2ne1 US Debut!

by staples

That’s right, people! 2NE1, the 4-girl Korean pop group is planning to debut in the United States.  And guess who’s planning to produce them? Will.i.am! According to theprophetblog and other sites, Will.i.am was shown their music video (which one is unspecified) and said he’d like to produce them in the US.

Since 3 members are fluent in English (judging from the beginning of the MV for “Follow Me,” they mean legit fluent, not with-an-accent fluent), the recording was said to be completed faster than expected. Between recording in London and LA, 10 songs have been finished.

A spokesperson said: “As to the concrete plans and time period the girls will debut in the States, we have not decided on them yet. But since Will.I.Am will be busy for his concert tour and Black Eyed Pea’s upcoming new album, it will most probably not happen within this year.”

“Plans for 2NE1′s American debut, we will be consulting Will.I.Am on plans and decisions, since he will be the key for their debut in the States. But we will stay away from the idea of 2NE1 promoting long term and staying in the States. Since the girls have received great love from fans in Korea, we will not have them neglect their activities in Korea. Furthermore, they will also be debuting in Japan early next year. Hence we will need to come up with a plan for the girls to be able to promote at the same time in 3 countries.”

Now, some comments on other sites have warned about promotion between countries being the death of any band. Boa and Se7en have tried their hand at the US market and failed, as have Utada and the Wonder Girls.

Personally, I can see it going both ways, especially with Will.i.am producing. Since a lot of people have gone over the downside, I’ll focus on how I think it can work.

First off, they’d better figure out a way to properly promote in the US without angering the Korean fans. I think they should also hold off on Japan until the US is somewhat underway. If they’re a hit in the US, it’ll give them major push in Japan: the opposite probably isn’t true.

Secondly, they should start off as being featured on a Will.i.am single (or with the Black Eyed Peas, but I think that would be kinda strange). Will.i.am has HUGE access to the US entertainment scene that I think would be crucial to getting the band out there.

Will.i.am is producing this group, and that has two implications. He can be an executive producer (or music executive), which means he’d be working with senior management, dealing with contracts, touring, copyrights, promotion/marketing, management, or finances, or a combination of some of them. Or he can be a record producer, meaning he’s getting down and dirty with what the songs sound like. Or both. I’d like to think that Will.i.am is being smart and investing in this new band, not just helping them for the fun of it. Because 2ne1 isn’t Britney Spears or Ke$ha: he’s not going to get publicity from this right away.

If my intuition is correct, I’d warrant that Will is being both the record producer and also working with promotion, management, touring or something like that for a fee or something. If that were the case (remember, this is speculation), Will would want these girls to succeed as best as they can. Because if they do: he’ll be reaping major profits. Especially considering that other Asian artists have failed to debut in this country. A lot of artists looking for their break would start heading his way.

The point of that little shpeal was to explain why I think Will might promote these girls properly, either via a single or some other way. To be perfectly honest, if he doesn’t help them properly, they will fail. period.

Okay, so I say first step is to feature them in a good dance-pop single. And I’m saying that Will should feature them. Not the other way around. Why, you ask? Well, have you heard of this girl named Ke$ha? Ke$ha had been singing background vocals for four years until she was featured in Flo Rida’s “Right Round.” Remember that song? She barely had a solo in it! But the very next year, she came out with her own hit album.

One thing Ke$ha had that I’m not sure 2ne1 will is a good social networking fanbase. Sure, they’ll have their Joo Ji Hoons and Eun Saes and stuff, but that won’t fly in the US. People will be automatically turned off by a site entirely in Korean supported by a bunch of Korean fans and comments. Not necessarily due to rascism, but because they’ll feel like they don’t belong. So next they would have to create some kind of profile for their US selves. It would be best if Will.i.am were to somehow direct his fans over to their site once the single was released. Say, via “here’s a youtube vid of our MV. and if you look down in the comments it links to my website, and theirs!”

I don’t know if it would be best to wait after the Will.i.am single or use the hype to promote their own single, too. I say single because I think releasing an album at that point would be a big leap that screams “We’re trying to get into the US market!!!” Perhaps a few weeks after the featured single was released, they could start hyping up their own single, if enough people were interested in the band (which I’m certain they would be). Once that single was released and if it was successful, they wouldn’t need Will.i.am promotions-wise anymore. Just like Ke$ha no longer needs Flo-Rida. But if Will.i.am is still working behind the scenes, he could win big.

One thing the Korean side needs to realize, though, is that if they want to be big in the US, it’s something they’ll need to cultivate. But I’m sure they understand that. They are in the music business. I have a feeling that the whole “not planning on staying in the US”/”make sure to stay with our Korean fans” was simply to keep Korean fans happy and make sure they don’t think they’ll be losing their stars to Hollywood. However, like I said before, I think promoting in Japan and the US at the same time would be a big mistake. It’ll tire them out. If they want to try for the US market, I think 2ne1 should do so with earnestness and hard work, regardless of what they tell the public. If they do, I think they can succeed.

So what do you guys think? Do you think Will.i.am’s invested himself monetarily into this or is he just doing it for fun? Do you think 2ne1 will be a hit in the US or will they go the same way as BoA? This was a crazy-long post, so thanks for reading it!

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