Blackpink: A Look Back At The All-Girl K-Pop Group's Meteoric Rise

Blackpink's four-year-long journey from unacknowledged trainees to Coachella headliners in a sexist Korean society has been peppered with quite a few highs and lows.

Tarini Gandhiok
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The letter K, referring to Korean, dominates almost everything today – from dramas to pop music to beauty. So one can imagine the fan frenzy when Netflix recently dropped the trailer for its upcoming documentary based on the meteoric rise of the all-girl K-pop group, Blackpink, titled Blackpink: Light Up The Sky. The trailer features the band’s four members recounting their early days of struggle, and life after they made their debut on the K-pop scene in 2016. It also features glimpses of the girls practising, recording, and simply living their lives as the bonafide music sensations they have now become.


Blackpink also recently created waves when it collaborated with Selena Gomez and Cardi B for singles from its recent album, The Album. Now, the band is all set to become the only K-pop group in history to have a documentary based on it, that'll be streaming on Netflix. This momentous feat hasn’t come about easily though. The band’s four-year-long journey from unacknowledged trainees to Coachella headliners in a sexist Korean society has been a tough but inspiring one.

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The Meteoric Rise of Blackpink

Jisoo, Jennie, Rosé, and Lisa practised for six years as trainees and underwent rigourous monthly evaluations by their agency, YG Entertainment, before making their debut. In 2016, they entered a K-pop industry devoid of any extremely popular female K-pop group to look up to. However, their debut album Square One’s song “Boombayah” made Blackpink the fastest musical act, at the time, to assume the No. 1 position on Billboard’s World Digital Songs chart. The group followed this feat with various successful digital releases in 2017. Consequently, in 2018, Blackpink garnered international attention when it became the highest-charting K-pop girl group on Billboard because of their single “Ddu-Du Ddu-Du” and the EP Square Up. “Ddu-Du Ddu Du” even hit No. 55 on the Billboard Hot 100 while Square Up hit No. 40 on the Billboard 200.

The group’s diverse discography consisting of energetic raps, acoustic melodies, and country ballads quickly garnered legions of loyal fans, who call themselves “BLINKs” - a blend of “black” and “pink.” In a bid to expand its global footprint, Blackpink also signed up with Interscope Records and Universal Music Group in 2018. Over the next two years, Blackpink collaborated with pop-music icons Dua Lipa ( “Kiss and Make Up”) and Lady Gaga (“Sour Candy”) on some bilingual songs that cemented their popularity beyond the Korean borders. They also made a mark in the Japanese music industry by releasing Japanese versions of some of their most popular songs. Notably, the group has performed on US television shows like Good Morning America and The Late Night Show With Stephen Colbert. Last year, the K-pop group became the first female K-pop group ever to perform at the Coachella music festival.

Blackpink: Redefining Female K-pop Idols


The Korean music industry has long been accused of objectifying and hyper-sexualising its female members. A 2012 New Yorker article detailed how most female K-pop singers undergo plastic surgery to meet unrealistic societal standards of beauty in order to gratify the male gaze. Blackpink has subverted all these notions throughout their career. The band’s name ‘Blackpink’ is an endeavour to disassociate feminine connotations from the colour pink. On their debut, YG Entertainment highlighted that the name intends to convey that the group is much more than just a group of pretty girls. Blackpink’s four members break the mould of the demure Korean woman through their ultra-glam, Beyoncé- esque onstage moves that are a far cry from the aegyo (cute expressions) typical of most female K-pop groups.

Also Read: Escape The Corset: South Korean Women Rebel Beauty Standards

Social Media Stars

Currently, Blackpink has one of the most-followed K-pop group accounts on Instagram. Additionally, the group’s lead rapper, Lisa, is the most-followed K-pop female idol on Instagram. “Blackpink in your area” — a signature phrase from the group’s debut song “Boombayah” — trends on social media whenever the group announces any new ventures.

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As a K-pop group, Blackpink’s uniqueness lies in diluting dark and edgy concepts with subtle imagery in their music videos. The girls’ ferocity, courtesy some bold rapping, powerful vocals, and chic sartorial choices, makes them a musical force to be reckoned with. As Netflix gears up to honour the group’s ascent to success with Blackpink: Light Up The Sky, October 14 couldn’t get here sooner for the millions of ‘BLINKs’ around the world.

Take a look at the documentary’s official trailer:


Picture Credits: Paper and CNN

Tarini Gandhiok is an intern with SheThePeople.TV. The views expressed are the author's own.

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