Maybe it WILL take over the world.
Iain Mew: It hasn’t been their year, and I’m not just saying that out of bitterness that their daytime “hologram performance” in London turned out to be a very real performance and I missed it. The first part of “Missing You” offers both tenderness and, thanks partly to the frosty ripples of the production, an authority and purpose that they’ve missed. That’s lost once 2NE1 shed that skin to go acoustic ballad, though. A decent acoustic ballad, and “Missing You” remains the closest they’ve come to recapturing the form of even “I Love You”, but they’re not all the way there.
Jessica Doyle: “Okay,” I said to myself, “it’s meant to be a bittersweet story of moving on, not exclusively a wallowing breakup song. And you admire the technical transition between the more bloopy verses and the more traditional piano-backed chorus. And everyone can sing. And everyone’s crying. Why are you not crying? Listen to it again. No, again. Crying yet? No? Think of how your children will grow up and leave you some day. Still nothing? Consider the possibility that your soul has been misplaced.”
Anthony Easton: There is a narrative that is occurring, wordlessly, from the ooohs in the beginning through the literal bubbling, that fights with the a piano, with the piano finally winning. I didn’t say a coherent or interesting narrative, but one that seems present.
Patrick St. Michel: At one point in the summer of 2012, I was ready for 2NE1 to take over the world. I watched them put on one of the most energized live shows I’d seen to that point, including the just-released highpoint “I Love You.” The past year has been a sigh-inducing comedown. CL’s “The Baddest Female” ended up being the group’s highlight, and that didn’t set any sales charts on fire. 2NE1 have turned to mellow reggae (which they already had mastered) and then a forgettable party jam (the sort of thing they once took to an insane level). And now…a ballad, with a few bubble noises and some shouts in the back to stand in for anything interesting sonically at all. Again, 2NE1 are revisiting something they’ve already done way better before, with nothing of interest this time around (oh, except the video, designed so that music sites can fit “strip down” into the headline). Thankfully for them, this is doing really well in South Korea. Too bad it is simply just fitting in, instead of blowing everything up.
Cédric Le Merrer: I love how this builds from tense synth pop to cathartic stripped down ballad, dropping any pretention of coolness to find strength in a more traditional arrangement of melodrama.
Alfred Soto: It builds to a chorus that’s too sweet by half, but I love the crystalline mix and inventive arrangement: piano parts and acoustic strums, bubbles and harmonies. Let’s hope Little Mix cover it.
Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: So this is how you make a Very Big Ballad without sacrificing or dialling down your act’s brand of seething-viper coolness: Diplo-esque bubbling SFX, minimal minor-key backing, tag-team vocals. It’s immaculately performed and produced, even if the ivory-pounding finale feels like a little bit of a reach for something this (relatively) lowkey – but still! Very Big Ballad: conquered! Fake-patois summer jam: conquered! Icona Pop: conquered! 2NE1 are the best girl group in the world right now.
Brad Shoup: Just a strange record. The Bat for Lashes-type creep faces off with a plodding piano — doubled up with strum — that’s set up better than I first thought. In the piano sections, Bom and CL swing for the fences, but they’re on some diamond of the mind. By the end, they’re ahead of the chords, utterly disengaged from the track. Did they get bored? Is this the weariness of the text made meta? In a world full of big-gesture buzzkills like DJ Earworm, perhaps it’s good to end so small.
Crystal Leww: 2NE1 has been outrageously refreshing in the past, with truly unique and maximal production, so it comes as a shock that “Missing You” is so bland. Then again, maybe not; girl groups can sometimes make great slow jams, but oftentimes, they fall into the puddle of lack of distinction when the pianos come out to play. My goodness does “Missing You” suffer from the lack of personality.
Andy Hutchins: Melodies and harmonies this good, set against the right kind of production — the guitar is fine, but the bubble-pop effects and the keys that build to the chorus are superb — make the lyrics superfluous. This certainly sounds every bit the wintry breakup song the video suggests it’s supposed to be, which means it’s a success.