It’s hard to deny that BLACKPINK is one of the biggest and most influential K-Pop groups of our generation. In 2019 alone, YG Entertainment’s flagship girl group became the highest ever charting K-Pop girl group on the Billboard Top 100 (coming in at No. 24), the first K-Pop group to surpass one billion views on YouTube, as well as being the first K-Pop group to play at U.S. music festival Coachella. This is only the tip of the iceberg of BLACKPINK’s successes, yet fans believe the group’s impact could be so much more.
Unlike many of their rival girl groups, BLACKPINK’s discography is extremely limited. Though not lacking in talent or lasting ability, their discography is noticeably lacking in quantity in comparison to their competitors. Take the Starship Entertainment and Yuehua Entertainment collaborative girl group, WJSN. The 13-member girl group debuted the same year as BLACKPINK, yet their discography is noticeably bigger. To date, WJSN has had seven mini-albums, one special album, and a studio album to their name, a number that seems far more impressive than the two EPs and two mini-albums released by the YG girl group. However, this may seem expected with a group boasting of more members and more possibilities for a change of pace. Plus, it is entirely possible that the groups’ companies have a different way of approaching artist promotions. So let’s take a look at this in a new way.
YG Entertainment is said to produce artists over idols, and one of the main arguments to justify BLACKPINK’s lack of promotions is that the company is resting their idols well, focusing on quality over quantity when it comes to the four-member group. However, when looking at YG’s other in-house groups, this argument seems a little stunted.
Take WINNER, for example. Boasting the same number of members as BLACKPINK and under the same management, you would think their promotional patterns would bear some similarities. Yet, unlike their label mates, WINNER has been treated to multiple comebacks a year and has been given opportunities for overseas promotions in Japan, including original Japanese singles. On the other hand, BLACKPINK has had one promotion a year since their debut, and although the group has Japanese albums, these albums are simply translations of their current hits.
Even when looking at 2NE1, a group that former member Minzy recalls being known as “the ugly group” and subjected to unfair treatment from their label right up until their disbandment, they still received more in musical quantity than their younger counterparts.
This fact in itself seems rather ironic. When initially introducing BLACKPINK, YG Entertainment explained the meaning behind the group’s name: “Pink is commonly used to portray prettiness, but BLACKPINK actually means to say ‘pretty isn’t everything’ […] It also symbolizes that they are a team that encompasses not only beauty, but also great talent.” From the very beginning, BLACKPINK was implied to be everything that 2NE1 wasn’t, attempting to bury the unwarranted shame the company felt from producing an “ugly” girl group. But if BLACKPINK was everything that YG wanted in a girl group, why didn’t they at least give them the promotional time that 2NE1 had?
After fans expressed their desires to the company, YG himself—otherwise known as Yang Hyunsuk—took to the company’s personal blog to express his desires for the girl group:
“I agree with the opinions that the fans want BLACKPINK to release songs more frequently along with an official album containing multiple new tracks, and always feel regretful that I haven’t been able to fulfill the fans’ requests. It is important to release new songs frequently, but in the case of BLACKPINK at the moment, it’s even more important to release songs with high quality and music videos with a high degree of completion.” (x)
In this post, YG also promised solo debuts for members Jisoo, Rosé, and Lisa following Jennie’s solo debut in 2018 with the single “Solo.” Yet, not four months after promising to fulfill Blinks’ requests, YG would step down from his own company following the Burning Sun scandal that would indict YG artist and former BIGBANG member Seungri, among other male idols within the K-Pop industry. But what would this mean for BLACKPINK?
Both BLACKPINK and Blinks alike have the desire for new music, with the members themselves being very vocal about their desire to perform. During their 2019 world tour, Jennie expressed, “I wanna do like 10 more songs, if I had any,” a clear dig at her company who has given them crumbs in terms of music. Blinks, on the other hand, have used the collective power of social media to show their dissatisfaction with the company. The hashtag #BLINKSDEMANDSFORBLACKPINK became a worldwide trend on Twitter, accompanied by a truck displaying fans’ demands for the girl group in the company’s neighbourhood. Yet, even despite their efforts, BLACKPINK’s latest comeback would be delayed until 2020.
Now that 2020 has arrived, BLACKPINK seems to be no closer to getting the music that everyone seems to crave. Though there are rumors of a potential collaboration with American pop sensation Lady Gaga, YG Entertainment is intentionally keeping fans on edge, stating: “The group is working on a lot of projects. It is difficult to confirm this information at this point, so please wait for the official announcement.” This potential announcement—although a fantastic opportunity for the group’s international success—feels a little sour; we are still no closer to getting new music from the girl group. Plus, with rumors of BLACKPINK getting their own Netflix documentary, it seems that YG is filling the group’s schedule with anything but the one thing that is most asked for, despite making a public statement that this is not the case.
Amidst all of this controversy and the company’s sketchy history with its treatment of its female idols, it seems an odd time for YG Entertainment to announce their plans to debut a new girl group in the latter half of 2020. Though official details on the group are yet to be announced, fans are already expressing their concerns. If YG can’t promote BLACKPINK well and have treated 2NE1 with nothing but disregard, how will this new girl group fair within this company? And does this mean that BLACKPINK will be further sidelined for the new group to take the spotlight?
For now, there seems to be no answers to Blinks’ questions, and dedicated fans remain frustrated with YG’s treatment of their biggest group. With no signs of new music on the horizon, it seems that BLACKPINK’s discography isn’t getting bigger any time soon.