An album titled The Album may sound questionable, but for fans of the K-pop girl group Blackpink, it’s a statement. The title announces the long-awaited arrival of Blackpink’s first full-length album four years after their debut, Square One.
While K-pop fandom grows around the world, Blackpink has been one of South Korea’s major names in America. The girl group formed under YG Entertainment, one of the “Big Three” K-pop agencies, and is comprised of four members: Jennie, Lisa, Jisoo, and Rosé.
In 2016, Blackpink debuted with the release of their two singles, “Boombayah” and “Whistle.” Both were immediate hits and left fans clamouring for more. But in the years since, Blackpink only released a few singles and EPs, finding themselves stuck in “YG Dungeon,” where YG artists are silenced for too long.
With The Album’s much-anticipated arrival, Blackpink fans are finally getting their wish. Featuring eight tracks, the album is a treat, especially for Western audiences. Two songs on the album feature big names like Selena Gomez and Cardi B, and half of the tracks are in English.
These collaborations, among others, are fuelling Blackpink’s surging popularity in the West. Back in 2018, the band collaborated with Dua Lipa on the single, “Kiss and Make Up.” The group has also made it on multiple Billboard charts, appeared on shows like Good Morning America and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, went on tour in North America, and even collaborated with Lady Gaga for the song “Sour Candy.”
With all these influences, Blackpink appeals to a global audience. Their turn to English tunes isn’t surprising when you get to know the members a little better. Minus Jisoo, who’s still learning, all group members speak fluent English.
Regardless if their songs are in Korean or English, Blackpink is captivating fans all over the world. Before The Album’s full release, the group teased us by dropping its first two songs, “How You Like That” and “Ice Cream.”
Released back in June, the music video for “How You Like That” has racked up more than 589 million views. I wasn’t a fan of this song initially, but after a few listens, it crept into my playlist on repeat. “How You Like That” has that classic Blackpink sound, which catches you at the chorus with unique beats. The song has a way of making you feel confident as the lyrics encourage you to bounce back up after hitting bottom.
“Ice Cream” with Selena Gomez was released in August and now has more than 341 million views. Except for Lisa’s Korean rap verse, this song is among those almost entirely in English. I like how it’s catchy and fun, but I wish the song was more dynamic as the same tunes repeat throughout. That said, it’s interesting to hear this mix with Selena Gomez, and her voice doesn’t seem out of place. It’s a great listen for that casual summer chill.
The other three English songs on the album are “Bet You Wanna (ft. Cardi B),” “Crazy Over You,” and “Love to Hate Me.” The one with Cardi B has the most Western influence. It’s lively and uplifting, showing you Blackpink’s range of talent. Cardi B’s voice doesn’t blend in like Gomez’s does, but I admire how authentic her addition feels. While “Crazy Over You” and “Love to Hate Me” have underwhelming beats, there’s an alluring charm that’s distinct from the band’s prior work.
“Lovesick Girls” and “Pretty Savage” are some of my favourite songs on the album. The former is the title track, partly written by Jisoo and Jennie. It has a softer retro sound, which is a pleasant change from their occasional heavier vibes. Meanwhile, “Pretty Savage” shows off Blackpink’s iconic confidence and empowering vibes.
The Album ends with its only ballad, “You Never Know.” The vocals here are calming and a perfect reflection of the album’s deeper meanings—namely, the struggle to stay resilient in the face of constant criticism.
As Jisoo said during the album’s global press conference, “We wanted to show a more mature part of us, singing not only about love but also the diverse emotions experienced by girls growing up.”