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'R' Review: Rosé Has 'Gone' Solo

4 Stars

Cover art for Rosé's "R."
Cover art for Rosé's "R." By Courtesy of Rosé/YG Entertainment/Interscope Records
By Alisa S. Regassa, Crimson Staff Writer

Rosé, the lead singer of Korean girl group Blackpink, has debuted — again. Except this time she, not her bandmate Jennie Kim, is going solo.

The New Zealand-born singer released the highly anticipated two-track single “R” last Friday, featuring two English songs: “Gone” and “On the Ground.” Her solo debut has been met with mixed reactions from her fan base, Blinks, whose members expected more from the single after nearly two years of waiting. A consensus remains: The track’s vocals and lyricism are all there, perhaps to the detriment of other flashier and trendier beats.

Nevertheless, the single is surprisingly refreshing and complements Rosé’s style perfectly, bringing out aspects of the singer’s range and character that her audience has never seen before.

“Gone” reveals a very emotionally vulnerable Rosé. “All my love is gone and the hate has grown,” she sings about the pain and loss that stuck around long after losing a first love. The line, “Another story that's sad and true,” gives us insight into just how personal and upfront the singer is being with this exposé. There is a breathy softness to this track’s melody that reflects that vulnerability. The singer croons about heartbreak, love, and loss to the backing of her signature guitar instrumentals, stripping the music bare and putting the spotlight on her unique vocals. The result from that harmony gives the song a soulful and relatable quality that cuts deep.

The lead single, “On the Ground,” sees Rosé reflecting on her career in that same candid regard. However, the energetic vibe of this track is inherently more hopeful compared to the complacent mellowness of “Gone,” symbolizing a more positive outlook on the future Rosé strives to confront in her walk of fame. “I worked my whole life ... just to be like / ‘Look at me, I'm never comin' down,’" she sings, referring to the naivete of the young Rosé who dreamt about being famous back in her trainee days under YG Entertainment. The older and wiser Rosé breaks that illusion, telling the audience that “You find out that your gold's just plastic” after you make it.

It sounds like a depressing track at first, but then the beat drops and Rosé the rapper makes an appearance in the ad libs of the chorus, suddenly uplifting the previously hopeless vibe. This time around, the blunt, honest lyrics contend with a quicker tempo and rougher 808 beat on the hook, bringing a sense of urgency to the track. The issue of stardom is not a lost cause for Rosé as she grapples between personal faith and public pressure: “Yeah, what goes up must come down / Nah, but they don't hear me though.” Rather, it’s an ongoing battle between being placed on the pedestal and bringing herself back down to earth, a constant struggle made more optimistic by the upbeat sonics.

While it’s true that its musical production isn’t groundbreaking, “R” does what it set out to do as a single: It puts the spotlight on Rosé and gives her the chance to prove herself as one of the best vocalists in the industry.

— Staff writer Alisa S. Regassa can be reached at alisa.regassa@thecrimson.com.

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