House of the Dragonfly
2NE1, “Falling in Love”
After far too long, 2NE1 is finally quasi-back with their pre-release single, “Falling in Love”!
Musically, this is a perfect song for summer and great for heralding 2NE1’s return. Minji sets the tone with a great reggae verse, a genre 2NE1 proved they could pull off with their remix of “I Don’t Care.” CL of course rocks her rap and Bom sings her heart out for a verse, making it seem like each girl gets her own story to tell. There’s even an undertone of Bollywood (that I seriously can find NO MENTION OF anywhere else, almost making me wonder if I’m crazy), and I wonder if Snoop had anything to do with that because I know he loves it.
And thennnnnnnnnnnnn there’s Dara. Poor Dara. I feel like she has recently been gaining a decent amount of skill and I thought she had finally evolved from her position as face in the group. Sure, her vocals are nowhere near as powerful as any of the other girls’, but she got relegated to the minimal bridge (“touch me over here, this sounds really awkward both in and out of context”). Poor Dara’s opportunity for her own story got gobbled up by a second rap verse from CL. As much as I love how badass CL is, I feel really bad for Dara and I wish this oversight wasn’t going so unnoticed by other Blackjacks.
Thematically, this song is really a continuation of their “I Love You” release last summer. It’s another puff piece without much significance. But honestly, I don’t really mind. 2ne1 has demonstrated numerous times that they have something to say with “their” music. It’s not like SNSD where pretty much every single song they promote is oriented around dating and boys (THIS is my main beef with SNSD: not that their songs are not catchy, not that they’re all incredibly beautiful and I’m jealous or whatever reason fangirls and boys use in an attempt to dismiss my criticism. It’s just that, thematically, SNSD songs suck balls). Because 2NE1 have historically been so thematically diverse, and tend to be a relatively strong feminist voice in the sea of kpop sexual objectification, I am willing to forgive them a few puff songs. That’s why I was one of the few Blackjacks standing up for “I Love You”; yeah, it was a deviation from their typical theme. But it was a FUCKING AWESOME SONG. In my eyes, they are allowed to change things up every once in a while.
The music video is very YG: a high-production feast for the eyes. I always feel very mixed about 2ne1’s dances, though. They usually have some pretty cool moves, and “Falling in Love” is no exception, but even 2NE1 fall prey to excessively sexual choreography. I realize 2NE1, too, are doing their best to attract a male audience, but I feel like their main audience is primarily female and their choreographers should take that into consideration more. The sexuality is more appropriate in songs like “I am the Best,” where they obviously own it for themselves. It doesn’t seem like they are pandering to male hormones so much as saying, “Fuck yeah, we’re awesome!” But “Falling in Love” is not in the same category as “I am the Best,” so the sexual aspect of it falls flat and feels a little cheap.
The Bollywood-esque props and some of the choreography compounds with that. Is it culturally appropriate? Are they respecting Indian culture or simply appropriating it for their own purposes? Is it accurate and did they do their research or was it just like, “Ok, well, this looks cool! Let’s give it a shot!” Korea does not have a reputation for being culturally sensitive (let’s not forget that there was a huge uproar about blackface… as recent as last year). Again, I seem to be the only person on the planet to have picked up on this aspect, so I’m not quite sure what to think about that.
Overall, though, it’s a great song and a perfectly-timed release. I really do hope YG keeps their word and follows up with the album, instead of pulling the rug out from underneath Blackjacks like last year. I am excited to see what else 2NE1 has in store!