SQUARE UP is the first mini-album released by BLACKPINK. DDU-DU DDU-DU was used as the promo song.
Released: June 15, 2018
1. DDU-DU DDU-DU (뚜두뚜두)
2. FOREVER YOUNG
4. SEE U LATER
DDU-DU DDU-DU is a bit of a departure from the group’s other material. It follows most closely to the sound of Whistle with its stronger hip-hop elements, although this one is definitely more hard-hitting. The verses are pretty much given to Jennie and Lisa for their raps, while Rose and Jisoo come in on the pre-chorus to give a more slowed and dramatic tone. The chorus is quite repetitive, but the attitude and hook is strong enough to carry everything. I quite like the contrast of the different parts of the song and there is a lot of power. It’s not their strongest song, but it is memorable. Forever Young reminds me more of 2NE1 and I love that the group went back to the more obvious pop elements. It has some tropical house elements to it, but I do like it plays with things so they aren’t stale. The chorus is definitely more hard-hitting and I feel like the whole feeling of the song is heavier than the usual breezy tropical house hits. It’s fun and catchy, although I do not like the odd breakdown about three minutes in, which switches the sound. Really is a midtempo pop song with some hip-hop and reggae inspiration. I’m not quite into this song as much because I feel like the music doesn’t sound as clean as it could be. It feels like they are trying to continue the sound from the last song, but the synths and editing just sound off and don’t fit. The melody is quite catchy though and reminds me of iKon’s Love Scenario. See U Later starts as a nice change from the other songs with its effortless pop sound. However, my main gripe with the song is when that drop comes in for the chorus. It just doesn’t fit the brightness of the verses and I think it ruins the flow of everything. Once again, the girls go the repetitive route, but things just don’t flow as strongly. I think I like everything but the chorus is disappointing.
Overall: This is a solid release from the group. I did enjoy all the songs, but I wish there were some tweaks done to the last two songs. The first two were quite strong and they felt much more polished in their delivery. The music was cleaner and the melodies weren’t muddled. The second half just felt a bit all over the place at times.
As If It’s Your Last is the third digital single released by BLACKPINK.
Released: June 22, 2017
1. As If It’s Your Last (마지막처럼)
Definitely different from their last four songs, As If It’s Your Last works on a more streamlined upbeat pop sound with only a few elements of hip-hop. One common criticism about this song is just how much it sounds like a 2NE1 left over. I do feel this is true, but that doesn’t detract from how good the song is. I’m not a huge fan of songs that have edgier verses and then transition to a more generic pop chorus, but for some reason it really works out here. The prechorus does a good job of creating a transition zone that smooths things out. The first half of the chorus is really catchy and does well with heightening the energy with its synths and high-pitched chorus. The second half of the chorus is a bit on the repetitive side and while it isn’t my favourite, it definitely helps to provide some nice contrast to the first half.
Overall: I wasn’t particularly interested in this song when it first came out, but it did grow on me. The bombastic chorus definitely provides the needed energy to propel the song forward and while it all comes off a bit like 2NE1, it’s nice to see the girls trying something a bit more pop.
SQUARE TWO is the second digital single released by BLACKPINK. Both tracks were promoted.
Released: November 11, 2016
1. Playing With Fire (불장난) [MV]
2. STAY [MV]
3. Whistle (Acoustic Ver.)
Playing With Fire is amazing. Unlike the 2NE1-like Boombayah, this one tries to give BLACKPINK a bit of their own unique style. Adopting the current trend, Tropical House, the song keeps the energy high, while also providing a refined edge. The verses are interesting and it gives the girls the chance to highlight their voices, but it’s the chorus where things shine. The blast of synths combined with the standout refrain give the song a sense of soaring when used under that simple, but effective melody. STAY is the group’s slowest song to date. It reminds me a bit of Lonely by 2NE1, but the group is able to bring a bit of their own flavour into it. I do enjoy the more solemn beginning with the use of the acoustic guitar. The chorus transition is a bit odd since the song does pace itself faster. However, it does redeem itself and the clapping and sentimental melody help to give the song a more interesting flair. Whistle (Acoustic Ver.) is a really interesting twist on the group’s already fantastic song. It really continues the sound of the last song and does bring a more “touching” feel to the song and works nicely with the lyrics. I quite enjoy the chorus where the guitar blends nicely with the whistling and propels that attitude-filled melody.
Overall: This is another great digital single. I really hope the group can release something with a bit more material, but all three songs were of high quality. Playing With Fire is definitely the standout of the group’s entire discography.
BLACKPINK debuted in 2016 and was YG’s first debuted girl group in seven years. In a way, they were seen as a way to replace 2NE1. While they haven’t released a lot of material, their songs have been quite popular. SQUARE ONE is the group’s debut digital single and both tracks were promoted.
Released: August 8, 2016
1. Whistle (휘파람) [MV]
2. BOOMBAYAH (붐바야) [MV]
Whistle is the slower of the two songs with its midtempo hip-hop/R&B sound. The song’s foundation is a heavy beat, with some odd synths, snapping and percussion that overlays. Also, a sick whistle refrain. The interesting thing is that the song remains in such a calm way for the majority of it, but it does get some energy when the pre-chorus comes in before it heads back to that relaxed sound. It’s quite cool and a bit unexpected. The melody is also insanely catchy and is something that gets stuck in your head. BOOMBAYAH is the more upbeat one with its upbeat hip-hop/dance sound. The song is very reminiscent of 2NE1’s sound, which is both a good and bad thing. It’s a strong tune, but I do feel the song does come off a bit outdated sounding. I love the music and how much energy it has, especially the transition from the rising pre-chorus into the stomping chorus. I’m not the biggest fan of the second half of the chorus, but there are some really fun aspects to the song.
Overall: Both songs are of high quality, although I do believe Whistle is the stronger of the two due to its intoxicating chorus melody. BOOMBAYAH is great, but it does feel a bit outdated. Still a solid release.