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Arts & Culture, Reviews

Blackpink releases long-awaited debut album

‘The Album’ takes fans on an irresistible thrill ride that’s all too short

By
Senior Staff Writer
Monday, October 5, 2020

In “The Album,” members Jisoo, Jennie, Rosé and Lisa showcase sleek, tightly-paced, compact collections of new sounds in their first full length album.

South Korean girl group Blackpink finally released their first, full-length studio album Oct. 2, simply called “The Album.” To the devoted fans of Blackpink, collectively known as Blinks, this is a moment of mind-boggling significance. 

Over a span of four years since their 2016 debut, the quartet (Jennie, Jisoo, Rosé and Lisa) formed by YG Entertainment has only released two mini-albums and several singles, a discography distinctly limited in comparison to the standard K-pop group with two to three releases, or “comebacks” as they’re called in the industry, each year. Now, the eight-track collection has arrived at last.

Despite anticipation-straining lulls between the group’s releases, Blackpink wastes no time in their ascent to record-breaking, global stardom. The four-piece has the highest number of followers for a girl group on Spotify and the most subscribers on Youtube for a female artist with 49 million subscribers, an astounding number only second to singer Justin Bieber. 

Topping Youtube’s Global Top Artists chart, Blackpink took the crown on the Global Top Songs chart with the June pre-release of the smash-hit single “How You Like That.” Quickly following in the footsteps of the trailblazing South Korean boy band BTS (Beyond the Scene), Blackpink has also made history as the first K-pop girl group to perform at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in April last year. 

“The Album” can be seen as a testament to Blackpink’s rise as a global sensation. Not only does the album feature collaborations with household names like singer Selena Gomez and rapper Cardi B, but it also gathers renowned western producers and songwriters behind the scenes, such as David Guetta and Ryan Tedder. 

“The Album” begins with “How You Like That,” a hip-hop-inspired ride that encapsulates the classic Blackpink style: a girl-power exuding pop anthem, an addictive chorus, catchy rap lyrics sparkling with charisma and a bit of chaos in its multi-layered production that leaves listeners breathless and hyped for a dance party. 

“Ice Cream” follows, giving listeners a dessert break from the intense, pulsating romp with its dance-pop ensemble of sugary innuendos, bouncy beat and collaboration with Selena Gomez. “Bet You Wanna” presents a guest performance from Cardi B who maintains an overall playful PG presence on the upbeat track. Co-written by Jennie and Jisoo, “Lovesick Girls” brings back a 2010s pop vibe, complete with an exuberant chorus. “Crazy Over You” takes the massive undertaking of standard K-pop production to dizzying heights with a backing track consisting of a diverse blend of eastern strings, flute and EDM synths amid a retro hip-hop rhythm. 

Aside from crafting the go-to party playlist, Blackpink takes care to clap back at haters, a shadowy presence on the fringe of dedicated K-pop fandoms that scrutinizes the singer’s stage performance, weight or “problematic” attitude. With effortless charm, the group dismisses the skeptics and doubters with tracks like “Pretty Savage” and “Love to Hate Me.” “Stressing over nothing, baby relax / Why you getting angry? I’ma kick back / Only thing I think about is big stacks,” Jennie sings nonchalantly.  

After seven tracks of hip-hop, EDM and pop interwoven with rap, the 20-minute adrenaline rush ends abruptly on a softer note that observes tradition established from their EPs. The album closes with “You Never Know,” a ballad colorfully streaked with EDM synths. If the snappier lyrics from the aforementioned tracks didn’t get through to the listener, this soulful reminder for restraint among overzealous fans and haters does. The quartet reflects on its identity despite burgeoning fame and increased following and the rough days one inevitably has to get through. “But you’ll never know unless you walk in my shoes / You’ll never know my tangled strings / ‘Cause everybody sees what they wanna see / It’s easier to judge me than to believe,” Rosé sings in a call for empathy. 

In its entirety, “The Album” barely lasts over 24 minutes. It’s a showcase of sleek, tightly-paced production that competitively drives up the K-pop standards on quality, which is arguably already sky-high. However, under all the layers of technological enhancement, Blackpink still finds room for impressive vocals and vibrant personality. In the smooth delivery of their signature style of polished glamor, girl-power and eclectic fun, perhaps the only qualms to have about “The Album” are its brevity and hasty ending.

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