Our global nightmare is over. No, not that one. Okay, not that one either.
No, I mean that BLACKPINK IS FINALLY BACK.
The world’s most popular girl group hasn’t released a new album since April of 2019, and while that may not seem like forever, trust me, it is—in K-pop terms, anything more than a year is basically a lifetime. Spiritually, mentally, emotionally … this has basically been as long as the wait between Adele albums.
The Album, out on Friday and containing eight songs led by the single “Lovesick Girls,” is so important that it doesn’t even need a real name—it’s just THE ALBUM. The Beatles had The White Album, Jay-Z had The Black Album; Blackpink has the album. (On the other hand, maybe YG Entertainment just took all those tweets saying “DAMN IT, YG, RELEASE THE ALBUM NOW” too literally.) Most importantly, the final product doesn’t disappoint. Join me as we take a dive through the highlights of Blackpink’s best release to date.
The Return of Angsty Blackpink
Every Blink has their favorite Blackpink concept. Some like the slick, take-no-prisoners vibes of “DDU-DU DDU-DU” and “How You Like That?” Others miss the quirky, fluorescent days of “Boombayah” and “As If It’s Your Last.” But not I! It’s the angsty Blackpink aesthetic for me—ever since “Stay,” if someone isn’t crying in a car or moping in a parking lot, I’m just not quite satisfied. And voilà: “Lovesick Girls” is a return to bittersweet, borderline grunge Blackpink, thanks to contributions from David Guetta and members Jennie and Jisoo, who had a hand in production and writing. It’s not a sad song, per se, but the repeated chorus of “We were born to be alone” has an emo flair that hits extra hard—especially, you know, in month seven of quarantine.
The Vocalists Get Their Moment
The anthemic “Lovesick Girls” is a perfect fit for Rosé, whose distinct vocal timbre and long pastel hair have always come across as more Avril and less aegyo. And nature is healing—our girl is back in her flannels and fishnets, smashing a guitar and crying in a bathtub. It feels right. Jisoo, Blackpink’s other primary vocalist (far too often underserved in line distribution and screentime) is also in her element, frolicking in a flower field one moment and belting in the rain the next. Both girls come together on the bridge, easily one of the best in the group’s discography, to flex their vocals—and remind the locals just what happens when you let them shine.
It’s Called Range, Look It Up
If Blackpink’s newest sad-girl anthem doesn’t do it for you, fear not: The album contains a range of styles and sounds, demonstrated in full by their first two prerelease singles. It kicks off with the sassy banger “How You Like That?” which highlights the group’s magnetic main dancer, Lisa, who fans herself and repeats, “Look at you … now look at me. How you like that?” Getting owned has never felt so good.
Main rapper Jennie and her e-girl bangs also got their moment in the first single, but I enjoyed her most this summer as she showed off her sweet side on Selena Gomez collab “Ice Cream.” The song’s inherent horniness aside, Blackpink’s cutesy concepts are few and far between—their singles, as they say, lean more “black” than “pink”—but Jennie took to the sugary song like a kid to … well, you get it.
Workout Playlist: Sorted
Anyone with a K-pop running playlist knows that few songs hit harder when you’re in the middle of a tough mile than Blackpink’s “DDU-DU DDU-DU- Remix.” And for all you gym rats out there looking to add several new dedicated workout tracks, The Album comes through. The catchy, Middle Eastern–inspired “Crazy Over You” is an upbeat earworm, and the first drop in “Pretty Savage” had me up and pacing. Maybe now on runs I’ll only queue up “DDU-DU DDU-DU” like … every three songs or so. That’s what we call growth.
Global K-pop Pivots to English
In line with many of the world’s other biggest K-pop groups this year—from Monsta X to BTS and SuperM—The Album features three songs entirely in English, in “Bet You Wanna,” “Crazy Over You,” and “Love to Hate Me.” Singing in English isn’t a new technique for K-pop groups, but it is newly successful—all of the aforementioned groups have seen impressive numbers in the U.S. with their English-language projects. However, the merits of the trend have been highly debated, and the pros and cons are being discussed with renewed vigor following the release of The Album. Those who bristle at K-pop groups singing in English feel that they’re abandoning their Korean roots and selling out for Western audiences. But it’s hard for me to get too worked up about the downsides of English releases. K-pop is an industry, not a genre, and these songs are K-pop no matter what language they’re in. Plus, putting a language requirement on these groups feels extremely limiting for an industry that has always been focused on global impact. Just look at Blackpink, who are one of K-pop’s most diverse groups, with members from New Zealand, Korea, and Thailand. Why shouldn’t some of their members get to sing in one of the languages they’ve spoken their whole lives? Besides, none of the full English songs were chosen as Blackpink’s lead singles—while “Ice Cream” was mostly in English, Lisa still raps in Korean. And at the end of the day, the group is still faithful to their origins—the decision to stick with mostly Korean songs for the singles is particularly notable given the buzzy A-list feature on one of their English songs ...
BardiPink in Your Area
Got them listening muahahahah ....now that I got your attention STREAM “BET YOU WANNA” !!!!! Now now now !!!!!!!!— iamcardib (@iamcardib) October 2, 2020
Yes, Blackpink’s “Bet You Wanna” features Cardi B, yet somehow it was not chosen as one of the lead singles for this album. Will it be promoted as a single at a later date? That seems like a given, especially considering the force of Cardi’s enthusiasm about the song. Even the most hardcore Blink would be hard-pressed to match her social media support for “Bet You Wanna,” especially in the first few hours after its release. That said, Cardi does seem to have a note or two for the finished product.
Ok my last tweet of the night ...It really hard for me to do a verse with no curse words and PG ..I really wanted to say “ I bet if you get me WET I’ll still be on fire I’ll be reposting tomorrow the whole day ...make sure ya stream “BET YOU WANNA”— iamcardib (@iamcardib) October 2, 2020
“Bet You Wanna” explicit remix on the way? I, for one, would like to see it.
The Queens of Pop Are Here to Get Us Through 2020
The Album is without question my favorite Blackpink release yet, and it joins the ranks of Halsey’s Manic, Dua Lipa’s Future Nostalgia, Lady Gaga’s Chromatica, Chloe x Halle’s Ungodly Hour, and Rina Sawayama’s SAWAYAMA as Lady Pop Bops That Have Literally Gotten Me Through This Hellish Year. No, we can’t dance to these great albums with friends or see them performed in concert just yet, but it’s enough that they all managed to come out in the black hole of content that has otherwise defined 2020.
As always, thank god for women, and thank god for Blackpink.