Last year I started a tradition of giving myself until the end of June to post my Artist Of The Year for the previous calendar year. Now I've got only 45 minutes to make good on this. Not that there's been any question for the past 11-and-a-half months whom I'd pick. In "I Am The Best" CL was commanding yet also adorable. And the live version on a Singapore fancam was the most totally, incandescently joyous thing I'd ever seen. Several strolls through (followed by obsessive trawling and retrawling of) the CL/2NE1 YouTube back catalog confirmed and embellished this, the exuberance of a four-year-old's first day at the seashore, feelings on the surface, hurts and happiness, while also the command and composure of a group leader. Strangely, in the little I've seen of her in interviews and on the reality 2NE1 TV, you get the composure but not much else — there are occasional thought-out soliloquies, and some cordial, professional walk-throughs of her life, but for the rest the camera is either shut-off or everything stays behind her eyes. Minzy and Dara do most of the playing and emoting. (I'm saying this on the basis of only three or four episodes, though.) So a portion of the CL I'm voting for is what she created with the help of songwriters and videomakers. But I think it's mostly something in her that responded to what she heard in American hip-hop and R&B, a fierce world of possibility and passion that invited her to whoop it up. I've adored every cover I've seen her perform. When in "Doo Wop" she goes "How you gon' win when you ain't right within" it's vastly more touching than in the Lauryn Hill original; not that Lauryn didn't mean to apply it to herself as well as to the people she was addressing, but in CL you could simply feel someone taking it to heart. And then she gives a great grin and puts the mic right on her tit for "[some guys are only about] that thing."
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