Photo: Scott Dudelson/Getty Images for Coachella
Get To Know 5 Asian Artists Taking Center Stage At 2023 Festivals
From Jackson Wang’s historic Coachella set to NoSo’s marvelous Kilby Block Party debut, here are 5 artists of Asian heritage performing at popular music festivals this year.
Festival season is upon us and among the many names in those occasionally hard-to-read lineup posters, artists of Asian heritage have been rising to headliner status.
BLACKPINK might be first to come to mind: the South Korean group dropped jaws with their revolutionary Coachella performance, becoming the first K-pop group to headline the massive spring festival. From NewJeans to TOMORROW X TOGETHER to aespa making appearances at festivals later this August, K-pop in particular has continued to take the festival circuit by storm.
Indie, rock and EDM stars of Asian heritage are also making their mark on festival stages this year. Four Tet turned Coachella upside down alongside Skrillex and Fred again.., and Beabadoobee will take on Lollapalooza Chicago, Outside Lands, and All Things Go, all after opening for Taylor Swift on her Eras Tour and headlining her own EU tour.
From mainstays like NIKI and Raveena to rising stars like Yaeji and Wallice, festival lineups are bursting with talent this year. In honor of AAPI month, here are five Asian artists bringing their striking performances to major festival stages this year.
Although spill tab makes bedroom pop, her music was destined for festival stages.
Born Claire Chicha, the breakout French Korean singer/songwriter shapes her introspections into ambitious alternative pop. Swimming through layered vocals and electropop tinges, the artist knows how to transform her dreamy reflections into eye-catching performances.
After playing Austin City Limits last fall, Chicha graced the stage at Kilby Block Party in Utah this spring. Having already opened for everyone from Wallows to Sabrina Carpenter, spill tab knows the stage like the back of her hand.
The Rose is making their Lollapalooza Chicago debut this August, but the K-pop four-piece have been festival-ready since their mainstream debut in 2017.
Newly under the management of label Far East Movement, The Rose is known for their escalating soft-rock ballads like “She’s In The Rain” and “sorry.” Able to switch from electric to acoustic with ease, the group’s versatility translates into a bright, contagious energy meant for festival stages.
Marked by poignance and soft guitar, NoSo’s performances fill a venue with comfort. Just a few months after performing for NPR’s popular Tiny Desk Concert series, NoSo put on an emotionally enlightening show at Kilby Block Party.
The Korean American artist, who also identifies as nonbinary and transgender, released their debut Stay Proud of Me in 2022. The album tells stories centering around their racial and gender identity, offering a serenity akin to a healing force.
Hailing from Hong Kong, Jackson Wang made waves at Coachella as the first Chinese solo artist invited to perform at the festival. Bringing out Ciara to perform their sultry R&B collaboration “Slow,” the singer-rapper proved he’s full of surprises.
Previously part of the K-pop group GOT7, Wang’s massive platform is only continuing to grow. His smooth, breathy voice molds to every genre from pop to rap, and his spectacular Coachella performance highlighted how his shining stage presence will only continue to mesmerize audiences.
After a long dusty day of stomping around festival grounds, Tanukichan’s refreshing set can help you recharge.
Born Hannah van Loon, the San Francisco-based indie rock star balances warmth and grit perfectly, individualizing her own sound after four years in the pop band Trails and Ways. Just a few months before her Kilby Block Party debut, she released her dynamic album GIZMO, which followed her 2018 Toro y Moi-produced debut and tour support for Kero Kero Bonito.
Photos: Kate Green/Getty Images & Venla Shalin/Redferns
How Skrillex & Fred Again.. Became Dance Music's Favorite Friendship: A Timeline
Before they both play Ill Points in Miami this October, journey back through the highlights of Skrillex and Fred again..'s party-starting bromance.
Few friendships in dance music have burned as brightly as the bromance between Fred Gibson, aka Fred again.., and Sonny Moore, a.k.a. Skrillex. In a few short years, the English phenom and Los Angeles-born bass don have forged a dynamic bond as DJ partners, co-producers, and mutual muses.
Brought together as fellow Ed Sheeran collaborators, their partnership went legit on "Rumble," an instant wobbly-bass classic featuring grime MC Flowdan, which Fred teased in his star-making 2022 Boiler Room set. Mere months after "Rumble" officially dropped that January, they closed Coachella with a historic set alongside their buddy and studio secret weapon Four Tet.
Alongside all the music and viral moments, the friendship has clearly given Skrillex — a producer always looking for his next musical evolution — a new lease on life.
After a pinch-yourself start to the year that also included a sold-out show with Four Tet at New York’s Madison Square Garden, Skrillex and Fred again.. will meet again this October at Ill Points in Miami. While billed separately, there’s no keeping these two apart. With much more expected from this superstar pairing, we’re taking a look back through their friendship so far.
2019: Before his breakthrough as a solo artist, Fred again.. earned his stripes as a producer for U.K. grime acts like Headie One, Stormzy and AJ Tracey, and pop stadium-filler Ed Sheeran. While hailing from different sides of the Atlantic, he and Skrillex were destined to meet some day.
Returning as a producer on Sheeran’s 2019 album, No.6 Collaborations Project, Fred again.. intersected with Skrillex (and producer/engineer Kenny Beats) on "Take Me Back to London," featuring Stormzy. Fusing pop hooks with grime swagger, the song hinted at the crisp basslines and drums to come from future Skrillex/Fred team-ups.
In this period, Fred played Skrillex an early iteration of "Rumble," which he’d been trading back and forth with Flowdan. "The first time I ever met Sonny, I played him the first version we had," Fred recalled in an interview with BBC Radio 1’s Jack Saunders.
Skrillex requested the "stems" (the individual isolated parts of a recording) and made a version that he worried missed the mark. "I didn’t like it," he also told Saunders. "I thought I ruined the song." He and Fred tweaked the elements until it clicked — and their friendship was born.
2021: With COVID-19 keeping artists grounded, Fred again.. released Actual Life (April 14 - December 17 2020), a collection of achingly personal electronic elegies that cemented his signature sound.
He followed it later that year with Actual Life 2 (February 2 - October 15 2021), which explored themes of grief and catharsis through a collage of electronic production, samples and audio clips from the producer’s "actual life." Skrillex, meanwhile, kicked off the year by releasing his collaboration with Four Tet and Starrah, "Butterflies," setting the stage for more transatlantic collaborations.
June 2022: To kick off summer, fast friends Skrillex and Fred again.. rented a house in the idyllic English village of Pangbourne to work on new music. As Skrillex recalled on Instagram, he had an album to finish, while Fred again.. was finalising music for his then-imminent Boiler Room debut. Four Tet agreed to come and hang out for a bit, bringing his toothbrush just in case he was compelled to stay. As Skrillex put it on Instagram, "This moment marked the birth of the Pangbourne House Mafia."
July 2022: When Fred again.. rolled up to his Boiler Room debut in London, no one could’ve predicted the energy to come. Surrounded on all sides by sweaty, screaming admirers, the producer blazed through a hybrid DJ-live set that blended house, U.K. garage, grime, drum & bass, and pop.
He also used the set to preview a few of his collaborations with Skrillex, including "Rumble," which sent fans clamouring for clues online. The Boiler Room session blew up on YouTube (where it now has 22 million views), catapulting Fred again.. and his to-be-released collaborations to a whole new level.
October 2022: While promoting his third album, Actual Life 3 (January 1 - September 9 2022), Fred again.. sat down for an interview with Apple Music’s Zane Lowe at Skrillex’s house in Los Angeles. "We’ve done a home swap at the moment," the producer told Lowe, "so he’s staying at mine in London and I’m at his in L.A." Now, that’s true friendship.
January 2023: After making fans wait, Skrillex and Fred again.. Kicked off the year with a bang and finally released "Rumble" via Skrillex’s OWSLA label. The pair also grabbed Four Tet for a surprise back-to-back-to-back DJ set at London’s Electric Ballroom, which featured a whirlwind of new and unreleased music. What started as a one-off show rolled into three extremely sold-out nights at different venues, with the trio of DJs clearly having the time of their lives.
February 2023: In a career-defining month, Skrillex released his much-anticipated album Quest for Fire, which featured collaborators like Porter Robinson, Missy Elliot, Mr Oizo, Bobby Raps, and — of course — Fred again.. and Four Tet. To celebrate the release, the "Pangbourne House Mafia" casually announced a show at New York’s iconic Madison Square Garden, which sold out within three minutes. To warm up, the trio created pandemonium with an impromptu DJ set in Times Square, where they trialled some new edits ahead of the big show.
April 2023: After selling out Madison Square Garden without breaking a sweat, and releasing team-up track, "Baby again.." in March, the unlikely supergroup of Fred, Skrillex and Four Tet went looking for the next high.
As it happened, that opportunity came on the second weekend of Coachella. With Frank Ocean relinquishing his Sunday headlining spot after a divisive weekend performance, the festival left a tantalizing TBA in the final slot. Before long, the cat was out of the bag, and dance music’s new favorite trio were headed to the desert with memeable merch bearing the slogan, OMG TBA.
"I didn’t think I was gonna be back with my brothers like this for a longgggg time," Fred again.. wrote on Instagram. "Until last night. And here we are."
Appearing on a circular stage deep in the crowd, the DJs closed down Coachella with the excitement of three friends who couldn’t quite believe their luck.
June 2023: With the members of the "Pangbourne House Mafia" returning to life as solo artists after Coachella, Fred again.. announced a three-night run at New York’s Forest Hills Stadium in October, followed by Ill Points in Miami, and then eight shows at Shrine Expo Hall in Los Angeles. With LA being Skrillex’s hometown, the two producers are sure to cook up something new - after, this is one friendship with a lot more to give.
Photo courtesy of the artist
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.
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.
Photo: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic via Getty Images
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.
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."
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.
Photo courtesy of YG Entertainment.
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.
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.
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.
Diversity Of BLINKs Was On Full Display
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.
BLINKS Joined BLACKPINK In Singing Happy Birthday
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.