Since their debut, BLACKPINK have championed holding your head high and living your best life through their addictive music and even more expansive music videos. While those elements remain consistent on their latest release, there is a marked change in how they approach their own core idea. As public figures, the women of BLACKPINK are fair game for judgment and criticism – especially online – but while their previous releases could have been seen as scathing clapbacks, ‘Pink Venom’ goes a step further by setting them above any criticism at all.
People can talk all they want – as long as BLACKPINK know who they are, they don’t need to justify anything to anyone. You might say BLACKPINK are in their ‘Reputation’ era (they even sing the line “look what you made us do”!). On ‘Pink Venom’, BLACKPINK are more cavalier than ever, delivering a derisive message to the haters: “You forced our hand, but the argument ends here.”
BLACKPINK adopt a comparatively minimal – but no less audacious – sonic approach on ‘Pink Venom’ than previous releases like ‘Boombayah’ or ‘Ddu-Du Ddu-Du’. While their trademark hip-hop sound is ever-present, courtesy of long-time producer Teddy Park, the song’s foundation is a strong, consistent progression delivered on the geomungo, the traditional Korean zither that Jisoo plays in the music video. Jisoo remains the only member of BLACKPINK who hasn’t dropped solo material; Jennie, Lisa and Rosé have each established their musical identities outside the group. ‘Pink Venom’ acknowledges the way all four women have grown, merging their talents into one bold, assured creation.
While cutting and confident, the rapping on this high-energy track still leaves much to be desired: there are only so many references to luxury brands and wealth that one can take before the song warps in on itself. Bougie boasts of conspicuous consumption – “waving the Coco” and “This da life of a vandal, masked up and I’m still in Celine, designer crimes or it wouldn’t be me” – detract from a celebration of BLACKPINK’s inherent, undeniable power. The name-dropping and flaunting get old quickly, compromising what is an otherwise exciting arrangement.
That said, we still have an entire BLACKPINK album to look forward to. As far as lead singles go, ‘Pink Venom’ is a promising preview of their new era – effortlessly priming the stage for their global domination.