[Review] BLACKPINK’s Lisa serves Teddy’s reheated leftovers on “LALISA” solo debut

Rather than return with a full group comeback, BLACKPINK’s 2021 has seen the group deliver long-promised solo songs. This spring marked the release of Rosé’s first solo, and now Lisa has dropped her self-referential LALISA. YG Entertainment has a long history of idol rappers going solo, with acts like G-Dragon, CL and Mino paving a path toward lasting success. Many of these efforts included braggadocios material created mainly to prop up an image, and a handful of these have been excellent. But, the more I write about K-pop (and pop in general), the less drawn I am to songs that exist only to sell an artist.

Beyond the odd single or two, I think it’s time to begrudgingly admit that BLACKPINK are no longer for me. Appealing to a vast global fanbase has its pitfalls, and too often this group’s songs feel like afterthoughts. More attention is given to the visual and ensuing promotional deals than the music itself. With the world at their hands, these girls could be carving out an incredible discography that pushes the industry forward. Instead, they’re constantly let down by material that feels tired and predictable.

Of course LALISA was going to be three and a half minutes of Lisa telling us how badass she is. Of course the chorus was going to be that titular wordplay repeated over and over. Of course the instrumental would largely copy-and-paste from past YG bangers. It’s not that anything here is bad or even unenjoyable. Lisa’s a great rapper and her momentum-shifting verses are an easy standout. The instrumental flows more seamlessly than most modern Teddy productions, anchored by a menacing rumble of bass. And as simple as that chorus is, it’s damn catchy. But, there’s nothing here that hasn’t been done better in other songs. By refusing to break the mold and develop a sound worthy of all the global accolades, a track like LALISA just feels like reheated leftovers. Even worse, it sounds corporate.

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