Review

Song Review: BLACKPINK – Shut Down

BLACKPINK - Shut DownMy initial thoughts on BLACKPINK’s Pink Venom included words like “predictable,” “catchphrasey” and “severely underwhelming.” Those thoughts still stand, but I can’t deny how catchy that big, dumb hook has become. Pink Venom isn’t particularly “good,” but its ridiculousness is fun in an awkward way. And as a pre-release, expectations must be set accordingly.

BLACKPINK are finally back with a new album and Shut Down acts as its main title track. Given this distinction, it’s probably fair to raise those expectations just a bit. I mean, don’t go crazy. This is still YG we’re talking about. But, we’ve already tasted the Pink Venom. A more satisfying meal is bound to follow that weird little appetizer, right?

Honestly, I don’t know. The group have swerved in a different direction, forgoing the usual beat-drop-as-chorus hook for a more languid flow that tethers Niccolò Paganini’s La Campanella to a modern hip-hop beat. Classical samples are nothing new in K-pop, and this one’s used well enough. The strings give the track flavor and keep it from sounding too dated. They also truss up a weak hook. When it comes to clapbacks at your haters, “whip it whip it whip it” is a preeeetty lazy retort. Between Shut Down and NCT 127’s 2 Baddies, this has been a day stuffed with K-pop posturing. Neither track feels convincing or authentic, but at least Shut Down isn’t unbearably obnoxious.

In fact, the arrangement here is surprisingly reserved. The beat is solid as a rock, even without the omnipresent violin. It’ll sound good in the car, and that energy carries Shut Down’s weaker moments. The rapping is fine, but covers the same old “we’re the best,” “don’t mess with us,” etc etc tropes BLACKPINK have become mired in for years now. Honestly, it starts to sound a little self-conscious when every title track seeks to tell of badassery rather than… you know… just showing it.

Like Pink Venom, Shut Down’s spoken-word hook is bound to burrow into memory whether you want it there or not. Its heavily repeated sample forms most of the melodic backbone, resulting in a repetitive hook that risks becoming too one-note as the song goes on. But at just three minutes, Shut Down doesn’t quite wear out its welcome. All in all, I’d put it right in the muddy middle of BLACKPINK’s singles run – neither amazing nor amazingly bad.

Hooks 7
 Production 8
 Longevity 8
 Bias 7
 RATING 7.5

73 thoughts on “Song Review: BLACKPINK – Shut Down

  1. I really like La Campanella; it was one of the first classical pieces I ever heard as a wee child. i like it so much that i was absolutely hyperfocused on that sample and don’t remember a thing about the song. it just kinda waffled around to the instrumental.

    Like

  2. I like it more than Pink Venom at least. the structure is different than their usual which was a plus. the album is good ngl, much better than their first. hoping for a Buried Treasure of either Yeah Yeah Yeah or Hard to Love, which are very classic YG.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Yeah, this song just bores me. At least it’s the least irritating Rosé has sounded in a while, and the chorus doesn’t totally upend the song. But damn is the song boring. It sure isn’t upending Red Velvet’s “Feel My Rhythm” as far as best girl group song sampling a piece of classical music of 2020.

    The good news is that the album, minus the singles, is pretty damn solid. Far better than their last outing, which had a good title track and nothing else. Like they chose the worst tracks to promote for whatever reason. “Yeah Yeah Yeah” and “Hard To Love” made me go “fuck yeah” which isn’t something I’ve done with a BLACKPINK song in years.

    Like

    • *2022, not 2020. Blargh.

      Also, I sorta enjoy Tally, though it really does come off as tryhard. Actually goddamnit is this album tryhard. The best moments are when they back off the posturing and just drop good fuckin’ music.

      My preliminary album rankings:

      Yeah Yeah Yeah > Hard To Love > Tally >Typa Girl > The Happiest Girl > Ready For Love > Pink Venom > Shut Down

      (Pink Venom is bad, but at least that makes it interesting, even if it’s not as interesting as HYLT. Shut Down is in one ear and out the other.)

      Like

  4. This song is exactly fine. It sounds better than Pink Venom but I like that one better because at least I have an opinion on it. This song is just boring. The rest of the album makes no impression on me either. It all just exists for a couple minutes and then slides off my brain entirely. The Rose one is fine I guess. That’s probably my favorite. The Happiest Girl if it didn’t have Jisoo’s lines about drinking smoking weed that are REALLY out of place. They’re trying way too hard to be edgy in a song that isn’t. Honestly, I don’t remember much of the album and I just listened to it. It sounds like nothing to me. Its just wallpaper with an occasional out of place line to remind you you’re still listening to it. I hope other people get something out of it. I sure didn’t.

    Like

    • Well music is subjected to listeners’ ears, everyone is entitled to their opinions and we respect all of that. For me, this song is freaking good, it scratched my itches

      Like

    • Well music is subjected to listeners’ ears, everyone is entitled to their opinions and we respect all of that. For me, this song is freaking good, it scratched my itches

      Like

  5. I am… pleasantly surprised. They rely heavily on the sample but I think they diversify it enough to last, and Jennie and Lisa ride the beat quite well in their verses. It’s nice to hear any departure from their usual formula, to be honest.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I thought pink venom was mid verging on bad yet catchy. I actually like this. I agree with the sentiment of being sick of the posturing, but it doesn’t bother me as much here for some reason (maybe cause almost feels like self-parody (especially since the video callbacks their past mv’s). I like this groove and the hook is catchy and it doesn’t annoy me. I wish they didn’t have the end chant (they almost had me for a few bars lol). Surprisingly pleased by this, however, this still isn’t the sort I thing I itch to hear often

    Like

  7. I thought it was okay the first listen, maybe a bit bland, but it’s growing on me already. Unsurprisingly, the girls sell it even if I’m a little tired of them talking a lot of shit (which at least they do well). I love the laid-back approach and I actually really love that chorus. The beat was solid, the La Campanella sample was solid. It’s a solid track overall even if it won’t go down as their best title track. It’s in the upper tier of their discography, I think.

    Like

  8. The Ji-soo fan was very pleased she was given so much to do this comeback, but other than I was left feeling…bored? I didn’t dislike it per-say, but I can’t say I’m aching to listen to it again.

    On the other hand, I‘m currently on my fifth repeat listen of “Yeah Yeah Yeah” while typing this lol

    Like

  9. I think it’s ok. Better than PV. At least I didn’t have my eyebrows raised after listening to it questioning music decisions. Imo the album is meh and uninspiring though “yeah yeah yeah” and “hard to love” are good just not great.

    Like

  10. The good news is that in Blackpink’s album we have at least A COUPLE exciting b-sides (Yeah Yeah Yeah and Hard To Love) that would have deserved to be the title track instead, while in NCT 127’s album we have a dozen unbearable songs that sound exactly all the same from the beginning to the end.
    Shut Down isn’t exactly my cup of tea at all – and I’m not exactly into Blackpink as well – but Pink Venom is honestly a good release; 2 Baddies is one of the worst KPop albums of the Millennium.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Tbh I liked Pink Venom. Its clear the song is supposed to be fun and catchy which it is. In comparison, Shut Down seems kinda subdued. Its a good song and im sure it’ll grow even better with more listens but compared to pink venom it seems a bit underwhelming? Its almost like shut down is what I thought the prerelease would be and pink venom would be the main course? Lisa and Jennies raps ate tho no denying that.

    Like

  12. HONESTLY. frankly, i really liked it.
    At least its not PINK VENOM Because damn… i cant stand pink venom.
    This one feels pretty solid, and I love it. surprising.
    8/10.
    The album (mini album I would say since I still wonder why YG would call an album consist of 8 songs as FULL ALBUM damn.. ) is surprisingly pretty solid too. even I can say this. its better than THE ALBUM ( their first album. )
    Honestly, I’m pretty satisfied. its a step forward.
    The worst song on the album being : Ready for love, Pink Venom.
    The “okay, its there..” is.. Typa girl
    The BEST SONGS ON THE ALBUM : Yeah Yeah Yeah ( 2010 EDM-POP vibes is very strong in here. i love it so much. ), HARD TO LOVE ( DAMN ROSE SOUNDS AMAZING!!!!!!!! like.. seriously… ) Tally, The happiest girl.
    The album is a solid 8/10. lets just pretend that ready for love and pink venom wasn’t there..

    Like

  13. Honestly, I’m kinda inclined to like it solely on the basis of it having the violin track and not being a complete re-tread of every other song in their discography. A bit of a sad state of affairs, but still. I think if the chorus were more interesting, it might’ve found its way onto my playlist of 2022 songs I liked.

    Like

  14. It’s better than Pink Venom which is a low bar to begin with. The line distribution stood out to me as particularly bad this time around, I feel like half of the song was just Jennie. The music video also feels like the DDU-DU DDU-DU music video with a lower budget.

    Some of the b-sides are nice (like Hard to Love) but I guess not exactly title track material so I see why they weren’t chosen. I’m just over the posturing and the boring raps about how rich & badass they are, I much prefer the songs where they let Rosé and Jisoo’s vocals shine. Overall I’m not very excited by Blackpink and one or two good songs every couple of years isn’t gonna change that when almost everything else they release feels.. thoughtless. They’re becoming more of a brand than a band and that’s simply not for me.

    Like

    • But still their YouTube views did grow lol no matter what. I like duddu..and kill this love. I didn’t hear pv or anything else. Thank God for y’all’s review

      Like

  15. I just spent the last 15-20 minutes typing a detailed review of the whole album, but I accidentally deleted the whole thing while I was fixing the spelling. So I’ll just give the shortened version of it. The best songs on this album only stand out because they are inoffensive and boring, compared to the worst songs which just reek of middle school theatre girl energy. Somehow, Pink Venom and Shut Down become much better compared to the rest of the album because they at least try to be interesting. I give it a bland/10 with a slightly bitter aftertaste.

    Like

    • Honestly, Pink Venom is my favorite song on this album and it isn’t because it sounds good. It’s because its the only one that I actually remember. The rest are so boring I can’t remember what they sound like right after listening to them. This album just screams we don’t care because people will buy it regardless.

      Like

  16. This song just makes me sad. Blackpink was one of the groups that brought me into Kpop, but there’s nothing unexpected or fresh here. All the callbacks to previous music videos make it feel like there is nothing left for this group to explore and fan service is all that remains. I will try to listen a few more times but this feels like an assembly line production. I hope the girls’ solo careers develop in more interesting ways

    Liked by 3 people

    • I’ve never really been into BlackPink (just not my taste) but even I was recognizing the MV callbacks, mainly Lisa on a waterfront boardwalk, Lisa in a pile of cool trash (?), and Jennie on the disco tank.

      Like

    • It feels a bit unearned for a group with ONE album. As did the topic of the song about saying they have nothing left to do. With ONE ALBUM it seems a bit unnecessary to argue against that instead of showing it.

      Like

  17. I don’t know about this one, I feel like the song didn’t go anywhere – same beat and La Campanella sample throughout and the girls just switch between rapping over it and singing occasionally to mark the changes between the different segments. I mean, ignoring that, it *sounds* better to my ears, in that nothing is really annoying (a miracle in today’s age of BP) so this is a win I guess. Though it seems in the comments there’s some B-sides to be excited about so I’m looking forward to listening to their “full album” (*cough *cough* 8 songs *cough* only 6 new *cough) later.

    Like

  18. I love Shut Down! I think it’s a stone-cold smash. One thing I feel confused about is how you often critique BlackPink for their confident lyrics, and in this review you state you want them to “show” being confident instead of sing about it, which I find an odd critique – how exactly do you expect them to “show” it? Like through a different beat or song? Through a different representation music video? Is there a specific song by another group that “shows” being confident in the “right” way you’re thinking of? Totally respect that you can have your opinion on BP and I somewhat agreed on your take about Pink Venom and Kill This Love (though not HYLT), though I personally find this an unfair criticism and am personally thankful for BP’s commitment to confidence through their assured delivery of lyrics, their performance style, etc.

    Like

    • Imo, confidence is a mix of performance style and the lyricism given to them. Like in Shutdown, the rap verses are full of confidence, but there’s insecurity in the chorus. That’s what I’m hearing. If the chorus was more powerful, there may have been able to show more of their confidence.

      Understandable critique though!

      Like

    • In my mind, a way they could show rather than tell would be to release a dynamite song with a killer performance that forgoes all the “we’re the best,” “don’t mess with us” lyricism. Give us multiple concepts and moods and pull them all off with the same great energy and skillful delivery.

      I don’t know if that makes sense, but it’s the tired concept of the lyrics that makes these songs so unconvincing to me. I get that that’s their schtick, though.

      Like

    • “Showing versus Telling” is the classic literary staple that every writer learns early on. Its part of the classic conundrum how do people know if someone or something is sexy cool hip badass. “Showing” provides a much richer, deeper, artistic vision and a much more human experience.

      An old school example, Pet Shop Boys. How are we lead to believe with their first single “West End Girls” that these guys were sexy cool hip badass, even perhaps dangerous? All they do is walk around in everyday clothes, there is zero posturing, no mugging for the camera, no dancing, no suggestive moves. Subjectively, these guys are kinda wimpy. But the flow of the verses, you start thinking, hey wait this could be dangerous in a seductive dark way. “You think you’re mad, too unstable, kicking in chairs and knocking down tables…” In two phrases, they describe a scene, the characters that could be in that scene, the mental state of those characters, without saying overtly that this is a very bad situation. Cinematic, descriptive, evocative. ‘https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p3j2NYZ8FKs

      Then in this song “When we pull up you know it’s a shutdown, Pull down the shutter lock the door, shut down, Whip it whip it whip it whip it, Whip it whip it whip it whip it, Keep watching me shut it down”. Alright, what goes on here? Almost anything, everything, and nothing at all.

      Liked by 1 person

      • This is all interesting! It sounds like folks here might disagree with BlackPink’s concept, given that their main brand imo is confidence and they do have more variety of tone and song themes in their other tracks. Personally I’m grateful to see Asian women represented in the music industry pulling off empowering concepts even if others disagree or feel that the way they convey confidence is empty or false. I find a comparison to the Trump years made by a comment below a bit wild though I hear that that is an opinion. I do enjoy other Kpop groups’ songs that convey confidence (e.g., Twice’s “I Can’t Stop Me”) and I also respect BlackPink’s performance quality, skill and delivery.

        Like

  19. In fact, I think that La Campanella sample was the only thing which prevented the song from crossing my own “songs I hate” territory. This one is definitely a step up from Pink Venom, which got only worse with each listen and has recently slided to the point of entering my lowest-rated K-pop songs (it’s 4/10 for me now). But still, I’M FUCKING EXHAUSTED OF THIS BADASSERY AND POSTURING. CAN’T JUST YG COME UP WITH SOMETHING DIFFERENT FROM THAT BULLSHIT?😡
    All in all, I’m disappointed. My rating of Shut Down would be:

    Hooks: 7
    Production: 8
    Longevity: 6
    Bias: 5
    Total: 6.5

    Liked by 1 person

  20. It’s alright.

    It is a bit of a missed opportunity in the song production, as the sample could have been twisted to many purposes but instead the mood remained rather flat throughout. Hey, its pumpkin latte Halloween season, its not too hard to morph this into something dark, then into a creepy high music box (visual there too), then a soft whisper, then a drop out and one more time with feeling. Take it from a Vixx-type perspective and how they would have produced the shit out of this song with over the top theming, instead we get a basic slow strut.

    But as is, it’s a milquetoast inoffensive shrug. I listened to the rest of the album, and think the same way about the other new songs too. *shrug*

    Liked by 2 people

  21. While I think Pink Venom had more extreme highs (The first verse and all prechoruses) & lows (everything else) and do greatly prefer this song to that I’m also left feeling this one had a bit more oomph? It’s almost there but in making it so even musically there isn’t a real climax or pay off. This is eventually how I settled on feelings regarding ZZB vs. Oompah Oompah by Red Velvet – wanting more harmonious musicality while wishing it had a bit more attitude of the bad song that I despised.

    I’m just glad this is the main title vs. PV because I think if this was the prerelease to that I would hate PV all the more lol

    Like

  22. I thought I would hate it (and I did at first), and the lyrics are probably dreadful, but listening to the entire album on a loop this morning, I’m surprised by how much I’m enjoying it. And “Shut Down” sounds better when heard on the album. As others have predicted, the album tracks are arguably even better than the singles (as least, the lyrically dreadful Pink Venom).

    Like

  23. “Honestly, it starts to sound a little self-conscious when every title track seeks to tell of badassery rather than… you know… just showing it.”

    ^This. This right here. For me personally, a big turn off in music (for any group in any genre) is when they sing about how they’re ‘so much better than the rest of y’all’ in so many of their tracks. I’d rather them just vocally/musically/choreographically/etc. show that to me without saying it. How about you let me come a conclusion on who’s “the best” on my own since there’s a decent bit of subjectivity involved in who people think is “the best”? Groups can get away with it for me if it’s like one or two songs, the song behind the words is actually pretty dang awesome, or if they sing about it in a way that doesn’t come across as “We da best and everybody better bow down or get out of the way” (or similar). I know that hypes some people up, and I know that singing about it is just what some groups do, and I can understand all of that. I personally don’t find it compelling.

    I’m pretty ambivalent about this one overall. I really liked the violin sample, the best part of the song is how it’s fused with the beat. I’m not crazy about the melody line or the lyrics that they paired with it.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. I’m listening to Born Pink for the 2nd time now, and i’m a little mad at YG for making the “badass” tracks the pre-release and title when it’s quite obvious that the best songs are the fun, pop and “retro” Hard to Love and Yeah Yeah Yeah. Does anybody still prefer the girl crush? I just wanna have fun, i don’t want a kpop idol to treat me like a DOG.

    Like

  25. The instrumental track is cute. The lyrics are so bad, and this comes from someone who enjoys the work of NCT 127 and Omega X. I hope there’s an instrumental.

    Like

  26. kinda sounds like something a 14 year old boy who downloaded fl studio three weeks ago would produce, but for some reason I don’t really hate it lol

    Like

  27. While I would consider this to be an improvement to Pink Venom, it is neither memorable nor particularly appealing. Clearly, YG knows where to spend the actual dollars on a BP comeback – not concepts or music, but clothes and swagger, since their fandom remains content with whatever bones are thrown. Anyways, another comeback, another shouting badassery by BP and we’ll attempt to care once again about this group whose talents are wasted year after year chasing this brash sound. I have always wondered how the girls think of this music once Teddy shows them… like do they feel disappointed or have they also been mind-controlled by YG like much of their fandom.

    I am more excited for next month’s lineup now…

    Like

  28. You naysayers can’t shut up. This is coming from someone who slagged off pink venom and rightly so but this song is absolutely fine. Unfortunately it’s become a new trend to overly criticise Blackpink because it a safe option because everyone knows that it won’t really register. “Shut Down” is a fine single and is really catchy, a perfect single to introduce what I’ll admittedly concede is a fairly mediocre album but the single is a strong addition non the less.

    Like

  29. It’s better than Pink Venom for sure (which really doesn’t say all that much). Yeah Yeah Yeah is the only song that really stood out to me among the album. Though I have to say, the “WhipitWhipitWhipitWhipit” part really makes me want to rip my ears off, but other than that it’s a decent song.

    Like

  30. First time commenter here!

    Answering everyone’s wishes, Shut Down strays from the Teddy Formula, albeit unsuccessfully. The sample is awful to my ears, its repetition painful. The girls are giving it all they can, but the flows themselves are weak compared to previous releases, the melodies unconvincing.

    I’m not quite sure of the ratings system yet, but I’m going to give this a generous 7.

    PS. I’m not against referencing past work, but at least do it tastefully?

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.