Single Review: Rosé - R

Single Review: Rosé - R | Random J Pop

After YG Entertainment had Blackpink release an EP masquerading as an album, they decided to follow through on the solo endeavours we saw Rose working on in the Netflix documentary Light Up The Sky and actually have her release solo material. I was genuinely interested to hear what YG would pull out of their hats for this one, because Rose's personal sound preference seems to diverge from what Blackpink put out. But of course YG had her release a song which sounds like...Blackpink. It's understandable, but it doesn't make hearing the song any less deflating.

Single Review: Rosé - R | Random J Pop

"On the Ground" has a great set of verses, but the chorus. Gurl. Where is it? Non-existent. "On the Ground" follows the Teddy Park and Blackpink trend of having a chorus barely any lyrics to anchor it, opting for a beat drop. This has become very commonplace in pop music across the world. I'm not against a wholly lyric-less chorus if it works for the song. But in "On the Ground" it feels like dead-air and just yanks Rosé out of the whole thing. As a result Rosé presence as a whole just doesn't feel...well...present enough. Especially in a song which doesn't present any levels and sounds so flat.

"On the Ground" as a song is fine. But as a Rosé solo song, it's underwhelming. It's just a Blackpink song sung by Rose. And that's it.

R also features a second song, "Gone". This is the better of the two songs because it's a lot more indicative of the Rosé we saw with her guitar as a kid at her YG audition and the Rose we saw sitting on the floor playing during the early hours in Light up The Sky. It does fall prey to some of the same issues as "On the Ground", in that the Blackpink-isms creep through in the melody, which when laid bare without all of the bombastic production surrounding it sounds a hell of a lot like a 2NE1 song. But at the very least Rosé feels more like a centrepiece on this song than she does on "On the Ground". AND THE DAMN THING HAS A FULL CHORUS. But Rosé still feels like she's being anchored to the Blackpink / 2NE1 song template to a point where her uniqueness isn't showing through enough. You could switch Rose out with Jennie so easy, and the song would be no better or worse off. And you could slap CL or Bom on this shit and it'd pop off.

Structurally, "Gone" and "On the Ground" are both too repetitive. "Gone" really needed to have had some instrumentation come in during the second verse; drums, an acoustic guitar, some cellos - which would have given the song more breadth and room for Rosé to break out of the Blackpink box a little more and show more of herself. And "On the Ground" needed some variation in the production to make it bigger and actually lift if off the ground. Neither song hits any form of stride. "On the Ground" ends just as it sounds like it's about to get interesting. Where-as "Gone" just coasts for 4 minutes.

Single Review: Rosé - R | Random J Pop

Very rarely do we get debut solo releases in K-Pop which push a unique sound which is distinct enough to separate them from the group, and I get why; companies / labels don't want to alienate fans of the group who they are still marketing to. But YG Entertainment are in such a great position where they could take all the risks with Rosé. It's tiring and frustrating that YG aren't leveraging the luxury of a fervent fanbase who will support Blackpink and all of its members without question to try new things. Instead, they're just trotting out the same sounding songs, with the same types of visuals.

Rosé is one of two members of Blackpink (the other being Lisa) who seems to have a clear musical identity carved out for themselves separate from the group. And yet R doesn't fully embody this, even though she co-wrote both of the songs on it. It feels like Rosé was taken and set into the BLACKPINK mould and soundscape, instead of somebody clearing the table, starting fresh and saying 'What would a sound for Rosé be?'.

R is fine for what it is, but I think it would have been a better move for Rosé to have released an EP to provide more leeway for Rosé and YG producers to try something which sits outside of just sounding like Blackpink, whilst having the buffer of songs like "On the Ground" and "Gone" which do. Fans will love R because it (and I repeat for the 146rd time) sounds like Blackpink material. But if you're a Blink or a Blink adjacent fan who was hoping hear something a little different from Rosé, then you may be disappointed.