140228_seoulbeats_2NE1 1Oh, 2NE1, my expectations for Crush were rather low but you proved me wrong. While not perfect, Crush was a quality album that yielded several great tracks including title track “Come Back Home” and the infectious “Happy.”

The reggae influenced beginning of “Come Back Home” is reminiscent of their past few songs while the chorus is a return to the electro-pop days of their 2NE1 EP. Together, these elements combine both the past and present to give us something uniquely 2NE1. Even the constant rhythm switches — while jarring at first — somehow meld to form a distinctly 2NE1 sound that gets better with each listen.

If it feels like I’m praising 2NE1 on their particular sound too much, I probably am. But let’s face it, no other girl group right now can do what 2NE1 does musically and while “Come Back Home” may not be the best track on Crush, it is easy to see why it’s a title track — it embodies the essence of 2NE1.

But is the music video just as good?

Perhaps I’ve been reading too much sci-fi and dystopian  fiction lately because “Come Back Home” feels as if it could be a movie trailer based on a novel. There’s a futuristic setting with spaceships, advanced technology, and a moon which is too large for the planet to be Earth. Plus, there are themes of escapism, social change, and revolution that are common in both genres.

The MV opens up with shots of a vibrant city teeming with life. It’s a stark contrast to the dull, lifeless apartment in which Dara and her lover live in. The colors in these scenes are muted and reflect the hopelessness of their lives.  And as the MV later shows us, this gloomy atmosphere is the true reality while the colorful city is but a virtual paradise.

20140304_seoulbeats_2ne1_comebackhome1Because of this, it is no wonder that the man prefers the virtual paradise to reality and thus provides the conflict for the music video. This theme of escapism is common in sci-fi and can also parallel our world today; Yang Hyun-suk explained that nowadays people are addicted to their phones and constantly on-line and the MV took that theme and expanded upon it.

Of course, 2NE1 is not content with humanity wasting away in a constructed wonderland and step up to begin a revolution. One of the final shots in which all the members are leading the revolution is especially powerful because it ties in with 2NE1’s position as a revolutionary girl group; 2NE1 has constantly defied the typical expectations of girl groups and the members create their own paths instead of following the masses.

And while the lyrics are about the pain of missing someone after a break-up, they tie into the themes of the music video. The chorus in particular echoes the sentiments of loss common in dystopian worlds.

Come back home
Can you come back home
Don’t leave me at the end of the cold world but come back to my side

The reason I highlight this is because often, K-pop groups have great MVs that don’t necessarily correlate with the lyrics and vice versa. 2NE1 could have chosen to do this futuristic concept with any of their songs but it has more meaning with “Come Back Home” —  the lyrics tie-in with the relationship in the MV in which the lover is physically there but mentally, somewhere else. Because mental distance from a lover is sometimes just as hard as physical distance.

20140304_seoulbeats_2ne1_comebackhome_clThe only complaints I have about the music video is that some of the scenes didn’t seem to make sense. For example, the members were working in a high-tech lab for … what? It wasn’t clear if the members were working in the lab in the virtual paradise or if they were in reality and trying to come up with a solution to the problem.

Also, the purpose of the scene in which CL spray paints figures and the girls torch the room eluded me. The only thing I can come up with is that the people in the room were those who created and/or profited from the virtual paradise. Still, it was a brief scene and not a major problem.

Overall, “Come Back Home” was interesting and enjoyable to watch. The themes present in the MV gave it gravitas and the cinematography carefully contrasted reality versus the fake utopia.

On the other side of the MV spectrum is the deceptively cheery “Happy” which features an upbeat vibe although the lyrics are far from cheerful.

A contrast from the intense “Come Back Home,” “Happy” is a fun, bright MV filmed in Los Angeles. It’s the most cutesy and light MV that 2NE1 has done so far, complete with pastel color themes and charming animation.

However, all this merely serves to distract the viewer from how painfully boring the music video is. “Happy” is all about the members enjoying themselves and spending quality girl time with each other but this is probably only interesting to hardcore Blackjacks.

The MV not only comes across as cartoonish but it doesn’t properly give the lyrics the weight they deserves. The lyrics discuss missing a lover and wanting them to be happy even when you yourself are not.

20140304_seoulbeats_2ne1_happyThe MV didn’t have to be a serious, depressing affair but it would have been nice to tie-in the lyrics by presenting a break-up scene and then subsequently having the girls gallivanting around town.

Perhaps “Happy” just doesn’t stand a chance since it was released alongside “Come Back Home.” Even so, if we try to look at “Happy” by itself, it’s still just a filler MV and a multitude of girl groups could have pulled it off.

The only thing that redeems “Happy” is that it shows a much different side of 2NE1. But just showing a different side of a group isn’t necessarily enough to make a good music video. Unfortunately, 2NE1 should have chosen a different song to feature in their second MV.

“Come Back Home” MV score: 4.75/5
“Happy” MV score: 2.9/5

Which MV did you prefer? Do you have a different view of “Come Back Home” or “Happy?”

(YouTube [1], Naver, pop!gasa)