Two years after the success of their first full album, the globally acclaimed and beloved girl group BLACKPINK delivered eight tracks of musical magic in the form of Born Pink on September 16. Members Jisoo, Jennie, Rosé, and Lisa along with their agency, YG Entertainment, began teasing the album on various venues around May of this year, and for good reason. A masterful collection of their signature EDM sounds mixed with pop, rock, R&B, hip-hop, and samples from world music, the quartet’s latest release reflects their growth as artists, as a group – and their plan for the future. That plan, specifically their Born Pink World Tour, which is set to begin next month and continue into 2023, is the largest world tour held by a girl group in K-Pop history. With a full discography only made richer by Born Pink’s release, the group is set to take on the world with a well-defined sound that champions modern pop while also incorporating over 200 years of musical inspiration.
Upon its release, Born Pink became the first girl group album to sell over 2 million pre-order copies on August 25, sold over 1 million copies on the day of its release, and has consistently remained in the top five of the Top 100 chart on Melon since it dropped. This success was reflected when they became the first female K-Pop group in history to appear at the “MTV Video Music Awards.” It is also notable because Jisoo and Rosé had a hand in penning the lyrics for some songs, while the foursome is known to have been involved Born Pink’s creative process, which is a trend that should continue – their souls are palpable in this eight-track musical full-course meal.
The quartet’s hard-hitting pre-release single, “Pink Venom,” dropped on August 19, and sits pretty as the introduction to this eclectic album’s playlist, both on the charts and in the hearts of Blinks. As of the publication of this article, the video has been viewed over 300,000,000 times on YouTube after debuting at No.1 on “Billboard Global Charts” on the day of its release. Penned by industry staple TEDDY along with David Chung, 24, R.Tee, and IDO, the bop is a clever mix of the quartet’s signature hip-hop EDM style, a touch of the traditional Korean geomungo, and a thread of a Middle Eastern reed instrument for added depth. Paired with the lyrics, these sounds declare that BLACKPINK is confident in themselves and in their identities as both sweet and deadly. Throughout the song, these two drastically different concepts are played against each other. When Jennie raps high, Lisa takes it low. When Jisoo and Rosé sing a beautiful melody, it’s laced with edgy lyrics like “I’m a poisonous flower / After taking your soul / Look what you made us do.” When the pre-chorus, verses, and bridge are full of interlacing instruments and dangerous beats from across the decades, the choruses are cheeky, revealing snippets that unveil the girls’ playful sides. Sonically, Rosé’s full-bodied pre-chorus and musical interjections are like fine wine while Lisa’s raps are sharp and sassy. Jennie’s smooth lines complement Jisoo’s metallically clear melodies. Overall, it is a song that Blinks will find themselves singing along to over and over again.
As diverse in sound and tone color as the song itself, the “Pink Venom” music video matches the tune’s variety in incredible clarity with a high-production quality music video – in fact, it has purportedly one of the two the highest production budgets that YG has allocated for a music video to date alongside “Shut Down.” A juxtaposition of new and old, the video mixes and matches visuals from multiple eras to create a masterfully feminine yet aggressive concept that matches the girl group who have taken over the world. Important to note is that their “Pink Venom Challenge” in collaboration with YouTube has also taken social media by storm.
BLACKPINK know where their roots are — deep-seated with Blinks and their history. “Shut Down,” the lead track, takes inspiration from their career and fans, then pits them against their haters with pointed lyrics and a hip-hop flavor that promise, “When we pull up you know it’s a shutdown.” Ending its first 24 hours with over 50,000,00 views on YouTube, the girls prove their place in the industry with a music video that is currently No. 1 on YouTube’s “TRENDING FOR MUSIC” and stands at over 60,000,000 views and counting.
Musically, the title track put together by TEDDY, Danny Chung, Vince, and 24 is a powerful anthem that uses the quartet’s soulful voices and repetition to its advantage. Incorporating a throwback to the 1820s, the rhythmic track brings in a sample of the virtuosic violin solo from the last movement of Niccolò Paganini’s Concerto No.2 in B minor, “La Campanella.” What is special about this particular sample is that it pulls the opening section of the wickedly difficult violin piece that is meant to represent the sound of a bell, a sound that demands attention. That’s exactly what the quartet is doing, demanding the attention of their doubters and showing BLACKPINK’s true value. Just as the violin solo shows off the incredible skills of the violinist, the music video tells the girl group’s success story. If a few (or more than a few) of the scenes seem familiar, there is a good reason for that. This virtuosically-produced video is a creative reimagining of different moments from their past with a luxury twist. From the first moment when the violin sweeps up the fingerboard, the trip down memory lane begins with Lisa standing on the same wooden dock from 2016’s “Playing With Fire.” Although reminiscent, it is fresh with 2022’s edgy fashion and Lisa’s modern-day confidence. The same can be said for the many scenes running throughout the video through reframed glimpses of the past, which lead to the literal mic drop moment when Jennie lays down the lyric, “It’s not a comeback since we’ve never left.”
Continuing the confidence and swag of the first two songs, the sexy, hard-hitting girl power all-English track “Typa Girl” is lyrically a string of powerful statements that every woman can use to describe her worth. “Typa girl you wanna wife up, sign the pre” and “I’m the typa girl that make you forget that you got a type” are just two of the many lyrics that empower listeners. After starting with a BLACKPINK-style beat drop, the girls weave a low melody over a combination of a synth organ, snap track, punchy bass, and a slow, groovy beat. Aside from the lyrics, Rosé’s angelic notes on the lyric “Heaven’s gate just opened up / Hearing choirs / If you saying something else / You a liar” are a mesmerizing standout in the dynamic bop crafted by longtime collaborator Bekuh BOOM and Dominsuk.
Members Jisoo and Rosé had a hand in the lyrics of the introspective next track, “Yeah Yeah Yeah.” The two describe crushing on someone whose feelings they are unsure about. “I keep thinking about you / If you maybe like me / Tell me,” they sing. Cleverly, the complexity of their feelings is sung over deceivingly simple 80s-inspired background music. A bass beats out a steady pulse accompanied by a light-hearted drum track that together create a dreamy, expectant musical texture. Unlike the previous tracks, the energy is less intense, which helps it become the hopeful, sweet ode to an unsure love that it is. Rather than a hard stop at the end of the song, the outro trails off on the lyric “Just say yeah yeah yeah,” which leaves the deliciously curious feeling of “What if…?”
Throughout the album thus far, Rosé’s full-bodied vocals have added vibrant color to every track. In “Hard to Love,” she brings those vocals to the forefront in a solo that tells the story of a woman who warns away a potential lover because she thinks she is too hard to love. This song is a bop, pure and simple. Familiar names, Freddy Wexler, TEDDY, Bianca ‘Blush’ Atterberry, Max Wolfgang, 24, and R.Tee wove this all-English tune together to perfectly matches the BLACKPINK member. Her alluring voice starts the track as the instruments slowly join her, first a keyboard playing chords, then a classic rock guitar that takes more than one addictive riff in this disco-pop-inspired number. Rosé continuously duos with her background instrumentals as she declares, “Yeah I’ll be all you need until I’m driving you insane / Baby, all I’m trying to do is save you the pain.” During the break from the rhythm section’s groove, even though her lyrics are trying to dissuade people from loving her, her voice is so achingly beautiful, that she is quite easy to love.
BLACKPINK come together again for the next ballad that highlights their individual styles. “The Happiest Girl,” penned by husband and wife duo Willy and Teddy Sinclair, is set against the clear, simple tones of a grand piano that simultaneously helps each member to shine while also wrapping them in lyrically warm, Romantic chords. As they sing about loving someone bad for them while pretending it is all okay, each member delivers beautiful vocal colors from breathy lows to powerful highs. These differences highlight the sadness of the lyrics that jump from the infinitely sad “We’re wards of pain” to the resigned “But tonight I’ll be the happiest girl in the world.” Lisa is completely dialed into her motions while Jennie’s powerful voice is direct, potent, yet reflectively subdued. Rosé jumps easily and delicately across huge vocal distances while Jisoo sounds ethereal. Although four very distinct voices, these young women know how to blend their tone colors to create this sad, touching ballad.
A slow guitar with distortion riffs in an introduction to the free-spirited song, “Tally.” Rosé then opens with “Yeah, I Yeah, I say fuck it when I feel it / ‘Cause no one’s keeping tally,” a bold statement that declares no one but herself has a say in her life — a very BLACKPINK message. All four women take a turn singing these lyrics, effectively allowing each member to own them for herself. The positive message in the lyrics runs over a pop/rock sound with strings running through the background and supporting Lisa’s edgy rap rife with her independent attitude, “Warned me to make the rules / Or play the fool, it ain’t that hard to choose.” In the pre-chorus Jisoo and Lisa play with vocal glides that add hard notes of flavor while Lisa and Jennie settle hard into the rhythms of their verses, completely contrasting vocal styles to “The Happiest Girl.”
Closing out the album is the promotional single “Ready for Love,” which was dropped along with an animated video produced with PUBG Mobile on YouTube on July 29. In its first week, it earned 43.7 million views and topped the YouTube ranking as one of the most-viewed videos globally. The video itself is an animation of the quartet’s avatars as they adventure through different mystical and post-apocalyptic landscapes with blooming flowers before settling down to dance and sing on a massive, colorful stage. A sharp contrast to the songs before, “Ready for Love” takes inspiration from house music and the drop before the dance break helps to shift the girls from exploring their animated world to showing off their moves. Most importantly, the lyrics are a brave message, “Ready or not, here I come and I’m running.”
The eight tracks of BLACKPINK’s second full-length album are not only a journey through the talents of Jisoo, Jennie, Rosé, and Lisa but also an exploration of so much of what they can do as performers. Through the lyrics they pen and choose to sing and the way in which they sing them, they share messages with Blinks and the world that we all need to hear. This album is a declaration of why these four women are the K-Pop Queens. It also whets the appetite in anticipation of their 42-stop Born Pink World Tour that begins in Seoul on October 15 and ends in June of 2023. Blinks will be serenaded by the old and the new from the quartet, especially by their experimentation with musical sounds in a way that K-Pop always has, but now has mastered. The combination of modern music and jewels of the past creates an evergreen album that is worthy of many, many replays. Blinks and K-Pop fans, enjoy. It’s time to hit that repay button.