Most of the time, a k-pop group’s title track is the best song on their album. But, sometimes b-sides deserve recognition too. In the singles-oriented world of K-pop, I want to spotlight some of these buried treasures and give them the props they deserve.
Though I never featured it as a Buried Treasure, I felt like Forever Young should have replaced Ddu-D Ddu-Du as the BLACKPINK single of 2018. And now, with the release of new mini album Kill This Love, I find myself in a similar situation. The album’s title track did not connect with me, and I don’t seem to be alone in that feeling. My favorite BLACKPINK singles tend to be more on the melodic side, but we haven’t heard that style from the girls in quite some time. With this in mind, album track Don’t Know What To Do would have made a much more appealing promotional choice.
The song is not perfect, and verges on generic, but it does offer the chance for the groups’ vocals to shine. The opening verse is a slow burn of subtle electronics and guitar, coming across as Avril Lavigne-esque pop-rock instead of the synth-fueled dance track it will soon become. The chorus brings in strong EDM influence, which carries through the rest of the instrumental. This chugging beat is addictive, especially during the breathless post-chorus refrain. If I have one overriding complaint about Don’t Know What To Do, it’s that much of the vocal performance feels too affected. I’ve heard this kind of nebulous pop-star accent too many times before in western music, and the kewpie-doll vocalization doesn’t feel natural when it comes to BLACKPINK. This is most evident during the main hook, where the girls sound as if they’re trying to emulate quirky artists like Ellie Goulding. BLACKPINK are too cool to be anyone but themselves, so I hope they don’t go too far in pandering to American tastes.