“SQUARE TWO,” released in November of 2016, sees BLACKPINK continuing their excellence streak with another superb pair of singles added to the tracks from debut single “SQUARE ONE.” First up is the refreshing bop “PLAYING WITH FIRE.” Effortlessly cool, compulsively danceable and addicting, “PLAYING WITH FIRE” sees BLACKPINK successfully blending their previous hits for something that sounds fresh, new, and original. The track nicely showcases each member’s talents with stellar raps and sung verses from leader Jennie, breathy and nonchalant lyrical coherence from Jisoo, nicely arranged bridges from Rose, whose vocals are utterly mystifying as usual, all wrapped together with swaggering raps from Lisa, who affirms her resilient charisma. Add on a properly swayable dance chorus and pitch perfect production, and the result is one of late 2016’s best K-pop singles.
“STAY” is an easy pop-country track that shows the girls experimenting to outer genre reaches. While I don’t think it can hold its own against the likes of “PLAYING WITH FIRE” or “WHISTLE,” I do appreciate the exploration into a slower, less demanding style. “STAY” has that sort of charm that you get from earlier Taylor Swift songs, the kind of thing that’s likeable because it’s a simple and cushy experience without the excessive bubblegum that might push it too far into conventionality.
Also included in “SQUARE TWO” is an acoustic version of “WHISTLE” that sounds slightly akin to “STAY” due to the similar guitar-strummed chords. It doesn’t really impact the collection negatively or positively, doesn’t add anything to the original version of the song, nor does it detract. It’s just kind of there, and I’m fine with that.
Track #4, “WHISTLE,” is is a perfect blend of trap overtones and the infectious melodies that K-pop is known for. With a chorus composed of a catchy whistled tune, sleek rap verses that highlight the breezy charm and cool charisma of Jennie and Lisa, sewn together by majestic trade off bridges that showcase the soaring vocal talents of Jisoo and Rose, “WHISTLE” is a properly electric debut track from promising new artists… and one of the best singles of 2016 from anywhere in the world.
The last entry, “BOOMBAYAH,” is all club-banger K-pop, a slick blend of EDM and hip-hop made extremely fashionable by icy bars from Jennie and Lisa, wrapped together with steamy lines from Jisoo and Rose and a thoroughly danceable electronic chorus. “BOOMBAYAH” shows that BLACKPINK can slay through the ranks of typical K-pop club hits to create something likeable and catchy, albeit somewhat lacking in true originality.
“SQUARE TWO” is an electrifying jolt of energy from one of the best pop groups to debut in 2016. It manages to properly showcase each member’s talents and individuality while also portraying why group acts tend to be so powerful and prominent in the pop arena. BLACKPINK has arrived, and they came here to slay. BLACKPINK IN YOUR AREA!