Review of Blackpink’s album “The Album”. The girls strike back
Blackpink’s first full-fledged Studio effort clearly demonstrates why k-pop is loved all over the world. In addition to the catchy choruses, “The Album” pleases with a stellar cast of guests (this list is not limited to Selena Gomez and Cardi B). There are also very few songs on the album – and this suddenly turns out to be an advantage.
Blackpink became a star even in the year of its Foundation (2016). Their debut single “Boombayah” was released in Korea and Japan. However, the real world fame to them came two years later. Their first American hit was “Ddu-Du Ddu-Du”. By that time, BTS had already begun to actively conquer the American charts. And then the popular girl band’s place was also vacated: in 2018, Fifth Harmony, whose career was already on the wane, disbanded.
Although there are many k-pop groups, and many of them have gained impressive armies of fans around the world, BTS and Blackpink have reached an unattainable level of popularity and demand. If the story of BTS ‘ rise is not quite standard (and their music stands out against the background of other k-pop projects), then Blackpink is becoming more familiar. The group is engaged in one of the agencies of the “big three” – YG Entertainment, which once promoted 2NE1 and Big Bang, superstars of the previous generation of idols. By the way, Blackpink definitely has a certain similarity to 2NE1 – at least in its image. Therefore, the success of Blackpink surprised few people.
However, why in 2018 did the world go crazy for this particular band, and not, say, for Twice or Red Velvet? These teams are also engaged in large companies from the same “big three” – JYP Entertainment and SM Entertainment, respectively. But Blackpink were more colorful and charismatic, their music videos were more effective, and the choruses of their hits were more memorable. For pop singers (especially Korean ones), appearance and image play, to put it mildly, not the last role. Blackpink members are girls who want to emulate: beautiful, insanely stylish and very confident. While their competitors are more cute and innocent, they remain so even in more energetic and” arrogant ” songs.
“The Album” is the band’s first full-length album. All these years, Blackpink released hits and mini-albums, broke records, gained millions of views and listens, and even performed at the main festival of the world – Coachella. They even released the Japanese album “Blackpink In Your Area” in late 2018. But only in 2020, the first Korean (and Western) album was presented.
Several well-known artists took part in the recording of “The Album”. There was a lot of talk about Selena Gomez and Cardi B, but they weren’t the only ones. The album features collaborators Ariana Grande (“Ice Cream”), David Guetta (“Lovesick Girls”) and Ryan tedder of OneRepublic (“Bet You Wanna”). The handwriting of Grande and Guetta is more or less obvious: “Ice Cream” could have been included on the album “Thank U, Next”, whereas “Lovesick Girls” is a fairly typical EDM sound. Tedder’s intervention may not be noticed, but he has long made a hand at writing songs for other artists (from Beyonce to the Jonas Brothers).
The name Blackpink embodies two sides of the band’s creativity: bold (“black”) and tender (“pink”). Interestingly, the first two singles were very clearly divided “in directions”: the catchy song “How You Like That “and the sweet”Ice Cream”. It should be said that Blackpink goes a lot more to be bold: for a reason, their first hit was “Boombayah”, last year’s video with the telling title “Kill This Love” gained 1 billion views on YouTube, and the swashbuckling “How You Like That” boomed this summer all over TikTok (Yes, in 2020 this is a very serious indicator). Ballads performed by Blackpink sound less interesting. Fortunately, “The Album” consists mostly of energetic songs. It even has a black cover with a pink crown and pink lettering, which hints that the “black” side prevails, and the “pink” side is secondary. If you think about it, the name of the band also hints at this to some extent: they are Blackpink, not Pinkblack. The final slow song “You Never Know” definitely stands in its place. It’s like letting you relax after a dance party.
It is noteworthy that the album is very (!) short: there are only eight songs, in total they last less than 25 minutes. In an era when every second artist tries to cram more songs into the tracklist (to win in the number of streams on Spotify and, as a result, in sales), this equates to a challenge and love for the listener at the same time. Blackpink did not expand the tracklist to gain timing, so there are few weaknesses here.
“The Album” is, of course, commercial pop music, but effective, memorable and very well made. Fans of the band and fans of k-pop will definitely be happy. And the rest of us should listen to the album to understand why Korean pop has become so popular all over the world.