BLACKPINK is finally back with a new EP, and I’m finally back with my thoughts on it!

Hey everyone. Long time no see once again. Long story short, June was consumed by my IRL job. Happens sometimes, yeah? I had very little free time until the Fourth of July holiday, but it took that whole week just to recoup and get my feet back on the ground. With things clearing up I’m hoping to get back into some kind of normalcy which will occasionally include updating this little blog of mine. There’s certainly no shortage of things to write about, so I hope you’ll enjoy what I have to offer.

So yeah, we’re starting off with some K-Pop. You’re gonna see a lot of it on here. South Korea’s music scene has been part of my fandom since 2009, but in the last two years it’s really taken off for me. Don’t worry, it’s not going to totally drown out Japanese content or anything else. This blog just reflects whatever I’m into at the time, and South Korea has been totally on point this year. Anyway, onto the review.

So the star of this release is the first track, “DDU-DU DDU-DU”. This track is definitely a little harsher and/or edgier than BLACKPINK’s previous releases. Instead of their usual energetic pop feel, this one has a more rough tone featuring more hip hop elements and less general pop. It has a nice established beat and relies on quite a bit of rap. Without a doubt, Jennie owns this song. Her rapping parts are by far the coolest. She’s a very talented rapper and singer, and she definitely got her moment to shine in this one. Everyone else gets some good audio time as well. It seems like Lisa wasn’t quite as front and center as she often is, but she did great as well. Rosé definitely has some memorable moments in there too. Personally I would have preferred Jisoo to get a tiny bit more to do in this song simply because I love her unique voice. Still, as-is this is a super impressive tune. They didn’t play it safe and make just another BLACKPINK song. They took some creative risks and it massively paid off.

The music video for this track is not to be missed either. It’s not the flashiest K-Pop video you’ll ever see, but it’s still super high quality and features a lot of really amusing concepts and lovely outfits. I would have liked to see a little more of Jisoo in that pink skirt toward the end, but we can’t always get what we want I guess. Just like the song, the video spotlight is on Jennie. I mean, how many idols get their own bling tank? If that ain’t a sign that you’ve made it, I don’t know what is. But yeah, the spectacle and the unbelievably in sync choreography are all here. I know it’s a lot of work for them, perhaps unhealthily so, but K-Pop producer’s and members’ dedication to their products sure is one of a kind. Great video.

As we move on to track 2, “Forever Young” might be more in line with what you’d expect from BLACKPINK. For the most part, it’s a really well done pop song but it does contain some surprising elements that make it stand out from the crowd. The changes in tempo are really smooth and awesome. I especially like the start of the song and how it just slides from a mellow, ballad-like start into some really pleasing pop sequences. Two minutes in we’re whisked away into a second helping of Rapper Jenniewho once again slays her part with a perfect execution. I love how they worked a little English swear word in there just for the shock factor. The song ends off with yet another different tempo and a little more attitude than how it started. It’s an awesome blend and so well assembled.

“Really” is a more predictable, slower pop song but still very in line with the album as far as quality goes. There’s no real surprises to it and the song sticks to its ballad formula through and through. There’s still a few hidden gems, though. For one, this is the first track where I felt like I heard a little more of Lisa. Compared to their past releases, it felt like she kinda took a backseat in this album. And also, it’s such a small part of the song and it’s my bias showing in plain sight, but damn, Jennie’s pronounced, instrumental stalling “Really” moments are so awesome. I enjoy this song a lot but it’s easily the calmest of the bunch.

Wrapping up the release is “See U Later”, and at the start it definitely has a winding down feel in the tempo. The verses stick to it and have an awesome beat, but as we get into the chorus lines things pick up a little. The lyrics stick to chant-like simpleness, but the music behind them builds up some hype. I’m glad to hear more of Lisa once again. I guess they were just saving her for the latter part of the CD. The song alternates between these two styles until nearly the end, where we get one more delicious serving of Rapper Jennie and her potty mouth. But hey, if she wants to be the “boss bitch” who am I to question it? She’s definitely the boss rapper. Straight up, yo. Anyway, enough of my outdated hipness. This is a great song and a terrific end to a terrific CD.

After their debut run in 2016, BLACKPINK hasn’t been exactly shelling out the releases, but when they do take the time to put something out, it has always been exceptionally good so far. They are lauded for their top tier quality and seamless blend of styles. Personally I think all of their praise and success is more than earned. They always impress and entertain, and “Square Up” is no exception. It’s a rock solid EP with no need to hover over the next button. It would be nice to get a BLACKPINK fix more than once a year, but if we’re going to get diamonds like this I can wait.

“Square Up” is out now and available on pretty much every platform you can think of. You can also check it out for free on Spotify at reduced quality.

Mike
Author

Fan of アイドル, Japanese and Korean music, video games, anime, space, and technology. I tweet and blog about all of the above plus life.