BLACKPINK - DDU-DU DDU-DU
BLACKPINK is a four-member girl group under YG Entertainment, and one of the top girl groups in the game despite having a minimal amount of releases up until this point. To say that I enjoy BLACKPINK is an understatement. I wouldn't go so far as to call myself a BLINK, mostly because I don't associate myself with any fandom, but I have thoroughly enjoyed all of their releases and they have consistently landed on my top songs for every year that they've been able to. "DDU-DU DDU-DU" is the first of two title tracks that we'll be covering today, and the first time that I've been able to cover one of their songs in general. As per usual with my favorites, I wanted a top-notch quality release, and after watching the teaser, it seemed this one was sure to be a hard-hitting banger.
Well, the teaser did a great job of luring listeners in and giving them solid expectations.. at least for half of the song. As one should probably have expected, though, since it's K-pop, there are some seriously dramatic pauses and shifts all over this track. It's pretty clear that this was done in order to accommodate Jisoo and Rosé since both are more suited as singers than rappers, and unfortunately for me that's where a majority of my issues with the track stem from.
It's not a new trend by any stretch of the imagination, but a majority of these songs that feature this kind of 'hard switch' style of music have never really worked for me. This, sadly, is another example where it's just a bit too disjointed and it inevitably ends up pulling me out of the song. Separately both seem to be in fine working condition, but smashed together as they currently are, it feels like the track is often times at odds with itself. There are certainly times where a divisive shift in a song works for me, but those are often when they aren't as harshly different in tone as is the case with this track.
That's not to say that I didn't enjoy the song still, though. I've praised Lisa and Jennie's raps in the past, and both are absolutely on point in this song as well. I'm seriously so happy that this comeback let them have the major focus of the song. Rosé still has one of my favorite voices in all of K-pop, and Jisoo sounds like she's improved her own voice a ton since the last we'd heard the group. The choice of instrumentals in this song is a bit of a callback to an older flavor of K-pop that I miss and truly enjoy still, but it also made the song feel a bit dated simultaneously. The exotic styling of note progression is sure to rub people one way or the other, but for me personally it was just a decent addition to the song as whole.
The variation of groaning bass synths and fluttering high pitches of psuedo-flute are a bit too over the top and nonsensical for my personal tastes, but they added a much-needed instrumental hook. The bridge of the song actually has the smoothest and neatest presentation of progression in the song, and it really stuck out as something that helped piece some of the more separated parts together. The addition of deep bass guitar chords was a great break from the droning of synthetic sounds, and ultimately that bridge just made me wish that there was more of that type of delivery throughout the track instead.
Again, the song isn't bad by any means. The production values are pretty clear, and everything in the track feels intentional, even if I ended up disagreeing with their uses. There are great elements to pull out from individual segments, and it's still in the veins of a track that I would expect BLACKPINK to put out in general. However, it also kind of feels like this was more of an experience rather than a solid song. What I mean is that it's a great song to have a reaction video to, or to listen to for the very first time. Past that, I'm not all too sure of how well the musicality holds up. It's definitely not something I'm going to be actively putting on, and even though the hook is fairly sticky and fun, I just don't find this style of music to be particularly interesting or digestible on a regular basis.
The color palette and overall presentation of this video feels like a followup to "Boombayah" with touches of "As If It's Your Last" sprinkled in for good measure. It's not necessarily a bad thing, but I guess I was expecting a bit more since the delay between their comebacks was longer than most fans were expecting. Similarly to the song itself, there were a lot of parts of this video that reminded me of older types of music videos, and I just couldn't help but enjoy those portions of it simply just from nostalgia.
There was a good amount of imagery that I enjoyed here, too. Skipping past the more obvious allegory during Jennie's opening bit where she's playing out the role of a queen on a chess board, there's good chunks of fun all over. Lisa has their official lightstick hammer during her rap, along with a chalkboard full of references and fun things for fans to gloss over. The whole scene featuring Jisoo with a short pink bob wig has some commentary about how fans will be the first to turn on you at the first hint of a mistake. Jennie playfully throwing popcorn might be a callout on how fans are always screaming for them to just toss out another pop song instead of just patiently waiting, though I think that might just be my own bias and thoughts getting projected into a forced interpretation.
I can't not talk about the odd fashion choices in this video. "As If It's Your Last" was the precursor to what we would be getting in this music video, I swear. Lisa, as per usual in my opinion, got the shortest end of the stick. Her outfits each had some awkward throwaway element that just looked weird and I wish that she got to look as amazing as every other girl in the video did.
The last thing I want to touch on is the choreography that was shown. I'm sad to say it, but damn the girls looked really awkward and stiff. I didn't really like this dance at all, which is a major disappointment after loving some of their others in the past. I've never really thought of the group as the greatest of dancers or anything, but this just made them seem rigid. I know that they're capable of so much more, so I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt and pin this one on the choreographer and/or director.
Was the music video mindblowing? Revolutionary? Not in the least. Did it not to be? Not in the least. Honestly, it falls pretty in line with the rest of their music videos up until this point. I personally dug the kind of throwback portions like the glittery tank bit, and I'm really glad that the video didn't try to throw in nonsense to fluff things up and pretend there was some deeper meaning to it overall.
"DDU-DU DDU-DU" is a track that falls more on the side of an overall experience rather than just a song. There's no doubt in my mind that this will be their most divisive track among fans to date, but for me personally, I fall on the side of it being my least favorite BLACKPINK song. There are a lot of fragments that I loved, but just as many segments that just weren't for me. If you're a fan of songs with harsh genre shifts such as CLC's "Hobgoblin" or 4Minute's "Hate," I think you'd enjoy this. If you were in the other camp for those tracks, you'll probably end up where I'm at with it.