After years of teasing us, YG Entertainment’s new girl group, BLACKPINK, has finally made their debut. And therein lies one of YG’s biggest problems. After such a ridiculously long wait, anything short of “2016’s best song” is going to come off as a disappointment. Whistle (휘파람) is not among the year’s best, but at the very least it has style to spare.
Whistle is built around the very sound its title highlights, giving the track an air of a slightly creepy playground rhyme. It kicks off with an ultra-spare verse that barely rises above a whisper before seguing into an acoustic-guitar assisted bridge. This is both the song’s most melodic and strongest moment, though it never builds to much. The central hook, like many of YG’s latest offerings, opts for sparse instrumental posturing rather than an actual chorus. In fact, the entire structure of the track echoes some of YG’s most clichéd instincts, up to its semi-explosive climactic hook that aims for anthemic, but just kind of fizzles instead.
It’s a testament to Whistle‘s more idiosyncratic aspects that it still manages to come off as a solid whole. The whistling sample veers dangerously close to cloying, but also imbues the song with its catchiest refrain. Better is the lurching beat, which punctuates the hip-hop verses with crashes of percussion. The girls don’t have a whole lot to work with here, but their individuality shines through in flashes. I just wish that the song gave us a bit more, especially as a debut. It feels closer to an album track than the big statement of intent it needed to be.