On July 31, the Internet broke.
A 30-second YouTube video announcing Black Pink’s new single ignited the dry summer ground. Within a day, promotional photos were posted, Instagram messages were circulating and everyone could talk about it: Black Pink’s two-year hiatus was finally over.
In the first 24 hours after its release, “Pink Venom” amassed 86 million views and jumped to No. 1 on the Spotify global chart. News articles raved about how catchy the song was, die-hard fans posted dance covers, and on paper it all sounded great. Black Pink, who previously exploded in popularity with their 2018 hit “Ddu Ddu Ddu,” did it again.
They made the favorite of the summer.
But as I was watching the music video, something was wrong. As a longtime fan, I expected a memorable beat, stunning outfits, and set Black Pink performance. Yet, instead of being happy or even satisfied, my excitement fell flat. Where was the nostalgic and memorable choreography of their song “Lovesick Girls”? Or the catchy, acoustic sound of ‘Stay’? Instead of their signature spunk, this music video was uninteresting. It was generic. There was no theme, no originality and the lyrics sounded like clichés piled on top of each other.
In other words, the song didn’t sound like a song; it felt like an impostor of a song, a remix of old hits that a fan could have made without the resources and time of Black Pink’s company. The hiatus made the audience’s expectations so strained that when the song ended up being bland, the disappointment broke it.
Instead of producing a genuine hit worth everyone’s time, I had a hidden suspicion that the company wanted to play it safe.
The K-POP industry is a notoriously competitive system. Beginning in their teens, artists must endure grueling schedules, extreme diets, and even expect to improve in everything from their talents to their looks. In a competitive and over-capable society, the juxtaposition between creativity and perfection is an interesting thing to note.
If creativity is separated from work, won’t manufacturing replace the soul?
The lyrics to “Pink Venom” are empty, the chorus is predictable, and it’s hard to feel anything while listening to the song. The purpose of art is to Craft you feel things, be it love, grief, joy, or frustration. And sadly, that’s what Black Pink has lost sight of.
I’m afraid that as the music listens to itself and moves from a real message to a financial scheme, the industry will turn into an ugly plastic. In “Pink Venom”, Black Pink sings, “I am a flower with venom. After taking your soul, look what you made us do. In the context of the song, it’s not very deep, but with the state of the music industry around the world, I think it reflects our culture. Should we trade our creativity for popularity and overused tropes? Should we allow our self-standards to be eaten away by the lack of viral hits?
Although I support the members of Black Pink and keep listening to their other songs on repeat, “Pink Venom” is definitely a leap. The song might spin around in my head many times, but in my heart it won’t leave a lasting impression. I sincerely hope that Black Pink will learn from its detractors and use these tips to regain its signature sound.