After what seems like a decades-long wait, BLACKPINK has returned with new material. This long hiatus approach has been a staple of YG Entertainment for years, and becomes especially problematic for the agency’s newer generation of artists. In BLACKPINK’s case, every title track they’ve released has gone straight to the top of the charts, but over the course of their nearly two year career, their slight discography has amassed only five original songs. It could be argued that this is a case of “quality over quantity,” but that idea only sets expectations unrealistically high.
Last year, the group’s As If It’s Your Last expertly melded their edgy “black” side with big “pink” pop hooks. New single Ddu-Du Ddu-Du (뚜두뚜두) ditches the pop, opting for the kind of Bang Bang Bang hip-hop anthem that’s become a well-worn formula within YG Entertainment. The girls are certainly up to the task, but it’s hard not to be underwhelmed with the song’s lack of new ideas.
Ddu-Du’s opening verse drags along a bass-heavy skitter of a beat, casting a decidedly low-energy introduction that does little to build excitement. From here, the song segues into its strongest moment — the dramatic build that takes us to chorus. This is the only vocal-heavy segment we get, and it’s a reminder of just how powerful BLACKPINK can be when given a proper melody. Unfortunately, the drop that follows is pretty mediocre. Its spare squeak of a synth hook is catchy, but not in a particularly novel way — and the “ddu-du, ddu-du” refrain feels recycled. A last minute production showcase wrings some life from the track’s final moments, as the instrumental is bulked up with additional percussion and loops, but even this climactic transformation is familiar territory. This “been there, done that” feeling makes Ddu-Du Ddu-Du tasty comfort food, even as it blunts the song’s overall effect.