Dominant Kpop girl group BLACKPINK is back and better than ever with their first EP, “Square Up.” It’s been almost a year since the four-member group from South Korea’s YG Entertainment has released any music, and almost two years since the last EP. But even so, BLACKPINK hasn’t lost any of the momentum they’ve been gradually building since their debut, and their latest release has already broken records domestically and worldwide. “Square Up” contains four diverse and trendy tracks, two of them being marketed as singles: the commanding “DDU-DU DDU-DU” and spirited “Forever Young.” The other two tracks on the album, “Really” and “See U Later,” further demonstrate BLACKPINK’s wide appeal and versatility. After a year of some of the most intense fans around (called “BLINKS”) lamenting the fiery girl group’s lack of music and clawing at his throat for more content, Yang Hyun-suk, the founder and head of YG Entertainment, was under a near-insurmountable amount of pressure to give the girls of BLACKPINK a quality release.
Assisted by go-to YG super-producer Teddy amongst others, the girls prove that this one was worth the wait.
It might seem rather premature to label BLACKPINK as the queens of anything nearly two years into their career, but with the release of single “DDU-DU DDU-DU,” I feel that I can justifiably say that BLACKPINK are the new generation queens of anthemic Kpop club bangers. The track is bolstered by a pounding, unrelenting bass throughout and an instantly memorable chorus, but unlike most Kpop songs, this one isn’t completely centered around the hook. Instead, it’s the verses, each more impressive than the last, and the pre-chorus that make this single so monumental. It’s safe to say that BLACKPINK has two of the best female idol rappers in recent memory, Lisa and Jennie, in their arsenal, and that they continue to capitalize on their talents. The first verse in their latest single is a nonchalantly delivered one by Jennie, but immediately after, Lisa sets the song ablaze with growling bars about fat checks and fact checks. Then comes the majestic pre-chorus, during which vocalists Rose and Jisoo croon their most spellbinding lines to date. After the second chorus Jennie returns with a vengeance, delivering a spitfire verse in which she declares: “I do as I please because I’m a bad girl/Love it or hate it, whatever they say/When the bass drops it’s another banger.” Her eight bars are some of the most impressive and ferocious of the year, and cement her as one of the top rappers of the new generation.
Following an immensely positive response to it’s teaser, Papa YG and company decided to upgrade “Forever Young” to single status, meaning BLACKPINK would be coming back in a double title-track format. The track is a sweet slice of summery moombahton reverie, produced expertly by Teddy and Future Bounce and featuring strong work from each of the girls. It’s formulaic and succumbs to pop music trends, but as far as summer jams go, this one’s a worthy addition to your poolside party playlist.
Third track “Really” instantly recalls the vibe of lablemate iKon’s extremely successful “Love Scenario,” which will no doubt go down as one of the most popular Kpop songs of 2018. Whether “Really” can attract similar achievements still remains to be seen, but this laid-back hip-hop track about confessing love could’ve easily been a single, what with it’s catchiness and infectious style. The highlights include Lisa’s steamy rap verses and Rose’s meme-worthy “hahahihihoho.”
When I first read that the fourth and final track on the EP was titled “See U Later,” I expected some sentimental fluff that would signal another overlong hiatus. Much to my gratitude and surprise, “See U Later” is certainly not about the girls’ saying see you later to their fans, but instead is a stinging kiss-off to an undeserving lover. This chameleonic banger shape-shifts from pop-rock to rap to trap in such a seamless fashion that it appears completely natural, a feat that many iconic Kpop songs are known for pulling off. Armed with empowering lyrics and a commanding chorus, “See U Later” cements this EP as one to remember.
BLACKPINK returned in 2018 bolder and flashier than ever, proving that they are the definition of quality over quantity. Bolstered by the anthemic “DDU-DU DDU-DU,” and the bright “Forever Young,” the girls defended their reputation and shot down the naysayers with their music’s instant smash success and impeccable quality. As one of the most popular “new generation” Kpop girl groups, BLACKPINK had a ton of pressure to craft a big comeback. With “Square Up,” the talented quartet cements themselves as a force to be reckoned with. BLACKPINK IS THE REVOLUTION.