I first remember hearing BLACKPINK’s Jennie all the way back in 2013, where she guested on a trio of tracks by YG solo acts. It was clear even then that she was being prepped for whatever the agency’s next girl group would be, but her vocals seemed poised for solo work as well. Five years later, a solo debut seems long overdue. But, looking at how infrequently BLACKPINK has promoted, it also feels premature. After all, the group has only cobbled together a slim nine-song discography since 2016.
Produced by the tried-and-true Teddy, Solo promises an extension of the BLACKPINK sound tailored to Jennie’s unique style. She’s certainly an engaging performer, equally at home as a vocalist and rapper. However, the song lets her down. There’s simply not much here. At under three minutes, it almost feels like an extended intro track. Its verses employ a minimalist finger snap beat that leaves plenty of empty space for Jennie’s commanding vocals. The chant-heavy pre-chorus is better, though it’s nothing we haven’t heard from Teddy tracks a dozen times over.
Unfortunately, Solo collapses when it reaches its chorus. I expected a beat drop hook — especially with Teddy involved — but not something this flimsy. The synth riff feels even more brittle than the one that anchored Ddu-Du Ddu-Du, lacking both charm and energy. The “solo-lo-lo-lo-lo-lo” vocal hook grates immediately, and feels like lazy, lowest-common-denominator songwriting. For an occasion as momentous as this solo debut, Jennie deserved much stronger material. This feels like an afterthought. It should be an opening salvo.