After more than four years since their debut, the girl group BLACKPINK finally unveiled to all their eager fans their first full album – titled The Album – on Friday, October 2nd.
In case you don’t know who they are, BLACKPINK are one of the K-pop titans who are leading the Korean music wave. Formed in 2012, the group consists of four women – Jisoo, Jennie, Rosé and Lisa – and officially debuted with the smash hits Boombayah and Whistle in August 2016. In the following years, they released multiple singles and mini albums, and every single one of them broke and set countless records, not just in K-pop but in music in general.
During these past four years, their fans – aka BLINKS – grew from being a few hundreds of thousands to tens of millions of people, who were all (im)patiently waiting for them to release a full album. And on Friday, it finally happened.
The Album consists of 8 tracks, which all draw inspiration from different music genres – EDM, pop and rock being the most prevalent. However, they still preserve the signature BLACKPINK sound their fans know and love. Here is a breakdown of each song.
How You Like That
BLACKPINK kick off the album with the record-smashing hit How You Like That. The song came out on June 26th, following the success of their collaboration with Lady Gaga Sour Candy, and after the group had been on hiatus for more than one year. Millions of fans were waiting and it’s safe to say that they were not let down. The confidence-boosting track intertwines a trap beat with EDM and mainstream pop – all trademark elements of K-pop. Moreover, the song stands as the perfect album opener: not only is it catchy, fun and chart-topping, but it’s also so recognizably BLACKPINK.
Ice Cream (with Selena Gomez)
The song was the second single from the album that shows off the group’s more PINK side, i.e. their fun, bubbly and glossy side. The track is a star-studded collaboration, as it includes not only BLACKPINK and Selena Gomez, but also features Ariana Grande as a writer. Ice Cream is more upbeat and shiny than the previous single, but it’s still definitely catchy. It’s a feel-good song and not really meant to be taken seriously (as one can figure from the not-so-deep lyrics – “Coldest with the kiss, so he call me ice cream / Catch me in the fridge, right where the ice be”).
This kiss-off diss-track is the cheekiest, most unapologetic song on the album. On a staccato-style beat, the girls alternate between rap and vocals (and between English and Korean), while telling their haters to back off and fix their attitude, or they ‘better run run run’.
Bet You Wanna (ft. Cardi B)
For the entirely English track Bet You Wanna, BLACKPINK collaborated with Cardi B, one of the most popular rappers of the moment, who slides in on the second verse for a quick rap break. The song is seductive and flirty, as the girls sing about ‘all night hugs’ and ‘taking [someone] to paradise’, leaving the rest to the listener’s imagination.
For the lead single, BLACKPINK chose this anthem of independence and self-fulfillment. In Lovesick Girls, the Pinks (as the BLACKPINK members are fondly called by fans) sing about getting heartbroken but still wishing and looking for love. This track is stylistically different from the group’s previous records, as the sound reminds more of Avicii and David Guetta (who actually took part in the making of the song) than the common K-pop. However, Lovesick Girls promotes the usual feel of liberation and empowerment that characterizes BLACKPINK’s discography. (Bonus: two of the members – Jennie and Jisoo – took part in the writing and producing aspects of the song.)
Crazy Over You
This song proves once again that the only constant in BLACKPINK’s discography is the jarring and bold blending of different sounds and how they always manage to make it work. Crazy Over You mixes South Asian beats with a trap and hip-hop-inspired chorus, and with a juxtapositioning bridge. However, the track manages to not be messy at all, but rather mesmerizing and hypnotizing with its disarming charm.
Love To Hate Me
In Love To Hate Me, the girls sing about being over a breakup and not caring anymore about their jealous and ‘stupid’ exes, as they “Ain’t worth [BLACKPINK’s] love”. In this entirely English track, the lyrics get more pointed and witty, as the Pinks declare in the first verse “Stressing over nothing baby relax / Why you getting angry? Ima kick back / Only thing I think about is big stacks.”
You Never Know
For the final track, BLACKPINK chose to close the album with a slower rhythm compared to the previous adrenaline-filled songs. In this ballad-style record, the girls reminisce about their past and journey to stardom, with lines that seem to be directed at their haters. “But you’ll never know unless you walk in my shoes / You’ll never know, my tangled strings” they sing, probably meaning that they too have had to face obstacles and troubles, even if their haters don’t think so. After all, as the Pinks chant, “it’s easier to judge than to believe”.
[The Album] leaves you wanting for more: more adrenaline, more music, more BLACKPINK.
Overall, The Album is a pretty cohesive piece of work, both sonically and stylistically. It keeps the usual sound and musical colors that set BLACKPINK apart from other artists, while still being refreshing and new.
If I were to point out a flaw, it would be the length. With just eight songs, The Album is over before you even know it and just leaves you wanting for more: more adrenaline, more music, more BLACKPINK. However, the shortness of the record could be a good appetizer for newer fans or casual listeners, who just began to dip their toes into the vast ocean of K-pop.
All in all, if you have 25 minutes to kill, I would definitely recommend putting on The Album, even just as background music. I promise you’ll get hooked before you know it.
Final score: 8.4/10
Listen to ‘The Album’ on Spotify here
Cover: YG Entertainment 2020