Back in the fall of 2018, BLACKPINK’s Jennie released her debut solo track, aptly titled… Solo. Unless I’m remembering things incorrectly, this was meant to be the first in a series of releases from the group’s individual members. Over two years later, the project finally resumes with the debut of Rosé’s On The Ground. A fluent English-speaker, Rosé has opted to perform the track entirely in English. I imagine this will be yet more fuel powering BLACKPINK’s explosive international success.
And really, everything about On The Ground feels tailor-made for an international audience. That’s fine, and BLACKPINK have certainly asserted themselves as a global power. But I worry that – in trying to please so many different tastes — the track smooths itself over to the point of losing any sense of identity. On The Ground could have been peddled by so many other artists and sounded roughly the same. It’s one part Selena Gomez, one part Taylor Swift. That’s not a knock on Rosé. She’s clearly talented, and even though I prefer her vocals when they’re stripped of trendy affectations, there’s a clarity to her tone that resonates emotion.
I also like On The Ground’s acoustic-meets-electronic vibe. I wish the song made room for more of a chorus, but the beat drop is pleasant and effective. Yet if I’m being honest, escaping this kind of inoffensive, radio-ready pop is why I started listening to K-pop in the first place. I’m just not the target audience for this confessional, guitar-strumming sound. Rosé delivers it as well as anyone, but nothing really stands out here. On The Ground is neither black, nor pink. It’s just sort of beige.