Since their debut in 2016, Blackpink has taken the world by storm. Breaking YouTube records like they were made of mesh and selling out arenas pretty much anywhere around the world, the group stands strong as arguably one of the most universally loved K-pop group outside of BTS.
Now following their impressive string of EPs over the years, Blackpink seeks to capitalise on their ever-growing momentum with Kill This Love; featuring 4 brand new songs and a remix of their biggest hit to date — “DDU-DU-DDU-DU”. This EP was set to solidify their position as the reigning queens of K-pop. However, Blackpink falls way short of these lofty goals.
As the title track kicks things off, it’s clear that the group is attempting to break away from their standard brand of glitzy, overproduced pop. Bombastic horns rattle the opening seconds and seemingly erase any preconceived notion of the group falling back on what they’re good at (which isn’t the case for the rest of the EP). Yet, experimentation is a double-edged sword as the song, though refreshing, ends up being heavily disjointed with no real sense of direction.
The ‘tough and rough’ aesthetic of the song is clear but other than the impeccable fiery rap verses from Lisa and Jennie, everything else just feels out of place. The forgettable pre-chorus, all-too-brief actual chorus and puzzling outro that was seemingly tacked on at the end turn the track into somewhat of a mess. Their over-reliance on the ‘verse-chorus-beat drop’ formula doesn’t do them any favours either.
Fortunately, the EP does take a slight turn for the better. “Don’t Know What to Do” is a sweet dance-pop tune that once again relies on their tried-and-true formula, but it’s decidedly stripped back (well… as stripped back as EDM can get) which makes it much more easy on the ears. Though nothing revolutionary, it’s a good palette cleanser after the record’s chaotic opening.
Next, we have “Kick It”, a song that features a surprising nod to US rap group A Tribe Called Quest’s “Can I Kick It?“. Personally, it’s my favourite track off the EP. Production-wise, there’s more oomph in the drums but the group still retains their signature breeziness. Each member provides a solid performance as well, with their group-sung bridge at the tail end serving as an endearing piece of their musical chemistry, which is sorely lacking in their overall discography.
On the 4th and final new song of the EP — “Hope Not”, it’s essentially “Stay” part 2, just without the feeling of joy that made that track such a pleasure to listen to. It’s still a delightful acoustic ballad that’s enjoyable enough to stand on its own, but the lack of memorability might keep fans from coming back for more. Still, the EP should have ended here so we could have been spared from the travesty that is the “DDU-DU-DDU-DU (Remix)”.
The remix sounds like something that a 2nd-rate EDM DJ would have done for a 30-minute club gig, where he would’ve used the song to hype up the ladies but ultimately fail because the track is just that shit. From the obnoxiously in-your-face trumpets to the unnecessarily complex drum patterns, everything that the original excelled at was replaced with trite production choices that shatter the addictive magic that fans initially fell for.
Kill This Love reeks of an EP that tries to appeal to the widest audience possible without really appealing to anyone at all. Due to their recent rise in popularity in the West, it feels like every track was crafted to attract a very specific audience. “Kill This Love” for trap-pop fans; “Don’t Know What To Do” for circa 2013 EDM fans; “Kick It” for standard K-pop fans; “Hope Not” for ballad fans; and “DDU-DU-DDU-DU (Remix)” for tone-deaf fans.
Just 3 years into their career, the group has unfortunately already stretched themselves thin in terms of musical variety and direction. They need to find a definitive sound that they can call their own quick. If not their already prolonged 15 minutes of fame may be up really soon.