outta Control)" was released as the leading track from the album two weeks before its release on February 29, 2012. "She's So (Outta Control)" reached number 43 on the Billboard Japan Hot 100 chart. The group concluded their Japanese promotions by performing at the 2012 MTV Video Music Awards Japan, which took place on June 23 at the Makuhari Messe, where 2NE1 won the "Best New Artist Video" award for their song "I Am the Best". A non-album single "I Love You" was released in their home country, topping the chart and becoming their sixth number-one single. That December, 2NE1 and Big Bang made MTV Style's list of "Best Band Style of 2012"; the two YG Entertainment groups are the only Asian acts to appear on the list of 10, which includes One Direction, The Wanted, Backstreet Boys, Spice Girls, Destiny's Child, Fun, and No Doubt.
2013–2014: Collaborations, worldwide recognition, and world tourEdit
On March 14, 2013, 2NE1 released the English-language single "Take the World On", which is a collaboration with American singer will.i.am. The song had previously been used in a commercial for the Intel Ultrabook computer. On March 21, in an interview with Elle, CL confirmed the group had not yet planned an album for the United States but wanted to produce more songs in English. A second collaboration with will.i.am brought forth "Gettin' Dumb", which this time included his bandmate apl.de.ap. The song appears on will.i.am's second album #willpower, which was released on April 23, 2013. 2NE1's next singles were not tied to an album: the chart-topping "Falling in Love" and "Missing You" became their seventh and eighth number-one singles. A third non-album single, "Do You Love Me", was a top three hit.
In January 2014, 2NE1 appeared in an episode of The Bachelor and later appeared in the finale of America's Next Top Model, which was filmed in South Korea. The following month, 2NE1 released their second studio album Crush (2014). The singles "Come Back Home" and "Happy" were simultaneously released; "Come Back Home" peaked at number one on the Gaon Singles Chart, becoming the group's ninth number-one hit. Their third single from the album, "Gotta Be You", was released along with a music video on May 20. Crush sold 5,000 copies in four days in America, peaking at #61 on Billboard 200 and setting a new U.S record for "Highest Charting and Best Selling Kpop Album", beating Girls' Generation and Big Bang. On June 26, 2014, 2NE1 released the Japanese edition of Crush, which charted at number four on the Oricon Daily Album Chart.
–CL discussing the musicality behind their second Korean studio album Crush
Following the release of Crush, the group held their All Or Nothing World Tour, which included stops in China, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Philippines, Japan, Malaysia and Indonesia. From March to October, they performed a total of twenty concerts across 16 cities, totaling 180,000 attendees.
2NE1's 2011 single "I Am The Best", was released in the U.S. on December 11 by Capitol Records. On December 18, MTV Iggy crowned their song "Gotta Be You" "Song of the Year". The group received worldwide recognition at the end of 2014; Crush was the only record by an Asian artist to be selected for Fuse TV's "40 Best Albums of 2014" and ranked first in Billboard magazine's list of "Best Kpop Album of 2014". The album also placed eleventh in Billboard's year-end World Album chart, making it the chart's first entry by a K-pop group since its inception.
2015–2017: Hiatus and disbandmentEdit
Following the suspension of Bom's contract due to her 2014 drug scandal, other members of 2NE1 began exploring independent ventures, effectively sending the group into hiatus. Dara re-established her acting career by starring in web dramas such as Dr.Ian and We Broke Up, as well as KBS's Missing You. Minzy opened the Millennium Dance Academy. CL embarked on a solo career in the United States with the release of her single "Hello Bitches". The group's only activity in 2015 was a surprise performance at the 2015 Mnet Asian Music Awards in Hong Kong. After CL's performance of her solo singles "The Baddest Female" and "Hello Bitches", all of 2NE1's members reunited to perform "Fire" and "I Am the Best". The performance became the most-viewed MAMA performance by any girl group. It was applauded and as a result, Fuse listed it as one of the best performances of 2015. Despite not having made a comeback, 2NE1 was the 16th-most reblogged K-pop group on Tumblr for 2015 and Spotify mentioned both 2NE1 and CL in their "Year in Music" Twitter Campaign for achieving over one million listeners and being played for a "staggering" combined time of 165 years. The group also won China's 2016 Korea First Brand Grand Prize award for "Top 10 Most Anticipated K-Stars of 2016".
After a year of hiatus, YG Entertainment confirmed the departure of Minzy in April 2016, stating the group would continue as a trio. Later that November, however, the company announced the disbandment of the group. CL and Dara remained signed as solo artists while Bom was released from her contract. A last single titled "Goodbye" was released in January 2017 as a farewell to their fans; inspired by a letter CL wrote to Minzy following her departure from the group. The song topped the Billboard World Digital Songs chart.
Artistry and influencesEdit
In 2NE1's debut EP 2NE1 (2009), the group was noted to have a distinctive, mixed style. While "Lollipop" was categorized as pop, the group's debut single "Fire" was mainly influenced by hip hop and "I Don't Care" was intended to have a reggae feel.
The group's comeback album To Anyone was marked by a shift into electronic music. "Go Away", the most successful promotional single from the album, is classified as dance and some tracks, including "It Hurts (Slow)", are R&B, another style that also characterizes their first EP. The singles "Clap Your Hands", "Go Away", and "Can't Nobody" were noted for their lasting impressions.
2NE1 was known for a "unique and edgier style". After the release of their debut single, the group was noted for being "hip-hop" and as a female counterpart to Big Bang; however, "I Don't Care" changed this perception into that of strong, feminine women. Following the release of the music video for "It Hurts (Slow)", the members were noted for their black, Gothic clothing, strange hair, and wigs. Zack Greenburg from the American business magazine Forbes described 2NE1 as a pop group that was characterized by bold, bright outfits and big, catchy hooks that were punctuated by rap verses and an "in-your-face swagger". He also considers the group to be "bigger than Psy", singer of the worldwide hit single "Gangnam Style".
The group members used their images in a number of advertisements and promotional tie-ins. In 2009, they signed a modeling deal with Fila for a new commercial campaign. In early May 2013, the website "2NE1Loves.com" was launched along with mysterious videos of the members. The project was later revealed to be 2NE1 Loves Shinsegae, an endorsement for a department store and brand Chrome Hearts. Their songs have been used in advertisements; "Lollipop" for the LG Cyon phone, "Follow Me" for the Samsung's Corby Folder, and "Don't Stop the Music" for the Yamaha Fiore. "Go Away" was used as the theme song for the Japanese television program Mezamashi TV. In the aftermath of the 2011 Tōhoku Earthquake and tsunami, 2NE1 lent their image to the Naver "Pray for Japan" campaign to help raise funds for victims.
Park Bom cited American singers Beyoncé and Mariah Carey as her main influences because of their strong vocals and powerful performances. She has listed hip hop and R&B as her favorite music genres. Minzy cited singers Michael Jackson and Rihanna, while the group's leader CL said producer Teddy Park and American entertainers Madonna and Lauryn Hill are her role models. Dara states singer-actress Uhm Jung-hwa is her inspiration, and that she idolizes Regine Velasquez, a well-known Filipino singer. Dara also enjoys Britney Spears's style and music, citing her as a role model whose songs she often sang along with while growing up.
Awards and recognitionsEdit
When 2NE1 debuted, their song "Fire" and the subsequent live performances were called unconventional and impressive. They won many awards on the weekly music shows, such as Inkigayo and Music Bank. "Fire" also won them the Song of the Month and Rookie of the Month awards for May 2009. "I Don't Care" brought them similar success and recognition, and led 2NE1 to win the Song of the Year award at the 2009 Mnet Asian Music Awards. The same year, the group won the Cyworld Digital Music Awards for Top Selling Artist, Best Rookie Group, Bonsang Award, and Best Song for "I Don't Care". The group was also nominated at the 2009 Golden Disk Awards for the Popularity Award, Rookie Award, and the Digital Bonsang. At the Melon Music Awards, the group was the only new act of the Top 10 artists in South Korea and the Best New Artist. They won the awards for This Year's Stage, This Year's Album, This Year's Song at the 2009 GQ Awards.
2NE1 won their first Artist of the Year and Album of the Year award for To Anyone at the 2010 Mnet Asian Music Awards, and also won awards for Best Female Group and Best Music Video for "Can't Nobody". They were the first artist to win all three grand awards at the Mnet Asian Music Awards.
On November 29, 2011, 2NE1 won the Best Vocal Performance by a Group for their song "Lonely" and was awarded their second Song of the Year award for "I Am the Best" at the 2011 Mnet Asian Music Awards. Following the ceremony, 2NE1 was noted for winning the most grand awards for a female artist in MAMA history with four wins (two Song of the Years, one Album of the Year and one Artist of the Year).
- The Party in Philippines (2011)
- Nolza! (2011)
- New Evolution Global Tour (2012)
- All Or Nothing World Tour (2014)
- YG Family Concert (2010)
- YG Family 15th Anniversary Concert (2011–2012)
- YG Family World Tour: Power (2014)
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This was the year K-pop arrived — not in the form of "Gangnam Style," which was everywhere and yet completely evanescent — but in these arena shows, which were full of thousands of young, paying fans eager to see the girls of 2NE1 and the boys of BigBang, groups with zero American hits between them, but rabid American followings all the same.
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- Gaon chart single rankings:
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Known by many as the Korean version of the Spice Girls, the group has sold 27 million digital downloads to date, including the single "I Am The Best," which moved 4.5 million units
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