Much has been made about BLACKPINK essentially being a replacement group for the now-disbanded 2NE1. And I get it. There are four of them, they’re part of YG Entertainment, and they work with the same producers that crafted 2NE1’s sound. In the case of new single As If It’s Your Last (마지막처럼), we’re likely dealing with a direct cast-off from their predecessors’ discography. I also get how this would upset fans of 2NE1, whose void can’t be easily usurped by another group. I count myself among that camp, citing 2NE1 as one of the first k-pop acts I fell in love with. But none of this changes the fact that they are no more. And in a world without 2NE1, I’d rather have a similarly-conceived group take up their mantle than no one at all.
BLACKPINK are one of the very few current girl groups to pursue an edgier style, which has helped amass a large international following. While As If It’s Your Last is not as boundary-pushing as some of their past work, its pop-minded melody will likely win over new fans. The song kicks off with a misleading volley of sonic curveballs. An elastic club beat filters in as if it’s already been playing on an infinite loop. The verses follow suit, throwing a laid-back hip-hop melody over a clatter-trap of percussion and touches of triumphant brass. With the pre-chorus, we’re in complete 2NE1 territory, offering a brief build of resounding vocals that gradually transform into warped synthetic chirps.
Last‘s chorus is another beast entirely, jettisoning the busier elements of the instrumental for a straight-ahead pop assault. Initially, the smooth simplicity of the production is a bit jarring, but the stickiness of the summertime melody (an actual pop chorus!) is just what the track needed. Sure, its reliance on a more classic songwriting approach doesn’t make it as immediately catchy as something like Whistle or Playing With Fire. There are no instant gratification catchphrases here. But in their place is a song that blends just enough of the old and the new to create one if this summer’s early highlights.