It’s been a big week for K-pop breaking into the Western music market. South Korean boyband BTS played Saturday Night Live and broke the record for the most-watched music video on YouTube in 24 hours with the Halsey-featuring ‘Boy With Luv’. They snatched that record from K-pop girl group BLACKPINK who claimed it just a week prior with ‘Kill This Love’. Over the weekend, BLACKPINK played Coachella, as the first Korean girl group to do so.
Forget BLACKPINK being the biggest K-pop girl group in the world right now, they may just be the biggest girl group in the world, period. Despite garnering no commercial radio play, the group will play arenas in Australia for the first time in June, their popularity driven by an unequivocally passionate online fanbase. New EP Kill This Love is a well-plotted release, arming them with five new songs ready to break them into the Western market.
On Kill This Love, the girls effortlessly flick between Korean and English. Two of the members, Rose and Jennie, are fluent in English and as such their appeal to English-speaking countries is bigger than any K-pop girl group before them. It also helps that the sound somewhat blends everything that’s popular on our charts right now.
The title track is the star here. It’s a horn-laden, EDM-infused pop song that arrives with a militaristic strength. The softer pop moments are juxtaposed with the hard-hitting hip-hop nods and, for a three-minute song, it’s incredible just how much they fit in. They want to be heard everywhere and Kill This Love is an effective mission statement.
The track’s video is an expensive, glossy affair that does a good job of showcasing each band member’s persona while also showing off their near-perfect chemistry as a group. They bring the drama and cinema that we’ve missed a little from modern pop groups as relatability has become the biggest mode.
No other song on the EP matches the power of ‘Kill This Love’ but it’s a perfectly enjoyable collection of pop songs. ‘Don’t Know What To Do’ is a melodic bop that explodes into a Zedd circa 2014 song while ‘Kick It’ finds a sweet spot between trap and dancehall. At times it feels as though they’re packing as many popular genres into one as possible, but for the most part the production is seamless and clever.
Just when you think they’ve tried it all, they wheel out the country influences for the only ballad ‘Hope Not’. Australian audiences have always loved a soppy Ed Sheeran or One Direction acoustic number and this is likely to delight those after a phone-light moment at their shows here in a few months.
Kill This Love isn’t an overly fresh sounding collection of pop songs. The sounds have all had their time on radio before, but there’s no denying that there is something very captivating about BLACKPINK. They’re able to blend together a huge range of influences, flicking between English and Korean without it ever sounding forced at all. If they can successfully convert the English-speaking countries they have their sights on this year, they may just be the biggest girl group of this generation.
‘Kill This Love’ is out now. The K-Pop kweens will head to our shores in June for a pair of headlining arena dates in Sydney and Melbourne. See dates and details below.
BLACKPINK 2019 ‘In Your Area’ Australian Tour Dates
On sale now
Thursday, 13th June
Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne
Tickets: Live Nation
Saturday, 15th June
Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney
Tickets: Live Nation