Release Year: 2009
Let’s dive into the world of K-hip hop with 2NE1’s “Fire”.
“Fire” is unique in that there were 2 music videos produced for it! There’s a “space” version and a “street” version. I personally prefer the “street” version myself, but check out both (below) and decide for yourself.
The four members that make up 2NE1 are: Minzy, CL, Park Bom, and Sandara Park (Dara). 2NE1 is also unique in that there’s a pretty wide age gap between the two younger members, CL and Minzy (born in ’91 and ’94, respectively) and the two older members, Bom and Dara (both born in ’84).
They were created by YG Entertainment in 2009 as a “female counterpart” to the legendary Big Bang (also contracted under YG Ent.). In fact, their first single, “Lollipop”, was a collaboration between these two sister groups, and was released in March 2009, with “Fire” following as their official debut track in May. I’ll cover “Lollipop” in detail sometime later, but for now, this picture should be enough to give you an idea of what the song’s concept was like:
Anyways, back to “Fire”.
Some people would say, later on, that “Fire” was an ominous sign of what to expect from 2NE1 – and it turned out, they were partially right. In their second album, released about a half-year later, there was an immediate outcry from many fans about the deplorable over-saturation of autotune in their music. And to be frank, “Fire” does contain quite a lot of autotune – especially for a debut single. I’ve always been of the opinion that any group’s debut song should showcase their vocal talents; unfortunately, “Fire” doesn’t do that.
As a stand-alone song, however, it does very well. It’s easy to see that the members themselves are impassioned about their work; they give off a vibe that’s hard to see from nearly any other idol group in the business today. They really put their hearts into their music, and it shows. This song is practically bursting at the seams with energy; I guarantee you that, by the end of the song, your feet will be tapping out a steady beat on the floor.
My personal favorite part begins at the 1:40 mark in the street version (1:45 in the space version). The hypnotic Indianesque beat, combined with Sandara’s vocals (that manage to peek through the dampening effect of autotune) is, well, catchy – to say the least.
I’m glad that 2NE1 has fun with their work. I’m glad that they managed to turn out such a quality song for their debut. However, I’m not glad that they chose to showcase their visual qualities over their aural qualities.
In some of the other songs in their album, such as their B-side single “I Don’t Care”, their vocal talents manage to shine through a bit more. However, it’s unfortunate that 2NE1 essentially picked the easier way out with their first single. It’s a shame, because their voices are actually pretty damn good. And the way they would go on in their 2nd album and completely ruin it with heavy synthesized autotune on literally every song in their album irks me to no end.
But for now – viewed through an objective lens – “Fire” is a great example of well-done hip-hop music.
4 stars out of 5.