Is 'Born Pink' end of an era for Blackpink or just a turning point?


The group's contract with Korean label YG is set to expire in 2023. Photo: YG Entertainment

K-pop's decade-long ascent in the United States peaks with one sure bet this year: Born Pink, the brand new album from Blackpink.

While the group has a worldwide tour lined up, some Blackpink fans fret that the eight-song Born Pink could be the end of an era for the group responsible for some of the genre's all-time finest tracks, Ddu-Du Ddu-Du and How You Like That among them.

Here are four takeaways from the new LP.

1. Is this an end – or the end – for Blackpink?

In the 2020 Netflix documentary Blackpink: Light Up The Sky, Lisa said: "It doesn't matter if we grow old and get replaced by a new younger generation... because they will still remember how we shone so bright."

They had just walked offstage from their 2019 Coachella performance as the first female Korean group to play there – a highlight of anyone's career.

However she meant it – capturing a peak achievement, or acknowledging that her genre churns quickly – Blackpink seemed to have an end in sight.

One particular ending may come in 2023, when Blackpink's contract with Korean label YG (which fans often accuse of mismanaging the group) is set to expire.

Will they renew it, go solo, disband forever, take a hiatus or reconfigure at a new label? Born Pink would be a short, somewhat slight valediction, so let's hope this is just a turning point.

2. An 1800s rock star inspired them

Shut Down, the album's second single, makes unusually jaunty use of waltz time.

While the production is all sub-bass grime and nimble, ferocious rapping, that regal little string riff comes from a sample of composer Niccolo Paganini's La Campanella.

In the early 1800s, Paganini shacked up with a rich Tuscan mistress while he learned guitar, and Blackpink have some fun with that precedent here: "A rock star, a pop star but rowdier...Praying for my downfall, many have tried, baby/ Catch me when you hear my Lamborghini."

3. Love him or loathe him, Teddy Park is all over this record.

Blackpink's longtime producer Teddy Park is a divisive figure for some devoted Blinks.

His vision for K-pop's future – smashing Pharrell-style drum loops, a travelogue of string samples and cascades of synth-pop together – can sound either exhilarating or obvious.

He has a hand in four of Born Pink's eight tracks, including lead single Pink Venom, which used every one of his old tricks.

He's also behind the charmingly yacht-rockin' Hard To Love and the EDM powerhouse album closer Ready For Love.

Is the Electric Daisy Carnival wave of 2011 far enough in the past to be nostalgia yet? Given the fast metabolism of K-pop, it might be.

4. New Wave, still cresting

1980s new wave has begun to replace disco as the dominant retro-sound of pop.

Tracks from Dua Lipa, the Kid Laroi and most famously the Weeknd hit chart heights with sparkly arpeggios, one-handed keyboard licks and four-four thumps.

Blackpink try their hand at that well-tested formula on Yeah Yeah Yeah, a song that feels tailor-made for confetti cannons and a sea of light sticks, with the welcome spin of being the most heavily Korean-language song on the record.

It isn't a single yet, but it feels like a sleeper fan favourite when they come to LA in November. – Los Angeles Times/Tribune News Service

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