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The thing about 2NE1 is that there are three girls who could go solo, but it’s like, why would they go solo when teaming up means guaranteed all-kills?

(↓ Bonus sketch by me ↓)

From left to right↴

Dara’s voice is fresh but thin and occasionally shrill.  She doesn’t detract from the others on the recording and she brings it to the stage, but when she’s not prepared, her vocals are a little shaky. I think she’s gotten a little better: of the ‘weak link’ members (ahem, Kara Hara, Wonder Girls Sohee), she is probably one of the better ones. Dara doesn’t murder her solo lines like Sohee has been doing in recent songs. Cut Dara some slack; CL and Minzy couldn’t hit their low notes in Go Away but they haven’t taken any flak for it. Dara shouldn’t, either.

The other three are superior vocalists but we’re not talking about three soloists. Imagine any 2NE1 song with Dara’s parts sung by a different member, or cut out completely. It’s not the same anymore. Without Dara, 2NE1 is just three vocals. One thing’s for sure, 2NE1 wouldn’t be this 2NE1 without her.

CL’s voice epitomizes 2NE1. I’ll hear a line and be initially unsure of who is singing because it sounds a little like Dara’s occasionally, it gets pretty smooth like Minzy’s, and it has a certain technique like Bom’s. That’s why I like her for the leader.  Even her voice represents how the group is woven together.

She’s actually good at singing.  The idea feels counter-intuitive because she raps a lot but hear me out.  CL’s voice is not typical.  When people think of amazing voices, they think of qualities like range, lung capacity, and timbre but what CL has is crazy good consistency and control. Her timbre suits the electronic hip hop kind of sound so popular with Koreans right now yet she can croon out an acoustic ballad flawlessly with that same voice. Her voice is a good kind of unique.  Its strength is not in ‘gorgeousness’ of timbre but it says, “I know what I’m doing.” That quality has its own attractiveness. It’s like Adam Levine of Maroon 5. He doesn’t have a voice that leaves the ladies sighing and fanning themselves, but every time I hear him on the radio, I give a little cheer mentally because his voice has this precision. CL gives me the same feeling.

I love Minzy’s voice and how lovely and rich and smooth it is. Minzy’s voice is warm. It feels deep even if she’s not singing lower than others and it’s smooth, which really lets the glottal stops* stand out (which is a small thing, really, but it makes a difference in the overall effect). Sometimes her voice gets borderline raspy, but in a nice way like those male ballad singers.

I love Bom’s voice.  It’s really unique and I can’t describe it.  Sometimes I think she sounds like two or more people singing together.  I feel like her voice reminds me of something or someone else and I just can’t think what exactly what or who that is. Her voice, her face, her style all come together to define “What is Bom?” And she can pull off green hair. SORRY back to voices.

Pizzazz is the word that comes to mind with Bom’s voice.  I don’t think it is the right word, but it sounds right.  Her voice sounds young yet weathered.  It’s more unique than the others’ if that’s even possible.  2NE1 are the above-and-beyond group and Bom plays a huge role in that. Bom is Bom is Bom.

When they’re on stage, you can see that it’s teamwork. Every team of singers has its own color (should I call it multi-layer timbre?), and I don’t approve of kicking someone out simply because they’re the weak link. If Dara were tone-deaf, that would be an entirely different story, but she’s not.

2NE1 is like raspberry lemonade. Minzy’s the honey: mostly smooth and sweet but with a bit of a bite to it. Bom’s the lemon juice: real lemons, not that store-bought “instant lemonade” powder crap.  CL’s the water that mixes it all together. Dara’s the frozen raspberries. When they come together, they put on the show like they mean it and that’s what counts.


*What are glottal stops (IPA: ʔ)?  In Minzy’s “yo-oh-oh-oh” line in “It Hurts”, she makes glottal stops between each “oh”.

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