2NE1’s debut mini album, entitled 2NE1, was released on 07.08.09. Fire and I Don’t Care were released digitally as singles before the album.
Fire is the perfect way to kick things off. The song begins with CL making an introduction over a hot instrumental that will get the listener up and moving. Then the group does some vocalizations before the first verse goes in. CL sounds awesome on her rap section and her personality comes shining through. There’s this cheekiness that catches the listener’s ear and is reminiscent of G-Dragon of BIG BANG. Minji also sounds good on her rap section and even sings a note at the end. Bom then shows off her vocals for the hook and she sounds very strong here. The chorus is infectious with the repeating words that get stuck on the listener’s hear. Sandara sounds good on her section with a slight Indian vibe coming through the instrumentation and distortion on her voice to make them suit the music very well. It’s one of the best K-Pop songs of the year and one that will get the listener hooked on 2NE1.
Up next is I Don’t Care, also released before the album. The song opens up with an instrumental carrying a reggae sound that stands out with CL giving another introduction. Again the group does some vocalizations before the first verse. Minji and Sandara sound good on the verse although there’s nothing that really catches the listener’s ear here. The same comes in on the chorus. There’s no real point that the listener gets caught in the song except for maybe near the end when the vocals are repeated. Just like G-Dragon tends to bring his charm and energy to BIG BANG songs, CL does the same and pumps a little needed energy into the song. It’s not a particularly strong song with CL’s part being the only one that really shines.
The first new song on the album is In The Club. The song opens up with a nice instrumental that has a prettiness to it as well as an edginess. Those opening vocals aren’t the greatest but they make a nice introduction to the first verse. The vocals here are very nice and carry emotion well. The chorus is a little dry with the constant repetition of “in the club” although their vocals are pretty strong here. As usual, CL gives a little more energy with her rap section although it’s still nothing that really makes the listener go wow. It’s an okay track but just nothing that will make the listener really remember the song.
Let’s Go PARTY is the album’s fourth track. Opening the song is an interesting and mysterious sounding instrumental and then the chorus comes in. They sound nice although the music is a little too relaxing and doesn’t really grab the listener. It’s missing that aggression that would otherwise make it sound really catchy. It’s just an okay song but it lacks that special magic and aggression.
Pretty Boy finally picks up the energy a little more. CL starts things off the right way with an introduction over a hot instrumental. On the first verse, the vocals sound great and have a flirtatiousness to them that sounds good. CL does her thing on her section as usual and keeps the listener wanting more. The chorus could have been stronger but it’s nothing bad. CL does it again on the second verse and Minji also brings her heat. Sandara and Bom sound good on their respective parts although not as strong as the other two. It’s the best new song on the album and it leaves the listener wondering why there weren’t more upbeat songs like this.
Stay Together is another slow-jam type of song. Basically it’s what all the other slower songs sound like and there’s no real spice to the song that jumps at the listener. It might as well have been left off the album.
Lollipop is the album’s bonus track and is a collaboration with labelmate BIG BANG. The song’s opening instrumental has kind of a trippy feel to it which will catch the listener’s ear and the girls’ vocals sound good here. TOP and CL set things off on the first verse with both delivering strong rap sections, TOP taking the stronger point. G-Dragon and Sandara then follow and both sound great right before the chorus. The chorus is nice with it switching between the boys and the girls and everyone holds their own. Taeyang is up next on the second verse and his vocals carry a smoothness to them that suits the music strongly. Seung Ri and Dae Seung are the last ones to get solo parts and even though they don’t hold the same strength as their counterparts, they sound nice. Overall it’s fun and it’s cool, which serves as a good album closer.
Album Ranking: B
Admittedly the album was somewhat disappointing. 2NE1 really shines with tracks like Fire and Lollipop and with all the new tracks, there wasn’t enough energy for the listener to get into. There were too many slow songs so it began to feel like the album was dragging on at points despite the shorter lengths of the song. Pretty Boy brought the spark back for a moment but it just wasn’t as strong as a package as hoped for.