In the hypersaturated sphere of pop music, Black Pink currently stands as not only the biggest group in South Korea but in the world. They have the highest number of subscribers for a music group on YouTube, beating out the likes of not only BTS but even surpassing One Direction. Their perfect all-kill single “Ddu-Ddu-Ddu-Ddu” has become the most viewed music video by a South Korean group on YouTube grossing over 1 billion views.
All of this had been attained with only three EPs being released by the group so far, which is actually tied with the boyband KNK as the lowest output for a major group in Korea that debuted in 2016. Furthermore, such a production number is the joint lowest output (tied with Winner) for a group that has been under YG Entertainment‘s management for more than three years.
Therefore, it came as an all too familiar blow to Blinks when it was announced by YG Entertainment that Black Pink’s comeback album would be delayed until 2020. This delayed comeback now stands as the clearest sign to blinks that YG Entertainment is unable to perform their designated function as a music label to Black Pink. Blinks expressed their disappointment by plastering the #BLACKPINKLEAVEYG all across Twitter. While asking a K-pop group to leave their management admittedly seems quite an unrealistic demand due to the contractual ties between YG Entertainment and Black Pink, their sentiments have carried loudly through as the biggest controversy on Black Pink’s otherwise prosperous year.
For international fans, three EPs in three years seems like a solid release regiment. Ed Sheeran, for example, is an artist who releases an album every two to three years and has also done exceptionally well on Korean charts. Such a comparison brings up an interesting counterpoint to the unhappiness of Blinks. Black Pink’s delayed comeback also stands miles away from a Frank Ocean comparison, where his Blonde record took over 4 years to release with numerous and lengthy delays in-between.
Even Korean R&B artist Dean has only released a single EP and has delayed his upcoming EP, 130 Mood: RVNG, for over 2 years at the point of writing this article. This point is doubly compounded with the fact that Black Pink’s latest EP, KILL THIS LOVE, arrived on April of this year.
This delay could, therefore, be seen as a marketing strategy by YG Entertainment. Having the album released in 2019 would have put it in competition against KILL THIS LOVE, and the delayed album’s singles would have taken away views from ” Ddu-Ddu-Ddu-Ddu” and “Kill This Love.” This strategy of less is more has proven a winning formula for artists such as the aforementioned Dean and Frank Ocean, and may also be a key characteristic of the success behind Black Pink.
That being said, it is far more likely that the real reason YG Entertainment has delayed this comeback is due to the internal problems they have faced since the Burning Sun scandal. These issues include the head of YG Entertainment resigning following his arrest on suspicion of supplying prostitutes to foreign investors at several nightclubs in Seoul’s upmarket Gangnam. The scandal has seen a huge drop in sales and shares at YG Entertainment.
It would have made more sense for YG Entertainment to release Black Pink’s album to save the company’s already plummeting profits. It does now seem that YG Entertainment is currently not in the position to go through the process needed to make an album, highlighting just how much the scandal and resignation of Yang Hyun Suk have affected the company. It is also unlikely that Black Pink’s labels outside of Asia, namely Interscope Records and UMG, have any understanding of how to create a K-pop record. This combination of factors leaves the group tied to the sinking ship of YG Entertainment until their contracts run out, much like CL.
So while Black Pink may have been ready to create an album for the fall release period, they simply do not have the time currently to leave a label, find or found a new label, and work on new music, while still continuing the worldwide promotion of their brand. Furthermore, if Black Pink were to leave YG Entertainment, their departure would likely start a lengthy lawsuit and lead to the probable loss of their global brand name of Black Pink.
It is also highly likely that YG Entertainment would hold on to the group’s name in the event of the group’s departure, as similarly seen when Beast had to change their name to Highlight after leaving CUBE Entertainment to form their own label Around Us Entertainment. Looking at the current situation, the frustration Blinks hold towards YG Entertainment for their poor management of Black Pink are understandable at this point.
It remains quite unfair for the members of Black Pink to be pressured into leaving YG Entertainment. It is simply not a realistic demand to make and puts each member of Black Pink in the middle of an awful situation. This is a situation that is not at all what these group of women deserve, considering how hard they have worked over this past year.
It is still fair to say that Black Pink have given their everything this year. They made their American debut at a Grammy Artist Showcase and appeared on the cover of Billboard magazine, all while delivering a world tour to their fans which included the 2019 Private Stage: [Chapter 1] fan meet and greet, where ironically they announced that they were working on new music for the now delayed comeback.
Perhaps it is time for fans to take a step back and realise that right now is the moment they need to be supporting and understanding of Black Pink’s situation. An encouraging attitude from Blinks would be preferable rather than having fans feeling entitled to a release which was never even officially announced by YG Entertainment. Sincerely, even now looking at Black Pink’s current schedule, a comeback album would have pushed their workload into dangerous levels of overworking.
With greater understanding of their comeback schedule, Black Pink will be given more time to work on their album. 2020 is only a month away and the comeback is something for Blinks to look forward to going into the new year! Conversely, YG Entertainment now knows that unless they dramatically change their business model going in 2020, they stand to lose everything.
(Billboard , Business Post, E! Online, Forbes, YG Entertainment, Bloomberg, The Guardian, Gaon Music Chart, Jpopasia, Billboard, The New York Times, YouTube , Twitter Images via Billboard)