From late-2016 to 2017, BLACKPINK seemed destined to fill the huge hole left behind by fellow YG Entertainment artists 2NE1. Both Playing With Fire and As If It’s Your Last were excellent pop songs, hampered only by a lack of b-side material to go along with them. Last year’s mega-hit Ddu-Du Ddu-Du took the girls in a harder hip-hop direction. That song ended up growing on me, but not to the extent of BLACKPINK’s previous material. Unfortunately, new single Kill This Love slavishly follows the same template. The results are underwhelming, to say the least.
Too much of Kill This Love feels half-formed. You can almost hear the producers’ initial excitement. “Wouldn’t it be cool to do a track with big, militaristic drums and thundering coliseum-ready brass?” But, a concept is not a song, and all the track really offers is that initial idea. As imposing as the instrumental is, Love lacks when it comes to melody. It’s also not very artfully constructed. Producer Teddy has become known for a certain drop-heavy song structure, but his compositions are at their best when anchored by a shot of anthemic melody. Kill This Love features no such chorus, focusing instead on a chanted exclamation of its title followed by an eye-rolling ad-lib meant to sound swaggy but coming across as silly.
For me, BLACKPINK’s vocal tones are one of their biggest assets. They’re powerful in a different way than their peers, full of texture and charisma. Thankfully, they’re on full display during Love’s verses. But, the melody here feels disconnected from everything around it. It’s like a constant pre-chorus that never goes anywhere. Much better is the galvanizing climax, which fills the song’s final thirty seconds with needed sonic density. There’s a strong song buried in there somewhere, but a few moments of pay-off at the tail end of a track isn’t enough to salvage everything that came before it.
BLACKPINK are one of the most hyped artists in K-pop at the moment, yet they rarely release material. I don’t see how tracks like Kill This Love are going to keep that momentum going in the long run.