By John Ezekiel J. Hirro
BLACKPINK released their first-ever full-length debut album on Friday: an eight-track record that spans 24 minutes and 28 seconds.
The K-pop quartet’s discography was mostly comprised of club bangers—three-minute tracks with powerful drops and catchy one-liners, such as the likes of “Kill This Love” and “Ddu-Du Ddu-Du.”
So when “THE ALBUM” was announced, it’s not a long shot to expect a diverse record from the biggest K-pop girl group in history.
Even Jennie said the group believed the album was “something no one has tried before.”
“We just want to bring something new. The album is cool, you know, and we tried to put together all the colors of BLACKPINK that we’ve built before into one,” she said in an interview with The Recording Academy.
The album begins with “How You Like That,” the three-month-old prelude to the record’s release. In June, the song was viewed 82 million times in its first 24 hours, a YouTube record. Its thumpy bass drops set a powerful opener to the album.
Next up: “Ice Cream” featuring Selena Gomez. The record transitions from a club banger to a cutesy pop track with a major featuring artist. This is probably the most colorful part of the album, with catchy vocals from Gomez, Jennie and Rose in the chorus and a crisp Lisa rap verse. Jisoo also surprises with a shocking sex metaphor with the line, “you’re the cherry piece, so stay on top of me.” The song has all the makings of a 2020 pop song, along with the likes of “WAP” by Cardi B (whom we’ll talk about later).
Now we’re through the songs we already knew about. Onto the six brand new tracks.
“Pretty Savage” starts with a mysterious-sounding piano part. Four years into BLACKPINK’s career, we already know this precedes a bass drop. And boom, it does. How’d we know that again? Because this track sounds like *at least* three other BLACKPINK songs. Its lyrics bring nothing new to the table, either.
The chorus line, “yeah, we some bitches you can’t manage, we are pretty savage,” can be confused with other BLACKPINK song had it not included the song title. Generic, to say the least, with the exception of a cool new “BLACKPINK in your area” intro.
And here enters Cardi B. BLACKPINK and Cardi B… the song’s gotta be a trap record, right? Wrong. The closest comparison from Cardi B’s discography would be Maroon 5’s “Girls Like You” in which she rapped: sweet-sounding, cool and poppy as hell.
(Bonus: No Cardi B verse from this song beat Jisoo’s “Ice Cream” verse in terms of, well, Cardi B-ness.)
The fifth track is the title track, “Lovesick Girls.” Arguably the freshest-sounding track in the record, the girls went emo on this one. Throw your hands up and sing along to this part:
“We are the lovesick girls
I’m nothing without this pain…
Yeah we were born to be alone
But why [are] we still looking for love?”
Doesn’t get any more emo than that, right?
Now, wipe your tears because we’re going back to familiar BLACKPINK territory with “Crazy Over You.”
Honestly, this sounds like “Ddu-Du Ddu-Du,” “How You Like That” and Somi’s “Birthday” and “What You Waiting For” gave birth to a sweet-but-psycho-themed trap track.
Surprise, surprise! A full English song! In “Love To Hate Me,” the members seem to have moved on from the toxic relationship mentioned in “Lovesick Girls” as they declare boys “ain’t worth my love if you only love to hate me.”
After all the beat drops and electronic synths from the first seven tracks, the record shifts to its sincere and emotional-sounding finale. “You Never Know” talked about the changes and challenges the group had gone through the years and how they managed to surpass every single one while not changing who they are.
The “haters gonna hate” theme was tackled many times throughout the record, but in “You Never Know,” it was addressed in a balladic beauty of a closing track.
And so, 24 minutes and 28 seconds later, “THE ALBUM” ends. In all fairness, the eight tracks were bangers in their own ways. But did the biggest girl group in the world take K-pop to another level with the record? Not so much. After all, “THE ALBUM” sounded more EDM than K-pop. Its lyrical topics were reused and overused and its essence as an album was absent.
As perfectly described by The Guardian, “THE ALBUM” was the musical equivalent of the scene in “Ddu-Du-Ddu-Du” where Jennie raps on top of a bling-bling-filled tank while eating popcorn: “striking, glittery, depthless and rather impressive.”