Blackjacks around the world are aware that K-Pop sensations 2NE1 are saying goodbye as a group. Many fans are disappointed, if not surprised to see 2NE1 split; after all, it has been some time since the last 2NE1 album. The Korean Times reports that 2NE1 are releasing a single, called “Good Bye,” as a final farewell to their fans. Of course, everyone knows that 2NE1 members CL and Dara have signed with YG Entertainment as solo artists, so the blow to Blackjacks may not be as severe as might have been the case.
Anyone with even a passing interest in pop music knows that boy and girl bands have a very limited shelf life. Even One Direction seems to have passed their sell-by date and are currently on hiatus. That fact and 2NE1’s lack of a release for a couple of years have saved the group’s split from turning into a Korean drama. That said, 2NE1 are one of the biggest names in the K-pop music scene, and their split arguably means more than the split of a “normal” girl group.
As part of the K-pop music scene, 2NE1 occupies a place in popular culture that is perhaps unique. As part of 2NE1, CL, Dara, Park Bom, and Minzy were part of YG Entertainments grand plan to fuse Korean and western pop culture. 2NE1 was a huge player in a style of pop music that embraces a variety of western influences and mixes them with Korean music and visual arts. What’s interesting about K-pop is that it is “manufactured” to a very clear plan, and groups like 2NE1 are trained and mentored to achieve the perfect blend.
As long ago as 2011, BBC News reported on “the dark side” of Korean pop music. The approach to the creation of groups like 2NE1 has been widely criticized by the western media. It has been widely reported that K-pop stars are signed to punitively restrictive contracts, which are often termed “slave contracts.” Way back in 2012 the Wall Street Journal outlined the extent to which K-pop stars like 2NE1 are trained. They claim that it can cost up to $3 million to train a K-pop star and that the primary goal of that training is to ensure that K-pop dominates youth culture across the world.
So, What Of 2NE1’s Goodbye Song?
Blackjacks are aware that the writing has been on the wall for some time regarding 2NE1. It was as long ago as April last year that 2NE1 star Minzy quit the group, and Pop Crush reported in November that 2NE1’s contract had not been renewed by YG Entertainment. If 2NE1 fans were surprised by anything, it is the fact that the group has decided to release a goodbye single.
According to KMusic the remaining members of 2NE1 have already recorded “Good Bye” and the video work is also complete. YG Entertainment made a surprise announcement last week confirming that the final 2NE1 track will be released on January 21.
“The members of 2NE1 were sad that they weren’t able to say final good byes to their fans after their sudden disbandment, so they’ve come together for the last song.”
2NE1 was much loved, not just in Korea, but all around the world, and they will we saying their official last goodbyes through their upcoming song.”
It seems that 2NE1 will use the song to thank their fans for their support over the last seven years.
It is perhaps easy to dismiss K-pop bands like 2NE1, but they have helped to spread the influence of K-pop into other countries and across the world. Without bands like 2NE1, bands like Japanese outfit BabyMetal wouldn’t exist, much less playing the main stage of major music festivals and supporting Red Hot Chili Peppers on tour.
K-pop has had a major influence in boosting the image of Korea across the world. 2NE1 have been a major factor in the rising profile of K-pop and of spreading Korean culture outside of southeast Asia. For that fact alone, 2NE1 can be described as culturally significant. With the end of 2NE1, Korea is arguably losing a cultural icon.
[Featured Image by Kin Cheung/AP Images]