It has finally happened, with events coming full circle–though perhaps closing a square might be a more apropos phrase in this scenario. Jisoo has debuted as a solo artist, the final member of Blackpink to do so. And her debut song “Flower” is… fine. It is not a bad song. I cannot imagine anyone having strong objections to it. But I also cannot imagine anyone having a strong adoration for it. It is a competent yet underwhelming song that throws into sharp relief just how much Blackpink relies on brand loyalty.

The most noticeable thing about “Flower” is that is does not feel like an MV. Put it on mute, play it for someone, and ask what it is, and you will probably not get “a video designed to promote the sale of music” as an answer. Instead, more than anything in the world, “Flower” resembles a perfume commercial. On the one hand, that is fairly clever. Jisoo is lamenting the end of a relationship, comparing the lingering memories to the scent of a flower–something intangible, but very real. On the other hand, perfume commercials are horrible.

To be fair, it cannot be easy to sell a scent-based product via an audio/visual medium. But that has resulted in a certain shorthand for perfume commercials where attempts are made to sell the feeling of the item over the item itself. This is especially true for designer perfumes, like the Dior Jisoo is playing with in the opening shots. In lieu of being able to effectively sell the product, they sell the brand, playing on the name Dior and the aspirations to wealth that come with it to get people to buy it, regardless of what the perfume actually smells like.

And that is effectively “Flower”, both literally and metaphorically. The perfume shorthand has been utilized to the letter. There’s the general background of fancy old buildings, a getting-ready sequence, Jisoo dramatically exiting an inconveniently parked car, walking down an empty hallway in an extravagant evening gown, twirling in an overbright frame shot from below with a soft focus, and moping in glamorous public spaces. No item has been left off the checklist.

The whole time watching “Flower” there is a sense of waiting. Waiting for the inevitable product name; because something is definitely being sold, it’s just a question of what. The answer, of course, is Jisoo. She is the ephemeral item that, lacking concrete qualities, is to be sold via feeling. Mix overblown luxury porn with equal parts brand loyalty, sprinkle with the aspirations of the masses, and serve at room temperature. There is nothing of substance to be found in “Flower”, and very little that could appeal to someone who was not already invested in Jisoo or Blackpink.

The song itself is, for lack of better words, boring. It has some good qualities. The funky, percussion-heavy rhythm is quite interesting, and the sparseness of the mix plays well against Jisoo’s softer voice. But there is nothing in her performance. The vocal line is fairly restrained, but what kills it is Jisoo’s utter lack of emotion. She sounds utterly flat.

There is no heartbreak, no regret, no lingering love despite the callousness of her ex. She sings with all the passion and drama one would use for reciting a grocery list. That applies to her acting performance as well. Half the reason for the sense of an incoming sales pitch is that Jisoo doesn’t appear heartbroken, just alone while pretty. The end result is something technically capable but dull, best used as background music for something like a perfume commercial.

The most infuriating thing about “Flower” is how utterly phoned in it is. It is very clear that money was spent on this. The locations are lovely, the camerawork and lighting is top-notch, Jisoo’s styling is impeccable. But no work was done to ensure a quality end product beyond the aesthetics. “Flower” drips with the idea that when you have such a loyal fanbase as Blackpink does, why bother putting in effort that isn’t needed? It’s an insult to Blinks, and it’s an insult to Jisoo. At the very least, she deserves a solo debut that treats her like a performer, not a product.

(Images via YG Entertainment, YouTube)