Sometimes you just gotta let go…
Crystal Leww: Who is this song for? 2NE1’s fans or them? Why even bother reuniting for something like this?
Lilly Gray: Goodbye, 2NE1. I’m certainly not alone in tracing back to these four women as the foundation of my current love of K-pop. It is impossible for me to divorce this track from the circumstances surrounding it, knife after knife in the ribs of a group that, for many, was the greatest girl group on the planet. I don’t know if this song would get to me in the same way if I could bank on seeing them perform it; of all the YG groups making an exit this year, 2NE1’s shocking Irish goodbye is all the more affecting as their labelmates conclude a long, multi-country farewell tour celebrating ten years of doin’ it well, but as, you know, dudes. “Goodbye” is heavier because it acts as de-facto eulogy, but even without that weight the lyrics provide hopeful, if general phrases that applicable to all sorts of heartbreak. 2NE1 have always been good at painful, barn-burner break-up songs, and though this one feels a bit more measured, almost resigned, the way CL sings “Goodbye” is a wail of denial in contrast. The disjointed way she says “Goodbye” makes it sound, to a lesser ear, a little bit like “No.”
Maxwell Cavaseno: It’d be a little more meaningful if 2NE1’s death was given the proper respect. It seemed from the very moment they got placed on the stage, the group was never not being prepared to launch CL to solo stardom, to the point other members felt more like assembled parts in YG’s relentlessness and the lack of cohesion in the group’s output. To top that off, before they’d even been properly put to bed, BLACKPINK was getting pushed out as the Windows 8-style revamp of making everything about 2NE1 that was boring or garish worse. “Goodbye” is somewhat awful in how the record is enraptured with the significant loss of a group who, if we’re being honest, never had a chance to really mean what they could have. It doesn’t help matters that when they could be so fun at their best, now they leave drained and futile. This was a group that deserved to go out with a bang, not with a whimper.
Mo Kim: “Does anyone know, does anyone know, how it makes me feel?” sings CL on the first chorus of “Goodbye.” CL, for the uninitiated, is at this point the most well-known member of 2NE1 and a lightning rod for fans looking to blame somebody for her group’s disbandment. (That “Goodbye” was originally meant for her solo debut before being repurposed into a farewell track doesn’t help matters.) The line always leaves me with a bittersweet skepticism; my sense of loss for everything 2NE1 could have been with better management runs against my hardened cynicism after years of watching them falter under their own manager’s incompetence and scapegoating. But we’re also talking about a group who took the insults thrown at them and fashioned them into a rock anthem, one whose musical and thematic strength has always been negotiated under the weight of what they had to resist. “Goodbye” doesn’t carry the bravado of “I Am the Best,” nor does it touch the sonic boldness of “I Love You,” but it rests on what those who’ve stuck it out with 2NE1 have always known: to listen for the breaths in between each line, to read futurity (note the chorus goes “Until the day we meet again, goodbye”) into the tense of the imperfect present. I can’t know how this makes them feel; all I know is that I feel disappointment and resignation and something to close to hope.
Jonathan Bradley: Tellingly, the folk strumming and bell-clear vocals are more powerful than the denuded Frusciante-isms that dominate “Goodbye.” None is what ever made this group exciting.
Iain Mew: A slow, dispiriting flickering out with CL in the lead, where the commitment of all involved fades inevitably — surely there was no need for 2NE1’s farewell single to so closely match the form of their breakup?