Yes. This is really happening.
BLACKPINK have often been the butt of many jokes on this blog. And while I have given the group a number of scathing reviews since 2020’s How You Like That, It should be said that I do (or at least did) have a lot of love for this group. Despite their incredibly inconsistent release schedule and even more inconsistent musical output, I’ve actually liked a decent amount of their tracks. And though new release Pink venom only furthers my detachment from the group, I thought it would be a fitting time to look back at what I consider to be my 10 favourite tracks from the group.
Now this is top 10 is going to be slightly different from my other ones in the sense that I will be including b-sides. And the reason for that is that in no world will I ever let songs like How You Like That and especially Ice Cream ever come near a “best-of” list. So instead I’ve added some genuinely great b-sides to the list.
In regards to my overall opinion on the structure of the list, it’s quite a jarring jump in quality between the top 3 and everything else. I consider the top 3 here to be top tier examples of modern day K-pop and while I still like the other tracks mentioned here, they’re all more firmly planted in the “ok” to “very good” territory instead of the “excellent” realm that the top three cover.
Love to Hate Me (2020)
Pretty Savage (2020)
10. DDU-DU-DDU-DU (2018)
Easily their biggest single and the track that really broke the group into the international eye, DDU-DU-DDU-DU became the template for most of what would follow. And though that notion hurts its merits in hindsight, there’s no denying the strength of its anthemic pre-chorus and addictive hook. It was all the craze back on release and still holds up as the strongest vessel for this particular Blackpink sound.
9. See U Later (2018)
Though undercut by a non-existent, grating chorus, See U Later is home to some of the strongest and most atmospheric verses of the past few years. Buoyed by a chugging guitar and EDM baseline, it’s the strongest and most convincing usage of the groups unique collection of vocal tones yet. If it had a better hook, it would easily find a place near the top of the list.
8. Whistle (2016)
One part of the groups instantly successful debut, Whistle unveiled the groups hip hop oriented sound over a sparse beat and addictive central refrain. It’s a genuinely interesting production, making great use of unique soundscapes to support the rappers whilst still leaving room for some soaring melodies during the driving pre-chorus and anthemic bridge.
7. Boombayah (2016)
The debut track that perfectly poised Blackpink as successors to agency seniors 2NE1, Boombayah harnessed a massive club ready sound to craft an incredibly thrilling hype track. It’s a pure rush, harnessing all the now classic Blackpink quirks without coming across as obnoxious. A characteristic that’s becoming increasingly hard to find in the groups more recent works.
6. Forever Young (2018)
A b-side that should have been a single, Forever Young takes heavy influence from the then trendy genres of Moombahton and Tropical house and delivers one of the groups most addictive tracks. It’s buoyant yet at the same time carries a sense of melancholia, expertly conveying the bittersweet nature of its lyrics through its central drop. Its climax still remains one of the groups best.
5. Stay (2016)
The most stripped back and overlooked of the groups singles, Stay is a gorgeous folk-style, guitar led track that sees the group shed the faux badassery to deliver a pure sing along. The harmonica flourish adds a healthy dose of character to a track that thrives on its performers, who expertly navigate this gorgeous soundscape to deliver Stay‘s beautiful central refrain. I would love to see more songs like this in the future.
4. Don’t Know What To Do (2019)
A dance-pop anthem for the ages and one that further proved Blackpink’s natural inclination to these kinds of pop anthems, Don’t Know What To Do hinges all its bets on its majestic central drop, a risky wager but one that pays off immensely. The airy, ascending post-chorus is pure bliss, lending a necessary sense of catharsis that transforms the track into a true, tears on the dance floor style banger.
3. Playing With Fire (2016)
One of the strongest and most razor sharp examples of K-pop’s tropical house trend, Playing With Fire succeeds on the back of an all killer no filler arrangement that accentuates both the instrumental and vocals in tandem to create a laid back dance track that feels effortlessly cool and endlessly replayable. It’s a near perfect example of its chosen genre, expertly conveying a sense of freedom and bliss through its simple yet utterly dynamic production.
2. Lovesick Girls (2020) (full review)
Preceded by some of the groups least flattering singles, Blackpink shattered all expectations with the release of the stunning, melodramatic pop-rock of Lovesick Girls. Acting as the groups redemption arc in my eyes, Lovesick Girls threw out all of my least favourite aspects of the groups previous efforts and instead gave us a melodically inclined anthem with a timeless pop sheen that’s only gotten more and more exciting with time. Such a shame that a track with such a stunning chorus had to be followed by the likes of Pink Venom.
1. As if It’s Your Last (2017) (full review)
The only real display of the groups “pink” side, As if It’s Your Last is the definition of a perfect pop song. From the quirky, personality rich verses to that oh so incredible chorus, there isn’t a single moment where the track ever comes close to faltering. It’s bright, exciting and one of a kind, a full realisation of the groups potential through one of K-pop’s all time great hooks. It’s easily the strongest we’ve ever heard the girls and though we may never hear something as bright and fizzy as As if it’s your last from them again, its dynamic production and cotton candy hooks have more than stood the test of time.