Edited by Seo Hayne
Translated Kim Hoyeun
When it was announced that the hero of Netflix’s first K-pop documentary was “Blackpink,” no one raised a question. In 2019, Blackpink performed at the Coachella in a breeze surrounded by tens of thousands of spectators shouting the catchphrase “BLACKPINK in your area.” Their song “Kill This Love,” which was released just before the Coachella, smashed a new YouTube record for being the fastest video ever to hit 100 million views. The group’s achievement, which is drawing the upward curve, is only natural to be lead to the release of “behind-the-scenes stories” in a format of a documentary. In Blackpink: Light Up the Sky, Jennie briefly mentions something vitally important: “I think what makes K-pop the K-pop is our times as the trainees.”
When they debuted in 2016 with SQUARE ONE, Blackpink was a rookie K-pop group introduced as “a girl group YG Entertainment is launching seven years after 2NE1.” The long wait has undoubtedly taken its toll on the fans and Blackpink members. However, all those times the four members spent as idol trainees are now fully rewarding them. And we look into the music and stages that showcase how Blackpink became themselves without any dangling “modifiers” under the three big themes.
The dynamics between “Black” and “Pink”: You don’t have to choose one
Blackpink, who debuted at an average age of 19, is not a team that follows the typical “growth narrative” of finding the color that suits them better. Instead, they nudge “black” and “pink” in the album covers and lyrics. Let’s take a closer look at their albums, from the debut album to the latest full-album.
In “BOOMBAYAH” from SQUARE ONE (2016), they sing, “Black to the pink, we’re special no matter what (Oh yes),” then in “PLAYING WITH FIRE” from SQUARE TWO (2016), they shout out, “The color of my heart is black,” and change the color of the heart, which is usually described with red or pink. Blackpink seems to put weight on one side when they state, “If it’s black, then it’s pink, we are pretty savage” in “DDU-DU DDU-DU,” a track from SQUARE UP (2018), but this eventually resolves to “I was black, I was pink, I can shapeshift if I want” in “Pretty Savage” from THE ALBUM (2020). It doesn’t matter which side you prefer for now. There are some reasons why we have to keep our eyes on the team with keen interest.
They dominate the stage as a “Team”: Being one team is better than getting the spotlight alone.
From large-scale stages such as Coachella to all the chances they are given, not one of the Blackpink members focuses on receiving the spotlight alone. Instead, they strive to catch everyone’s eyes as a group, whether they blast the roof off the place with their tension or eventually dominate the stage.
At the time of their debut, members became a hot topic with the unique combination of diverse backgrounds and nationalities. Rosé grew up in Australia, Jennie studied in New Zealand, and Lisa was born in Thailand. While using this melange as their strength, they blended into each other as one. At this point, we cannot forget to mention Blackpink’s long training days.
Of course, when you listen to the songs in the album, some parts highlight each members’ abilities. For example, you should not miss Rosé’s vocals on THE ALBUM‘s track “You Never Know.” It amps up the vibe in the “I’ve been drawing in the picture, Even in the torn places, So I can empty everything and laugh, I wanna face me, who I didn’t want to see” part. Not to mention Lisa’s piercing rap on top of a piano accompaniment in “Love To Hate Me.”
Collaboration with the all-time artists: Because collaboration has to have a win-win relationship
Since 2020, Blackpink has been actively collaborating with female artists around the world.”Ice Cream,” in which Ariana Grande participated in the songwriting and Selena Gomez joined as a featuring artist, is a song with a catchy and lively atmosphere. For this song, Blackpink and Gomez exchange vocals as if they were a single team. The same album also includes “Bet You Wanna,” a track with Cardi B, increasing the fun of listening to the results produced by experienced collaborators. While these two songs have the hot summer in mind, “Sour Candy,” Blackpink’s collaboration song with Lady Gaga, is more profound and dreamier emotionally. Above all, the imposing thing is the vocal directing that allows the four Korean lines to melt into the song naturally.
Editor Seo Hayne: I like actors as they faithfully lead through their long running-time. I also like idols who accomplish everything on stage within 3 minutes.