BLACKPINK is one of the largest K-pop girl groups in the world. The members have performed on “The Late Late Show with James Corden,” “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” and “Good Morning America,” headlined at Coachella, topped music charts worldwide, collaborated with celebrities including Lady Gaga and Dua Lipa and have won major awards in Korea and internationally.
However, what the group hasn’t done in its four-year history is release a full studio album. Despite over three EPs and seven previous chart-topping singles, their fans, Blinks, have been eagerly awaiting an album. Their wishes were answered Friday with BLACKPINK releasing an eight-track album aptly titled “The Album.”
Throughout its career, the girl group, made up of members Jisoo, Jennie, Rosé and Lisa, has been popular for its hip-hop and electronic dance style tracks. The members mix rap and vocals to produce two different categories of songs, which fans call “black” or “pink” concepts. “Black” concepts rely more heavily on rap and hip-hop, while “pink” concepts are usually a bit brighter and take after more pop-inspired songs. This album shows many styles that have been covered in its four-year career by mixing both “black” and “pink” influences.
The first track on the album is “How You Like That.” This song was one of the prerelease singles for the album and was released alongside a music video June 26. The song includes many signature BLACKPINK styles, incorporating a strong electronic dance beat and mostly spoken chorus. The video has over 560 million views as of its release date and was also widely used on TikTok.
The second song on the album is “Ice Cream” featuring Selena Gomez. Another prereleased single, the music video and song were released about two months after “How You Like That” on Aug. 28. This song personifies more of the “pink” concept by having a cute, brighter music video. The song is themed around comparing a relationship with ice cream, saying, “Look so good, yeah, look so sweet / looking good enough to eat / Coldest with the kiss, so he call me ice cream / Catch me in the fridge, right where the ice be.” The song is mostly in English and heavily relies on vocals, especially by Gomez.
“Pretty Savage” is the most traditional BLACKPINK-sounding track on the album and features BLACKPINK’s signature intro “Blackpink in your area.” The song is heavily inspired by hip-hop beats and incorporates the strong rapping styles of Jennie and Lisa. This song pairs nicely with other tracks on the album and highlights BLACKPINK's well-known “girl crush” concept. The “girl crush” concept, which focuses on confidence and lifting other women up, and BLACKPINK is one the foremost examples of this in the current K-pop lineup. The song is addressed to their criticizers and how they rise above with some of the lyrics saying, “All my diamonds, they yellow or bright white / Got 'em blind, can't find me, I'm outta sight / If you mad stay mad, we not alike / S-A-V-A-G-E, keep it pretty, pretty savage.”
Aside from the collaboration with Gomez, there’s another strong collaboration on the album. The track “Bet You Wanna” is a collaboration with rap artist Cardi B and incorporates a strong mix of vocals and rap with Cardi B adding her own verse. The song flaunts self-love and self-confidence similar to some of Cardi’s releases as she says: "Cardi a good catch but you gotta chase me / Grab my waistline, but don't ever waste me / Turn on ‘Please Me’ but don't ever play me / One of a kind, you can't replace me.”
The final music video for the album was released friday with the song “Lovesick Girls.” This track is the perfect combination of “black” and “pink” concepts and the previous two songs in the album. It’s the most international song on the album, with clear influence from Western pop and a guitar backing, but it’s still unapologetically BLACKPINK.
The lyrics communicate how even though the girls have been hurt in love and were “born to be alone,” they’re still looking for it. In the chorus, the girls sing “We are the lovesick girls / You can’t just end this love on your own / We are the lovesick girls / I’m nothing without this pain / But we were born to be alone.”
The next two tracks on the album, “Crazy for You” and “Love to Hate You,” showcase more of a dance style. While each is strong in their own right, each one highlights something different about the BLACKPINK style. “Crazy for You” highlights the festival-type vibe, which helped get them to Coachella, while “Love to Hate You” is mostly electronic with a strong vocal line and hip-hop influence.
The final track, “You Never Know,” is the standout track on the piece. With refreshing vulnerability, the members sing a ballad about their struggles and how one never truly knows what’s going on in another person’s life. This ballad presents a different style than the rest of the album, which showcases the group’s versatility both vocally and as performers. It’s no secret that being a celebrity can come with its share of struggles and criticism, but this song sends a heartfelt message to their listeners, telling them to think about what’s going on in another’s life and to never let the negativity get them down.
Some of the most impactful lines are sung by Jisoo and show the group’s struggle with self-criticism and how they rise above it. They’re translated as, “My thoughts that I kept hidden deeply / They sometimes hold and torment me / But as I go imma shine baby / You know they ain’t got a shot on me.”
BLACKPINK has had an incredible career. In the four years since it’s debut, the group has brought inspiration to fans all over the world and continues to do so with its album. “The Album” is a sort of time capsule into the group’s journey and shows how far they’ve come and where they’d still like to go.
Contact Camryn Finn at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more on the culture, arts and lifestyle of the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the culture desk on Twitter @Breeze_Culture.