[Single Review] 2NE1 – Missing You

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I suspected that 2NE1’s next release after breezy reggae track, “Falling in Love”, and club banger, “Do You Love Me”, would be some sort of ballad. The timing is right – it’s winter and people are getting all emotional and moody. The pattern of releases is right – 2NE1’s 2011 barrage of singles contained the banger “I Am the Best”, mid-tempo “Hate You”, and ballad “Lonely”. The only thing that this release doesn’t fully get right is the song itself. It’s a shame but, as much as I would love to offer the utmost praise to the legendary ladies of 2NE1, this release just doesn’t feel truly complete. The stitches holding together the sections of the song are too conspicuous, the emotions too manufactured. I appreciate the intent, I appreciate the musicality, I appreciate the vocals. What I don’t appreciate is how feigned the tears are, how badly the segments are pieced together, and how this particular attempt with contrasting sounds falters.

Music Video

2NE1 has always been hailed as the fashion renegades of the k-pop realm and this video really backed that talk up. The visuals for this release are stunningly subdued. Dark, pale colors give way to stark, deeper ones as scenes transition and I just love the outfits that 2NE1 wore in this release.

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I really enjoyed the visual quality of this music video. Even though it was simple – the girls essentially stood around and posed with listless faces – it really captured the melancholy feel of the song very well. The mysterious masked man added a darker element to the video and some symbolism. His wild movements contrasted with the girls’ static poses very nicely and, though I have yet to explicate the meaning behind all of this, I can’t help but think his appearance in this video was no arbitrary occurrence.

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I just loved Dara’s part in the video where she knocked over a chess piece off of a chessboard right when she sang about how she dislikes the calculative nature of adults’ conception of love. Her outfit and hair were absolutely gorgeous and the parallelism between the song lyrics and the video was especially enchanting.

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Of course, the online community was abuzz with reactions to CL’s nude scene. I have to agree with most of the comments hand it to CL – it was a very classy scene and conveyed nakedness very well. Nakedness means we are stripped of protection, of warmth. We are vulnerable during this state and, when we lose love, we similarly feel naked. We no longer feel that warmth, that sense of security. I think it was a simple but poignant message that this scene conveyed which I appreciated. It could have came off as another k-pop idol being promiscuous again or just another nude scene for attention and the sake of conveying a cliched message but I think CL pulls the nude scene off with maturity and sincerity. It was one of the few scenes where I felt as though the wistfulness wasn’t being contrived.

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All in all, I loved the contrasting elements in this music video, especially when you get gorgeous shots where dawn is being veiled behind translucent curtains, resulting in very angelic, pastel lighting, which contrasts with darker, gloomier grays that are given off by the cement walls and decrepit setting.

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Single

I just wished that the care and artistry that was put into making the video was also reflected in the song.

The “ooh”s in the beginning and the simmering electric guitar and the eerie hollow sounds created a very ominous and melancholy soundscape that matched the video’s backdrop very well. Vocals were very nice though Bom’s vocals continue to sound more questionable with every release – nowadays, she sounds way too wavering and lacks that force that she used to have back in the heyday of 2NE1.  I really like the eclectic bubble sound effects and the “yeah”s that are placed in the background of the verses.

The pre-chorus is where the song loses it charm for me. Dara’s vocals are average as usual (though the back up vocals sound amazing and skillfully buoys Dara’s so-so vocals). The piano being introduced after Dara’s parts during the pre-chorus sounds absolutely jarring and is not an adequate transition to the chorus. Don’t get me wrong, the choruses sound absolutely gorgeous and I love the falsetto during “그리워해요”. However, what I don’t like is the disjunction between the choruses and the verses. Again, I understand the intent of the piano leading into the piano-dominated chorus; the execution, however, falls short of expectation and this is the bane of the single.

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Had this song sounded more cohesive, had the verses led to more satisfying and similar-sounding choruses, “Missing You” would have been spectacular. The choruses and the verse at the end were beautifully sung and the verses sounded like a very catchy part deux to “I Love You” but the synergy between the two elements is lacking and this is the song’s Achilles’ heel.

Also, the very abrupt and out of place key change at the end was too cheesy to be in a 2NE1 single. Key changes are typically never a signal of greatness because they are so overdone in ballads and it takes an exceptional song to merit its use. “Missing You” isn’t exactly there and the key change used at the end is just not justified. Yes, it was for the sake of a climactic end but the song’s dynamics are all over the place so it wasn’t that effective to up the key so Bommie can belt it out. It wasn’t a very tasteful use of a key change as I would have liked as the transition was not well-executed and the point of the key change just wasn’t present.

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Conclusion:

Interestingly enough, contrast worked for the music video of “Missing You” but was the weak point of the song. There is a disconnect between intent and execution that is glaringly obvious here. I know they wanted a tear-jerker but what we got were manufactured tears about a subject that the vocalists themselves might not even identify with. Great ballads, and great music, derive from sincere feelings, for sincere feelings.

The message and concept of the release were there and I identified with it so much that I was on the brink of tears when I read the translation of the song lyrics. I really wanted to feel what 2NE1 was trying to convey because they were conveying something so real and relevant to me and my encounters with love but, in the end, all I felt was the vapidness of the manufacturing business that is k-pop. This wasn’t a single to evoke sadness, to convey the lost of a beloved, to cry about the pangs of desire for someone you will never get to hold in the same way again; this was a single to stay relevant in a market that is too cruel and fast-paced.

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TL;DR

Disjointed ballad that has its shining, beautiful moments but contains very fatal flaws in cohesion; expect a gorgeous music video in the same vein as “Lonely”. 

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2 comments

    1. LOL Ugh, I know right? As if this song wasn’t coherent to begin with; the ending pretty much solidifies how messy this song is. Sigh, I agree with your review with the single; 2NE1, we are “missing you” very much right now.

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