Indeed, I want to argue that TwoSetViolin’s satirical critique ‘Sell Out’ of Blackpink’s ‘Shut Down’ masks the ways in which the latter is itself a critique of the former. Moreover, ‘Shut Down’ is about moving beyond commercial pop towards a new classical artistry, while abandoning the narrow technicality of classical music — itself a complaint of TwoSetViolin on YouTube.
But what is more, ‘Shut Down’ has ‘principles’, to quote Sell Out’s critique, insofar as it takes the unprincipled position of capital accumulation for its own sake and, in celebrating it, critiques it. It is much better than, say, the obscurantist music of Jacob Collier, Drake, or Taylor Swift, who tend to mask the reality of market Machiavellianism with the mask of romantic morality and sonic technicality. No, it is more akin to Billie Eilish’s 2019-era music which takes aim at the very capitalism which created it.
It is also reminiscent of the music of Kanye West, who both celebrates the fruits of capitalism while critiquing the way the tree is structured in a disproportionate and exploitational way. Hip hop as a whole seems to celebrate monetary materialism; but true hip hop also critiques it, weaving sound and satire into a tapestry of artistry. A same may be said about Wambop, which Blackpink has a crucial role in originating. The criticisms of this genre mirror the criticisms once levelled against jazz and hip hop. They will be overcome in the same way: musicality, pure and simple.
Alas, in refusing to take ‘Shut Down’ seriously, we are not realising satire; we are shutting it down. That is the self-satirical irony of TwoSetViolin’s ‘Sell Out’. ‘I sold my soul to the devil’. Note the singular subject. Blackpink’s collective soulfulness remains quite intact.
It’s a shame, because TwoSetViolin’s prior satire on what might have been Paganini’s reaction to the sampling of his music by Blackpink is hilarious. Satire can be devastatingly effective. But only when it is true, and self-aware — not when it is false, and plainly self-denying. I hope satire can awaken from its slumber — after the shutdown.
Disclaimer: Any similarity between names mentioned and actual individuals is purely accidental and largely theoretical. These are fun ideas to entertain but, as always, I may be mistaken. After all, what do I know?