The Korean music group 2NE1 made a splash in the Asian music scene with the hit "Fire" in 2009, but this month the group made its U.S. debut by performing before thousands in Newark and Los Angeles. NY1's Lewis Dodley met with the group and filed a special extended report for NY1.com.
It was billed as a "New Evolution," as thousands came out in Newark and Los Angeles for the U.S. debut of 2NE1, an all-girl group from Korea that has become an international sensation.
The four members of the group — Bom, Minzy, CL and Dara — found their American audiences to be very enthusiastic.
"We had so much fun on-stage and the energy was there and I felt that our fans were having fun and we got their energy," says CL.
The name 2NE1 is a play off of the phrases "to anyone" and "twenty-one." Their choreography is very high-energy, and they say Minzy is "the dancer" in the group who makes up all the dance moves.
Dara drove the men wild at one point by kissing a male audience member on the cheek. But Dara says that was not a spur-of-the-moment decision.
"Actually it was planned, but the guy didn't come up, so I had to go down," Dara says.
Asked if they find success in the United States to be important, the members of 2NE1 say they want to be for everyone.
"I want people to enjoy our music, wherever it is, you know? That's why we do music and I want people to connect to us," says CL. "We do this for everybody."
Their journey got underway three years ago with the hit song "Fire," a symbol of the formula that's gained the group millions of fans. The group gives credit to producer Teddy Park.
"We started with him. He made us, we could say that. And 2NE1, we work with a crew, with our stylist and anybody, and he's like another member," says CL. "He's not with us, but he's the musical director and he gives us direction for everything."
The group's videos are edgy and bold, but don't confuse what you see with the real thing.
"We have this alter ego, I think. All four of us do. We have a reality TV show called '2NE1 TV' and that's where you can really see who 2NE1 in person really is. You know, if you see that reality show, we're just like four girls, just four noisy girls," says CL. "We're just four normal girls, but on stage we have this side where someone comes out."
The members of 2NE1 seem like sisters. Bom and Dara are the "biggest" sisters and Minzy, at just 18, is the youngest.
Before they came to New York, 2NE1 visited a child care center, and what was supposed to be a one-hour visit soon lasted three hours.
"I love kids and I love children, you know? It might seem like it's nothing, just being there for them, but just hugging them and showing them love is so much to them. I just stayed there for like a couple of hours and they called me 'Mom,'" says CL. "I couldn't leave, you know? They were crying when I wanted to leave and I want to support them as much as I can and really being there for them is. I realize it's important."
The group has been working with the Black-Eyed Peas will.i.am., fueling speculation about an English-language offering, but nothing's official yet.
"We want to have an English-language single out at least. I felt like many more people could connect to it if we have an English song," says CL.
But for the crowds at Newark and L.A., language was not an issue.
"It's really amazing, but it's the power of music," CL says.