November 12th, 2018
Lyrics by Teddy Park
Produced by Teddy Park and 24
“Solo,” the debut song by BLACKPINK’s rapper-vocalist Jennie, starts off sweet and simple. The first gentle melody precedes a snappy drop into the chorus’s catchy, whistling beat. Lyrics written by Teddy Park speak of a relationship gone wrong, an anti-love story that leaves Jennie better off without the boy that treated her badly.
The music video is busy. She flits without context through manors and gardens, outfitted in a series of beautiful and expensive dresses, before appearing, uprooted, in a laundromat, where she raps “You’re sittin’ in your feelings / I’m sittin’ on my throne,” which appears to be a washer. There is a vague storyline of childish innocence — the big house, the flowers scattered in the gardens — transforming into adult confidence when Jennie walks by the implied love interest at a bar and asserts herself by interacting with him zero times, but the video as a whole seems more concerned with making sure she stares into the camera with her hair blowing in the wind as much as possible. Visuals which are intended to be independent and emancipating instead make it very apparent how alone she is.
Despite what seem like directorial efforts to the contrary, Jennie’s charm and talent are not entirely lost. There are moments when her compelling stage presence shines through: first and foremost through the choreography, which is not given the screen time it deserves (the choreo cut, released three days later, makes it clear how much we were missing). In the first really effective visual of the video, she walks barefoot into a room of the echoing mansion, a cream and black dress swirling around her legs, and waits for her own cue—“I’m a shining solo”—to take up the dance. There is a composed confidence in the choreography that doesn’t quite make it through in the awkward crying scene.
This is to be expected. BLACKPINK have only been around since 2016, but Jennie trained for almost six years, featuring in songs with Lee Hi, Seungri, and G-Dragon before BLACKPINK was even a speck on the horizon. She’s not an actress — she’s a rapper, a singer, and a dancer. What changed from her predebut work and BLACKPINK to “Solo” is that now, for the first time, she doesn’t have backup.
And it’s true, there are parts of “Solo” where she seems lost without someone at her side. It’s only in the waning moments of the video, when the choreography comes to a head and the camera pulls away, that you finally get the impression that she can back up her claim. In that last whistling chorus, she’s surrounded by dancers, but she stands alone.