After, last month’s Ready For Love, BLACKPINK are back with another pre-release to build up hype for their upcoming album. Despite having several issues with Ready For Love’s song production, I was eventually won over by the surprising potency of its hooks and the great vocal and rap delivery by the girls. Thankfully, this time, I didn’t have to rely completely on the members to win me over, because the song slaps.
Admittedly, I didn’t get it at first. Perhaps it was my fault for using my laptop speaker, which significantly dampens the background production. I could not hear all of the little things going on that would have made me appreciate the song more. Additionally, I was slightly thrown off by the chorus, which is a departure from most of their previous choruses that employed the use of one-liners + a beat drop. With PINK VENOM, what also put me off the most, at least at first listen, was the finale, which at least in my opinion, lacked intensity.
However, from the get-go, I realized that PINK VENOM, while maintaining the overall vibe of a BLACKPINK song, is actually a slight switch up from whatever the girls usually do, which is something I appreciate. I dived in to my second listen, again with my laptop, but I quickly realized that the speakers weren’t cutting it. I got out my room, took my phone out while simultaneously walking to the toilet, and put it at max volume as I closed the door. When I played the song, I was shocked by how much better it sounded. I’m glad I gave it a benefit of the doubt and went out my way to listen to it properly.
First, PINK VENOM arguably has one of the most intriguing intros among their discography. Beginning with a traditional Korean musical instrument along with an almost haunting, creepy-sounding chant of ‘BLAAAACKKK PINKKKKK’, I was immediately hooked. Additionally, the chant got progressively louder each time, which gave it a slight sense of build up leading up to the opening verse. Jennie absolutely killed the opening line, with her delivery being full of swagger and unmatched confidence. It was certainly fitting of the number 1 girl group in the world. I absolutely loved how the melody line switched up when Lisa came in, diving into a lower part of her voice. The melody in her line is particularly engaging because it has a mysterious and somewhat provocative vibe. The lyrics at this moment definitely matched the melody, which is always plus.
At first, I was thrown off by the transition, or the lack of, between the first verse and the pre-chorus. However, Rose’s vocal delivery more than made up for it, because her presence was commanding. She sang with conviction. Jisoo followed up Rose’s line quite well. I noticed that the usual build-up that practically all BLACKPINK pre-choruses have is mostly absent here, and I did not understand why it was the case at first. However, I now know that it was to ensure that the transition between the pre-chorus and the anti-drop chorus is not too jarring for most people. As you know, most people expect a powerful beat drop in the chorus because BLACKPINK is known for that. They have never done an anti-drop chorus in the past, which is risk considering the massive success they have had in their past releases that do make use of a beat drop (think D4, How You Like That, Kill this Love, etc.). I appreciate this choice because I think it would have put off many more fans if the transition was too jarring.
Although I did not get the chorus at first, I now love it. For the lack of better ways to describe it, the chorus has the perfect kind of sound to get down on the dance floor and twerk your ass off. Perhaps I may be too graphic, but it has that exact vibe. It has a trance-like quality, especially because of the higher pitched, slightly airy, almost mocking vocal delivery of Jennie and Lisa. I’m also liking the funky bass in the chorus, especially after listening to it on my phone speakers. I don’t understand the notion online that the chorus is not catchy, because it hasn’t left my head since the second listen. It is frankly addictive, and it is easily the song’s main hook. I will be singing, ‘This, that, pink venom’ for the days to come!
The second verse is probably one of the best parts of the song, probably being one of BLACKPINK’s best written raps in their discography. The English lyrics also flowed pretty well, which in the K-pop setting, is a win, especially because English lyrics in a rap part + K-pop usually don’t go well together. The girls’ delivered their lines with mega-watt confidence. I was especially impressed by Jennie, because she sounded completely her element. I’m happy that we finally got Rapper Jennie back, and she sounds better than ever!
While the bridge is good, I feel that it did not build up enough. If the production at this section was more intense and built up its momentum a bit more, I would be totally satisfied.
Side note, but I feel like Rose in particular has sounded the best she has ever sounded in a BLACKPINK title track. Perhaps she has worked on improving her technique in the past 2 years? I would certainly hope so. Throughout the song, she has sounded very full and grounded. I can’t wait to see her sing this live.
Finally, despite my initial qualms with finale, I can now appreciate it, even though it is still one of the weaker parts of the song. The only reason why the repeated ‘ratatata’ works is because of the presence of Jennie. Her voice has the sort of power, edge and grit that most K-pop idol singers simply do not have. It really ‘cuts‘ through the listener amidst everything else going on. The addition of tongue rolls allude to the ‘pain’ that BLACK PINK is giving (at least according to the lyrics), which increased its overall effectiveness. Again, I feel like the production could have gone harder on this one. Yes, the second part of the finale did ramp it up, but I needed more!!! It would have increased the range of dynamics throughout the song, and as always, a wide variety of dynamics is a plus in my eyes. They already had the ‘softer’ chorus, so why not end the whole thing on an absolute high to maximize the contrast? Perhaps I’ve been listening to too much ATEEZ recently, but it would be incredible if PINK VENOM climaxed in a similar way Wonderland, Answer, or Guerrilla does, going all-out with practically no reservations. They have held back enough throughout the song, why not just go for it?
Anyways, despite my slight criticisms, I still very much enjoy PINK VENOM, and I can even see it growing stronger with time. It is a good release to tease their upcoming album, especially because it does not completely adhere to the Teddy formula. Perhaps, they may be hinting that their album will offer something different that has never been seen before in a BLACKPINK song. I sure hope so, because PINK VENOM has made me hyped for it!
Hooks – 8
Production – 8
Vocal Delivery – 9
Rap Delivery – 10
Overall – 8.75
On a side note, I’m very excited for IVE’s comeback after seeing their teaser for ‘After Like’, sampling one of the greatest songs of all time, ‘I Will Survive’! I can’t wait, because it already sounds like a SOTY candidate!