Vocally, 2NE1 are very, VERY strong, if not for one girl - Sandara. I don't care if all you andara fans start crawling out of nowhere and attacking me but even since she was here (in the Philippines), I hated her guts. But we'll get to that later.
Back to my point. If my standards are Idol group standards, aka as long as you can hold a melody it's fine, then they're way ahead of everyone else. But you see, according to everyone, they're not just any old idol group - they're 2NE1. And because they're not like everyone else, I won't treat them like everyone else.
You cannot deny that no matter how popular 2NE1 get and no matter how much I hate hearing their songs everywhere.I.go, they know how to perform. The recorded arrangements of their singles may be as boring as hell (I'm talking to you, I Don't Care) but the minute they have a big awards show or music festival to attend, the re-arrangement or remix will just blow you away. Fans eagerly await the next re-working of their favorite hits and they get the 'critical acclaim' (if there is such a thing in kpop) from musicians and everyone's happy. YG knows how to one, make a hit, and two, make a musically outstanding performance arrangement of said hit. Even if I'm not the biggest fan of rap, I gotta commend YG and 2NE1 for their performances. Gah. Now how I wish DBSK were as creative with their live performances.
2NE1 are more than just singers, they're performers. Performing is beyond singing - a performer not only knows how to sing, but knows how to make people listen. To be able to be performers at this early in their career just makes me want to worship them. lol. I swear, every time I hear a new re-arrangement it makes me love these girls even more.
But wait. Let's get the terms straight first. There are people who can't sing but are performers - you have to watch them to appreciate them as artists. There are people who can sing their head off but don't necessarily know how to put on a show - you don't have to watch them to know they're good, you can just listen. Then there are people who can sing AND put on a show - that's 2NE1.
All these constant re-workings show their versatility as singers and as a band, which is probably one of the most important things to possess if you're a pop singer - people expect you to be able to sing your head off in every possible way and 2NE1 can do that.
I don't have to talk about how good they work as a group anymore because they're beyond just being able to work as a group - they're at a point where all they have to do now is develop the voices they already have *ahem* and do some more decent a capella work *ahem*.
EDIT: I didn't think I had to say this anymore but with the influx of comments here and on Twitter, I guess I have to. 2NE1 are a vocal group, they sing and make MUSIC - that's their job. I'm evaluating them as singers and not members - I don't care one bit if they're funny or they're nice in person, if they can't sing they don't deserve to be in the band for the sole reason that 2NE1 is a MUSICAL group. If a member doesn't have a voice he/she should just go into acting or modeling or something - not singing. I hope that clarifies things.
I DON'T CARE
Now, this 10-minute performance at the controversial MAMAs late last year pretty much sums everything up - YG knows how to put on a show, 2NE1 knows how to sing, etc. Hahah.
Gah. Let's get her out of the way already. I don't like Sandara, never have, never will - she's the token pretty face in the band that doesn't really contribute anything outstanding musically. I hated her guts when she was here in the Philippines (not because she's Korean, I'm not a racist. lol.) because one, she was annoying, two ABS-CBN (that's a TV channel) was giving her so much publicity she clearly didn't deserve and three, she couldn't sing or act. There you have it. Although I do think she's improved since then, I still don't think her vocal abilities are up to par with the rest of the group. Her voice is weak, it's shrill, it's too thin in the bad way and she can't push. I don't necessarily like it when you push your voice to much but in this case she just can't. And I think it's all a matter of personal taste - I don't like her voice. If Sandara was in an 'OK if can hold a melody' band, then she'd be pretty good, actually. But 2NE1 aren't one of those bands, they're supposed to have outstanding talent. To a certain extent I've seen/heard worse but compared to her band mates, Sandara fails miserably.
Park Bom is supposedly 'the voice' of 2NE1 - she's the one with the big vocals and she's the one who gets most of the prominent melodic parts on songs. I do think she has a gorgeous, gorgeous voice but the more you think about it, the plain-er her voice gets. Every single girl group that has come and gone has 'the big voice', people think it's so special to have a voice like that but it's not, anymore. Don't get me wrong, I think Park Bom's voice is gorgeous, it's just that I don't think she should be getting more publicity for her voice than Minzy or CL. But the girl does know how to sing her head of properly - I gotta hand it to her.
Minzy's the youngest - SHE'S MY AGE. And so for her to be able to sing like that, all my dreams of ever being a pop star (no matter how small they are) have been thrown away. Minzy was actually the first voice in 2NE1 that really caught my ear - I like smooth vocals, Minzy has smooth vocals. It just works. The thing with Minzy is that her voice may be thin but she has this nice, deep timbre - something you don't usually hear in a smooth voice. I love Minzy's vocals, I really do - I just have one tiny little problem with them. Nothing big though. There are times when she doesn't deliver. It's not that she can't sing or she doesn't have a voice, she does, it's pretty damn good, it's just that she's not that consistent yet. Take her age into consideration - once again, SHE IS MY AGE. I can't sing and dance at the same time like that. She can. She just needs more practice and her voice needs to grow. Once that's done gah, she'll be even more brilliant than she already is.
(she's the one with short hair.)
The girl I was most surprised with was CL. During their Fire days CL was being pushed as the rapper and the leader but then I Don't Care came around and she sang. Shet. This girl can sing. I was sucked in. Not only can she sing, she can sing pretty damn good. And no matter how much I think Park Bom's voice is perfect for singing your head off, CL's got something that's made me like her more than Bom. But we'll get to that later.
CL's voice is like Minzy + Bom - she has the power and deep timbre that Bom has but she also has a smoothness to her vocals. That's like the perfect combination. Gah.
It took time for me to choose my favorite voice in 2NE1 and it too time for all the right reasons - Bom, Minzy and CL all have their own styles, their own niches and they have different voices. Ranking them would be really hard. But there was one thing that CL does better than all the others - perform.
CL knows how to sell a song, no matter how crap or good or boring, CL knows how to sell it. She raps, she sings, she prances around stage and it all seems so natural to her. That's the whole point of being a singer and having a voice in pop music - you have to be able to sell whatever song your record label gives you, bad or good. CL does it the best and she does it with so much conviction you'd think she wrote the songs they perform. No matter how crazy her wardrobe gets (at times) or how annoying Fire was (for me), CL sold it because that's what you do when you're a singer.
(She's the one in pig tails.)
Now, there's something I have to do. *goes and hides under a rock for what she said about Sandara*