BLACKPINK – “THE ALBUM” Review

Story posted October 5, 2020 in Arts & Entertainment, CommRadio by Megan Kelby

South Korean girl group BLACKPINK has been on the rise since their first single dropped in 2016. With the release of their first full-length album, simply titled “THE ALBUM,” the K-Pop group will continue to appear on charts around the world.

Composed of Jisoo, Jennie, Lisa and Rosé, the new album contains tracks featuring well-known artists such as Selena Gomez and Cardi B.

The addition of this album only adds to BLACKPINK’s already established image. Known for catchy tunes and high caliber energy, BLACKPINK gives a new side to their story and a deeper look into the people behind their onstage personas.

Opening with “How You Like That,” a single that was released back in June, audiences are immediately submerged into the belly of BLACKPINK’s sound: lively energy with a rapid tempo. A majority of the verses are in Korean, displaying the group’s K-Pop origins. Though lacking lyrical substance, the playful yet intense mood sets the tone for the rest of the album.

The two songs that contain features, “Ice Cream” and “Bet You Wanna,” are one and the same. Both are along the same lines lyrically, focusing on the flirtatious side of a possible budding relationship, but they fall flat.

While “Ice Cream,” featuring Selena Gomez, is catchy and cute, it fits into more of an early 2010s style and is anything but a new refreshing sound.

Its counterpart, “Bet You Wanna,” also seems behind in its time. Featuring Cardi B, the song is slower than expected, which results in a simple and extremely disappointing rap. Entirely in English, a majority of the lyrics are repeats of the title and do not add anything to the painfully lethargic tempo of the song.

Thankfully, sandwiched between those two tracks is the catchy and aggressive tune “Pretty Savage.” With a beat drop before any vocals, the first few notes are enough to show the intensity of the song early on.

The lyrics seem to display a common anti-hater anthem, emphasizing an “I don’t care” attitude and blowing off anyone jealous of BLACKPINK’s success. The flow of the song is amplified, as a good mix of Korean and English lyrics are alternated in an aesthetically pleasing pattern. The addition of a snare and electronic beat is bound to make your foot tap, K-Pop fan or not.

A nice break is given to listeners with “Lovesick Girls.” Despite its very teeny-bopper vibe, the song captures an almost concert-like sound. With instruments deep in the background, the group’s singing of the chorus replicates a crowd singing in unison at a live performance.

Superficial on the surface, the lyrics reveal a deeper meaning of brokenhearted yet hopeful girls looking for true love. As cheesy as it sounds, it sends a nice message to the group’s audience, which consists mostly of preteens, that there are always more people out there.

Rounding out the album comes a track that completely flips the vibe that the other songs had established. No longer lighthearted nor empowering, “You Never Know” tells the story that so many celebrities struggle with today. With an inspirational piano backing, the mostly Korean song lays out the difficulties in being judged on the surface.

Not knowing what someone is going through is the main theme of the song, which allows the group to emerge from the stage façade that is prevalent earlier in the album and share their most personal song yet.

The reason for the creation of “THE ALBUM” was to establish BLACKPINK as an artist capable of producing a full-length Korean album, which they accomplished in stride.

As a whole, BLACKPINK seemed to want to display the two faces of girl groups: one that is independent and knows what it wants, and one that is flirtatious with a softer side. This further shows their young audience that an individual is made up of many different aspects. Many of the tracks have different styles, some even have multiple different beats interchanging, all encompassing the idea that fitting into a mold is not necessary: a good allegory for life.

Regardless of a few boring tempos and disappointing chorus substance, “THE ALBUM” achieves BLACKPINK’s goal.

In today’s standards, a few of the songs have potential to make it onto the charts. The two feature songs, though not even close to being the best, have a shot as well due to the established artists who partnered with BLACKPINK.

As a whole, this album does not fit easily into BLACKPINK’s discography. The slower songs, especially “You Never Know,” are the opposite of the bright tunes that BLACKPINK have been known to produce. But they do show that the group can produce songs that don’t fall into a superficial category and instead develop true reactions from the audience.

Overall, “THE ALBUM”  has widened the expectations for what BLACKPINK can create in the future. They’re no longer restricted to peppy songs only, and it’ll be interesting to see how they can build off this in the future.

Rating: 6/10

Reviewer’s Favorite Song: “Pretty Savage”

Reviewer’s Least Favorite Song: “Bet You Wanna”

 

Megan Kelby is a freshman majoring in communications. To contact her, email mkk5701@psu.edu.