K-Pop Korner: 2NE1 – Clap Your Hands (박수쳐)

October 1, 2010

So, I said yesterday that 2NE1 were kind of awesome. This has unexpectedly proven a tad controversial. My wife and closest friends think I’ve lost my mind or, at least, that my mind has degenerated to a state of being highly susceptible and indulgent of thorough inanity. Nevertheless, I have opted to carry on ahead, plunge further into the cheesy depths and attempt to make my case.

This is a pop product that has won me over primarily with its presentation and execution. Arguably, there isn’t even the pretence of substance here to criticize or otherwise denigrate. 2NE1‘s songs seem quite obvious and deliberate in where they take their inspiration from and where they blatantly appropriate the sounds and styles of popular American performers. That said, neither the four girls performing these songs, nor the team of producers, choreographers, video directors and entertainment company execs behind this product seem to be intending for it to be taken all that seriously. That’s not to say the end result is parody but, rather, an unrestrained exercise in manufacturing and selling pure fun for its own sake and not the overly-earnest attempt to make the pop group seem important, empowering or vapidly sexual. Even the ubiquitous adoption of hip-hop in both the music and clothing they wear in their videos comes across as being intended merely as a celebration of the joy of dressing up, throwing on a costume and dicking around in merry abandonment, as opposed to some sincere expression of a lifestyle or subculture. They’re just in it for a laugh and they communicate as much with an honest charm.

The video below is for the song ‘Clap Your Hands’. Whereas many K-Pop songs I’ve encountered concern themselves with melodramatically threatened relationships and rather silly narratives about discovering a boyfriend is cheating and refusing to put up with anymore shit, this tune is (again) little more than a call to dance your ass off for the sake of it. That’s it. Just dance around, leave the city (Seoul?), and head for the mountains or wherever and go nuts by dancing and clapping your hands a lot, because it feels good. There is a light-hearted and primal sentiment buried under the candy coating here and it appears to be largely free of the clunky hyper sexuality or tawdry attempts at earnest romanticism of contemporary Korean pop music. Everyone, clap your hands!

2NE1 – ‘Clap Your Hands’



  1. I am in full agreement with you on the following points:

    1. There isn’t even the pretense of substance.
    2. The songs are obvious and deliberate.
    3. They are appropriating the style and sounds of American pop performers.
    4. Its not intended to be taken seriously.

    So my question is this….Have you eaten something you shouldnt have? Have you been out collecting fungi? You know that nearly killed the Horse Whisperer dude.

  2. Two words, David.


    Strangely interpreted merits, aside, it comes down to that.

    Motherfucking auto-tune.

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