‘Shut Down’ Music Review: Blackpink embraces classical/pop fusion, Lisa soars above the pack

Sampling Paganini’s ‘La Campanella’ is surely not a move expected by Blackpink producer Teddy Park, whose production has in the past been accused of being formulaic (in my view unjustly — Blackpink’s repertoire boasts a remarkable range of production styles, and Shut Down casts Teddy as one of the most experimental producers in the game.) The song itself is in many ways more straightforward than ‘Pink Venom’, the first single from Born Pink, but only because classical/pop fusion is at once unusual and challenging to established tropes in high pop music. ‘Teddy’ brings competence and verve to ‘Shut Down’, setting Blackpink up well for their upcoming tour.

Paganini’s demo in B Minor.

‘Pink Venom’ follows the Middle Eastern sonics and aesthetics of Lisa’s solo collaboration with Teddy. And on ‘Shut Down’, which pioneers a new style of pop/classical/hip hop music for the global mainstream, Lisa remains the most compelling artist in every live concert — as mysterious as Jisoo, as sultry as Jennie, and as charismatic as Rosé. The other members get more attention from fans only because they emphasise particular characteristics that are fused in the general pop/hip hop competence of Lisa.

The Lisa/Teddy collaboration echoes past collaborations between Billie Eilish and brother Finneas, and between Michael Jackson and producer Quincy Jones. (Rosé’s ‘On the Ground’, brainchild of Kanye West-inspired producer Jon Bellion, remains supreme among Blackpink members’ solo releases — which include Lisa’s definitive ‘Money’ and award-winning ‘Lalisa’, preceded by Jennie’s trailblazing ‘Solo’.) I stand by my past claims in this regard: even as Blackpink as a whole loses its spark, Lisa pulls ahead of the pack, breaking commercial and critical records as if she already were the new Nicki Minaj or Janet Jackson: the future queen of popular music around the world, from Seoul to Tokyo to LA, either side of the Pacific rim, the past and future oceanic anchor of world power. I hope that Lisa gets a solo deal before, during, or immediately after Blackpink’s whirlwind world tour — so that her musical destiny may be fulfilled.

I could take credit for the Born concept and the classical/pop fusion at its core. But Wambop is a global genre — and it has multiple evolutionary origins. The tides of history are shifting, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, by way of the Mediterranean and the ‘seven seas of rye’ — whatever Queen meant by that. It is time. The future is now. Are you ready?

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