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Meet BLACKPINK: The Latest, Greatest K-Pop Phenomenon

BLACKPINK

Photo: VCG/Getty Images

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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

GRAMMYs/Jan 12, 2019 - 05:32 am

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.

K-Pop Titans BLACKPINK Will Visit U.S. During World Tour
 

The Official 2023 GRAMMYs Playlist Is Here: Listen To 115 Songs By Beyoncé, Harry Styles, Bad Bunny, Kendrick Lamar & More
(L-R, clockwise) Steve Lacy, Harry Styles, Lizzo, Anitta, BTS

Photos (L-R): Scott Dudelson/Getty Images for Coachella, Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Harry Styles, Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Recording Academy, LUFRÉ, Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

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The Official 2023 GRAMMYs Playlist Is Here: Listen To 115 Songs By Beyoncé, Harry Styles, Bad Bunny, Kendrick Lamar & More

Get to know this year's nominees with the official 2023 GRAMMYs playlist, presented in partnership with Amazon Music, which features 115 GRAMMY-nominated songs across pop, rap, country, and beyond from today's stars.

GRAMMYs/Jan 19, 2023 - 04:24 pm

With the 2023 GRAMMYs less than a month away, excitement is bubbling over in the music community.

Whether you're rooting for innovative newcomers like Wet Leg and Omar Apollo or beloved legends like Beyoncé and ABBA, there is an abundance of spectacular talent to be celebrated this year. And the 2023 GRAMMY nominees are not only leading music, but they’re creatively transforming genres, from rap to alternative to reggae — and beyond.

To let the music speak for itself, stream the official 2023 GRAMMYs playlist, presented in partnership with Amazon Music, which features 115 GRAMMY-nominated songs across pop, rap, country, and beyond from today's stars, including BTS, Harry Styles, Kendrick Lamar, Lizzo, and many, many more.

Get to know this year's nominees by listening to their biggest hits and GRAMMY-nominated works on this immersive Amazon Music playlist — and tune in to CBS and Paramount+ on Sunday, Feb. 5 to experience Music's Biggest Night live.

Where, What Channel & How To Watch The Full 2023 GRAMMYs

Press Play On GRAMMY U Mixtape: New Year, It’s Poppin'! Monthly Member Playlist

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Press Play On GRAMMY U Mixtape: New Year, It’s Poppin'! Monthly Member Playlist

The GRAMMY U Mixtape is a monthly, genre-spanning playlist to quench your thirst for new tunes, all from student members. GRAMMY U celebrates new beginnings with fresh pop tunes that will kickstart 2023.

GRAMMYs/Jan 6, 2023 - 12:17 am

Did you know that among all of the students in GRAMMY U, songwriting and performance is one of the most sought after fields of study? We want to create a space to hear what these students are creating today!

The GRAMMY U Mixtape, now available for your listening pleasure, highlights the creations and fresh ideas that students are bringing to this industry directly on the Recording Academy's Spotify and Apple Music pages. Our goal is to celebrate GRAMMY U members, as well as the time and effort they put into making original music — from the songwriting process to the final production of the track.

Each month, we accept submissions and feature 20 to 25 songs that match that month’s theme. This month we're ringing in 2023 with our New Year, It's Poppin'! playlist, which features fresh pop songs that bring new year, new you vibes. Showcasing talented members from our various chapters, we felt these songs represented the positivity and hopefulness that GRAMMY U members embody as they tackle this upcoming year of exciting possibilities.

So, what’s stopping you? Press play on GRAMMY U’s Mixtape and listen now on Spotify below and Apple Music.

Want to be featured on the next playlist? Submit your songs today! We are currently accepting submissions for songs of all genres for consideration for our February playlist. Whether you write pop, rock, hip hop, jazz, or classical, we want to hear from you. Music must be written and/or produced by the student member (an original song) and you must be able to submit a Spotify and/or Apple Music link to the song. Students must be a GRAMMY U member to submit.

About GRAMMY U:

GRAMMY U is a program that connects college students with the industry's brightest and most talented minds and provides those aspiring professionals with the tools and opportunities necessary to start a career in music.     

Throughout each semester, events and special programs touch on all facets of the industry, including the business, technology, and the creative process.

As part of the Recording Academy's mission to ensure the recorded arts remain a thriving part of our shared cultural heritage, GRAMMY U establishes the necessary foundation for music’s next generation to flourish.

Not a member, but want to submit to our playlist? Apply for GRAMMY U Membership here.

GRAMMY Rewind: Dua Lipa Champions Happiness As She Accepts Her GRAMMY For Best Pop Vocal Album In 2021
Dua Lipa at the 2021 GRAMMYs

Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

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GRAMMY Rewind: Dua Lipa Champions Happiness As She Accepts Her GRAMMY For Best Pop Vocal Album In 2021

As Dua Lipa held her new GRAMMY, she reflected on how "jaded" she felt before putting out 'Future Nostalgia' — and how the album taught her the importance of happiness.

GRAMMYs/Dec 5, 2022 - 10:01 pm

Three-time GRAMMY-winner Dua Lipa already had two golden gramophones to her name going into the 2021 GRAMMYs. But her third win — and her first for Best Pop Vocal Album — may have been the happiest of them all.

In this episode of GRAMMY Rewind, revisit the special moment when Dua Lipa took the stage to claim her trophy for her album, Future Nostalgia. The second studio album of the singer's career, Future Nostalgia earned her six nominations, including the coveted Album Of The Year as well as Record Of The Year and Song Of The Year for lead single "Don't Start Now."

As she held her new trophy, Lipa reflected on what she's learned through the process of making Future Nostalgia, making special mention of the power of happiness, and putting out happy music.

"I felt really jaded at the end of my last album, where I felt like I only had to make sad music to feel like it mattered," she explained. "And I'm just so grateful and so honored, because happiness is something that we all deserve, and it's something that we all need in our lives."

The singer also threw a spotlight on her fans, team and co-writers during her time onstage. "This means so much," she concluded, adding a shout-out to her family and friends who were watching from home. "I love you, thank you."

Press play on the video above to watch Dua Lipa's complete acceptance speech at the 63rd GRAMMY Awards, and keep checking back to GRAMMY.com every Friday for more new episodes of GRAMMY Rewind. 

Get To Know The 2022 Nominees For Best Pop Duo/Group Performance At The 2023 GRAMMYs

A Guide To Modern Funk For The Dance Floor: L'Imperatrice, Shiro Schwarz, Franc Moody, Say She She & Moniquea
Franc Moody

Photo: Rachel Kupfer 

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A Guide To Modern Funk For The Dance Floor: L'Imperatrice, Shiro Schwarz, Franc Moody, Say She She & Moniquea

James Brown changed the sound of popular music when he found the power of the one and unleashed the funk with "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag." Today, funk lives on in many forms, including these exciting bands from across the world.

GRAMMYs/Nov 25, 2022 - 04:23 pm

It's rare that a genre can be traced back to a single artist or group, but for funk, that was James Brown. The Godfather of Soul coined the phrase and style of playing known as "on the one," where the first downbeat is emphasized, instead of the typical second and fourth beats in pop, soul and other styles. As David Cheal eloquently explains, playing on the one "left space for phrases and riffs, often syncopated around the beat, creating an intricate, interlocking grid which could go on and on." You know a funky bassline when you hear it; its fat chords beg your body to get up and groove.

Brown's 1965 classic, "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag," became one of the first funk hits, and has been endlessly sampled and covered over the years, along with his other groovy tracks. Of course, many other funk acts followed in the '60s, and the genre thrived in the '70s and '80s as the disco craze came and went, and the originators of hip-hop and house music created new music from funk and disco's strong, flexible bones built for dancing.

Legendary funk bassist Bootsy Collins learned the power of the one from playing in Brown's band, and brought it to George Clinton, who created P-funk, an expansive, Afrofuturistic, psychedelic exploration of funk with his various bands and projects, including Parliament-Funkadelic. Both Collins and Clinton remain active and funkin', and have offered their timeless grooves to collabs with younger artists, including Kali Uchis, Silk Sonic, and Omar Apollo; and Kendrick Lamar, Flying Lotus, and Thundercat, respectively.

In the 1980s, electro-funk was born when artists like Afrika Bambaataa, Man Parrish, and Egyptian Lover began making futuristic beats with the Roland TR-808 drum machine — often with robotic vocals distorted through a talk box. A key distinguishing factor of electro-funk is a de-emphasis on vocals, with more phrases than choruses and verses. The sound influenced contemporaneous hip-hop, funk and electronica, along with acts around the globe, while current acts like Chromeo, DJ Stingray, and even Egyptian Lover himself keep electro-funk alive and well.

Today, funk lives in many places, with its heavy bass and syncopated grooves finding way into many nooks and crannies of music. There's nu-disco and boogie funk, nodding back to disco bands with soaring vocals and dance floor-designed instrumentation. G-funk continues to influence Los Angeles hip-hop, with innovative artists like Dam-Funk and Channel Tres bringing the funk and G-funk, into electro territory. Funk and disco-centered '70s revival is definitely having a moment, with acts like Ghost Funk Orchestra and Parcels, while its sparkly sprinklings can be heard in pop from Dua Lipa, Doja Cat, and, in full "Soul Train" character, Silk Sonic. There are also acts making dreamy, atmospheric music with a solid dose of funk, such as Khruangbin’s global sonic collage.

There are many bands that play heavily with funk, creating lush grooves designed to get you moving. Read on for a taste of five current modern funk and nu-disco artists making band-led uptempo funk built for the dance floor. Be sure to press play on the Spotify playlist above, and check out GRAMMY.com's playlist on Apple Music, Amazon Music and Pandora.

Say She She

Aptly self-described as "discodelic soul," Brooklyn-based seven-piece Say She She make dreamy, operatic funk, led by singer-songwriters Nya Gazelle Brown, Piya Malik and Sabrina Mileo Cunningham. Their '70s girl group-inspired vocal harmonies echo, sooth and enchant as they cover poignant topics with feminist flair.

While they’ve been active in the New York scene for a few years, they’ve gained wider acclaim for the irresistible music they began releasing this year, including their debut album, Prism. Their 2022 debut single "Forget Me Not" is an ode to ground-breaking New York art collective Guerilla Girls, and "Norma" is their protest anthem in response to the news that Roe vs. Wade could be (and was) overturned. The band name is a nod to funk legend Nile Rodgers, from the "Le freak, c'est chi" exclamation in Chic's legendary tune "Le Freak."

Moniquea

Moniquea's unique voice oozes confidence, yet invites you in to dance with her to the super funky boogie rhythms. The Pasadena, California artist was raised on funk music; her mom was in a cover band that would play classics like Aretha Franklin’s "Get It Right" and Gladys Knight’s "Love Overboard." Moniquea released her first boogie funk track at 20 and, in 2011, met local producer XL Middelton — a bonafide purveyor of funk. She's been a star artist on his MoFunk Records ever since, and they've collabed on countless tracks, channeling West Coast energy with a heavy dose of G-funk, sunny lyrics and upbeat, roller disco-ready rhythms.

Her latest release is an upbeat nod to classic West Coast funk, produced by Middleton, and follows her February 2022 groovy, collab-filled album, On Repeat.

Shiro Schwarz

Shiro Schwarz is a Mexico City-based duo, consisting of Pammela Rojas and Rafael Marfil, who helped establish a modern funk scene in the richly creative Mexican metropolis. On "Electrify" — originally released in 2016 on Fat Beats Records and reissued in 2021 by MoFunk — Shiro Schwarz's vocals playfully contrast each other, floating over an insistent, upbeat bassline and an '80s throwback electro-funk rhythm with synth flourishes.

Their music manages to be both nostalgic and futuristic — and impossible to sit still to. 2021 single "Be Kind" is sweet, mellow and groovy, perfect chic lounge funk. Shiro Schwarz’s latest track, the joyfully nostalgic "Hey DJ," is a collab with funkstress Saucy Lady and U-Key.

L'Impératrice

L'Impératrice (the empress in French) are a six-piece Parisian group serving an infectiously joyful blend of French pop, nu-disco, funk and psychedelia. Flore Benguigui's vocals are light and dreamy, yet commanding of your attention, while lyrics have a feminist touch.

During their energetic live sets, L'Impératrice members Charles de Boisseguin and Hagni Gwon (keys), David Gaugué (bass), Achille Trocellier (guitar), and Tom Daveau (drums) deliver extended instrumental jam sessions to expand and connect their music. Gaugué emphasizes the thick funky bass, and Benguigui jumps around the stage while sounding like an angel. L’Impératrice’s latest album, 2021’s Tako Tsubo, is a sunny, playful French disco journey.

Franc Moody

Franc Moody's bio fittingly describes their music as "a soul funk and cosmic disco sound." The London outfit was birthed by friends Ned Franc and Jon Moody in the early 2010s, when they were living together and throwing parties in North London's warehouse scene. In 2017, the group grew to six members, including singer and multi-instrumentalist Amber-Simone.

Their music feels at home with other electro-pop bands like fellow Londoners Jungle and Aussie act Parcels. While much of it is upbeat and euphoric, Franc Moody also dips into the more chilled, dreamy realm, such as the vibey, sultry title track from their recently released Into the Ether.

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