Ashley Turner, July 14, 2016, 2:57 p.m.

With K-pop girl groups dominating the charts this summer it seemed inevitable that YG Entertainment would eventually unveil the long-awaited lineup for his second female group. To be fair, the timing happened to be a tad convenient – TWICE exploded onto the charts, Gfriend gained immense popularity with the public - all this coming on the heels of Minzy leaving his flagship group 2NE1, the time seemed ripe for a YG “Who’s Next?”

Unfortunately, due to a history of backtracking, fudging comeback dates and delays, there was a feeling of skepticism towards what many were afraid would be a bungled debut.  YG did not help matters when, after years of hinting at a SNSD-type group touted as having six members or more, planned a subsequent reveal of one each week to hype.  After member #4 the company inexplicably announced the group, under the name “BlackPink” was complete as announced.  See what I mean?

But this past week, YG threw down the gauntlet, announcing that BlackPink would be having back-to-back promotions towards the end of July debuting with a whopping 8 MVs!  Presumably this is YG cementing their confidence in the rookie group, but they haven’t spared expense on this kind of promotion on a group since their primary moneymaker, Big Bang. Among K-pop fans this doesn’t appear to be lessening the doubt, only raising expectations  and skepticism over a group that is being hyped to the skies with very little to show for it as yet.

Regardless, a considerable community of BlackPink fans has grown, and short of a complete stinker of a performance they will have plenty of support.  But is YG building them up to a devastating fall? More importantly will they even debut when YG says they will?

Questionable name or not, this group is going to explode onto the scene and soon we will all become familiar with the faces of Jennie, Jisoo, Lisa, and Rosé.  Based on what we know, what are their prospects?

Image: The initial group name reveal was met with a bit of… confusion, but fans have connected to it and it hints a concept that focuses on duality. YG has already made it clear that BlackPink will be more of “girly” group but not necessarily one without “girl power.”  Their sunbaes  2NE1 came out of the gate with a emphasis on style and personality, but with soft-focus shots of the girls’ flowing hair and willowy limbs, I can’t see these them busting out with a song like  ‘Fire’ anytime soon. Their promo shots give the impression of a care-free ‘girl-next-door’ image with a couple of hipster-ish shoots that may suggest at the ‘Black’ part of their personality. My question – where the hell do the schoolgirl jumpers fit into this?

Talent:  The members’ positions are officially listed by YG as:  JISOO– VOCAL,   JENNIE- RAP, VOCAL,  ROSÉ-VOCAL and LISA- RAP, DANCE.  Fans are likely most familiar with Jennie, as she’s one of the most visible trainees, having collaborated with other YG artists Lee Hi and G-Dragon. Rosé is a rumored vocalist on a G-Dragon track. Jisoo has been busy with CFs, and music video and drama cameos, making her an early candidate as the “Dara” of the group. And Lisa has bad-ass dance skills. Seriously look her up on Youtube.  Other than that there is little released that really showcases their abilities other than Jennie, and nothing that exhibits their chemistry as a group. YG also released a video of the girls doing a choreographed dance that showed the girls could competently perform a real dance routine if nothing else. Whether they will get the chance to is another matter. 2NE1 has similar pre-debut routines floating around, and while their choreography was never bad it was heavily simplified to accommodate the abilities of all of the members.  Speaking of 2NE1…

Predecessors: As if being a four-member group doesn’t help, the girls almost perfectly lineup with the previously set roles in 2NE1. Not counting CL as there is only one CL. However, regardless of what they do, the shadow of 2NE1 will loom large over this group, however unfair that may be.  Perhaps involving the remaining members as part of their mega debut will help with the transition? Or it may hurt, as fans could just claim the girls are hanging onto their coattails. Though anyone remember this?:

You can’t deny this helped put the girls on the map. iKON is also a possible promotional partner and rumored “brother group” but it wouldn’t pack the same punch. Maybe a CF girl power anthem?

Get it?

Music: Good old Teddy. The thing with YG is that you think you know what to expect with the music but then you don’t. At YG Teddy has essentially served as 2NE1’s musical Svengali over the years, producing a majority of their musical catalogue. He is expected to have a heavy hand in BlackPink, but what should we expect from him?  Despite clues about their style, fans appear to be craving the hard-hitting, in-your-face personalities that defined 2NE1, particularly after months of SNSD clones. Again, perhaps with the dual ying-yang we will see that as one of their “sides.” However, they should be careful to distance themselves from Red Velvet, whose concept has similar overtones and comparisons between the groups are already causing fan wars.

The biggest challenge for BlackPink in the upcoming weeks (or months) will be showing that they express their own color as a group by bringing something different to K-pop while maintaining what is recognized as YG’s signature style. The countdown is on!

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