A full year (seriously YG?) after their previous release, monster rookies BLACKPINK are finally back with their first mini-album, “Square Up,” led by hard-hitter title track “Ddu-Du Ddu-Du.” And if the wait was long, well, it was worth it. Personally I have a soft spot for “Boombayah,” the group’s debut track, but biases aside, “Ddu-Du Ddu-Du” may very well be the group’s best song to date. While the side tracks on “Square Up” aren’t quite on par with the group’s potential, the title track’s excellent performances and surprising structure make for a sucker-punch of a song that’s as easy to enjoy on repeat as it is to get stuck in your head.
For the most part, “Ddu-Du Ddu-Du” opts for the rap verse/vocal prechorus/instrumental hook structure which BLACKPINK has taken on several times in the past. But this track ups the ante where previous BP songs didn’t, experimenting with different styles and rhythms, all of which end up tipping the scale from a decent song to a great song. Each member outperformed their past selves and most of the industry along with them. Lisa’s new, lax rap style worked brilliantly, and Jennie’s verse had me yelling the first time I heard it. The highlight of “DDDD,” however, has to be the ending, which forgoes the likely third hook for a decidedly unlikely breakdown whose stadium intensity blows the previous choruses out of the water. It’s like YG was listening to the demo and at the end of the bridge he said, “Okay, now gun it.” Not only do the ringing synth and increased bass drive the atmosphere, but a new chord progression comes onto the scene, giving the breakdown an extra kick. The dazzling moment makes the track.
Unfortunately, the rest of the mini-album is lackluster compared with “Ddu-Du Ddu-Du.” Some tracks take the idea of a brand-new breakdown way too far, resulting in a sense of messiness and disconnection. None are groovable like “DDDD,” that’s for sure. But skimping on the quality of the side tracks is typical of YG Entertainment’s treatment of BLACKPINK, a two-year-old group who barely have 10 songs even though they have the talent, potential, and popularity to become the biggest girl group in the nation. I hope that the success of “Ddu-Du Ddu-Du” convinces YG that the girls are worth investing more in, but I guess I’ll believe it when I see it.
DDU-DU DDU-DU: KAYBOP OR KAYFLOP? Bop!
Take a look at BLACKPINK’s “Ddu-Du Ddu-Du” MV below: