Thursday, April 1st, 2021

Rosé – On The Ground

Officially more controversial than lewd acts performed on Satan himself!


Anna Katrina Lockwood: “On The Ground” is a song from an idol about being an idol, and the passing wistfulness is well fit on Rosé. Her performance has more emotional weight than she’s brought to previous Blackpink tracks, and there’s an engineering marvel of an earworm in there, alongside that meticulous switch-hit from guitar verse to heavy synth drop. It all clearly hearkens to late-phase Big Bang/G-Dragon releases and while Jiyong is still busy (?) being a fashion guy or whatever, this is a capable substitute and a pleasingly interesting solo debut for Rosé. 

Thomas Inskeep: Straight-down-the-middle pure pop with faux uplift that neither fails nor excels – which is its problem.

Katherine St Asaph: Has the anonymous, almost-but-not-quite-like-some-other-hit sound of a song that its songwriters (here, Jon Bellion and Amy Allen) have given to one rising/newly solo artist every six months to cut in case they’re the one to finally become a star. It’s got the quickly reupholsterable verses, the frankened-on drops; you can almost hear the supercut, ten years later, that some lingering fan of someone down the chain makes of them all.

Ady Thapliyal: Jon Bellion is a reoccurring villain here at TSJ; not a single song of his has broken the [5] barrier, with his lone solo hit scoring a dismal [2.75]. All his predilections are here: big verse/chorus contrasts, production reminiscent of arena rock, lyrics that simulate emotion instead of stimulating it. Rosé should have taken a page from the only artist to salvage a Bellion demo, Selena “Whisper Queen” Gomez, and tempered Bellion’s kitschy instincts with a restrained, sensuous vocal performance. Instead, she sings about rising to the top with no grit, and plummeting to the ground with no gravity. 

Kayla Beardslee: The verse melodies and lyrics are decent — sure, they’re almost certainly directly lifted from Jon Bellion and Amy Allen’s demo and sound a little flat when sold as Rosé’s, but at least they have some substance. Ultimately, “On the Ground” is the kind of song that lives or dies by the strength of its drop, and this drop is pretty boring. (Wait a minute… didn’t I just write this blurb?) But Rosé’s single album -R- (what a lazy name: I can’t wait for Lisa’s Turn and Jisoo Is Here Now) sold hundreds of thousands of copies, and in a capitalist hellscape like ours, once you’ve tipped a group over the fan fanaticism threshold, you can do nothing but get off on being withholding, occasionally release a few bad-to-middling songs, and still rake in ridiculous amounts of cash. In the Year of Our Pandemic 2021, what possible use is there in setting anything but the absolute lowest of expectations for Blackpink’s output?

Hazel Southwell: I don’t know anything at all about Blackpink, but this hooked me in with a Liz Phair verse and then delivered on a tamely unenthusiastic chorus that didn’t ask too much of me. The middle eight is by far the best bit, especially the pulsing chorus breakdown, but that’s not something I’m going to mark a pop song down for.

Juana Giaimo: I’m having a hard time connecting the different parts of the song. When I thought she was leaning toward nostalgia (I really enjoy how that acoustic guitar softens the melody), she suddenly changes direction with a drop that almost seems to deny those lonesome feelings, especially because her singing gets sharper. The drop is fun — the wavy synths and the two vocals work for me — but it never develops into something else that portrays resilience. The lyrics don’t help, either. Artists really like driving by people’s houses they haven’t seen in a long time!

Alfred Soto: The chorus confuses me (is her lover on an airplane, lonely and sulking?), and the electronic skronks and gahoozits puzzle me. Preening through the melodies doesn’t help. Would-be modern pop at its most cynical.

Nortey Dowuona: Rose has a spindly but sturdy voice, and she’s atop a surprisingly cartwheeling bass and back-flipping drums with sickly guitars and chilling tambourine. Here, within this swampy mix, she’s busy picking apart the pieces of her sham relationship and waiting to get right, with all she actually needs laying around her. The backup vocals finally guide her back home to properly arrange the things she needs — then throw them on the ground.

Iain Mew: The hints of pop-punk attitude and the disruptive way the drop barges in had me thinking “everything I need is on the ground” was about her stuff being strewn everywhere. That would make for a “Hellevator”-style twist reveal (the ground was a good thing the whole time!) except that, right, once it’s presented at the end the positive reading makes too much more lyrical sense throughout. The music’s enjoyably cathartic release never quite lines up with any other story. 

Jessica Doyle: “I’ve left you behind” is not standard Korean idol-pop mythmaking. the more common themes are those which can be translated easily into being applicable to fans, such as “I’m lost without you,” “I’m so grateful to have you here with me,” “We belong together,” and occasionally “Come be run over by my glittery tank.” Rosé has said that the “everything” in “everything I need” is internal self-respect, which implies a healthy lack of concern as to whether any of us are especially impressed. (The best part of the song is the refrain, “Nah, they don’t hear me tho,” holding a slight smirk.) Problem is, YG still cares a great deal, and thus we get a flashy, unnecessary-special-effects-laden video for a bland song whose only half-surprise is how little room Rosé gets to show off vocally. It’s yet another example of Blackpink’s insistent all-style-no-substance package, with the packagers so intent on keeping up appearances they celebrate Rosé singing about staying on the ground by lifting her into the air. But it doesn’t matter, really. She doesn’t need my approval, and I’ll to continue to look forward to the day she doesn’t need YG’s either.

Reader average: [4.2] (5 votes)

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One Response to “Rosé – On The Ground”

  1. Although it has been a long time, I need to share that while my colleague and I were discussing union politics on Zoom, her three daughters (ages 4 to 9) were all singing and dancing to this song at top volume in the background and therefore I cannot give this anything lower than an 8.