Live: 2NE1 Says Hello To America At The Best Buy Theater

MTV Iggy Best New Band 2011 Concert w/2NE1, Gyptian, La Vida Boheme, and Yuna
Best Buy Theater
Monday, December 12

Better than: The monoculture.

Korean pop group 2NE1 waved at their fans from a wall-sized window above the Best Buy Theater Monday night. "Music is truly becoming a borderless thing," MTV VJ Sway said while introducing the program, which had been curated by MTV Iggy, a globally minded MTV offshoot. It was a two-hour showcase of their Best New Bands, of which 2NE1 received the most votes.

"Ladies, take a bow!" Sway requested. The four women—Dara, CL, Minzy, and Park Bom—did not bow; they kept waving. This would be their first American performance.

"I've been at MTV for ten years now," Sway said. "Britney Spears has been on this stage. Lady Gaga has been on this stage, and now you are on this stage." There was a feeling of passing a baton from America to the rest of the world.

Later, Sway asked Matt Pinfield for his opinion on the matter.

"I am here with legendary music expert Matt Pinfield," Sway announced. "Ladies and gentlemen he's been with MTV since back in the day... Looking real sexy today Matt."

"Not as sexy as you, Sway."

Then Sway asked Pinfield to profoundly assess the current world of music. "So Matt, there's pop, there's trip-hop, there's hip-hop, there's J-pop, there's K-pop, there's popcorn." Sway was pretty overwhelmed. "There's all kinds of music out there. How has the world of music changed in your perspective?"

"Well, 15 years ago, things were very different," Pinfield said seriously. "Really the only way you could get music was to go out to a store and buy a CD or a cassette or vinyl. Now of course things have changed with the internet and being able to purchase music online, and find websites quickly to find out what's going on in music all over the world. It's endless."

"But back in the day we used to go to the record stores," Sway said, full of nostalgic energy, "We'd dig in the crates and thumb through the vinyl. Remember that? Who used to do that, anybody?"

The crowd cheered.

"Got like three people raising their hand," Sway counted.

"Half the people here haven't even bought a CD," Pinfield said.

Sway directed Pinfield to a world map and instructed Pinfield to relate a history of music. Pinfield's ideas of rock and history are usual and American. "The English took our rock and roll and sold it back to us." "The English sent all of their criminals to Australia." Later Sway described his own idea of music. He drew four lines that intersected vertically and horizontally, across the world. He drew an X on Africa, the source of the "first rhythms." He drew an X on South America, where, he said, rhythms were also happening. He drew an O on America, for some reason. He misidentified Asia as Europe and drew an X there, in order to affect a tic-tac-toe across the world.

This kind of lazy equivalency persisted throughout the evening, which tried to project an image of a politically and economically anachronistic global world that had been elevated by music. The Best New Bands themselves didn't much play along, remaining politically and culturally ensconced when possible. The first act, La Vida Bohème, played a kind of radical dance-punk while uniformly splattered with paint, which according to the band referred to Jackson Pollock and violence. Of everyone in this whole enterprise, they were maybe the most self-aware. Between songs, the lead singer addressed the crowd: "For those of you joining in, we are Menudo." And later, in a serious engagement between performer and audience: "Most of you come from countries where you have facilities. Facilities to grow, facilities to eat, facilities to become better persons. There are countries where we don't have those facilities. You have a responsibility with us. We live in a global community. Never forget that."

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