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BLACKPINK are strangely restricted on Born Pink

"Born Pink"

Release date: 16 September 2022
BLACKPINK - Born Pink cover
21 September 2022, 00:00 Written by Tanatat Khuttapan

Blackpink are enormous. Their presence has permeated all over the world: they have performed at Coachella, debuted several songs in the Top 50 Billboard chart, and, more recently, garnered a couple of awards at the VMAs.

The label's tactics to raise them to worldwide fame seemed to work wonderfully after the virality of 2018’s “DDU-DU DDU-DU”; their tightly-knotted choreographies, explosive choruses, and undeniable beauty have become the key attributes that shape the identity of Blackpink. Since then, they have accumulated an ardent global fanbase, who is always ready to compulsively stream their new offerings. From this viewpoint, the iconic epigram “Blackpink in your area” reads like an inspirational motto for themselves, an ultimate holy grail that the band has striven after. And in 2022, it is safe to say that they have achieved that status of unyielding popularity: Blackpink are in every area that one could imagine right now.

As a result, Blackpink’s second instalment Born Pink, at first glance, can be deemed as the celebration of their accomplishments. In title track “Shut Down”, they strut across their infinite success, pose for the flashy cameras before their Lamborghinis, then swerve in greetings of the haters. “Praying for my downfall, many have tried, baby,” tease them, with a mischievous wink. Their overt pride pervades through the recurrent sample of Niccolò Paganini’s “La Campanella”, nourished by the usual hip-hop influences. It is fairly fun and refreshing: a flex song well-suited for congratulatory parties. Blackpink’s greatest facets often lie in this sphere of carefree confidence and outrageous rhythms, making you tap your feet, bop your head, and twirl around like a reckless maniac. Even if their musicality is not necessarily groundbreaking, at least the fun part makes up for it.

Unfortunately, that is not always the case for many others; certain tracks are stripped of the over-the-notch extravagance, leaving them monotonous and, hence, dull. “Typa Girl” continues the exultant narrative of the title track, though with an additional essence of I’m-not-like-other-girls energy. Its sultry soundscapes are comparatively toned down, as if awaiting a bombastic beat drop that never came. The blasé EDM territories apparent in “Ready for Love”, where the melody is borrowed from the mid 2010s’ dance-pop palette, thwart its listeners from truly savouring its resplendent vivacity. Sometimes, the track length also impedes them from reaching their farthest heights. “Yeah Yeah Yeah”, for example, is a new-wave–infused banger composed of an underlying beat that nods to the Weeknd’s “Save Your Tears”, but the euphoric blast of synthesisers towards the end, which could have been the track’s absolute peak, ceases in a rather abrupt manner with the fade-away effect, leaving the listeners painfully with nothing else but the desire for more.

When the sparkling glimpse of unrelenting vigour that marks their signature wanes, there is not much to rave about except the members’ vocal performance. Jisoo, for instance, finally showcases her singing ability in some songs here: rapping in “Shut Down” and hitting the high notes in “The Happiest Girl”. Other than that, many tracks sound incredibly dated and familiar; one could even perceive it as a supercut of the mainstream music released in the previous decade. Even more, a few songs, namely “The Happiest Girl”, have already been circulated around the music industry before arriving in Blackpink’s hands, which is rather an unfair treatment for the group; they deserve something that is wholly new. It is truly baffling, considering the prodigious publicity for the album. This should have been their triumphant establishment, one that will alter the obstinate sceptics. Yet, the execution itself often falls frustratingly flat, lacking originality and a clear-cut focus. With its limited scope of musical conceptions, Born Pink, therefore, sounds strangely restricted, as if detained in a confined space wherein it longs to escape. Hopefully, though, Blackpink will be able to do so after this record.

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