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Meet BLACKPINK: The Latest, Greatest K-Pop Phenomenon
Inside the all-female quartet's pristine pop/hip-hop hybrid sound, stunning viral visuals, and impending global takeover of the music world
As Korean pop rounds the bend from its smash crossover breakout year in 2018, led by international phenoms BTS, into a sky's-the-limit 2019, the American mainstream is getting to know a few more names around the household.
Enter BLACKPINK: With an enviable fan army known as "Blinks" and nearly 600 million (!) views on their eye candy-coated video for "DDU-DU DDU-DU," the pop quartet are anything but underground. Their international star only continued to rise when Coachella announced its 2019 lineup earlier this week, with BLACKPINK being the first all-female K-pop act to play the Southern California desert fest.
But their Coachella milestone and devout online infantry are only the beginning of BLACKPINK's western takeover. On Jan. 9, YG Entertainment, the group's company, announced that BLACKPINK’s In Your Area 2019 world tour will hit North America, Europe and Australia after several already planned tour dates throughout Asia. While the new dates and venues are yet to be revealed, the international scope of their momentum is undeniable. At this point you're either in-the-know or asking: who are BLACKPINK?
BLACKPINK have been making ridiculously catchy music since 2016
As a group, Jennie, Rosé, Jisoo and Lisa came from diverse international backgrounds, with Jennie, Rosé both spending time in New Zealand, Lisa hailing from Thailand and Jisoo as the only member who has not lived extensively outside of Korea. Collectively, they arrived into K-pop's consciousness back in 2016 with their SQUARE ONE, SQURE TWO and "As If It's Your Last" offerings, which introduced their hybrid of sugary K-pop with danceable Latin trap and hyped up hip-hop, a concoction referred to by some as "K-trap."
But what sets BLACKPINK apart is production quality on all fronts, as theirs is a look and sound striving for perfection.
Consider "Stay," from 2016's SQUARE TWO three-song sophomore EP, a pensive yet peppy ballad that could be dropped seamlessly into virtually any major U.S. brand ad campaign. And as K-pop is traditionally a very visual-heavy genre, the song's video reflects this cross-continental appeal, with its imagery of blighted corporate America complete with a poignant Easter-egg Talking Heads' "Heaven" lyric lettered on the broken down backdrop's theatre marquee, all under a track that's equal parts longing and hopeful. Even in its mess of heartache and rubble, there's not a hair—or a note—out of place.
Exhibit B: the follow-up single, "As If It's Your Last," flaunts meticulously crafted sections with Lisa's stuttered-and-sliced (and all-English) rap sequences building into a soaring melodic pre-chorus before slamming into the hook. Each new musical idea is painted in its own unique temple, all arranged together in a common garden of song, making for a pleasing mix of variety and profluence. From the beginning, the creative powers behind BLACKPINK have struck this same delicate balance of intrigue and accessibility global pop music demands.
Vivifying their voices and mastering their moves on "DDU-DU DDU-DU"
The group's evolution toward perfect pop onomatopoeia is on full display in their breakout 2018 single, "DDU-DU DDU-DU," which features buoyant beats and an irresistible hook. Audiences clearly love it too; its music video is nearing 600 million views on YouTube, and the song became the highest-charting song by an all-female K-pop group on the Billboard Hot 100, entering the chart at No. 55 back in June. Unsurprisingly, the song hiked all the way up to No. 1 on South Korea, Singapore and Malaysia, while hitting No. 2 in New Zealand and No. 7 in Japan.
"DDU-DU DDU-DU" also debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard World Digital Song Sales chart and on its Emerging Artist chart, becoming the first all-female K-pop act to accomplish the feat.
BLACKPINK's American takeover hits full throttle
As the rest of the world began to take notice, Interscope Records and Universal Music Group took action, signing the group in October of 2018 to represent them outside of Asia. If a major label deal isn't a signpost to success in a country the group has not yet even performed in, what is?
On Nov. 23, 2018, BLACKPINK dropped a nine-song collection of singles constituting their full-length debut, BLACKPINK IN YOUR AREA, named after the group's tagline with the aforementioned banger "DDU-DU DDU-DU" as the lead single.
BLACKPINK also bolstered their rolodex in 2018, collaborating with GRAMMY-nominated British songstress Dua Lipa for "Kiss And Make Up" from the complete edition of her self-titled debut, further deepening their cross-over campaign to an international audience. Like their male counterparts BTS, BLACKPINK maintain the highest pop production of both their music and their videos, giving them seemingly limitless potential for audience accumulation.
BLACKPINK have already won a ton of awards
Furthermore, if BLACKPINK's domestic success at home is any indication, the group's global future is blindingly bright. In the past two years they've won 23 awards and been nominated for a whopping 90 (and counting), including several Goan Chart Music Awards, Melon Music Awards and Mnet Asian Music Awards, all major music awards shows in South Korea. Their first Mnet honor came back in 2016 for Best of Next Artist (Female), proving the critics were on board since day one.
Even better news for the group, the American audiences they are primed to overtake have shown strong streaming habits for hip-hop, a perfect fit for BLACKPINK's leaning into rap to counterbalance their pop appeal. Now, with an ever-growing fan army, a litany of awards under their belts and enough buzz to light up the night sky in pink neon, 2019 appears to be BLACKPINK's to take.
Photo: Kevin Mazur/WireImage.com
Pearl Jam Named Record Store Day 2019 Ambassadors
Pearl Jam's Mike McCready says "if you love music," record stores are the place to find it
Record Store Day 2019 will arrive on April 13 and this year's RSD Ambassadors are Pearl Jam. Past ambassadors include Dave Grohl, Metallica, Run The Jewels (Killer Mike and El-P), and 61st GRAMMY Awards winner for Best Rock Song St. Vincent.
McCready was also the 2018 recipient of MusiCares' Stevie Ray Vaughan Award.
The band was formed in 1990 by McCready, Jeff Ament, Stone Gossard, and Eddie Vedder, and they have played with drummer Matt Cameron since 2002. They have had five albums reach No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and four albums reach No. 2.
"Pearl Jam is honored to be Record Store Day's Ambassador for 2019. Independent record stores are hugely important to me," Pearl Jam's Mike McCready said in a statement publicizing the peak-vinyl event. "Support every independent record store that you can. They're really a good part of society. Know if you love music, this is the place to find it."
With a dozen GRAMMY nominations to date, Pearl Jam's sole win so far was at the 38th GRAMMY Awards for "Spin The Black Circle" for Best Hard Rock Performance.
Pearl Jam will be performing on March 3 in Tempe, Ariz. at the Innings festival, on June 15 in Florence, Italy at the Firenze Rocks Festival and at another festival in Barolo, Italy on June 17. On July 6 Pearl Jam will headline London's Wembley Stadium.
Photo: Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images
Original Misfits Unleash One Night Only L.A. Reunion Show
Dark punk legends to play first show with Glenn Danzig and Jerry Only since last year's Riot Fest reunion
There's big news today for punk-rock fans aware that the Misfits made much more than just T-shirts.
The massively influential punk band announced a special show touted as the "only 2017 performance in this world… or any world" and billed as "The Original Misfits" in Los Angeles at the Forum on Dec. 30.
This will be the first Misfits show featuring original singer Glenn Danzig and original bassist Jerry Only with long-time guitarist Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein since the band reunited for a pair of Riot Fest appearances in Chicago and Denver in 2016. Last year's Riot Fest gigs, which featured drummer Dave Lombardo, marked the first time in 33 years the original Misfits members played together.
"OK Los Angeles, you've waited almost 35 years for this, here's your chance to see the "Original Misfits" in this Exclusive L.A. only performance." said Glenn Danzig. "No Tour, No BS, just one night of dark metal-punk hardcore brutality that will go down in the history books. See you there."
Tickets for this "one night only" show go on sale Friday, August 25.
Photo: Anthony Harvey/Getty Images
Lady Gaga Steps In To Support Youth Impacted By Hurricanes
GRAMMY winner pledges support for those impacted by hurricanes this year through Save the Children’s Journey of Hope program
On Oct. 10 Lady Gaga announced she is devoting her $1 million donation in support of those impacted by the recent hurricanes in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico and the earthquakes in Mexico, to a specific cause — the mental and emotional well being of children and youth.
Gaga announced on her Born This Way Foundation website she will support Save the Children’s Journey of Hope program, which uses a variety of tools to help young people deal with trauma in the wake of natural disasters.
"Through a curriculum that includes cooperative play, discussion, art, meditation, and mindfulness practices, young people learn to recognize and understand their emotions and develop healthy coping skills," Gaga wrote. "Tens of thousands of youth have benefited from the program since it’s development in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and Save the Children is working to bring it to hundreds of thousands more in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico."
The announcement came on World Mental Health Day, and the Fame Monster has invited all of us to step up and consider making a contribution to the Journey of Hope program to support to mental and emotional needs of children.
"Mental health is just as vital to our wellbeing as physical health. That’s true for each of us, everyday, but it’s especially important for those coping with disaster and recovering from trauma," wrote Lady Gaga. "We must do everything within our power to support the full, vibrant recovery of these communities, from meeting their immediate needs to helping them to rebuild sustainably."
Find Out Who's Nominated For Best Rap Album | 2020 GRAMMY Awards
Dreamville, Meek Mill, 21 Savage, Tyler, The Creator, and YBN Cordae all earn nominations in the category
The 2020 GRAMMYs are just around the corner, and now the nominations are in for the coveted honor of Best Rap Album. While we'll have to wait until the 62nd GRAMMY Awards air on CBS on Jan. 26 to find out who will win, let's take a look at which albums have been nominated for Best Rap Album.
Revenge of the Dreamers III – Dreamville
Dreamers III, the third installment in the label’s Revenge of the Dreamers compilation series, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart and achieved gold status this past July. In addition to a Best Rap Album nod, Dreamers III is also nominated for Best Rap Performance next year for album track “Down Bad,” featuring J.I.D, Bas, J. Cole, EARTHGANG, and Young Nudy.
Championships – Meek Mill
In many ways, Championships represents a literal and metaphorical homecoming for Meek Mill. Released in November 2018, Championships is the Philadelphia rapper’s first artist album following a two-year prison sentence he served after violating his parole in 2017. Championships, naturally, sees Meek tackling social justice issues stemming from his prison experience, including criminal justice reform. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, his second chart-topper following 2015’s Dreams Worth More Than Money, and reached platinum status in June 2019. Meek Mill's 2020 Best Rap Album nod marks his first-ever GRAMMY nomination.
i am > i was – 21 Savage
Breakout rapper and four-time GRAMMY nominee 21 Savage dropped i am > i was, his second solo artist album, at the end of 2018. The guest-heavy album, which features contributions from Post Malone, Childish Gambino, J. Cole, and many others, has since charted around the world, topped the Billboard 200 – a first for the artist – in the beginning of 2019, and achieved gold status in the U.S. As well, nine songs out of the album’s 15 original tracks landed on the Hot 100 chart, including multi-platinum lead single “A Lot,” which is also nominated for Best Rap Song next year. 21 Savage’s 2020 Best Rap Album nomination, which follows Record of the Year and Best Rap/Sung Performance nods for his 2017 Post Malone collaboration, "Rockstar,” marks his first solo recognition in the top rap category.
IGOR – Tyler, The Creator
The eccentric Tyler, The Creator kicked off a massive 2019 with his mid-year album, IGOR. Released this past May, IGOR, Tyler’s fifth solo artist album, is his most commercially successful project to date. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, marking his first time topping the coveted chart, while its lead single, "Earfquake,” peaked at No. 13, his highest entry on the Hot 100. Produced in full by Tyler and featuring guest spots from fellow rap and R&B stars Kanye West, Lil Uzi Vert, Solange, and Playboi Carti, among many others, IGOR follows the rapper’s 2017 album, Flower Boy, which received the Best Rap Album nod that same year.
The Lost Boy – YBN Cordae
Emerging rapper YBN Cordae, a member of the breakout YBN rap collective, released his debut album, The Lost Boy, to widespread critical acclaim this past July. The 15-track release is stacked with major collaborations with hip-hop heavyweights, including Anderson .Paak, Pusha T, Meek Mill, and others, plus production work from J. Cole and vocals from Quincy Jones. After peaking at No. 13 on the Billboard 200, The Lost Boy now notches two 2020 GRAMMY nominations: Best Rap Album and Best Rap Song for album track “Bad Idea,” featuring Chance the Rapper.