2019 is proving to be an ambitious year for Black Pink, what with their American debut, touring North America and Europe, and slot performing at none other than Coachella. Given that those latter two are weeks away from kicking off, it’s the perfect time for a comeback– nothing says “international superstars” like finally having your discography hit the double digits. “Kill This Love” is the logical followup for a more Western-focused promotional cycle, but it also shows the danger of blindly following trends.
As a song, “Kill This Love” isn’t terrible. It’s very on-trend for Black Pink– brash, in your face, and feeling like several song fragments were hot-glued together. The elements present do work on their own– the driving synths encompass the rage and frustration of recognizing your relationship is bad for you and not knowing how to fix it, the horns give a righteous bite to the track, and the tender pre-chorus gives a sense of vulnerability and doom. However, it’s the conjunction that drags “Kill This Love” down. The mood whiplash brought on by the “chorus” is jarring and keeps the listener from fully engaging; the layering of the drums and synths and horns and powerful vocals is overbearing. It’s a track where the pieces are all set at 10, and the resulting combination knocks the audience on its’ ass.
There are also issues with the construction, namely the trap-inspired verses and “chorus”. The verses are clunky and off kilter, with Black Pink having difficulty riding the beat. It comes off as awkward instead of a breath before the sound deluge. Far more apparent, though, is the “chorus”, or rather, the drop where the chorus should be. It’s not a bad drop, per se, but it’s not a chorus and the swap is frustrating.
For one thing, drops are a moment of musical tension and release, a catharsis that loses impact when you hear it once a minute instead of once a song. For another, the use of drops over actual melodic pop song choruses is a prime example of how Teddy and YG Entertainment are trying so hard to push Black Pink westward that they’ve gone blind to the reality of the trends their hopping on.
You see, while the song “Kill This Love” has its moments and I can understand the appeal, the MV is an infuriating aesthetic mess. Not that being an aesthetic mess is inherently infuriating; it can be pulled off, and like the song itself, is on-trend for Black Pink. No, what grates at me is the kind of mess this is– an overdramatic, indulgent exercise in try-hard self-aggrandizing that has been tried and failed miserably. The comparison I keep coming back to, no matter how hard I tried to put it out of my head, was “Look What You Made Me Do”.
The set designs, the color schemes, the costuming, it all has similarities to the most infamous of Taylor Swift MVs. Lisa’s cereal aisle, Jennie and Lisa’s luxury suite, and Rose’s car accident all provided more solid cross-links, but what really cinched the comparison is the attitude. Black Pink have always come across a bit haughty, but this time the bored, arrogant superiority has been mixed with very unearned self-righteousness and rubbed in the viewer’s face. “Kill This Love” comes off as condescending and sanctimonious in genuinely unpleasant way.
Moreover, it’s aggravating to see this for the same reason the trend of drops over choruses
All in all, “Kill This Love” feels like Black Pink’s team has lost the ability to tell the difference between attention and acclaim. They’re following western trends with little regard for how those trends are perceived, and have forgotten or never knew that between quality and popularity, the former has a better shelf life.
(Images Via YG Entertainment, YouTube)