It seems as if CL’s official American debut has been “imminent” for years now. But even without the ridiculously long wait (which has been a YG hallmark of late), I was never very enthused by the prospect of her going international. I don’t want k-pop artists to “break” the U.S. if it means they’ll be conforming to the lowest common denominator aspects of our music scene. I don’t want them to have to sing in a language that isn’t their own, relying on the easiest cliches possible. I don’t want them to be influenced by what Americans think is trendy or cool. And I am an American, but there’s a reason I don’t listen to much music by U.S. artists anymore.
Lifted is an excellent example of why I’m all but “k-pop exclusive” nowadays, preferring music performed in a language I barely understand. I just can’t look past a bad lyric, and this song is rife with them. Delivered entirely in English, and sampling some of its more dubious phrases from Wu-Tang Clan’s Method Man, the song is so desperately trying to paint CL into something she isn’t. American hip-hop was built on experiences, and Lifted‘s attempt to appropriate that falls completely flat. I adore 2NE1, and I adore CL. I’m sure she has incredible experiences of her own, completely personal to her. Why not craft something from that? Something that would feel authentic, rather than a half-baked attempt to go international?
The sad thing is that, had Lifted been performed in Korean without such a focus-grouped feel, it would’ve made a decent 2NE1 b-side. The hook has a breezy, summertime bounce to it, though it doesn’t allow CL to spotlight much more than a packaged sense of “cool.” Compared to a 2NE1 song like Happy, which aims for a similar vibe (minus the drugs), Lifted just feels completely half-assed. This is the track that was meant to introduce her to an international audience, but at this rate all it’s going to introduce her to is the long list of global stars who tried (and failed) to conquer the States with material that forgot why they were so one-of-a-kind in the first place.