Black Pink -- 'Square One'
YG Entertainment's long, long, long-awaited girl group Black Pink finally broke into the K-Pop scene with double title tracks "Whistle" and "Boombayah."
"Whistle" and "Boombayah" are both bumping tracks with hip hop influences, which is expected from YG. "Whistle" is more chill and laid-back, composed of a simple melody built on an easygoing, nonchalant whistle-based tune and trap-y snares that spill into soft rock guitar chords and drums. This buildup then shifts to the main whistle infused chorus and jumps back the verses, a nice high then low. Several instances of these shifts lead to the breakdown in the bridge, which is pretty much a repeat of the chorus.
The song made for an easy but not very memorable listen; for a debut song especially, it's missing a wow factor. The vocals are just okay, and the rapping actually made me cringe at certain points. Maybe the song didn't allow the girls to unleash their full vocal prowess, as it doesn't contain a variegated range of notes. I personally like Jennie and Rose's soulful, husky vocals the most of the bunch, but they didn't get the chance to really put them on full display with this track. Singing parts are distributed mostly evenly, but the vocals remained mostly static throughout, neither truly impressive nor downright terrible. Just meh. And the delivery for the rap verses could use some work, as well. It's the kind of rapping where the words aren't fully enunciated, with a noticeably bigger focus on style and flow. It kind of sounds like the girls are half-mumbling at times, not bothering to completely pronounce the words. I suppose it all comes down to personal preference at this point because to be completely frank, it's not a style of rapping I particularly like.
"Boombayah" is the let's-let-loose-girls-and-just-have-a-good-time dance party anthem, and it's all good...until the girls yell "OPPA!" which totally killed the mood. Most guys probably love hearing that term but it near ruined the listening experience for me. The song is supposed to be a badass "notice me because I'm a hot PYT" type of jam and it does give off that feel what with its deep house bass, sirens, and an incessant synth hook: a repetitive refrain typical of dance pop tunes. Speaking of the chorus, there is really a lot going on there, but "Boombayah" is the kind of song you can just bump to without thinking too deeply about it. You just turn it up, and well, get turnt up right to the music. "Boombayah" is certainly more of a hard-hitter than "Whistle," though it was still sans any stellar elements. Like "Whistle," I wasn't especially taken by the vocals or the beat when I first heard the song. Not to say the song is just awful; it had potential to be better and it simply didn't live up to expectations. Yes, it's definitely catchy enough but being catchy in and of itself just isn't enough, especially for such a hyped-up rookie group from a big house like YG Entertainment.
The MV quality is impeccable as always, especially from a big label such as YG. For "Whistle" in particular, the imagery was quite artistic, featuring plenty of vintage style sets and costumes, though, at times, I felt like I was watching fashion catalogue advert thanks to the countless costume changes in the MV. And some of the outfit choices left me utterly dumbfounded, such as the odd mixture of crop-top-over-turtleneck and reddish orange gloves matched with hot pink colors and gold accessories. The level of weird for these confounding assortment of outfits was too high...even for K-Pop standards. Someone call the fashion police up in here because I clearly have no idea what fashion is. At least I really liked the choreo for "Whistle"; it was perfectly appropriate for the song in its simplicity and laid-back vibe. Anyone could follow along to this choreo, and yes, that even includes someone with two left feet like yours truly.
"Boombayah" relied a lot more on the girls' sexuality, with a lot of subtly provocative moves and touching among the members. I don't think I've ever seen so much fierce hip jerks and thrusts in a debut girl group MV. The choreography basically looks like a great cardio workout for your abs and legs! The dance are more sexy than badass, and while some moves were powerful, they didn't necessarily make me go, "Wow, they're such great dancers!" or "Man, I've never seen that move before in K-Pop!" What I truly liked, however, was how much the girls seemed to be enjoying themselves and having fun throughout the whole MV, unafraid of unleashing their inner 'bad girl.' Work them hips, girls!
To be completely upfront and frank, this hyped-up debut fell short of expectations. Yang Hyun Suk promised that Black Pink will be YG's "representative girl group" from now on, implying that he has moved on from promoting 2NE1 and possibly even replaced 2NE1 with Black Pink. Unfortunately, with a weak debut such as this one, the girls will have a long way to go before they are ever worthy of replacing a group like 2NE1. I really hate to say this because I generally like YG artists but Black Pink's debut was simply lacking. Also, every time I hear their name I can't help but think of how the abbreviation of their name coincides with 'British Petroleum (BP).' Yeah, not the best name for a girl group...in any case, I won't make my final judgment on them just yet because this is only two of their supposed eight MVs that is to be released.