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.