Who could’ve seen them coming—a K-pop girl group reaching total global ubiquity and instantaneous virality without a full-length album to their name? And yet BLACKPINK has been announcing their plans for world domination since their first single, 2016’s “Boombayah,” when rapper Jennie Kim opened the song with the quartet’s now-illustrious slogan, “BLACKPINK in your area!” It was not a request or a demand—it was a declaration of arrival.
Jennie, Lisa (Lalisa Manoban), Rosé (Chae-young Park), and Jisoo (Ji-soo Kim) have been meticulously preparing for this moment since meeting as trainees in 2011: the release of their long-awaited debut LP, appropriately titled THE ALBUM. (If most new artists go the eponymous route for their definitive work, BLACKPINK has taken it a step further, claiming the format as a whole.) From their A-list collaborations (2018’s “Kiss and Make Up” with Dua Lipa, 2020’s “Sour Candy” with Lady Gaga) to their world-record-breaking hits “DDU-DU DDU-DU” and “Kill This Love,” BLACKPINK has worked hard with their longtime producer, YG Entertainment’s Teddy Park, to establish their sonic signatures: big, brassy production; sprightly raps; stacked multilingual harmonies; and genre-ambivalent transitions. On THE ALBUM, they’ve perfected the equation, offering saccharine girl-crush confections (“Ice Cream” with Selena Gomez, cowritten by Ariana Grande and Victoria Monét—their “pink” side) and fierce, no-nonsense empowerment messaging (“Pretty Savage”—their “black”) in equal measure.
Across eight tracks, THE ALBUM is expansive. “Bet You Wanna,” cowritten by OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder and BTS songwriter Melanie Joy Fontana, is BLACKPINK’s first collaboration with a rapper, the preeminent Cardi B. “Lovesick Girls” echoes big, loud, and feminist Icona Pop-esque dance music, and “Love to Hate Me” is Y2K-era R&B pop worship. Even THE ALBUM’s closer “You Never Know” traverses unexpected territory: an anti-judgment anthem, a ballad for their beloved Blinks. How you like that?