“BORNPINK” merges the old with the new

Blackpink’s second studio album diverges from prior releases yet still maintains Blackpink’s essence

The album cover for “BORNPINK” has simple white background with pink fangs. This showcases the duality of the group with the contrast of the color pink and the fangs


The album cover for “BORNPINK” has simple white background with pink fangs. This showcases the duality of the group with the contrast of the color pink and the fangs

Pranati Kotamraju

After a two year hiatus, K-pop’s biggest girl group Blackpink released its highly awaited second studio album “BORNPINK” on Sept. 16. With a total of eight tracks, “BORNPINK” delivers Blackpink’s signature hard-hitting, empowering lyricism in songs like “Pink Venom,” while also revealing a rarer, more vulnerable side to the group in songs like “Hard to Love.”

Compared to the band’s debut album titled “The Album,” “BORNPINK” isn’t afraid to take risks, making the album a collection of versatile sounds. Experimentation can be seen in the title track “Shut Down” where they incorporate a violin sample of “La Campanella,” by Paganini, the classical sound of the violin mixed in with the modernized hip hop beats makes “Shut Down” sound refreshing, managing to stray from Blackpink’s typical formula, with the instrumentals being more subdued, helping lyrics stand out. Lyrics such as, “It’s not a comeback since we’ve never left / Praying for my downfall, many have tried, baby” show that “Shut Down” is a response to Blackpink’s skeptics, explaining how even in their absence they have continued to dominate the charts. The “Shut Down” video references many of their previous music videos, read through the timeline below for more information. 

Shifting to a more vulnerable direction, the sixth track “Happiest Girl” is a stark contrast from the rest of the album, due to its vast difference in artistic style. Instead of Blackpink’s loud production, the track favors a simple piano ballad, letting the raw vocals speak for themselves. “Tonight, I’ll be the happiest girl in the world / You’ll see like it never happened / Don’t make us saints / We’re wards of pain / The past and the perfect picture.” The song constantly contradicts itself, with the juxtaposition of lyrics explaining the conflicting experiences of being in a relationship — although the relationship is doomed to fail, the protagonist still feels lonely every time she and her significant other break up. This song also proves how to stay strong even amid heartbreak, by burying the pain away and faking a smile. The layering of Rose’s vocals in the background only enhances this song by adding more [emotion] and complimenting  lead rapper Lisa’s angelic lower register.  

This image features all four members on Jimmy Kimmel with Rosé(far right), Lisa(far left), Jennie(middle right) and Jisoo(middle left). Photo | Yahoo

While the attention to detail could be seen in the lyrics and the production, unfortunately the same thing can’t be said regarding the album’s originality. The ‘girl crush’ concept has been associated with Blackpink since their debut, yet the novelty has worn off — leaving it overused and overdone. There are other ways to be empowering without acting apathetic, with the track “Pink Venom.” After waiting for two years this track seems like a major letdown, as it was almost completely sampled — using Rihanna’s “Pon De Replay” and “P.I.M.P.” by 50 cent. The sampling makes the song forgettable, feeling like any generic pop song and offering nothing unique.

Blackpink is slowly starting to feel like more of a brand than a band, delaying the development of their group, as the authenticity that was once prominent seems to be diminishing. Many fans blame this on Blackpink’s label, YG Entertainment, since they have had a bad track record for being controlling and mistreating their artists.

Despite this album having flaws with ingenuity, it is a step forward, with versatile songs ensuring the average K-pop listeners will find at least one song that they will enjoy. In spite of the large variety of songs, Blackpink manages to maintain cohesion, and is are ultimately successful in telling a story about dominance, change and power.