Wednesday, November 30th, 2016

Blackpink – Playing With Fire

While others get burned…


Iain Mew: Sometimes you can make a sparkling new pop song that does interesting things with piano and misleading tempo and has neat rapping, and it just doesn’t appeal as much as the one that sounds like it could be a years old ballad by your soon-to-be-disbanded predecessors. It just happens.

Jessica Doyle: Apparently YG wasn’t kidding when he decided to rebrand Blackpink as the “pretty” version of 2NE1: even some of the shots in the video are recycled. (Compare Rosé at 1:35 and Lisa at 3:15 to Park Bom and Minzy, respectively, in 2012’s “I Love You.”) It’s disappointing enough, after the smarts of “Whistle” and the energy of “Boombayah,” that this feels so tepid: everyone (especially Jennie) seems so preoccupied with projecting cool and keeping their voices steady that the vocals come off as passionless, and there’s not enough going on in the background to overcome that. But “Playing with Fire” looks even weaker as the potential sign of a new strategy: Blackpink’s future as someone else’s past.

Alfred Soto: The bass throb and “look at me now!” hook evokes early-2000s J. Lo, and there’s no question that any song afire with a flame metaphor will send listeners into disco inferno (unless written by Scissor Sisters). 

Katherine St Asaph: Neatly answers the question “what would it sound like if Fifth Harmony did ‘Same Old Love'”: more vocalists, more strut, still not much of a hook.

Ryo Miyauchi: Just when I thought Blackpink overdid it with their styling in “Whistle,” I now miss its sass. Lisa plays the brash voice and a needed punch in the gut, though she’s not enough to raise its middling rock.

Thomas Inskeep: Defiantly midtempo K-pop that plods along and doesn’t seem to go anywhere.

Leonel Manzanares de la Rosa: I’m marveled by the beat — it moves in several swing/shuffle groove variations without ever losing that mid-tempo riddim fluidity — and the way the low end is used to manage the space is exquisite. Yes, producer Teddy is using Blackpink to continue where he left off with 2NE1, but there’s a right way and a wrong way to do that, and in “Playing with Fire” he did not miss. The diversity in the girls’ voices remains a strong factor, and the production knows it. And come on, can you resist Jennie’s heavy, extra-breathy first verse? I think I’ve found my bias. 

Adaora Ede: A flashy take on chopped-n-screwed, “Playing With Fire” meshes ravey-style maximalism with minuscule acoustic elements, dumps more moonbahton-ish sound over that, and washes out a pretty detuned piano interlude into synth breaks. So much for it, because that’s not what Blackpink wants the listener to remember. There’s a low-key vintage vibe, aided greatly by aforementioned piano, and fearless vocalwork — even when it falls flat on Lisa’s part, serving not much more than drabber CL x GD vibes (hmmmm). And it demonstrates the skill it takes in adapting foreign dance genres for a trendy pop single (hmmmmmmm), which is most likely not a reach from what YG wants for their revamped 2NE1.

Madeleine Lee: Having actually mistaken both “Whistle” and “Boombayah” for ersatz 2NE1 when hearing them in public, I’m humbled that “Playing With Fire” is such a tune, a solidly written, uncontrived melody that shows off every member to her advantage (even Jisoo) and that fits in with the K-pop of 2016, not an idea of a YG girl group that’s frozen in 2011. I wish I could say that this indicates a bright future ahead of them, but in the wake of 2NE1’s decay and YG’s continuous neglect of its younger talent, I’m not so sure.

Ramzi Awn: Though not completely boring, “Playing With Fire” plays it basic — unfortunately, it goes in one ear and out the other. 

Reader average: [7.55] (9 votes)

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3 Responses to “Blackpink – Playing With Fire”

  1. That YG comment about Blackpink being the “pretty” 2NE1 has me incensed! What a scumbag.

  2. I wish nothing but the best for 2NE2 – I just hope whatever scrapped material CL and crew was working on this summer is re-purposed for them somehow.

  3. lol YG consistently ragged on 2NE1’s looks for years so that’s nothing new. This song is kind of boring compared to Boombaya. Sounds like some bad T-ara single.