Review

Song Review: BLACKPINK – Ice Cream (with Selena Gomez)

We’ve entered the second phase of a string of comebacks supporting BLACKPINK’s upcoming album. This is not an unprecedented approach for YG Entertainment. Nearly all of the agency’s acts have been involved in a months-long blitz of singles at some point in their career. But, it’s particularly refreshing to see BLACKPINK get this spotlight, and a far cry from the “one single a year” trajectory they’ve been on for the past few years.

A week after BTS appealed to English-speaking markets with Dynamite, BLACKPINK have teamed with American pop star Selena Gomez for Ice Cream. And while I’m unironically longing for some sort of BLACKPINK-meets-Wizards of Waverly Place team-up, Ice Cream is far less ambitious. The girls have taken their sugary metaphor and ran with it, dishing up scoop after scoop of double entendres.

Maybe I wasn’t paying enough attention to the pre-release teasing, but I was surprised to hear the vast majority of this track performed in English. Despite this lyrical shift, the production is a true K-pop-meets-American effort. The group’s usual producer (and longtime YG staple) Teddy is joined by Selena, Victoria Monét and Ariana Grande on the song’s lengthy credits. The result is a song that should have wide appeal, even if it doesn’t appeal to me personally.

Ice Cream hinges on a simple nursery rhyme melody that weaves its way through the entire track without much variation. Its verses and chorus are very much within the same ballpark, as is the sing-song hip-hop that punctuates them. There are plenty of catchy hooks within the track, but they’re a bit saccharine for my taste. The percussive instrumental is better, skipping on chopped, seesaw synths and a whistled hook. The production’s youthful tone certainly contributes to Ice Cream’s overall playground-chant approach. I don’t know that the end result is particularly satisfying, but I appreciate the consistency – especially given Teddy’s recent tendency to splice together clashing segments and call it a song.

As far as BLACKPINK x Selena Gomez goes, I think the pairing is fine. The song feels more like “Selena featuring BLACKPINK” to me, though the girls get to rattle off some eyebrow-raising rap verses. However, Ice Cream doesn’t take advantage of their vocals. I didn’t care for June’s How You Like That, but it did have some dramatic melodic moments surrounding that bummer of a chorus. Ice Cream is all sugar rush – sweet in the moment but quick to evaporate. Sadly, I continue to wait for BLACKPINK to deliver a comeback on par with the incredible Playing With Fire or As If It’s Your Last. Hopefully something on the album will scratch that itch.

 Hooks 7
 Production 8
 Longevity 7
 Bias 7
 RATING 7.25


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77 thoughts on “Song Review: BLACKPINK – Ice Cream (with Selena Gomez)

    • Even though Anda did an excellent job with “What You Waiting For,” that was a song Blackpink definitely needed in their discography to elevate it a bit. Why YGE ultimately decided to pass on it and give it to someone else is kind of mind boggling. It’s another Teddy song and Teddy has put out other material that certainly isn’t his best but far better than anything BP has received since AAIYL or even D4. I feel starved for more than 14 seconds of actual good melody in a song.

      Liked by 3 people

  1. I do wish the instrumental had a little more substance to it. A couple more little synths or, best case scenario, some actual real guitar or something, in the background could really elevate it, even though I don’t think this sub-genre could ever quite be my cup of tea. That’s not the fault of any of the girls, though.

    Liked by 3 people

    • The thing is, the whole K/DA project is so… tangentially K-pop. To me, it hardly counts. I mean, I could probably say the same about this BLACKPINK song, but since the girls get top billing on it I guess it’s a little different.

      We’ll see when the EP is out. No promises, though.

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  2. I can comfortably say that this is pretty much exactly what I was expecting, especially when I found out that Ariana Grande and her frequent co-writer and collaborator Victoria Monet were the songwriters. The one thing I wasn’t expecting was it to be almost completely English, which I don’t think was a bad move at all, and it makes a lot of sense, especially considering 3/4 BP members are proficient in English and it is a collab with a Western artist.

    It sounds like a song that would be a little too indulgent for Ariana to release herself (though that was pretty much what “7 rings” was as well), but one that would be perfectly passable for a Kpop-Western collab with two pop artists that have wide appeal. It’s sweet, incredibly catchy, and monotonous in a way that’s not completely alienating nor interesting. It’s not intending to make any sort of statement or be a landmark release for either of the artists, it simply exists because it can. And really, that’s the appeal.

    I will say that I think this is some of BP’s stronger vocal work and while Lisa’s first verse felt a little overdone, her song-capping second verse was much stronger with a couple notable one-liners to boot (“Mona Lisa kinda Lisa” is sure to be a sticky monicker for the foreseeable future). I really didn’t feel like this song was dominated by either artist; in fact, I found Selena’s contributions to be pretty seamless and sensical for the song’s structure: her voice doesn’t really suit the chorus but it’s perfect for the flirty, sugary verve of the verses.

    There’s really not much to say about it, it’s a pretty unremarkable release but one that will surely have a wide appeal (though it probably would’ve served it better to be released earlier in the summer) and even if it doesn’t resonate with the Korean or Western general public, there’s still a very wide audience between the two artists’ fanbases to make sure it more than sticks around for a few months.

    Overall, it delivers exactly what its title promises: a short, sweet, and palatable experience that is perfectly enjoyable in its consumption and almost entirely unremarkable after the fact.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. 10/10

    How the perfect collaboration and coolest music video equaled to one of 2020’s best K-Pop songs along with Blackpink’s How You Like That.

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    • Aha, that this song had 50%+ of sung in English, but only 12% were barely spoke in Korean (I heard rap in Korean).

      I loved this music video with beautiful colorful costumes, great set/stage designs, white borderlines’ cinematography which rarely used in K-pop music videos over the years and I’m not sure if Selena joined by performing with each other.

      I’m not sure if this music video was shot in LA like BTS’ Dynamite MV did.

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      • They 100% shot it separately. Besides never featuring in a scene together, the camerawork and overall vibes were quite different on both parts. Selena’s was a bit more unapologetically sexual while BP’s was a bit more of that coquettishly cute-sexy hybrid. Aside from the obvious marketing aspect and added mainstream appeal for the US, all of these K-Pop collaborations in which you can tell the artists just phoned in their parts are separately are getting a bit exhausting. I can’t imagine the fandoms being quite as stoked not seeing the artists interact either.

        Liked by 3 people

  4. I’ve said this before, we really need to stop calling Blackpink “K-pop”.

    Either that, or else we need to re-define what “K-pop” actually is or can be.

    This song doesn’t do anything for me at all, but I’m also not their target audience.

    In any event, if BP wanna crossover into mainstream western music, I wish them all the best.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. 😐
    I thought How You Like That was bad. But after this, I’ve developed a newfound appreciation for the little it had to offer. Because Ice Cream is a whole new level of bad

    Praying the album will be filled with bangers

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I wasn’t paying too too much attention when listening to the song for the first time and ended up completely missing the first chorus until I realized “hey this sounds like another round of verses” and checked to see I was already half way through the song. The producers clearly had more ideas for rap verses and a ” summer vibe” than they did for a catchy hook, which is sad considering both Selena and Ariana have released some massive hooks in the past.

    Other than that, my biggest qualm with this song is the sheer lack of performance value. In my opinion the song isn’t bad, but if this wasn’t Blackpink no one would be tripping over themselves to see this in concert or live in any form for that matter. My guess at their dance is an uncomfortable amount of thumb wiping lip motions and body touching, neither of which I’m particularly looking forward to seeing.

    And now the more I rewatch the music video (and the same ad before the video), I’m confident that this song is just a ploy to get attention to Selena’s cooking show.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I like this more than How You Like That, but it bothers me to no end that the vocals and instrumental clash in a way that makes it sound just off-pitch – undoubtedly intentional, but my ears do not enjoy it. Also the double entendres.. this is why I prefer songs in a different language.

    Liked by 5 people

  8. Man, I absolutely loathe this song; I’ve never been a person to like trap beats without any rhythm or melody to override it and never will be. The vocals are good, that’s something great out of the song, but other than that I just wished the instrumental was more fulfilling. Blackpink and Selena Gomez do not deserve this song, they deserve decent music to perform.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. The instrumental is flat as hell and the lyrics are laughable. Loved Selena on the track though. How You Like That grew on me after a few listens, but I doubt Ice Cream will be the same. It’s forgettable at best.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That is, if that would be a feature track they’d release (otherwise it would a b-side). That’s the only way we’d see the review, because by the looks of it so far, this album’s reception is looking grim (and if that collab is a b-side, a Buried Treasure wouldn’t be that collab imo).

      Like

    • I’ve got nothing against Cardi B, but I’ll freely admit that I am totally over this “K-pop act collabs with big American artist” trend. It seems like it’s been forever since we’ve seen a big-name, A-list K-pop comeback that was aimed primarily at Korean audiences.

      I’ve always preferred the “do what’s unique to you, and let curious audiences discover how awesome it is” approach over “do what’s popular in another market so you can leverage that for global fame” tactic that most big-name groups are doing now.

      Liked by 2 people

  10. All the above comments have already expressed the shortcomings and I agree.
    The whole song I was like What? Really?
    The video was fun but I did lower the volume halfway through.
    Hey atleast this one has a part which is stuck to my brain’s auditory cortex.

    “Ice cream chillin’, chillin’, ice cream chillin’
    Ice cream chillin’, chillin’, ice cream chillin'”

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  11. Everything BP has released after AIIYL has been somewhere between mediocre and downright unbearable to listen to. Their music keeps getting worse instead of better and because their fans are so starved for content they overhype what ever mess of a song they release, and YG takes this success as a reason to not even try anymore. I genuinely wonder why anyone stans BP anymore, their music just is not up to par.

    Liked by 4 people

  12. To be honest, I was longing for something like Victoria Monét’s Experience or Normani’s Motivation when I saw Victoria and Ari’s names in the credits.

    This feels a bit like an Ariana leftover. And on top of that, I don’t even think the BLACKPINK girls (or Selena, for that matter) sound good here, with Lisa’s verse being the exception.

    A missed oportunity, in short.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yeah, I don’t think Ariana or Victoria would give away their best tracks to BP. I think it’s just a way to get some hype/recognition from the kpop world. Everybody wins. No shade though, I just think it’s more of a business move. Check out Victoria’s Monet Jaguar though!

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  13. Ah. Honestly, HYLT grew on me a whole lot. Ice Cream has some great ideas going for itself but they never develop and it just becomes really annoying to me? I really liked the dissonant riff but they didn’t do anything with it and just looped it for the whole song. Also as a Jisoo bias I was sad at her lack of lines!

    We also got another English collab today with Oh My Girl’s ‘Rocket Ride’ with some guy named Keanu Silva. Pretty standard Western club pop stuff.

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    • If the title didn’t say Oh My Girl on it, I would have no idea this was OMG. It sounds nothing like the classic OMG sound and everything like every vocal affectation that western girls affect to sound cool.

      Meh

      I prefer the Pororo – Oh My Girl collaborations that came out this week way way better, and that is saying something. Pororo was even gracious enough to cover Banana Allergy Monkey.

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      • Honestly , If I ever have a sleep paralysis (Thank god , I haven’t yet!) I imagine that Oh My Girl – Pororo “Bara Bam” Song to be playing in the background!

        Good Gracious , “Bara Bam” Haunts my dreams.

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      • Any thoughts on the Korean version versus the English? I feel like it almost could’ve been an unused B-side. It’s interesting that they sound very different from each other not just in terms of lyrics/language, but the actual production.

        I’ve seen speculation that the Korean version is actually the original song based on the credits, which include G-High from Monotree.

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        • Well, although the original has its charms, Pororo’s cover is just so darn cute …. oh, you mean Rocket Ride.
          The Korean version is much better because nearly all of those vocal affectations aren’t present. Somehow I stumbled across the English lyric video sub Italian (that’s a first for me), and it was readily apparent that the worst offender in the English was whoever this Mougleta is.
          So, yes.

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  14. What is that sound, that blare that harasses my sensibilities so early in the morning. Who thinks that timbre is musical?

    And then it keeps going!

    If I (somehow) aurally remove That Sound from my ears, the rest of the song isn’t that bad, and yet also not that good. Its just a wisp of a song of double entendres stretched out to be 3 minutes in length. I doubt the Korean Blinks will understand half of the dirty English references.

    My mind went more to Hyuna “Ice Cream” than to Red Velvet “Ice Cream Cone”. Hyuna’s song is also filled with (fewer) double entredres and suggestive choreo. Red Velvet’s had an actually melody and cool key changes, and fairly innocent references.

    Lisa steals this song from everyone else.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. I need to listen a second time for lyrics but I didn’t mind this really. Not super ambitious or a peak for them but if the chorus was more distinct as being one I feel like it would be a favorite for me from their recent fair. STILL praying for another Whistle or Playing with fire in the future tho 🙏🏾

    Liked by 2 people

    • For a big collaboration that if for their first album, they should be releasing something ambitious. Not forgettable ditties and rehashes of older songs they’ve already done better with before. While other YG artists have similarly released singles before an album, I don’t feel like these are “prereleases” so much as they are a typical Western album roll out (roughly 2 songs before the album comes out and one along with it or afterwards). They even switched their release dates to the typical new music Friday for Western releases instead of the beginning of the week format that’s used in K-Pop. This isn’t the type of roll out where you save your best songs for the album, and that really doesn’t bode well for it.

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  16. Long time lurker here. Somi definitely could have been the feature here (it sounded a bit like her during Selena’s parts) or is it just me? But like an earlier comment says this track exists simply to generate the most international buzz.

    Love reading your stuff, Nick!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. This was…. awful. Again, aside from the marketing and mainstream appeal aspect, Selena Gomez added nothing to the song that couldn’t have been sung (and almost sounded indistinguishable) from the girls’ themselves. As for the overload of double entendres, to an extent I feel like Western audiences will even react to that with a “meh.” I think lyrically, people have reached the “if you’re going to sing/rap about sex, just do it without beating around the bush” threshold, which is why you see songs like WAP getting so many downloads and streams. Absolutely no personality or anything fresh comes through with this song, and I have a feeling that even among most Blinks, this will be the most skipped title track on playlists once it’s moment is over. I wasn’t a fan of HYLT or KTL but at least it sounded like BP. And if this is the new direction for even their pink sound, it’s a hard pass. I’d rather listen to AAIYL if I want a summer song from BP or RV’s ICC if I want a song about that lol. The only possible good thing that could come out of this is BP slowly working with people other than Teddy, because they really need some fresh blood behind the scenes at this point. This is an indulgence I’ll happily pass on, which makes it my biggest letdown from BP since it was framed as their first pink release in years and it’s difficult not to anticipate something like AAIYL.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Very obvious too much modulation and autotune of voices, specially Lisa’s part, that’s not her real voice specially when she sing it live. it will sound different. this is a mess.

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  19. ranking this song higher than how you like that by 1 point is crazy to me, when hwyl had actual peaks and at least some creativity in how goofy the chorus sounded

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    • I’ll chalk it up to coming into this song with lower than low expectations.

      I don’t care for either track, but I do think Ice Cream is a bit more focused and successful at accomplishing what it’s trying to do.

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  20. Before listening to the song, I thought:”Well, maybe they are gonna play with Selena’s latin background and change BP’s overused “Bim bom bada bim bada bum” line for some type of Selena Quintanilla “Bidi bidi bom bom” ”

    But they didn’t.

    They have been using indian gods and eastern sounds with no context and when they finally had the chance to work with a western/latin artist and use it as fuel for their new single they just let the opportunity slip and make the most bland song ever.

    A 2010 beat full of sexual references that are not even subtle.

    If people like it so be it, it’s just not my thing.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. I really like the song, maybe I’m just expecting more on the lyrics, and I think there’s an instrument missing on the music, I dunno but it lacks something and the lines should be equally distributed, I like Jisoo’s voice breaks the ice of the song, too bad she had a really few lines. It was catchy at first and few repeats, but I can’t feel the LSS factor.

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  22. This song (and its video) has all the aesthetic of AIIYL but none of the substance. I don’t mind the lack of a solid song structure, but I do mind the lack of anything memorable. I was early enough to the premiere that I got to see the lyrics of the song before they removed them and I went “oh no, it’s gonna be one of those songs again.” And it was. Nothing about it made me dislike the song, but nothing about it made me like it either. A disappointment to say the least, especially since this song was hyped like crazy.

    It’s clear that this is meant for Western audiences, not strictly Korean or K-pop audiences. It’s not for me and it makes me pine for the 2016-17 BP days even more. A 7.25 is a bit generous IMO, considering the standard to which we set the average K-pop song.

    I will say this much, HYLT grew on me just a little bit. I don’t outright hate it, and judging on the merits of the song alone, it’s okay if not a bit generic. But 2020 Blackpink has been thoroughly underwhelming so far considering that we waited 14 months for them to come back.

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  23. It’s one of the worst songs from them so far. I’m sorry if I offended someone but it’s literally bad! Apart from the rap part and jisoo sing the rest is really poor made! Like you can see the production wasn’t great and even the lyrics were a bit too much for me! This song for me is the worst from BlackPink and I really like Blackpink!!

    Liked by 2 people

  24. I don’t want to be a music purist or whatever, because I respect tracks that just wanna have fun, y’know?I like to think I have low standards since I liked DDx4, I liked KTL and I got over my disappointment for HYLT. But this was… well, I just think Jisoo had the best part. And she had basically two lines.

    I’m gonna get flamed for this but if I was in the car, I’d wanna hear Dynamite over Ice Cream. Both are k-pop ‘English-speaking’ releases marketed to the West that I wouldn’t reach for in my spare time but at least I remember “dynananananana-eh”. What saves Dynamite is that it was wholeheartedly disco-pop, even if it sounded like Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop the Feeling” or a lost Maroon 5 song (both of which I hate).

    Is it hard to write a chorus….? And a good rap part…? I’m not expecting Shakespeare level of prose and wit but you’ll never catch me singing “Snow cones chilly, get it free like Willy / In the jeans like Billie, you be poppin’ like a wheelie.”

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    • I’m not a fan of Dynamite, but even I would agree with hearing that over Ice Cream. I think you’re not a music purist per se, but rather someone who appreciates good music? And appreciates good songwriting- basically a well-written song. Their label knows that whatever BP releases will be a hit, so what’s the incentive to get a good song?

      I’m curious to see how the rest of their ‘album’ sounds like. But if its the same old same old.. I’m afraid that’s the end of the line of BP for me.

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  25. Disappointing and poor timing as well, riding on the coattails of BTS as well. I’m not expecting another AIIYL, but I would settle for something 50% as good as that.

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  26. I keep seeing comments that says Lisa’s verse saved the song but, seriously, what?
    The delivery may have been good but the lyrics were HORRIBLE.
    They had no depth and they tried too hard to rhyme.
    Play the role like Moses/keep it fresh like roses? Really?
    And then the Illy, illie, eelie was just rubbish.
    I prefer jisoo’s part.

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  27. To most people Ice Cream must sound like a pile of horseshit (it does) but the only issue here is that it was released by Blackpink, who have one of the most consistent (and polarising) discographies in K-pop. People either have skyhigh expectations or an existing hate boner for their sound. This time they changed up their already perfected formula of moody D4 keyboard riff-driven rehashes for something that attempts to be refreshing and appealing to the west, recruiting the likes of Ariana and Tommy Brown. Instead they cooked up a lacklustre mess that alienated practically everyone including many of their longtime fans..

    While I do agree that it’s a very weak attempt at a US takeover, this one blends in with the sea of Cignatures and Lunarsolars. The irony lies in the fact that if any disposable girl group like Secret Number released this, no one would’ve batted an eyelid and the negativity around the song wouldn’t have been as extreme. Ice Cream is the booger-eating cousin of M.I.L.F. $ by Fergie and a guilty pleasure for hardcore Blinks. The song is made for the sake of existing, for one-time consumption. However, for the group’s standards this is a complete abomination. I hope this song bombing on the charts will teach YG Entertainment a lesson.

    Like

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