NewsFrom Balletcore to Sad Bangers, the Headlines From BLACKPINK’s London Takeover

From Balletcore to Sad Bangers, the Headlines From BLACKPINK’s London Takeover

The white dome of The O2 in East London is lit neon pink in honour of Blackpink’s two night stint with Born Pink, a tour that’s already breaking records. Inside there are eye-watering queues for the merch stands, and the audience defies the still-lingering preconception that K-pop is merely for teenagers. From six-year-olds to 60-year-olds, everyone is ready to spend two hours with Jennie, Jisoo, Lisa and Rosé, whose discography wields some of the biggest anthems K-pop has to offer.

As a show, Born Pink is everything you could wish for from a band of their stature – colourful, exciting, and moving – and when they return next year to headline British Summertime in Hyde Park, they’ll undoubtedly create a slew of converts, because Blackpink put on one hell of a show. But for now, this is everything we learned from Born Pink, day two in London.

The deep cuts have serious claws

Everyone loves to hear the biggest singles for the ultimate singalong, but Blackpink make space for some of their deep cuts and “Pretty Savage” – taken from 2020’s The Album – rises to the challenge of filling this cavernous room. It’s one of their most lyrically pointed songs – “Yeah, we some bitches you can’t manage, I make this difficult thing again, We are pretty savage” – and they fully embody its vibe, flanked by dancers. The defiance bouncing against the walls and the chorus, with its line of, “You better run run run”, sounds like a genuine threat. Such is the heft and ferocity of the performance, “Pretty Savage” goes from album track to a must-see moment.

Blackpink’s sad girl bangers are more than anthemic

Love is a constant theme for Blackpink, who’ve become icons for power-packed tracks like “Kill This Love” and “Shut Down”, however, their black/pink duality lends itself to openly showing their vulnerability and heartbreak. Rightly, they celebrate it: “Don’t Know What To Do” and “Lovesick Girls” are both EDM floor-shakers and emotional embraces. Live, they are uplifting with an explosion of bittersweet joy that feels cathartic and communal, a way to dance away the pain.

Fans are first, always

Playing With Fire”, one of their greatest songs, sets the arena alight. Such is the heated atmosphere that Blackpink stops the show. “It’s too crowded,” Jennie says, indicating the heaving pit. “I would appreciate it if we don’t push, make some space for air. Please promise to take a step back. I’m not going on until there’s some space here.” The lights and music are cut as Jennie continues chatting, as if she’s stopped by for a cuppa, until calm falls across the floor. Cutting into a show and resetting its vibe is, from a performance stance, never ideal, but BLINK (as the band’s fandom is known) remains forever at the heart of a Blackpink concert.

Born Pink isn’t a big show, it’s a BIG SHOW

Everything about Born Pink is expensive – a cohesive, tightly produced, Fosse-influenced, pop extravaganza. There are lasers, pyrotechnics, streamers that blast over the crowd, interlude videos that look like luxury fashion shoots, multiple costume changes, backing dancers and a full band. The inclusion of the latter turns Blackpink’s already substantial songs into giants, and the remixes and reinterpretations of the group’s hits during the interludes are both intriguing and entertaining enough to be singled out as a standalone soundtrack.

From Korean tigers to balletcore, Blackpink live up to their style icon status
The stage outfits have movement in mind, so less is more in a Daisy Duke-style wardrobe of micro shorts and miniskirts, corsetry that catches the eye but doesn’t restrict, and a palette of metallics, black and rich jewel-like green and magenta. Textures and embellishments are everywhere – from the diamante bow centre-fixed to Jisoo’s leopard-print singlet, to the Korean tiger embroidered on Jennie’s white satin top, a piece by Korean designer Miss Sohee.

Their solo stages are a chance to personally mix up their wardrobe. For “On The Ground”, Rosé dons a silver minidress reminiscent of the Roaring ’20s; Jisoo debuts a black and grey marbled print for her cover of Camila Cabello’s “Liar”; Lisa’s silver chainmail top during “Lalisa” and “Money” catches every spotlight as she pole dances during an unforgettable intro, and Jennie, who performs the unreleased “You & Me (Moonlight)” sports a tiny, frothy tutu and laced top for maximalist balletcore.

Blackpink are at the top of their game

Blackpink at London’s O2 was a dazzling show of pop prowess and sheer star power. K-pop’s magic is rooted in a group’s chemistry and, six years down the line, Blackpink still sizzle. They’re completely at ease on stage, teasing and playing off each other’s reactions, but they’re also seasoned performers who exude poise, skill and presence.

But most notably, for such a huge production, the feeling generated in the room is familial. The band and dancers have their moments to shine, their names beamed on the screens in huge letters. During the encore, Blackpink wear their merch and gleefully ham it up for the cameras. When Jennie tries to complete Lisa’s rap on “As If It’s Your Last”, they fall into laughter. Blackpink are the biggest girl group in the world but their feet remain firmly planted on the ground.

cr. Vogue

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