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BLACKPINK – 1st Mini Album ‘Square Up’ Review

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Square Up marked BLACKPINK’s first comeback in over a year, and it’s safe to say that BLINKs were absolutely starving for content! Whilst this EP had too few tracks for most people’s liking (myself included), it obviously hit the mark – as its success, both domestic and international, was phenomenal. I have been following BLACKPINK since before debut, and I am so happy to see them releasing more music, even if it is at a snail’s pace.

The title track of this EP is DDU-DU DDU-DU. I really loved this song – it was fierce, catchy, empowering and fun to sing along to. In general, I love the use of onomatopoeia in songs, so obviously I enjoyed the chorus of this one. Lisa’s rap in the first verse was sexy, chilled and swagger-filled, just like the woman herself. With this song we finally get to see the return of Jennie the rapper, and boy did she deliver! Her rap in the second verse was fast paced, bad-ass and memorable. The only part I didn’t like in this song was the pre-chorus; I thought that Rosé and Jisoo’s voices sounded strained as they attempted to reach those painfully high notes. In accordance with the typical YG-Entertainment style, the ending of this song was the most upbeat and hyped part. However, I think they got that balance right for this song, as the standard format worked well for BLACKPINK – especially in the memorable dance-break section.

Hit you with that DDU-DU DDU-DU DU

The next song Forever Young starts out with a few lines of Jennie singing… whilst some people might find her voice soulful and interesting to listen to, I think it is quite jarring to the ear. Unfortunately, I found most of the singing parts of Jennie, Jisoo and Rosé in this song quite difficult to listen to. I’m not saying they’re bad singers, I just think their vocal abilities aren’t suited to this song. In contrast, I found Lisa’s singing voice to be quite pleasant, which was a surprise, considering she’s predominantly a rapper! I think Jennie redeemed herself through rap in the second verse however. Obviously the best part of this song was the breakdown and ending, when it transitioned from an almost tropical-house-style summer track into a fierce, sassy, 2NE1-esque rave song. This part definitely saved the song for me – and I find myself waiting in anticipation for this part to arrive every time I play the track. Although it was not so great on the singing, Forever Young definitely serves its purpose as an upbeat dance track – one for the club, for sure!

Girls, wanna have some fun, we go dumb dumb dumb…

Really is a fairly slow-tempo pop song, with an interesting instrumental showing off a nice texture. In my opinion, the melody in the chorus is a little lacking, and the members’ vocals feel slightly strained… However, I really enjoyed Lisa’s exciting raps – the rhythm and flow were unique, and the lyrics were powerful too. For me, the best part of the song is when Lisa goes “I gotta know that you’re for real. Really really really” – I love her swag, and her the sass and attitude in her voice makes the song so exciting to listen to.

F a love song I need you to say it, say it

The last song on the album is See U Later – it starts off with a melodious house-style instrumental which automatically lets you know that it is going to be a great song. The verses have a nice combination of singing and rapping, with fun lyrical rhymes and a good build-up to the chorus which creates tension. I really liked the the verses and pre-choruses, as I thought that they were well thought out and mature. In comparison, I found the chorus to be a little disappointing – it felt quite repetitive, and I didn’t like the sort-of distorted voices in the background. I was surprised to hear the mention of the iconic BIGBANG lyric “Loser 외톨이 못된 양아치 Ha” (Romanised: Loser wetori mottwen yangachi, Translation: You’re a loser, loner, mean bully) in Lisa’s rap. I enjoyed this tribute – it’s good that BLACKPINK remembers the seniors that paved the way for them and the rest of Kpop.

See ya later, maybe never!

To be honest, although I enjoyed the songs on this EP, Square Up overall left me feeling quite unsatisfied… As a BLINK, I want nothing more than to see BLACKPINK actually make music – and four tracks and just one music video after such a huge hiatus didn’t seem like enough. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not blaming BLACKPINK themselves, in fact, I blame YG Entertainment. I hope they come to their senses and give BLINKS what we actually want, and what BLACKPINK definitely deserve. Special mention should go to Lisa, who’s singing and rapping skills really surprised me in this EP. I hope that she gets adequate attention from her company in the future – and I know I’m keeping my fingers crossed for her future solo debut!

Kpop Review Café’s Overall Album Ranking: 5/10

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Written by Jessica