2NE1 – Ugly: Kpop Music Mondays
No pussyfooting around this one. We’re just going to say flat out that this song didn’t do it for us. If you don’t know by now, we’re big 2NE1 fans, and we set the bar really high for them. So for us, this song was just kind of…meh, especially in comparison to their other really high energy, in your face kind of songs. It does remind us of 2NE1′s “Go Away” which we also didn’t like. It seems both those songs follow the same pattern of “simple verses” + “rock-esque chorus” = an important message song, while their other songs follow more of a “unique verses” + “rock-out chorus” = a danceable fist pumping song. But then again, these kind of simple songs by any kpop band just aren’t our style. We love our “Bambaratatata!!!” and “oh,O, oh O, oh O, SHOCKASHOCKASHOCKASHOCKA” and “NANANANANANANANAnanaNANANANAna na na na na” and “cry CRY!!!!” Anyways, we digress.
We just don’t find ourselves humming the song throughout the day, or pumping our fists to a certain verse. The song just kind of came out and then went away for us. Sure, the chorus is great to sing along to, but the rest of the song feels kind of…flat. Also, the message just rubs us the wrong way. We know that it’s supposed to be symbolic (English Majors here) but it seems too self-berating, and it feels like it will be sung by people when they feel bad about themselves.
However, if the lyrics had a turning point, the song would be awesome! Right now we feel like, “yes, you think you’re ugly when you hold yourself up to the standards of beauty…….AND? And what?! Say something else about it!” You don’t necessarily need a nerdy kumbaya to make yourself feel better, but you can at least say something like “well, f**k you guys, I don’t need your approval” or something. Or make a suggestion of a power being found in “ugliness”. Something! *Simon and Martina pinch their nose bridges.*
But the video does a good job of filling the void left by the song by showing 2NE1 wrecking up beauty stores, terrorizing people waiting outside of a club for superficial people, and then rocking out in a dump. So, yeah, the video shows them being comfortable with their uniquely stylish ugliness, which is what we hoped the lyrics would have shown a bit, no? Maybe there’s something subtle in the Korean lyrics that didn’t make it over in English translations?
Alright moving on. We’re really happy with the English in the song though. Like, really happy. Blown away happy. We never understood why Kpop uses English in its songs to begin with. It often seems incongruous to us. We don’t know about you, but when we speak with people we don’t break out into another language randomly and flip flop back and forth. And if we were to for some reason want to speak in another language, we’d at least do so with words or sentences that we’re comfortable with. Take, for example, this video of Mir speaking English.
Now, we’re not here to make fun of his English. Our point is that, well, he’s clearly uncomfortable speaking English. He doesn’t seem to have a knack for it. So, umm, why force him to speak English in his songs, then? Why not have him break out into Polish as well, while you’re at it? Why is English used in Kpop songs to begin with, if the main demographic, really, is Korean people in Korea who speak Korean? We don’t get it, but we’re trying to work towards an understanding here. Our guess is that Kpop was using English originally to be trendy, but now it seems like it’s trying to be more international by using English, but in doing so often alienates those uninitiated in Kpop through its terrible execution in English.
This is all leading up to our point on 2NE1′s English: this song, we think, finally uses English as it should be used in Kpop. It’s not a random awkward scattering of English phrases. The English in this song is its own standalone entity, and stands up quite well. It’s in an important part of the song, the chorus, which people will sing along to. It bridges both languages, Korean and English, comfortably. Does it sell out its Korean-ness by having a fully English chorus? Not at all. This is still a Korean song. More than that, it finally feels like an international song as well, that an international audience can get behind. Yeah man. Good stuff.
HEY! YOU! Don’t give us that “oh you’re so YG biased” argument, that we know some of you are dying to spit out. We can see it on the tips of your tongues. (Our computer has webcam. We can see you.) We said that we don’t like this song, flat out. But we can pick the parts of it that we do like. Not so great song, but super great use of English that really sets a new standard.
Anyways, we might have sounded kind of hard on 2NE1 but it’s only cause we love them. We still love that 2NE1 – and Amber from f(x) – are pretty much the only kpop idols out there that make an effort to present Korean girls with an alter image of femininity that doesn’t follow the typical Korean cutey/sexy girl pattern. Even though this song isn’t the best, the rest of the album is still worth checking out. 2NE1 Represent!
Oh! And as for the winner of last week’s Super Junior – Mr. Simple album contest, we announce those in our bloopers, which I’m surprised we haven’t been posting here as well. Here’s this week’s blooper reel!
Aaaaand one last thing: if you’re interested in the Spudgy song we made (why wouldn’t you be? IT’S OSM!) you can download it here: