Thursday, November 29th, 2018

Jennie – Solo

When she goes solo, we go somewhere in the middle…


Joshua Minsoo Kim: Oh, the regality of pizzicato strings. Amidst their presence is Jennie, disdainfully reciting a list of things couples say to each other: “Baby. Darling. Honey. I Miss you.” Sigh. “It’s all useless,” she sings, and it’s evident that she’s ever so exhausted. The decorum, the patina of a good relationship, the perpetuation of any and all bullshit — everything’s increasingly tiring, so the song steers clear of “Issues” to become the second-rate YG Entertainment stock music that producers Teddy and 24 whip up on the regular. Despite my reservations for “Solo,” there are several good moments: “Used to be your girl now I’m used to being the GOAT,” implying that this dude was nothing but unnecessary baggage; how the final verse mirrors the first verse’s vocal rhythm, indicating that the pain of keeping up appearances has to be solved with the pain that comes with breaking up; the intentional bilingual impact of “I’m shining solo/Bitch, I’m solo.” YG’s decision to have every Blackpink member release solo tracks is questionable, but “Solo” reveals that this endeavor may allow for songs that are slightly different from what the group is typically given. Here’s hoping the other girls do better solo, and that it’s better than “Solo.”

Anthony Easton: Her voice is delicious and can wind around anything that is given to her, and I know nothing about this, but there is something delightful about the whistle, as a continuation and wink to Blackpink’s monster hit.

Leonel Manzanares de la Rosa: There’s promise here — Jennie has a very versatile tone and lots of star potential — but Teddy Park’s production doesn’t do her voice and her capabilities any justice. The string-hits/finger snaps combination in the intro and the “oh-oh-oh” chants in the pre-chorus hinted at something far more engaging, but what we got was yet another underwhelming drop-as-hook. I know it’s intended as an extension of the Blackpink sound, but she deserved a stronger debut solo single. 

Ryo Miyauchi: The overall structure and that snake-charmer beat drop bring some deja vu as the song flops the same way Sunmi’s “Gashina” does. “Solo” similarly goes inert in the chorus when the break-up narrative, another link to Sunmi’s viral hit, calls for a sense of release. The single tapping into its own meta-narrative of it being Jennie’s solo debut from her group Blackpink doesn’t help matters as it shoulders her with a responsibility she can’t quite fulfill.

Maxwell Cavaseno: Even as a hater, I have to think that Jennie or anyone in the Blackpink camp deserve better than a Sabrina Carpenter tune with a generic drop from 3 years ago. It’s one of those baffling things that a group that’s expected to inherit a throne of “the cutting edge” always manages to sound incredibly far behind. There’s few ideas to sink into, and it’s all far too brief, so that any chance of establishing a true solo identity here is honestly a bit impossible to come by.

Alfred Soto: If this Blackpink member had done better than throwing a useless drop at 0:50, I might endorse this solo move.

Jessica Doyle: I listen to Morris Baxter’s daily motivation when I can, and normally it’s prosperity gospel with a side of well-worn anecdote, but this morning stood out: he was talking about work not as a road to wealth or financial security, but as something rewarding in its own right. So many of the narratives that have swirled around Blackpink in the last year have been about work: what are they working on? Why don’t they work more? Is YG promoting Jennie at the expense of the other three members? If Blackpink weren’t working would CL be working? And, most recently, is Jennie not doing the work she’s supposed to do? All of which points to one question: what should the relationship between the worker and the customer be? Especially when the customer is also, usually, a worker, and pop-music work can seem enviable: not just for the supposed possible riches, but also because Jennie gets immediate feedback (people talking about her, whether she’s seen as performing well or badly). She can say her work matters, in a way a lot of her customers can’t. But the worker who focuses too much on the work, to the exclusion of the context of the work, risks turning into the horse from Animal Farm. No customer has the right to demand that Jennie find visible pleasure in her work. And yet, does it make me too much of a capitalist to say Morris Baxter has a point? No one should be forced to enjoy work or prohibited from pursuing better work conditions. And yet work visibly enjoyed is a contribution: it makes the work matter, however briefly. There’s a difference between saying that “Solo” feels unenjoyed, and thus unenjoyable, and blaming Jennie. The one should not imply the other; the one should still be said.

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One Response to “Jennie – Solo”

  1. I kinda feel bad for Jennie – she has so much potential as an artist and we know she can put on a good show but she’s been absolutely sleepwalking through this era, performance wise (and getting absolutely dragged on social media because of it). makes you wonder if she’s 200 percent over everything or really really leaning into the “too cool to care” schtick

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