Simply ‘The Best:’ Saying Goodbye And Thank You To K-Pop Icons 2NE1

Until an act, such as a regime once carried out by a loathed and long-dead German mass murderer being reinstated by a persimmon-skinned baboon and his silver-haired anti-gay crusader comrade, transpires, most of us fail to realize that history has a way of repeating itself not just on an epic scale, but in more directly relatable ways as well.

I say all this not to start yet another “how could this possibly happen in 2016?” type of post on our understandably feared upon President-elect and Vice President-elect, but to share more of a personal story; one that links to a simpler time when the best way to avoid Donald Trump was to simply turn off NBC. Back in February 2012, while visiting a beloved friend, I was introduced to four amazing women whom, as partially specified in the English version of one of their many hits, “Can’t Nobody,” originated from the land of the rising sun — 2NE1.

(A minor note: I am well aware that the “land of the rising sun” is meant to denote Japan and not South Korea, where 2NE1 are actually from. Please hold your flame-filled comments for those who actually deserve them, such as Trump, Mike Pence, or anyone who even lightly supports either of the aforementioned pair. Signed, but not dictated, the Management.)

Despite the slight familiarity I had with the K-Pop genre thanks to BoA, another well-regarded talent who tried and failed to break through to American shores three years previous, the quartet of singers who made up 2NE1 — Park Bom, Sandara “Dara” Park, Gong “Minzy” Min-ji, and Lee “CL” Chaerin — were unlike anything I had never witnessed, aurally or otherwise, at that point in time.

Or at least, so I thought.

Little did I know that four years later, on the day of their official disbandment, as noted by KoreaBoo, they would bring to mind and heart memories and feelings of another singer of foreign origin who changed my life not just for the better, but for the absolute best. More on that person a little later.

Now, as much as I detest making the following admission, I ultimately feel that it must be expressed in order to relay that unlike the former host of The Celebrity Apprentice, I am no dolt (I also promise that I will try to make that the final mention of Trump in this piece, keyword being “try”), so here it goes: Before the announcement of the split of the last three 2NE1 members — Minzy, as shared by All K-Pop, walked away first in April of this year — I was well aware that this occurrence was an imminent one.

For starters, the girls have been mostly unseen together since their final live performance at MAMA, the MNet Asian Music Awards, in late 2015, which was, in truth, nothing more than a glorified introduction to the still-burgeoning English-language career takeover of CL (her first official single, “Lifted,” followed two lackluster buzz tracks, “Dr. Pepper” and “Hello B**ches”).

Although there were moments of glory during that short “reunion,” there were far more sights of a disconnect between the once near-flawless collective. Their dance moves were more off than usual (and no, not just Bom, who never was the best dancer), their expressions were, at times, visibly lifeless, and it became quickly apparent that one girl, namely Minzy, was there not just to outshine the group that made her famous, but CL herself, the headliner of the overall performance.

Additionally, despite the fact that they were never pushed as being purely wholesome, the scandal surrounding Bom’s supposed drug smuggling case, which Drama Fever said was related to amphetamine use, and Dara’s side-career as an occasional Korean soap opera actress and music competition judge (the latter of which isn’t as scandalous as it is wisely career-driven) meant that 2NE1’s days as a leading Korean music force were pretty much numbered.

Toss on the fact that YG Entertainment, the all-powerful entertainment company that housed 2NE1, has already found great success with the group’s newest heir apparent, the promising Black Pink, and it’s safe to cement just why this ending wasn’t necessarily the most shocking news to anyone, no pun intended.

[Image by Ken Ishii/Stringer/Getty Images]

But just because it isn’t surprising doesn’t mean that it hurts any less to see the group meet to such a sudden end, and it does hurt quite a bit, to be honest. As I find myself tearfully going through some of the group’s best videos on their official YouTube page, I can’t help but to think of the one person who unintentionally and unabashedly allowed me to become a shamelessly proud fan of the mostly non-English 2NE1. No, not the friend whose television I first viewed them on, but the late, great Selena Quintanilla-Perez, better known mononymously as Selena.

As I’ve personally relayed time and time again, Selena’s music once allowed me to forge my own identity during an existence where most tried to force me into one of their own making. Because of the enjoyment I found in listening to songs such as “Amor Prohibido” and “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom,” I slowly, but surely realized that I didn’t have to be like most of the boys in my neighborhood who looked up to, emulated, and eventually became the worst epitome of life in the Bronx.

I also realized that I didn’t have to “find myself” in so-called music that was supposed to be full of “real s**t,” yet sounded like absolute trash in both the lyrical and instrumental sense (and no, it hasn’t gotten any better. If it did, Lil’ Wayne wouldn’t be a thing, but I digress). I didn’t have to follow the status quo in fashion, in lifestyle, in anything, especially since, as I came to realize with age that I was never meant to be so damn ordinary.

I could proudly be a very different me, and that me could be any person that I wanted him to be, no matter how strange or weird or queer that anyone else believed that I was.

In the four-plus years since they’ve been introduced to me, 2NE1 has helped me solidify that in spite of what this world tries to impart upon us day in and day out, it’s okay to be an individual in an environment where resisting to follow the mass is seen as futile. Be you, be amazing, be brave, and most of all, as they sang to me through my friend’s television screen back in February of 2012, be the best. You owe it to yourself, and to every and anyone who truly wants to see you shine, but more so to those who try to tell or get you to believe otherwise.

Thank you, 2NE1. You will be missed, but never forgotten.

[Featured Image by Ken Ishii/Stringer/Getty Images]

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