BLACKPINK brings the show home

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BLACKPINK, the K-Pop girl group that has topped the international charts since 2016 and released hit after hit on the Billboard Hot 100, recently dropped their first full studio album: The Album. To kick off their first major release, the group made history collaborating with YouTube Music to organize THE SHOW: a virtual concert live-streamed from Seoul, South Korea. Fans purchased access to the live stream through two types of memberships: a $30 membership to the Blackpink YouTube channel or a $40 premium membership that included backstage videos and a look at the rehearsal a day before the show. Either way, fans had the opportunity to watch any of the eight live streams over the course of two weeks.

The virtual concert was originally scheduled for streaming in December, but was moved to January due to COVID-19 restrictions. Nonetheless, BLACKPINK was able to completely reimagine the virtual concert experience and bring Blinks, their fans, a unique concert experience. The group’s members, Jennie, Jisoo, Rosé, and Lisa, have been dropping Easter eggs about the concert for months. “It’s our first online concert … so we are trying to take advantage of that and create stages that wouldn’t be possible if we were going to do it live, especially regarding choreography,” Jennie told Rolling Stone Magazine back in December. “[We want to] make it ‘BLACKPINK.’”

Indeed, THE SHOW featured the four members dancing and singing in front of elaborate stage setups displaying flashing lights, huge curtains, tall mirrors, blasting confetti, cavern-like structures, and more. Their performance of “Pretty Savage” began in a typical stage setting, but quickly showed Blinks the advantage of online concerts when the stage floor turned into water, sky-high flames burst behind them, and the opening notes of their hit “DDU-DU DDU-DU” began playing. The backup dancers, heavy bass, and intense instrumentals all added to the feeling of extreme visual and auditory overload, and the group performed many of their top hits, including “How You Like That,” “Lovesick Girls,” “Kill This Love,” “BOOMBAYAH,” and “WHISTLE.” 

Not all of the songs required BLACKPINK’s impressive choreography. All four members sang their hits “Love to Hate Me” and “You Never Know” while sitting down in chairs lined up in a row, resembling a barber quartet. The simplicity of the backdrop highlighted their voices, and with Rosé’s stunning high-pitched singing, Lisa’s fire-spitting rapping, and the group’s melodious harmonies, BLACKPINK proved that they didn’t need shirtless background dancers or fiery sets to deliver an outstanding performance.

THE SHOW also featured brief intermissions between songs where members of the group revealed behind-the-scenes footage and spoke directly to the 280,000 Blinks watching the first live stream. “I hope everybody feels our presence because in our minds we’re there with everyone,” said Rosé. “Watching our concert, I hope you get the feeling we’re all together.” This echoed a sentiment that the four members emphasized over and over again—that they hoped the concert would bring together Blinks from all over the world and serve as a source of happiness and inspiration for everyone. The intermissions also featured nostalgic footage from their trainee days from before the group was formed. This gave fans a look inside the group’s journey.

Blinks also got to witness the group members’ solo performances. Jennie performed her single “SOLO,” Lisa covered Doja Cat’s “Say So,” and Jisoo sang Tove Lo’s “Habits.” These stars even gave their own renditions with each song. Jennie wrote new rap lyrics for “SOLO,” Lisa choreographed her dance break, and Jisoo both translated and rewrote the lyrics of “Habit” for the Korean audience.

The big surprise of the night was Rosé’s unveiling of one of the songs featured on her upcoming solo album. The song titled “Gone” had been highly anticipated by Blinks and non-Blinks alike. Blinks got exclusive access to the track, which has yet to be officially released by BLACKPINK or their agency.

THE SHOW also emphasized a new aspect of the K-Pop industry that had previously been kept in the background—the instrumentals. BLACKPINK was accompanied by The Band Six, an American band that previously played for BIGBANG, Psy, and 2NE1. Pro Tools engineer Brandon Finklea, bassist Omar Dominicke, drummer Benjamin Rodgers, guitarist Justin Lyons, and keyboard player Yung Wurly brought reimagined accompaniment and fiery solos to the stage. Even songs that were synth-heavy, such as “Pretty Savage,” were full of quick guitar licks, drum beat changes, and more. Many could not forget the added tribal drum interlude before the beat drop in “DDU-DU DDU-DU,” nor the added epic guitar solo that Lyons played as he shredded to “As If It’s Your Last.” BLACKPINK even gave each of these band members their recognition at the end of the concert, stating their names and allowing them to quickly show-off their amazing talents.

BLACKPINK truly brought the show home—both literally and figuratively—and showed Blinks around the world that the concert experience could be replicated within their homes. In the future, Blinks are looking forward to seeing the group perform some of their other hits, including “Bet You Wanna” and “Kick It.” “It’s not as popular as their other songs,” said junior Fay Wong about “Kick It,” “But it’s really catchy and not overly flashy. It’s about letting loose and it’s also a great song to have a spontaneous private dance party to.”

The success of THE SHOW will serve as a model for future virtual concerts and has the potential to change the music industry for years to come.

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