After seemingly getting back on track with ‘Come Back Home‘, 2NE1 falls back into some bad recent habits with ‘Gotta Be You’. Yes, this is a music video release for a very good song which has been available for months and thus there won’t be as much hype for it. No, that doesn’t excuse the lackluster product put on display here.
As for the song, this is what I had previously written on the subject for the ‘Crush’ album review:
“Gotta Be You” sounds more like a Big Bang effort as a result but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The choruses are the real strength of “Gotta Be You”, as they should be for an R&B song, and the production knows how to properly make them shine with some great accelerated breakdowns before each. The snare drum is utilized perfectly and CL fills the verses and buys time for each chorus nicely. This is the type of song that actually suits 2NE1 better than the reggae efforts as it gives Bom more to do and CL’s rapping doesn’t sound forced like it can otherwise. “Gotta Be You” is arguably the strongest tracks here.
It’s a shame that the video completely fails to live up to the track. It is hard to know where to start because the entire thing feels and looks flat and tired. Bright colors, long a 2NE1 staple to make shots pop, are rendered boringly by the hastily compiled walls that are washed out by redundant filters. When color filters aren’t being put over the shots (and why a yellow background would also need a yellow filter is a mystery outside of the fact that it’s clear that even the makers of the music video know that they’re working with next to nothing), the camera juts around as if this were a “behind-the-scenes” video (the scenes with Bom and Minzy are particularly guilty of this) instead of a proper finished product. Flashing lights don’t add anything dynamic but rather reinforce the notion that this is more or less a moving photo-shoot and a poorly composed one at that.
Even the most inspired shots of the maze-like construction of the overarching sets are ultimately wasted as 2NE1 more or less just stands there, as if their simple physical presence justifies the viewer’s undivided attention. Nothing that the members do in “Gotta Be You” looks like anything more than a half-formed idea. Dara, Minzy, CL and Bom take turns pacing hallways, lip-synching, shaking their fingers at random intervals and walking through the maze with all the urgency of a hung-over Garfield on a particularly bad Monday. No one can even be bothered to harness a facial expression to convey any sense of isolation or longing because that would require effort and effort is clearly something which “Gotta Be You” would rather not expend. And while the maze provides an explanation as for why 2NE1 are hardly in any shots together, it just seems like a convenient excuse to not have any choreography or coordinated movements between members. Because that would take, you know, “planning” and “attention to detail” and that would mean more than an afternoon of filming.
There are different types of “bad”. There are those pieces of entertainment which are ambitious but fall apart at the seams due to a failure of execution. Some of these fail so spectacularly that they circle around to being fascinating in their own right (The Room is the prime example of this in film but half of G-Dragon’s music videos could fit the bill as well). The more offensive type of “bad” is a project where no one seems to care and the sins of being overly ambitious are replaced by the sins of not giving a shit (If we’re to keep up the film analogy, this type of bad is everything Adam Sandler has released in the past decade).
For whatever reason, so much of what 2NE1 has released in the past two years falls under the latter category. Of their past six music video releases, 2NE1 has released one that is very good (‘Come Back Home’), one that is solid (‘Missing You‘), one that is alright but only in comparison to what immediately preceded it (‘Do You Love Me’) and three that range from bland to “bad in the bad way” (‘Happy’, ‘Falling in Love’ and ‘Gotta Be You’). ‘Gotta Be You’ has the look of a “bad-bad” release (or a label that feels that they can release anything and have a fan base lap it up).
Four years ago, it would have been easy to say that 2NE1 was trying too hard to be different from their contemporaries with their reggae-hip-pop compositions, bizarre clothes and bright neon colors but at least they were trying. Sadly with ‘Gotta Be You’, all the neon lights are still on but nobody’s home.