Blackpink's "Born Pink" is more than their signature formula

Born pinkthe second album from Blackpinkshines with all the alluring elements that made the quartet the biggest girl group in the world. Lisa, Jisoo, Jenny and Rose’s sweet, two-faced “black” and “pink” duality, door-smashing behavior and fierce independence are taken into account and their immense charm remains undiminished. But the exciting news is gone. As Blackpink became more of a brand than a group, their musical evolution has stopped. Born pink delivers the same tried and true Blackpink sound that cemented their success. This sequence will please some and bore others. Whichever camp you fall into, the bottom line is this Born pink fails to unlock new dimensions of musical development and depth for a band that has always been brimming with potential.

The business of being Blackpink

We can’t talk about born pink, the album, not to mention Blackpink, the brand. Since their debut in 2016, the star power and authority of Blackpink’s individual members has sometimes overshadowed their music, which is dispensed sparingly. The quartet has less than 30 songs to its name and the tracks Born pink represent only eight of them. Taylor Swift, by comparison, has released more than 60 songs since 2017. Doja Cat has dropped at least 47 songs since 2018, and Justin Bieber has dropped more than 40 since 2020 alone.

In many ways, Born pink emphasizes that Blackpink’s music now serves to strengthen their reputation as a brand, not the other way around. Vogue declared that “no one loved Blackpink more in 2021 than the fashion industry” and so on born pink, that love is mutual. The band was dressed by Mugler in the teasers for lead single “Pink Venom,” and Lisa drops the Celine name on the runway (she’s been a brand ambassador since 2019). On “Shut Down,” Jenny raps, “See these dresses? We don’t buy it, we demand it” as a nod to their economic power as front row fixtures and muses for fashion houses.

There are other types of approvals associated with born pink, also, which establish the album as both a commercial and a musical project. The song “Ready for Love,” for example, was released as a collaboration with gaming heavyweight PUBG before appearing on Born pinkand a pop-up shop in Los Angeles celebrating the album is co-branded with Spotify.

Read more: The best K-Pop songs and albums of 2022 so far

BLACKPINK at Spotify x BLACKPINK BORN PINK Pop-up Experience LA (Courtesy: Spotify)

BLACKPINK on Spotify x BLACKPINK BORN PINK Pop-up Experience LA

Courtesy: Spotify

Unwavering commitment to “Blackpink-core”

Blackpink’s production team at YG Entertainment, led by the inexhaustible Teddy Park, has always delivered solid pop that revels in sassy individuality and cocky superiority before retreating to heartbroken corners for hurtful grievances. Born pink cements this musical and lyrical perspective as Blackpink’s very identity, Blackpink-core.

Every song on the album would be right at home on any previous Blackpink release like this one. “Pink Venom” sweetly threatens to inject “pink venom… right into your dome” and closes with the band’s signature vocal percussion, this time a repeating “ra-ta-ta-ta.” “Shut Down” is a self-congratulatory kiss-off to the naysayers, while “Tally” is an apathetic, sex-positive declaration of self-worth (and contains a few “f-cks,” perhaps the album’s most exciting surprise). “Typa Girl” is “I’m not like other girls” anthem punctuated by percussive clicks and piano.

The ’80s synth-tinged “Yeah Yeah Yeah” is a welcome change, as musical elements from that era are rare in Blackpink’s discography. Rosé’s “Hard to Love,” an odd addition as the only solo track on the album, is still a solid pop-rock bop. “The Happiest Girl” is a feel-good ballad about girls nursing bruised egos and sick love. Includes a rarely sung verse from rapper Lisa, whose voice is beautiful. “Ready for Love,” the PUBG collaboration, ends the album as a simple, no-frills dance track.

Born pink it also cements visual aesthetics. In our walk to the albumwe called previous single ‘Pink Venom’ “an extension of the band’s visual universe” for its use of color palettes, earth, fire and water elements, martial imagery and a big group dance finale that we’ve seen from the band in the past.

The music video for second single “Shut Down” is even more straightforward, deliberately referencing past visuals from older music videos: a chair-sized globe from “Whistle,” a pickup truck loaded with garbage bags from “BOOMBAYAH, ” “DDU-DU DDU-DU’s” mirror tank top and pink shopping bags for Jennie, an umbrella for Jisoo, a Blackpink branded katana for Lisa and a chandelier swing for Rosé. The scenes are stripped of color and redone in black and pink to highlight them as key iconography of Blackpink’s visual universe.

A straight line must be drawn here to the other biggest group in the world, BTS, whose recent anthology album Evidence took songs from more than a dozen albums they’ve released since 2013. EvidenceLead single ‘The Best is Yet to Come’ also saw them relax amongst iconic images from their previous music videos. Those scenes represented a decade of growth that took them from demure, macho-posing nobodys to sleek, mellow top-40 mainstays.

Blackpink hasn’t been given the agency to develop in nearly the same way, even though they’re more than capable of it. Born pink may be YG’s way of sketching out the group’s musical legacy plan, but the members should soon be empowered to build on it.

The pros and cons of Blackpink’s plan

We often expect artists to evolve before our eyes, experiencing new phases of personality, expression and style. Each new music release offers greater insight, newer stories, more dramatic highs and lows. Faced with these expectations, Born pink falls flat.

But what if evolution isn’t the goal? On the back of less than three dozen songs, Blackpink rose to style icons and superstars, the most popular girl group in the world. Some may argue why would they change what they are doing?

Yet I found myself listening to the album and thinking, “After all this time, how do they still sound the same?” Lisa, Jisoo, Jenny and Rose have traveled the world and certainly experienced their share of pain, loss, joy and melancholy. It is hard to believe that things inside them would not have shifted, that new love would not have blossomed in their hearts, that challenging thoughts would not have agitated their minds. They don’t owe us anything, but they have their own stories to tell. Blackpink may have been born pink, but the world is still waiting to hear all the new colors they’ve grown into.

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Contact us at [email protected].

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