This Friday, October 2, “The Album”, the first Korean-language record by Blackpink, a group of four beloved South Korean singers and dancers, is released. Whether it’s breaking YouTube view records, or playing Coachella, the female K-pop group has become a staple.
Four years. This is how long it took for the group Blackpink to become the biggest K-pop “girl band” in the world. The female quartet, originally from Seoul, South Korea, is made up of Jennie, Rosé, Jisoo and Lisa. They are singers, dancers, and even, rappers for Jennie and Lisa.
The Album, Blackpink’s highly anticipated debut album
Formed in 2016 by the label YG Entertainment, which founded several big K-pop groups, Blackpink first met with success in South Korea, then in Asia, before storming the international scene. This Friday, October 2, Blackpink is releasing its highly anticipated first Korean-language album worldwide: The Album.
A record eagerly awaited by their fans, called the Blinks. They represent more than five million followers on Twitter and 29 million on Instagram. This dazzling success is all the more astonishing as Blackpink only has nine songs in its repertoire.
On October 14, Netflix will also unveil a documentary, again, eagerly awaited, on the meteoric rise of the group, entitled Blackpink: stars in the sky. Enough to further satisfy the thirst of their community, already served by vlogs following the four girls, 24/365 with Blackpink, started in June on Youtube.
Sinful songs with billions of listeners
Blackpink does not blow up the counters only on social networks. His clips have more than twelve billion views on his official Youtube channel, to which 49 million people have subscribed.
Their first two EPs, Square One and Square Two, released in 2016 and 2017, were overnight hits in South Korea. With songs like Playing With Fire, Boombahyah, Stay, Ddu-Du Ddu-Du or Kill This Love, young women effortlessly blend different musical genres, such as rap, hip hop, pop and even country. Result: punchy and devilishly effective titles.
As for lyrics and themes, they do not fall into the sentimentality often observed in female K-pop groups. Jennie, Rosé, Jisoo and Lisa claim the image of a strong and powerful woman, who does not let herself be fooled by the first comer.
From South Korea to the West
Billboard magazine named them the most entry-level female K-pop group of all time. While Forbes Asia included them in its list of the most influential under-30s of 2019.
Their introduction to the international scene was through songs like Kill This Love, which broke all YouTube view records. In June 2020, their song How You Like That generated over 82.4 million views in 24 hours on YouTube,
In 2019, Blackpink thus became the first K-pop girl group to perform at Coachella and achieve billions of views on YouTube.
In 2020, they continued their conquest by multiplying the duets with Western figures of pop or hip-hop, after a first release with Dua Lipa in 2018 (Kiss and Make Up): Selena Gomez (Ice Cream), Lady Gaga (Sour Candy) and soon with Cardi B on their Korean debut album (Bet You Wanna). So much proof that Blackpink has become essential.
Four members with distinct roles
Blackpink only has four members, which is very little for a K-pop group. For journalist and author of The Birth of Korean Cool, Euny Hong, nothing was left to chance in the formation of the group. “Each has a well-defined role, like the Spice Girls. We have the one who speaks English, the one who raps, the one who is small and cute ..”, analyzes the journalist.
At 23, Jennie, the lead singer of the group, alternates rap and singing. Lisa, the youngest in the group, is the main dancer in the group at 22. Rosé, 22, brings musical balance to the group with her softer voice. She is New Zealand and therefore bilingual. Finally, Jisoo, 24, is the only member of the group who does not speak English fluently, despite being trilingual.
The Blackpink recipe, at the heart of the Korean cultural ecosystem
According to Euny Hong, Blackpink was created according to a model that was very popular in K-pop. “K-pop artists are formed at the age of 12,” the journalist informs us. Jennie, for example, was recruited by her record company in 2010, but did not perform in public until 2016. ”
Behind K-pop hides an important cultural stake for South Korea, which seeks to export the image of Korean cool, wanting to compete with cool made in the United States. “The image of a country passes through pop-culture,” recalls the author.
Everything being thought out to the millimeter, from the distribution of each person’s role to their outfits, hairstyle or makeup, the Blackpinks represent the essence of Korean “cool”. But they free themselves from a wise image with texts full of pride and playfulness, assertive looks and an imposing stage presence.
It was this nuance that weighed in the balance when Lisa was chosen as ambassador for the luxury brand Celine. While the other members of the group appear, for example, in Chanel, Bulgari, Cartier or Jimmy Choo, or find themselves in the front row of the major Fashion Week shows. Must-haves, we told you.
K-Pop: the Blackpink phenomenon, female BTS, who conquered the planet
Founded in 2016, this pure product of the Korean music industry has seen a meteoric rise, overtaking Ed Sheeran and Lady Gaga on YouTube. If the group accumulates the records of downloads, its first disc, The Album, was released only this Friday in the whole world.
Never seen since the Spice Girl. Created from scratch by the Korean label YG Entertainment in 2016, Blackpink is now setting records for downloads, including the highest number of views in 24 hours on YouTube with their title How You Like That.
In an international pop market long dominated by Anglo-Saxons, the girl band has even surpassed Ed Sheeran, Eminem and Lady Gaga in number of subscribers – 49.4 million – on the famous online video sharing platform. Their eagerly awaited debut album is out today and already promises to take everything in its path. But how could Jennie, Lisa, Jisoo and Rosé conquer the music industry in less than five years?
Blackpink and success is already an old story. From their first two EPs, Square One and Square Two (we don’t really bother with the titles), released in 2016 and 2017, the group has won the favor of the South Korean public, then Asian. It was not until 2018 and the release of Square Up, carried by the single DDU-DU DDU-DU, to see the doors of America and the world open to the girl band.
They thus become the best-placed South Korean female artists in Billboard 200 history, entering directly into the 40th place in the charts. The machine is started. In addition to an invitation to Coachella in 2019, becoming de facto the first K-Pop group to perform in the prestigious Californian festival, they continue sold-out concerts around the world and collaborations with international stars.
Dua Lippa, Selena Gomez, Cardi B and David Guetta have all worked with the new K-Pop muses for the past two years. With The Album and its prestigious featurings, Blackpink now seems to want to consolidate its place as a major player in the music industry. Comfortable with a wide variety of musical styles, from pop to rap to acoustic ballads, they sing in English, Korean and Japanese. And the recipe apparently takes.
The marketed image of the girl band sticks to the canons of its time, highlighting female solidarity and diversity. “Music doesn’t always come from the US and UK. It’s global, it’s Asia, it’s all possible and imaginable places. I’m proud that we are all from different places on Earth, ”Rosé, born in Australia to Korean parents, told Elle.
But this recognition comes at a price. Barely 25 years old, Jennie, Lisa, Jisoo and Rosé dedicate their entire lives to their careers and their “Blinks”, this nickname – a contraction of Black and Pink – which designates their fans. “Even during our vacation, we’re basically in the recording studio,” Jennie explained in an interview with Elle American. Between pressure and hard work, several idols – the name given to the stars of K-Pop – have committed suicide in recent years, lifting the veil on the deleterious living conditions of these post-teens programmed for celebrity.
Like many of their counterparts, the four members of Blackpink were recruited very young by their label. They were then trained for several years in specialized boarding schools to become complete artists, able to sing, dance, support fame and manage their image, and especially pressure, without making a hitch. Singing machines. Political opinions or positions have no place in the world of K-Pop, at the risk of being harassed online or the ukases of record companies.
In this environment, it is the public who is right about the career of the stars. BTS, South Korea’s international pop figurehead and Blackpink’s main competition, announced a short hiatus last year, the first in six years of existence.