Monday, August 29th, 2016

Blackpink – Whistle

New from YG…

Alfred Soto: Whistling, finger snapping, and hooting, each vocalist redeems the mustiness of these activities. If you’ve ever wondered what fifteen years of American pop sounds like given a tickle and a tease, just put your lips together and blow.

Leonel Manzanares de la Rosa: “Whistle” is the “Bae Bae” to sister-single “Boombayah”‘s “Bang Bang Bang.” While the latter engages in full party-starter mode, “Whistle” kinda comes out of left field. That moment, when the beat shifts from that easy bounce to the countrified hook, seems lifted from the “Bae Bae” experiment, but this time producer Teddy has perfected that formula, which is especially noteworthy in the track’s dembow finale. This is a brilliant debut single; it effectively showcases the girls’ voices, personas and abilities — Lisa’s rap in particular is amazing — but above all, it’s a great example of the sonic fluidity and genre-skepticism that made so many of us fall for K-Pop in the first place.

Patrick St. Michel: Blackpink feels like nostalgia for 2011, when K-pop’s global ascent felt thrilling and intro guides to Korea’s pop scene hinted at great things to come. There is a chance that “Whistle” — and the far more forgettable “Boombayah” — conjure up this mood because they quite possibly are songs originally intended for 2NE1, currently in limbo. Either way, “Whistle” sounds like a reboot, not necessarily of 2NE1 (though c’mon) but of a specific time when the genre blurring and coke-bottle tapping would have been truly attention grabbing. Which isn’t to say its bad — “Whistle” is pretty good, though it feels more like a collection of interesting ideas than something defining a new group beyond “give YG your money please, 2016 has been rough.” Blackpink is bursting with talent, but “Whistle” isn’t really the best display of it. Rather, it feels like a reminder of how different K-pop has become in five years.

Mo Kim: After a prolonged period of hype, YG’s new girl group comes out with… this, an aural smorgasbord seemingly engineered to cover all four quadrants of the 2NE1 discography (guitars that got lost on their way to Luke Bryan’s tour nestle themselves between cowbells, synth swells, and tight percussion). But 2NE1’s strength was never in its arrangements so much as its members’ ability to imbue even familiar expressions with nuanced meaning, something that has thankfully carried over into this quartet’s debut: Jennie and Lisa render the hook’s bravado playful; Rose and Jisoo do heavy lifting on the country-inflected chorus. And the final bridge and chorus, in which familiar elements meld together in unexpected ways, are sublime.

Jessica Doyle: Man, that middle eight, bringing everything together with almost audible satisfaction — ah, okay, this was where we were headed all along. In all fairness, Hyuna did something similar a while back with her middle eight, but her team didn’t have Teddy’s flexibility (or Rosé’s range). So it’s not groundbreaking. Neither is the covering-all-bases quality of the lyrics, alternately lovelorn and bragging; and maybe even Lisa’s cheerfully speeding through hwi paraparaparabam has a precedent. So the parts might not be that fresh; but assembled so nicely, there’s a victory in it. Every time I hear that middle eight I light up as if I had something to do with making it.

Iain Mew: One fresh idea (it’s in the title) and a whole set of different established marks to hit, which they do every time. Maybe once they’ve established their place they’ll be able to make everything a bit more fun and less like everyone’s looking over the shoulder waiting to be judged.

Ryo Miyauchi: I still have yet to see anyone get whistling to work for a pop song (Pitbull might be an exception). Blackpink taps into a nostalgic corner for me with them muting everything but the snaps like they knew I was going back to some old Juelz Santana. It’s a shame they don’t add anything new to a formula served in 2005. The cue to drop it down low should have evolved somewhat since then.

Jonathan Bradley: “Whistle” is a retrograde step for the debut single from the group at YG’s vanguard: the production evokes mid-’00s snap and the hook a decade of often dreadful tracks devoted to making the music with your mouth. Whistling has been the central concern of dismal tunes, or sometimes just made a dicey proposition of otherwise decent singles; unlike in real life, it’s usually at its best when it’s used to suggest a catcall rather than a rumpled carelessness. This Blackpink track is most similar to one of the more lecherous, and one of the better, whistle tunes of recent times, Juelz Santana’s similarly sparse “There It Go (The Whistle Song).” This “Whistle” shares that minimalism, and it doesn’t objectify like Juelz’s did (though his rapping is more versatile), but it also makes less sense: if missiles whistle, they don’t do it like this hook does. A brief respite from the pop atavism arrives in a guitar-embroidered bridge that exemplifies the Hallyu wave’s typical restlessness, but it’s barely enough. The untold secret to a good whistle song, though? Go for the sporting kind.

Josh Langhoff: “Juelz Santana gone Mustard-core?” is a legit hypothetical question. The correct answer is not, “Let’s keep interrupting it with nondescript teenpop.”

Katie Gill: It is very hard to make whistling in pop music actually work and not sound overly cutesy or too tacky. I don’t think “Whistle” succeeds at that, partly because of the whistling itself, which doesn’t cross the threshold out of obnoxious, but also partly because the rhyme “make’ em whistle like a missile,” while technically true, is a bit trite and prone to overthinking of “well actually…” That being said, the rap is appropriately fun and the bridge before the chorus where Blackpink slips into an entirely different song for a moment is sublime.

Will Rivitz: Proof that catapulting between three or four distinct styles with no real rhyme or reason usually isn’t a good thing.

Jonathan Bogart: What first attracted me to K-Pop back with 2NE1’s “I Am the Best” was what I perceived as a glorious unconcern with genre lines, mashing up all kinds of sounds into a free-wheeling, hyper-saturated kaleidoscope of signification and juxtaposition. That’s still what I respond to the most, in K-Pop or anywhere else, so this song, with its kiddie-pop (not to say Andy Griffith Show) hook, trap verses, and Sheryl Crow-descended breaks, was an immediate source of surprise and pleasure. Listening again and again, the sonic detailling, and the way their voices coolly ride the always changing beat, are only more impressive.

Reader average: [7.71] (14 votes)

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5 Responses to “Blackpink – Whistle”

  1. I’m glad there are few more nods to Juelz for this

  2. the prechorus is godly

  3. It sure is!

  4. just +1 on loving the prechorus, it’s so damn good.

  5. Mr. Bogart with the bull’s eye.