By ANGELA XU
“Blackpink in your area!”
On Oct. 2, the biggest Korean Pop (K-pop) girl group Blackpink dropped their very first album, The Album. Consisting of eight songs, the album possesses many new releases, two of which feature very well-known American artists, Selena Gomez and Cardi B.
Debuting in 2016, Blackpink released their first single album comprising two tracks, Boombayah and Whistle. By the time of their debut, their songs charted as number one on Billboard World Digital Sales, making them the first act to accomplish such a feat. While much of their success was due to their renowned company and fan expectations of them to succeed their predecessors, Blackpink quickly rose to popularity and became known as a monster rookie group in South Korea. With record-breaking accomplishments since their debut, Blackpink was on a hot streak until their company called for a long hiatus that left fans worrying about the girl group for months. But, while many promotions were canceled due to the ongoing pandemic, Blackpink fans can now rejoice with the release of the group’s very first album.
For Blackpink’s first official album after four years into their career, it is not half bad considering the major hype the group was receiving after releasing multiple songs after their long hiatus. Although some tracks were an obvious repackaging of older songs, the album ultimately accomplished what Blackpink fans have longed for: the group’s return.
The album kicks off with How You Like That, a trap song that definitely catches people’s attention from afar with its explosive drops, hip-hop beats and catchy chorus. Keeping up with the high energy of the album’s opener, the second song from the album is the summer pop-like track Ice Cream, featuring Selena Gomez. From its name, fans can already guess that the song itself is as delicious as the title suggests. But as amazing as the songs were, it was rather disappointing to find pre-released tracks within Blackpink’s first official album. As a result, fans can only anticipate the other six songs of the album.
Contrary to the first two tracks, the third track of the album titled Pretty Savage addresses their haters who have constantly made remarks about the members’ physical appearance with Lisa spitting verses like “Born skinny, chick, thin, no matter of how much weight I gain.” addressing the negative comments she received about her body on social media, Lisa dishes out the haters in her solo. The song includes a staccato type beat that leaves fans bobbing their heads along with the catchy tune.
The fourth song, Bet You Wanna, delivers a surprising collaboration featuring American rapper Cardi B. Similar to Blackpink’s usual style, the song has an electronic dance aesthetic with appealing verses, but some fans noticed the song’s major use of autotune for the members of the group. In certain aspects, yes, it made the song sound a bit unnatural, but the mix in the pre-chorus and addicting beat of the song ultimately overtakes the autotune. Topping it off with Cardi B’s rap verse flowing seamlessly with Blackpink’s vocals, it is undoubtedly an unexpected collaboration that exceeded expectations.
In addition, within this album, the group seems to be experimenting with different genres and beats. This is especially evident with their title track Lovesick Girls, which was co-written by two of the group’s members, Jisoo and Jennie. Based on the title, the song talks about the group being alone but “still looking for love” even after all the challenges the group has faced. It serves as a common question amongst the current generation that yearns for love but is trapped by personal insecurities. Along with the lyrics, the beat gives it a very early 2010s American pop vibe that definitely gets people dancing.
The sixth song, Crazy Over You, mixes well despite its overwhelming blend of different genres. But to the fanbase’s delight, Blackpink has finally showcased their outstanding vocals and unforgettable raps with the song, leaving a lasting impression as a distinctive track when compared to the rest of the album.
Lastly, the final two songs of the album end it off with a drastic style change as the hard pop of Love to Hate Me suddenly transitions into the ballad You Never Know. While some say a ballad might have not been the best choice as the album’s closer, the song signifies the continuation of Blackpink’s journey. By showcasing each member’s vocal colors, it leaves a lot of room for the group to explore beyond their usual hip-hop style.
Throughout the album, it is quite obvious that the album is overflowed with a sense of the group’s independence. The album's theme is Blackpink reflecting on their career to address situations that were never clarified. Specifically, the multiple occasions where netizens were quick to judge each member's "offensive" actions without knowing the full details, to which the group breaks their silence after this album.
Arguably, Blakcpink’s long hiatus set the album up for success as its fanbase has been deprived of the group’s activities for a while. However, that does not mean that the album is less-worthy of its success. The album demonstrates how much the group has grown over the past few years. Hopefully, Blackpink will release new music for their fans sooner than later. In the end, you will likely want to play this album in every area.