meta-script5 K-Pop Songwriters & Producers Who Defined 2021: SUMIN, Teddy Park, ADORA, RM & SUGA | GRAMMY.com
5 K-Pop Songwriters & Producers Who Defined 2021: SUMIN, Teddy Park, ADORA, RM & SUGA

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5 K-Pop Songwriters & Producers Who Defined 2021: SUMIN, Teddy Park, ADORA, RM & SUGA

To close out the year, GRAMMY.com is spotlighting five Korean K-pop songwriters and producers who made their mark worldwide in 2021: SUMIN, Teddy Park, ADORA, RM, and SUGA

GRAMMYs/Dec 31, 2021 - 06:14 am

Behind every successful K-pop act is a creative team helping compose their hit songs. Though more and more K-pop idols are becoming involved in their music creation, there are some contributors whose work on your favorite tracks simply can't go unrecognized. From R&B ballads to trap beats to electronic party anthems, the sonic possibilities are endless as genres continue to blur and producers get bolder with their choices. Many K-pop songwriters have done notable work abroad as well, collaborating with some of the biggest names in music globally and serving as the think tanks that made your favorite hit songs possible.

Though much of K-pop music mixes genres and languages, the structure of the songs often allows for more experimentation and nuance than we see in the Western pop industry. Taking inspiration worldwide and incorporating cultural markers in the music, the undefinable sound and flare of K-pop creatives has had an enormous impact on music as we know it.

To celebrate the incredible talent within the Korean music industry and to close out 2021, GRAMMY.com is spotlighting five Korean K-pop songwriters and producers who made their mark worldwide this year. Get to know SUMIN, Teddy Park, ADORA, RM, and SUGA.

SUMIN

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Producing is too often dominated by men, but South Korean songwriter and producer SUMIN is a woman doing wondrous work in the space. SUMIN's versatility has found her expertly navigating both the underground and popular music scenes in Korea. Her style isn't bound by genre, often drawing influence from hip-hop, electronic, bass, and other sounds, with some dubbing her sound "Neo K-pop."

In addition to her own music — she released an EP called XX in 2020 — the composer has graced the credits of a diverse roster of Korean artists over the years. Some of the most popular songs she helped pen include "Lie" sung by Jimin on BTS' critically acclaimed 2016 Wings album; "Look" on Red Velvet's 2017 Perfect Velvet: The 2nd Album; "Eyes Locked, Hands Locked" on Red Velvet's 2019 The Reve Festival' Finale; and 2018 R&B single "Pool" by Woodz. Her most recent credits include "Epilogue" on IU's long-anticipated fifth album, Lilac, and "Bother Me" on Chungha's album, Querencia.

From all the amazing work SUMIN has done, K-pop will benefit greatly as she continues to innovate and experiment.

Teddy Park

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If you're a hardcore Blink, you may be familiar with the name Teddy Park. The in-house YG Entertainment producer is credited for BLACKPINK member Rosé's solo debut songs "On the Ground" and "Gone," and he has a close working relationship with the group as well. He is also credited on major hits, like BLACKPINK's "Ice Cream" featuring Selena Gomez as well as the group's collab with Lady Gaga, "Sour Candy," off her Chromatica album. He also produced most tracks on BLACKPINK's 2020 album, The Album, and the 2018 party staple "Ddu-Du Ddu-Du," which became the highest-charting song by a Korean girl group on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

Read: BLACKPINK Talk The Album: "The Spotlight Shed On K-Pop Is Just The Beginning"

Besides BLACKPINK, Park works with other major K-pop artists and has helped write and compose hits like Big Bang's "Fxxk It" and "Bang Bang Bang," Psy's "Daddy" ft CL, and Sunmi's "Gashina," in addition to working on a huge chunk of 2NE1's discography. The Korean American's production style is influenced by his days as a rapper, but also incorporates contemporary R&B, reggae, house, and EDM.

As Park has had a hand in some of the industry's biggest hits, he rightfully deserves recognition for his success in shaping the sound of K-pop over the years and into the future.

ADORA

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ADORA, or Park Soohyun, has been a longtime interest to the BTS ARMY. Her angelic vocals lace many BTS songs, including "Trivia: Seesaw," "The Truth Untold," "Serendipity," and "Euphoria," which she also helped write. As the only woman on their producing team, ADORA's presence on the tracks provide an extra layer and perspective that helps complete them. Her contributions to BTS' discography are expansive: She's written lyrics for fan favorites like "Spring Day," "Love Maze," and V's "Sweet Night."

More recently, she worked alongside J-Hope on "Blue Side," sang on "Telepathy" on BE, and contributed vocally and lyrically to TXT's minisode1 : Blue Hour. Her other standout work includes GFriend's "Labyrinth" as well as production on the solo projects from BTS members, like "forever rain" on RM's Mono and "Daydream on J-Hope's Hopeworld. She can be heard on multiple songs throughout BTS' Map of the Soul: 7, Map of the Soul: Persona, and the group's other chart-topping albums.

ADORA's unique touch hasn't gone unnoticed to many fans, and it'll be exciting to see how she continues to add to the multifaceted sound of other Big Hit artists.

Read: 5 Rising Korean Artists To Know Now: STAYC, ENHYPEN, ITZY, TOMORROW X TOGETHER & ATEEZ

RM

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You may know him as the charming leader of BTS, but RM's talents span boundaries. His songwriting and producing work deserves just as much recognition as his leadership abilities and rap skills. He's credited as a songwriter and composer on the group's GRAMMY-nominated hit "Butter" in addition to a large portion of their overall discography, including Map of the Soul:7, BE, Map of the Soul: Persona, the Love Yourself albums, his own mixtape, Mono, and more.

The list goes on and on, and his hip-hop roots have led him to solo collaborations with artists like Wale on 2017's socially conscious "Change," which the two artists wrote together. RM also wrote his iconic verse on the chart-topping "Old Town Road (Seoul Town Road Remix)" with Lil Nas X and penned TXT's lead single, "0X1=LOVESONG."

RM's expert lyric writing incorporates exceptional wordplay and a deft mastery of multiple languages, which give him a unique edge and which can be heard on his notorious rap lines on "Ddaeng," "Tear," and "UGH!" As RM continues to expand on his production and songwriting work, K-pop fans are truly in for a treat.

Read: Meet The First-Time GRAMMY Nominees: BTS Talk Excitement For 2021 GRAMMY Awards Show & Representing Koreans & K-Pop On The Global Stage

Suga

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BTS member Suga originally joined Big Hit as a producer. Most of his work outside of BTS has notably been with women artists. From co-writing and producing IU's "Eight," Heize's "We Don't Talk Together," and Suran's "Wine" — which earned him a Best Soul/R&B award at South Korea's 2017 Melon Music Awards — Suga has been passionate about creating meaningful music with artists he respects. With American artists, he wrote his verse on MAX's "Blueberry Eyes" and "SUGA's Interlude" on Halsey's 2020 album, Manic.

Suga's style has an introspective charm that reflects his own personality well. He's credited for co-producing earlier BTS hits like "Tomorrow" and "Let Me Know," but has since gone on to work on more as their sound continues to evolve. His own solo project, released under the alias Agust D in summer of 2020, gave a full-throttle view of his hard-hitting, diss-track style of rap coupled with more self-reflecting songs.

While the BTS members each have involvement in the behind-the-scenes music-making process, Suga counts more than 100 credits with the Korea Music Copyright Association. Along with BTS bandmate J-Hope, Suga became the first Korean lyricist and composer to take part in a No. 1 song in the Billboard Hot 100 chart with "Savage Love (BTS Remix)".

There's no telling what else Suga has in store for K-pop fans in the years to come, but his past work shows a promising future in production.

2021 In Review: 8 Trends That Defined Pop

GRAMMY Rewind: Kendrick Lamar Honors Hip-Hop's Greats While Accepting Best Rap Album GRAMMY For 'To Pimp a Butterfly' In 2016
Kendrick Lamar

Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

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GRAMMY Rewind: Kendrick Lamar Honors Hip-Hop's Greats While Accepting Best Rap Album GRAMMY For 'To Pimp a Butterfly' In 2016

Upon winning the GRAMMY for Best Rap Album for 'To Pimp a Butterfly,' Kendrick Lamar thanked those that helped him get to the stage, and the artists that blazed the trail for him.

GRAMMYs/Oct 13, 2023 - 06:01 pm

Updated Friday Oct. 13, 2023 to include info about Kendrick Lamar's most recent GRAMMY wins, as of the 2023 GRAMMYs.

A GRAMMY veteran these days, Kendrick Lamar has won 17 GRAMMYs and has received 47 GRAMMY nominations overall. A sizable chunk of his trophies came from the 58th annual GRAMMY Awards in 2016, when he walked away with five — including his first-ever win in the Best Rap Album category.

This installment of GRAMMY Rewind turns back the clock to 2016, revisiting Lamar's acceptance speech upon winning Best Rap Album for To Pimp A Butterfly. Though Lamar was alone on stage, he made it clear that he wouldn't be at the top of his game without the help of a broad support system. 

"First off, all glory to God, that's for sure," he said, kicking off a speech that went on to thank his parents, who he described as his "those who gave me the responsibility of knowing, of accepting the good with the bad."

Looking for more GRAMMYs news? The 2024 GRAMMY nominations are here!

He also extended his love and gratitude to his fiancée, Whitney Alford, and shouted out his Top Dawg Entertainment labelmates. Lamar specifically praised Top Dawg's CEO, Anthony Tiffith, for finding and developing raw talent that might not otherwise get the chance to pursue their musical dreams.

"We'd never forget that: Taking these kids out of the projects, out of Compton, and putting them right here on this stage, to be the best that they can be," Lamar — a Compton native himself — continued, leading into an impassioned conclusion spotlighting some of the cornerstone rap albums that came before To Pimp a Butterfly.

"Hip-hop. Ice Cube. This is for hip-hop," he said. "This is for Snoop Dogg, Doggystyle. This is for Illmatic, this is for Nas. We will live forever. Believe that."

To Pimp a Butterfly singles "Alright" and "These Walls" earned Lamar three more GRAMMYs that night, the former winning Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song and the latter taking Best Rap/Sung Collaboration (the song features Bilal, Anna Wise and Thundercat). He also won Best Music Video for the remix of Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood." 

Lamar has since won Best Rap Album two more times, taking home the golden gramophone in 2018 for his blockbuster LP DAMN., and in 2023 for his bold fifth album, Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers.

Watch Lamar's full acceptance speech above, and check back at GRAMMY.com every Friday for more GRAMMY Rewind episodes. 

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South Korean Rockers The Rose Are Ready To Show The World Their Duality
The Rose

Photo courtesy of the artist

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South Korean Rockers The Rose Are Ready To Show The World Their Duality

Known for creating vulnerable, emotional songs in both English and Korean, the Rose continue to expand their sound on 'DUAL.' In an interview, the band details their history as buskers, big year of touring and what's next.

GRAMMYs/Sep 25, 2023 - 01:50 pm

South Korean indie rock band the Rose have reached new heights over the past year. The quartet — which began six years ago as a group of street performers — have toured the world and performed at major music festivals including BST Hyde Park and Lollapalooza, but have never forgotten their busking roots. 

During a Lollapalooza midnight aftershow, the Rose went back to basics: They did away with their setlist and instead took requests from the audience testing their improvisation and memorization skills. 

Known for creating vulnerable, emotional songs in both English and Korean, the Rose are continuing to expand their sound. Their recently-released second studio album, DUAL, reflects on their past, present and future.

"I think experimenting with music and trying to connect different genres is really fun as a writer, and to showcase our personality,” said the Rose’s leader, vocalist and guitarist Woosung in an interview with GRAMMY.com. 

The Rose's busking origin story is unique among Korean groups, many of which are formed by entertainment companies. Keyboardist, guitarist and vocalist Dojoon and bassist Jaehyeong first connected busking in the same neighborhood drummer Hajoon and Jaehyeong were working with the same entertainment company. The trio then formed a band called Windfall — now the name of the Rose’s self-made label — and later recruited Woosung. 

The Rose made its official debut in 2017 with the soft-rock ballad "Sorry." The song reached No. 14 on the Billboard World Digital Songs Sales chart, and was named among the best "K-pop songs of 2017." The band's debut album, HEAL, followed in October 2022. 

The Rose caught up with GRAMMY.com over Zoom in Seoul to talk about their new album, their musical influences growing up and preparing for their upcoming North American tour, which will see them playing some of the biggest venues of their career thus far.

What is the story you wanted to tell with DUAL after the release of your first album, HEAL?

Woosung: HEAL was definitely us coming back after a hiatus. We really wanted to heal through our music and writing it and the whole process of reminding ourselves why we love music and why we love doing music. In terms of the sound, it was more natural. We wrote what we felt. 

DUAL, I think, is a little more intentional, in a way where we are giving two sides of a genre and two sides of a tone that we want to present to the audience as the Rose. There’s a dawn side and a dusk side. It’s really showing the listeners the duality of our music, and why it could be dark but also why it could be bright. 

Can you elaborate on those two representations of the Rose?

Woosung: Dawn side has more daytime vibes, happier, easier. Dusk side is a little bit darker in a way. 

I think our music always did showcase both sides. "Sorry" would be more of the dusk side. Our song "Red" would be more on the dawn side. Whenever we wrote an album, I feel like we always had a dawn and a dusk side. We wanted to showcase that we are capable of both and this is where our music is headed. I think it really depends on the person hearing it. 

What can you share about your latest single "You’re Beautiful"? 

Woosung: We’re saying that beauty is just a state of mind. We believe anybody should be beautiful in their own way. There isn’t one statement or one face or one thing that makes a person beautiful in this world. There are many things that could be beautiful. And that's why we believe that beauty is just a state of mind. You are all beautiful in this world, no matter what race, what gender.

Dojoon: When you go to an art museum, it’s like somebody thinks something is ugly, but someone [else] thinks it’s very beautiful. That’s what we want to talk about here. 

Your other singles sound quite different. And you’ve mentioned before that this project is meant to show a more amusing side to yourselves. Was that why you decided to incorporate some dubstep in the middle of your song "Alive"?

Woosung: Yeah. When we let our team hear that song with that part attached, not all of our team agreed that it was a good rendition of the song. However, the four of us definitely felt like we wanted something like that in there. I know it’s so random, but it also works so well with the song. [Laughs.

I think we're just influenced by going to a lot of festivals, looking at different artists and enjoying their concerts or DJ sets. We wanted to just try something that was not always on the same line as what you would expect. 

"Back to Me" takes me back to the pop-punk songs you’d hear in the early 2000s. The kind of song you’d yell out or release anger or tension with. 

Woosung: I think we grew up listening to alternative, pop-punk. We always had it in us to create something like that and sing it ourselves. It’s such a rock band song. We’re just bringing it back. 

What were some of the pop punk bands that you’d all listen to? 

Woosung: All Time Low, Boys Like Girls, We The Kings. Never Shout Never. All those bands. Panic! At the Disco

Jaehyeong: I was listening to Green Day, All Time Low. 

Hajoon: I used to listen to Bon Jovi or Green Day. 

Dojoon: Avril Lavigne, Green Day! Those kinds of legends. 

Hajoon: Muse as well! 

Woosung: My Chemical Romance.

You have also had a big year as a group, playing at big festivals  and completing  a world tour. What would you say this year has been like for your group?

Woosung: Going to these different festivals and seeing different people — not just our fans — enjoy our music, has put a lot of perspective in how we do music and how we want to take on the Rose in the future. I think performing in front of these crowds gave us a lot of good lessons. 

You celebrated your sixth anniversary the same day that you played Lollapalooza. How would you describe the moment, and being with your fans, known as Black Roses?

Woosung: Words can’t describe it. We said it during the show as well because we started out as a street performing band. If we did a club show, there were like 15 people and five of them were our friends.. So for us to celebrate six years of the Rose with I don’t know how many people, it was very meaningful. It showed how far the Rose brand and the Rose’s music has come. We’re just happy to be on the journey with our fans. 

A day later, you performed an aftershow with no setlist and took requests from the crowd. Where did that idea come from? 

Woosung: Just busking, street performing. We were just true to how we started. 

Dojoon: It was a back-to-back show in the same city. Obviously for Lollapalooza, there was a setlist for that. So maybe instead of doing the same thing over again the next day, why don’t we kind of have a little moment between Black Roses and our fans? We wanted to make something special. 

Was there a song that really surprised you during that show? 

Dojoon: There was a few fans who actually requested the first song we wrote together, which was "Photographer." We didn’t memorize it all perfectly. So that was all very interesting.  

Rock music isn’t something many people in North America would associate with the Korean music industry right now. Do you see the Rose playing a role in getting people to explore different genres from Korea? 

Woosung: I think rock has always been there, but not like how K-pop is famous. Right now, the music industry really does like more dance pop, and the culture has shifted a little bit that way. But [rock] bands have always been there. 

I don’t know if we’re really sparking anybody to become a rock band or anything. And if we are, we are very,very honored and will be happy that we could be even a little influence to the industry for more instrument-playing musicians. At the end of the day, rock, pop, ballad — it’s all just music. We’re just happy to do music in the way we love doing music. 

Dojoon: We really want to talk more about the spirit, like the rock spirit. You know, even rap stars or other pop stars say, "rock and roll" and "we are rockstars." I think now, Korea is more open and they’re starting to open up to the image of a band. Like the structure of a four-piece band. 

**Woosung, you collaborated with BTS’s Suga on his latest album and featured on the song "Snooze." In his documentary SUGA: Road To D-DAY, he mentioned  the song was written with artists in mind, especially when it comes to not giving up on their dreams. I feel like that mirrors a lot of the Rose’s journey. What was that experience of being part of the song like for you?** 

Woosung: For him to have advice on life was what was beautiful, because it could fit a lot of the general population and what people are going through this day even without music being a part of their life. We’re just happy to share the message of support. That’s what the Rose is, and that’s what the Rose’s music is always. And, that’s why I think Suga maybe felt like I would be a good fit to the song. 

When I first received the rapping parts and the lyrics of it all, I definitely had a feeling of warmth with the messaging. I wanted to do my best to write the best chorus that would fit his rapping with the right lyrics that would really portray the initial message better. 

You’re heading back to Canada and the U.S. soon. What are you most looking forward to in the coming months? 

Woosung: We’re actually practicing for the tour right now. We’re just arranging songs, practicing them and trying to get the right setlist and the right production. Our shows have been great, but this one is definitely a level up. 

It’s a whole new set with bigger lighting, bigger screens. We always had this in our head, but we just couldn’t make them come to life in the venues we were doing it at. I think music is just not for listening, but it’s also for seeing and [with] that comes bigger emotions. 

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New Music Friday: Listen To New Releases From Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez, Blackpink & More
Selena Gomez

Photo: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic via Getty Images

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New Music Friday: Listen To New Releases From Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez, Blackpink & More

The summer of 2023 may be winding down, but its musical offerings remain white-hot. Check out some new songs and albums that arrived on Aug. 25, from Maluma to Burna Boy.

GRAMMYs/Aug 25, 2023 - 05:51 pm

The faintest hint of fall is in the air, but the summer of 2023's musical deluge continues unabated. Across genres, scenes and styles, the landscape continues to flourish.

We have Miley Cyrus's first song since Endless Summer Vacation — a vulnerable, proudly "unfinished" offering. On the opposite end of the vibe spectrum, Selena Gomez has thrown caution to the wind with the carefree "Single Soon."

And that's just the beginning — beloved acts from Burna Boy to BLACKPINK are back with fresh material. Before you dive into the weekend, add these songs to your playlist.

Miley Cyrus — "Used To Be Young"

On her first song since Endless Summer Vacation arrived in March, two-time GRAMMY nominee Cyrus avoids tidiness, and pursues honest reflection.

"The time has arrived to release a song that I could perfect forever. Although my work is done, this song will continue to write itself everyday," she said in a statement. "The fact it remains unfinished is a part of its beauty. That is my life at this moment ….. unfinished yet complete."

"Used to Be Young" belongs to the pantheon of "turning 30" jams; therein, Cyrus looks back on her misspent youth, and the attendant heat of the spotlight. "You say I used to be wild/ I say I used to be young," she sings. 

In the stark video, she gazes unflinchingly into the lens, without varnish or artifice.

Selena Gomez — "Single Soon"

Where Cyrus' new song bittersweetly gazes backward, Gomez's carbonated new jam "Single Soon" is focused on the promised reverie of tomorrow — sans boyfriend.

"Should I do it on the phone?/ Should I leave a little note/ In the pocket of his coat?" the two-time GRAMMY nominee wonders, sounding positively giddy about her unshackling from Mr. Wrong.

As the song unspools, Gomez gets ready for a wild night out; the song ends with the portentous question, "Well, who's next?" If you're ready to slough off your summer fling, "Single Soon" is for you.

Ariana Grande — Yours Truly: Tenth Anniversary

The two-time GRAMMY winner and 15-time nominee's acclaimed debut album, Yours Truly, arrived on Aug. 30, 2013; thus, it's time to ring in its tin anniversary.

Granted, these aren't "new songs," per se: rather, in a weeklong celebration, Grande is reintroducing audiences to Yours Truly.

Dive in, and you'll find "Live From London" versions of multiple songs. Plus — perhaps most enticingly — the sprawling re-release contains two new versions of "The Way," her hit collaboration with late ex Mac Miller.

Maluma — Don Juan

Papi Juancho is dead; long live Don Juan. "Fue un placer," Maluma wrote on Instagram last New Year's Eve. (It translates to "It was a pleasure.")

And with that, the Colombian rap-singing heavyweight ushered in a new character. He's now Don Juan — in a reference both to the fictional libertine and his birth name of Juan Luis Londoño Arias.

Now, Don Juan's out with his titular album — which he dubs a "mature" blending of the musics that got him going, like reggaeton, house, salsa, and hip-hop.

Burna Boy & Dave — "Cheat On Me"

Just over a year after his latest album, Love, Damini, Burna Boy is back with I Told Them… The Nigerian star offers another forward-thinking missive with his seventh album.

Featuring the likes of 21 Savage, J. Cole, and Wu-Tang Clan's GZA and RZA, I Told Them… is one highlight after the next — and "Cheat On Me" is one of them. For the advance single, the GRAMMY-winning Afro-fusion dynamo teamed up with London rapper Dave.

Therein, the pair expound on getting out of their own way. The chorus, powered by a sample from British-Ghanian singer/songwriter Kwabs, sums it all up: "I couldn't see/ I was cheating on, cheating on me." 

Blackpink — "The Girls"

BLACKPINK are a bona fide cross-cultural sensation, but they won't stop at the music: they're a game now.

A little over a year after their second studio album, Born Pink, the acclaimed South Korean girl group has released a mobile app, succinctly called "The Game." Therein — and above — players can watch the video for "The Girls," their first post-Born Pink jam.

Don't say Jisoo, Jennie, Rosé, and Lisa didn't warn you: "Stop sign, we're burning it down/ Better watch out, we coming in loud/ Bang, bang, just playing around/ Don't mess with the girls, with the girls, with the girls."

The Killers — "Your Side of Town"

The Killers' beloved debut album, Hot Fuss, turns 20 next year; as a ramp-up, here's "Your Side of Town," a new slice of electro-pop from the Vegas crew.

The sleek, aerodynamic, Auto-Tuned "Your Side of Town" is their first single since their acclaimed pair of albums, 2020's Imploding the Mirage and 2021's Pressure Machine.

Here, the five-time GRAMMY nominees take a Pet Shop Boys-like tack with the music; lyrically, they're still putting the "heart" in heartland rock.

"I'm hanging on your side of town/ I notice when you're not around," frontman Brandon Flowers sings on the chorus. "Can't keep my cool, I'm burning inside/ A broken heartbeat, barely alive."

But the Killers — like everyone on this list — remain very alive.

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5 Ways BLACKPINK's MetLife Concert Was A Joyous Celebration Of Their Career
BLACKPINK

Photo courtesy of YG Entertainment.

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5 Ways BLACKPINK's MetLife Concert Was A Joyous Celebration Of Their Career

K-pop phenoms BLACKPINK took over New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium on Aug. 11 and 12, marking both their biggest North American shows to date and their 7th anniversary as a group. Take a look at five special highlights from night one.

GRAMMYs/Aug 14, 2023 - 07:13 pm

At one point in BLACKPINK's concert at MetLife Stadium on Aug. 11, Jennie tilted her head toward the sky. It was the K-pop juggernaut's first of two nights playing at the football stadium, and the singer wanted to properly say hello to the tens of thousands who had gathered. 

"Second floor! Third floor! And… is that fourth floor?" She surveyed the BLINKs seated at the edges of the venue before turning to members Jisoo, Rose and Lisa with a look of disbelief. "No way," Lisa responded as the entire stadium erupted in cheer. "New Jersey has leveled up — whole other level," Rosé said. "Unbelievable."

Just last year, BLACKPINK performed in New Jersey at a sizable, but much smaller venue. Prudential Center had three levels instead of four, and the boost in attendance could easily be felt at MetLife. The sky glowed rosy pink as the legions of BLINKs waved the group's hammer-shaped lightsticks in hand. 

The concert on Aug. 11 was part of BLACKPINK's Encore leg of their Born Pink World Tour, and MetLife was the first North American stop. Born Pink kicked off in Seoul in October 2022, and since then, BLACKPINK has traversed dozens of cities around the globe. Though the setlist was expected to be similar to that of last year's — BLACKPINK has not released music as a group since their 2022 stateside concerts — that did not lessen the Encore shows' demand.

Besides, BLINKs know 2023 is a major year for BLACKPINK: the act is celebrating their seventh year anniversary — almost exactly to the date, since they debuted on Aug. 8, 2016. The group's contract is also set to expire this year, and given that YG Entertainment has not announced news of renewals, there's an added sense of urgency for many BLINKS to watch their beloved idols perform live. 

And BLACKPINK did not disappoint. Across two hours, Jisoo, Jennie, Rosé, and Lisa delivered one rousing hit song after another and showed how far they've come since August 2016. Here are five ways the first of the group's two MetLife concerts was a celebration of their career.

At Last, Every Member Performed Solo Music 

Though BLACKPINK has not released new songs as a group in 2023, earlier this year Jisoo made her solo debut, becoming the final member to do so. At past BLACKPINK concerts, Jisoo sang covers including Camila Cabello's "Liar" and Zedd ft. Foxes' "Clarity" as the other members performed their solo music. And while the covers showcased Jisoo's sophisticated charm, they left fans wanting her solo music to come sooner — and the wait was finally over.

Jisoo performed both the springy dance-pop track "Flower" and, for the first time, the buoyant EDM-infused "All Eyes on Me." And all eyes were surely on the eldest BLACKPINK member as she strutted down the runway in a sparkling silver dress.

With all of BLACKPINK performing songs they have their personal stamps on, the setlist not only demonstrated how they have grown both collectively and individually — it felt more complete than ever.

5 Ways Blackpink's MetLife Concert stage

The Throwback Songs Had The Venue Shaking — Literally

BLACKPINK's more recent singles, from "Shut Down" to "Pink Venom," are undeniable pop anthems. But the ensemble has released addictive bangers since the very start of their career, and the fervor at MetLife during the throwback songs was a testament. 

When "Boombayah," one of BLACKPINK's debut songs, started playing, the already roaring screams rose in volume. BLINKS swung their lightsticks more powerfully than before to the heavy beats of the song, and there was no hesitation when Jennie yelled "jump!" as the final verses approached. The floor began to shake as fans on all levels leapt in place while the group did the same on stage.

The quartet's 2020 hit song "Lovesick Girls" played immediately after, and once again the tens of thousands jumping across the stadium caused the ground to quake. The same electrifying energy filled the space when BLACKPINK performed their other early songs — from "DDU-DU DDU-DU" and "Forever Young" to "PLAYING WITH FIRE" and "As If It's Your Last" — in the second half of the show. 

With pyrotechnics and fireworks, the MetLife show was already leaving a searing impression. But there's nothing quite like feeling the impact of a group through the floor literally trembling.    

Anyone who has attended a BLACKPINK concert knows that the group's fans come from all backgrounds, genders and ages. This was also extremely evident from one look at those waiting in line to enter MetLife. 

But one addition to the concert from last year's Prudential Center show highlighted BLINKS' diversity even more. The giant screens presented a dance challenge in the minutes before the encore, and cameras zoomed in on fans who grooved to the music — some replicating the choreography to a tee while others improvised with pizzazz. 

Two young girls in matching black shirts and sequined magenta skirts danced to "Pink Venom," and moments later a man in a rosy bucket hat performed the "Flower" choreography with a lightstick in hand. Two women in hot pink hijabs swayed to "How You Like That," before a male BLINK in a white dress shirt body rolled to the post-chorus and ended the performance with a wink. 

5 Ways Blackpink's MetLife Concert center stage

The most obvious way this show celebrated BLACKPINK's career was, well, with an actual celebration. Near the end of the concert, the members crowded around a four-tiered black and pink cake adorned with ribbons and roses. 

"Can we sing happy birthday to ourselves?" Rosé asked as the four artists held banners that read, "Happy 7th year anniversary / BLACKPINK BLINK FOUREVER." The crowd of course screamed a resounding "YES!" and joined in on the song. "Happy birthday to Jennie Jisoo Lisa Rose," Lisa sang with a chuckle. 

BLACKPINK Reminisced On A First Meeting From 10 Years Ago

The most heartwarming moment of the show happened shortly after the birthday celebration. "Remember the day that we met?" Jennie asked softly. "So romantic," Rosé laughed, seemingly surprised at the turn in conversation — just after she said she didn't want to cry that evening. 

"I remember the first day you came to YG," Lisa said to Rosé. Then, BLINKS were treated to a different kind of performance. "Should we reenact the elevator scene?" Rosé asked as she put down the anniversary banner and stepped in front of the cake to get ready.

"I was with all my books and stuff," Lisa recalled as she gathered more anniversary banners and clutched them in front of her chest as if they were books. Rosé pretended to press an elevator button. "I'll go downstairs to say hi to the girls," she said, almost in a whisper. "Oh, I'm so nervous." 

Together, the two of them pretended that the elevator door opened with a ding. "And then I walked into the room and was like this [motions a wave], 'Hi,' and they were so welcoming!" 

At this moment, Jennie and Jisoo embraced her in a hug. "And then all night we played the guitar, til morning," Rosé remembered as her fingers strummed the air. 

In the past 10 years, BLACKPINK has trained together, debuted together, and now, celebrated their seventh anniversary together. So much of their journey to becoming a top girl group is unseen by the public, but for those few minutes Jisoo, Jennie, Rosé, and Lisa warmly welcomed BLINKS into their memories — creating an unforgettably meaningful celebration for everyone involved.

All images courtesy of YG Entertainment.

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