By Tiffanie Lee
2NE1's first international tour brought the K-pop girl group to Nokia Theatre on Friday. The show felt like a stellar girls night out, and you could tell they were feeling quite at home, too.
There's no denying that group leader CL is a star, and not just back at home. While it's true that another K-pop star PSY is hot in America right now with his song “Gangnam Style,” CL is arguably the crossover messiah K-pop has been waiting for.
Still, her solo segment of the show didn't go so well. It started with a cover of Cyndi Lauper's “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,” and later moved into Madonna. Despite all of the lasers, pyrotechnics and designer threads, it was kind of a mess.
Meanwhile, Minzy proved to be a real dark horse. When the band formed in 2009, she was merely 15, the youngest member of the group. Now, she's making 2NE1's gaggle of male dancers work for their lunch money, and her voice has improved immeasurably.
Minzy was comfortably flowing with CL or belting out notes, and sometimes bested main singer Bom, always maintaining a smirk and a waggling tongue. In fact, she and CL seemed the most comfortable on stage, particularly shining in their rap duet “Please Don't Go.”
Bom, however, struggled to sustain the rich, powerful voice she's celebrated for. Still, she was redeemed in the stripped down renditions of her solo hits, “Don't Cry” and “You and I.”
Though she possesses the voice of a diva, she neither looks nor acts the part. In 2NE1 she is the token absent minded cutie, but her talent is best experienced without the cacophony of euro beats and screeching from her band mates.
As for Dara, her voice is weak and delicate to the point of brittleness; she needed relentless auto tuning throughout her solo song “Kiss.” Still, this former soap star in the Philippines definitely knows drama. She pranced around stage as the words “Sexy Dara” splashed across a sparkly LED screen full of kisses. It was awkward.
Jeremy Scott, widely known for styling 2NE1, outfitted the group in neon Adidas jumpsuits, replete with air-sprayed names and giant portraits of each girl. Trust that the show was worth it just for the style showcase alone.
The encore consisted of their original version of “I Don't Care” and closed with another performance of “I Am the Best.” The Black Eyed Peas' will.i.am and apl.de.ap promptly stormed the stage and crashed the K-party.
It's widely know that 2NE1 has been recording with will.i.am, in what YG hopes to be a potential all-English album for the group. Perhaps this will be that coveted crossover that all the Korean record companies are seeking. But in truth, the group probably doesn't need will.i.am's help.
Personal Bias: I shrieked like it was Savage Garden all over again.
The Crowd: Neon threadheads, a cultural stew of K-town and the entirety of San Gabriel Valley, 20-something girls making their first stop of the night, 12-year-olds chaperoned by parents.
Random Notebook Dump: One of my best friends is likely to shave the side of her head a la Dara because of this show. Girl power.
Set list below
I Am the Best
Clap Your Hands
I Don't Care (Reggae Version)
Don't Stop the Music
Solo act: DJ CL
Solo act: Bom's “Don't Cry” and “You & I”
Try to Follow Me
Duo act: CL and Minzy's “Please Don't Go”
Solo act: Minzy's dance number
Solo act: Dara's “Kiss”
In the Club
I Love You
Let's Go Party
Scream (Japanese single)
I Hate You
I Don't Care (Original)
I Am the Best (Reprised w/ will.i.am)