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BLACKPINK ‘Born Pink’ Review: Among Best Title Tracks of Their Discography but Still Too Little, Too Late

Love the Pinks but the wait is just devastating.

I’ve been a huge fan of BLACKPINK pretty much ever since I got into K-Pop—even though I was too late to catch their debut songs, “BOOMBAYAH” and “WHISTLE,” or their second-round of singles, “PLAYING WITH FIRE” and “STAY.”

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I did, however, live right through the glorious era of the Square Up EP, with the incredible iconic title track that was “DDU-DU DDU-DU.” And then survived the hundreds and hundreds of days of hiatus that followed—the comebacks for Kill This Love, The Album, and now Born Pink feeling almost like a brief pause from a long uninterrupted line of musical silence. 

This has pretty much always been the problem at the core of this group, hasn’t it? Such a long wait should have an equally satisfying payoff— and sadly, that isn’t always the case.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Let’s start with the basics—the late Summer and early Autumn of 2022 saw the long-awaited return of arguably the biggest K-Pop girl group in the world, after two years from the release of their first studio album, The Album, with the title track “LOVESICK GIRLS” and the pre-release single “HOW YOU LIKE THAT.”

The group’s second studio album, Born Pink, was also anticipated by a pre-release track, “PINK VENOM,” which came out around mid-August. Then, heralded in by the title track “SHUT DOWN,” September saw the release of all eight tracks of Born Pink.

All of this new music predictably took over the Internet, as BLACKPINK can always be expected to do— and I’ve personally spent a pretty long time listening and re-listening to the various tracks and forming my own opinion on each of them. What I’ve come up with is the usual mixed bag of every BLACKPINK comeback from “KILL THIS LOVE” onward—my love for the Pinks as idols and performers clashing with the absolute disaster that is the music career their agency has given them.

The Good

Let’s start with the good, so as to not immediately bring everyone’s mood down. The great shining star of Born Pink is undoubtedly its title track—probably one of the best BLACKPINK has ever put out ever since their debut. 

“SHUT DOWN,” with its string motif sampled from Paganini’s La Campanella and its heavy rap sections, is catchy and powerful without being too “in your face” about it—something that I appreciated immensely since BLACKPINK’s songs tend to really scream the whole “I’m an untouchable badass and no matter how many times you try to bring me down I’ll always rise again so cry about it” at you. 

Don’t get me wrong—this same message still comes through crystal clear from “SHUT DOWN,” in no small part thanks to the music video filled with reference to the group’s previous comebacks, but it’s less a shout and more of a cool, tranquil declaration.

BLACKPINK Lisa brings back her iconic katana in the Shut Down music video
Untouchable indeed (YG Entertainment)

If I had to make a ranking of all the tracks in Born Pink, “SHUT DOWN” would definitely take first place—with “Yeah Yeah Yeah” and “The Happiest Girl” following immediately after. 

I adore that “Yeah Yeah Yeah” had some creative input from both Rosé and Jisoo—because if there’s one thing that I would love more from BLACKPINK than regular comebacks is regular comebacks that the girls had a heavy hand in producing and composing, since we all know they’re very much capable of it.

“The Happiest Girl” takes the third place in this overall ranking, because as much as I love more upbeat, carefree songs, every chance we get to see BLACKPINK taking things slower and exploring darker and sadder emotions is precious—we don’t get it enough, and “The Happiest Girl,” goes right to the same table as “STAY” and “Hope Not,” ready to make me cry as soon as the mood feels right.

Jisoo's iconic umbrella from DDU-DU DDU-DU is back in Shut Down
Please let them write more, please (Yg Entertainment)

I would still include the next two songs in my ranking, “Hard to Love” and “Tally,” in this section—even though I definitely don’t enjoy them as much as I do the first three. 

“Hard to Love” is a surprising solo, something that BLACKPINK generally doesn’t do—it’s a soulful and emotional song, definitely enjoyable, but I feel like it should definitely have been on Rosé’s own solo album since it fits the same vibe as “ON THE GROUND” and “GONE.” Why it ended up in Born Pink is still a mystery to me, and I’ve been listening to this album for almost a month now.

Then there’s “Tally,” which to me sounds very … middle range. It isn’t among BLACKPINK’s best tracks by a long shot, but it’s also far away from being their worst. It has a nice enough message behind its lyrics, especially when you consider that the four members of BLACKPINK live pretty much under constant scrutiny. 

Still, I can’t shake the feeling of it being put on Born Pink just to fill out its tracklist so that YG Entertainment could get away with saying that it was the group’s second studio album—knowing that the fandom was probably going to storm its Seoul headquarters if they went the EP route after almost two years of waiting. And this leads me to the negative part of this review.

The Bad

The point of it all is the wait—which is, once again, a BLACKPINK staple as much as the “BLACKPINK in your area,” line in all of their title tracks. A massive wait that still doesn’t feel compensated by the content we actually got—just eight tracks, and of those eight there was one that should have stayed in the drafts and one that not only had already been leaked at the time of The Album but should have also stayed well hidden in the drafts. “Tally” and “Ready For Love,” I am indeed talking about you, and I’m not thrilled you’re here.

Born Pink’s pre-release song, “PINK VENOM,” isn’t exactly stellar either—the chorus is definitely not the usual BLACKPINK chorus but the song overall very much is, following the same tried and tested Teddy Park Formula which has grown so, so, so tiresome. A grand-scale music video isn’t enough to save it, I’m afraid.

The Conclusion

So, overall, it’s not that Born Pink is a bad album. While it’s true that some parts of it feel thrown together in the same way you throw in extra words just to make an essay word count, it has some genuinely nice songs that go in slightly different and new directions than what we have seen so far from BLACKPINK. Plus, every chance to see Jisoo, Jennie, Rosé, and Lisa take the stage again with their charisma and talent is a godsend.

BLACKPINK Rosé sitting on top of the world in Shut Down in a reference to WHISTLE
I just want to see more of them I’m begging all of you (YG Entertainment)

The problem is that it’s too little, too late. An album like Born Pink would have been an amazing sophomore album had it not been seven years since BLACKPINK debuted—had their career been composed of more comebacks than hiatuses and had they started to put out studio album within a year of their debut EP Square One.

Now, after a time period that for many groups is a whole career, it’s sadly not enough—enjoyable on the surface overall but terribly demoralizing once you take a more careful look at it. It should have had twelve, or twenty tracks of original, brand-new music that experiments a little bit more rather than relying on the usual formula and that gives the actual members of BLACKPINK creative control and freedom.

I wanted to keep this review focused on the purely musical side of the comeback, which is why I’ve commented on the tracks and the tracks only without branching out into the physical album, the packaging and the photobook. 

We know, after all, that those are always on point—and besides, Jisoo, Jennie, Rosé, and Lisa could wear a trash bag and look amazing in it, so it’s no surprise that BLACKPINK photoshoots are always gorgeous to look at.

BLACKPINK's Jennie in the Shut Down music video during a reference to their previous title track Playing With Fire
BLACKPINK’s visuals are no joke, we know it very very well (YG Entertainment)

So what did you think of BLACKPINK’s latest comeback? Did you find the album satisfying overall or were things you wished had been done differently?

(featured image: YG Entertainment)

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Author

Benedetta Geddo
Benedetta (she/her) lives in Italy and has been writing about pop culture and entertainment since 2015. She has considered being in fandom a defining character trait since she was in middle school and wasn't old enough to read the fanfiction she was definitely reading and loves dragons, complex magic systems, unhinged female characters, tragic villains and good queer representation. You’ll find her covering everything genre fiction, especially if it’s fantasy-adjacent and even more especially if it’s about ASOIAF. In this Bangtan Sonyeondan sh*t for life.

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