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Since their 2016 debut, Blackpink have cemented themselves as the uncontested leaders among generations of K-pop girl groups. On paper, Blackpink’s continued dominance seems unlikely. In a ruthless music industry where new groups debut weekly and consumers’ standards demand new comebacks multiple times a year, Blackpink’s discography — just two albums, two EPs, and a collection of singles over six years — should get lost in the shuffle. Yet, on Nov. 14 as Blackpink performed to a sold-out crowd at the Prudential Center in Newark, the group showed how a relatively sparse discography jam packed with chart-toppers has allowed them to stay on top.
The anticipation for the show was tangible as fans flooded the arena, and for good reason. Blackpink’s “Born Pink World Tour,” supporting their 2022 album of the same name, marks the group’s first concerts in the U.S. since 2019’s “In Your Area Tour.” For many Blackpink fans (known as Blinks), it was impossible to do anything but voice their excitement as the group's music videos played while fans scurried to their seats.
When the arena lights went down, the crowd was illuminated by the pink glow of thousands of BI-Ping-Bongs (Blackpink’s hammer shaped lightstick) as videos of each member flashed on screen accompanied by a new round of cheers. The excitement came to a head as giant screens on stage pulled away to reveal members Jisoo, Jennie, Rosé, and Lisa. The quartet took center stage before opening with a high-energy performance of the unapologetically boastful “How You Like That,” from 2020’s “The Album.”
The show was organized into five acts, each marked with a video package, new outfits, and changing aesthetics. Acts one and two were studded with Blackpink’s biggest hits such as “Pretty Savage,” “Lovesick Girls,” and “Kill This Love.” Between the first hour’s jam-packed dance numbers, Rosé served as the group’s unofficial spokesperson, thanking the crowd and asking audience members to scream as loud as they could during the group's brief breaks. The crowd was happy to oblige, chanting the band's name in time with the opening notes of the group’s most recent single, “Pink Venom.”
In act three, each member had a chance to highlight their unique style and talents with a solo performance. Jisoo took the stage first for an elegant cover of Camila Cabello’s “Liar.” Then with chants of “Jennie” ringing through the arena, the singer took to the stage with a performance of her unreleased track “You & I (Moonlight),” proving her status as a triple threat with a display of her vocal, rap, and dance talent. Having released more extensive solo projects, Rosé and Lisa each performed two abbreviated solo songs. Rosé paired a laidback and vocally impressive performance of “Hard to Love” with a technically precise and seductive performance of “On the Ground.” And while every member shined during their solo stage, Lisa shone brightest with crowd-pleasing performances of the hip-hop track “Money” and her VMA winning song “Lalisa” — an award she took home from the same venue back in August.
With a hip-hop and dance-focused discography, Blackpink could easily forgo live instruments on stage. That’s why it was all the more special that they were joined by a four-piece live band who were highlighted both by the group and during an extended instrumental outro following “Born Pink”’s lead track, “Pink Venom.” The group was similarly supported by a troop of around 30 backup dancers who quickly became one of the most impressive parts of the show. The dynamic dancers raised the bar during the performances to match the grandeur of Blackpink’s bombastic music. The troop even stole the show during the extended dance break of “Pink Venom” after Jisoo, Jennie, Rosé, and Lisa left to prepare for their solo stages.
If any one song defines Blackpink’s group identity, it’s 2018’s “DDU-DU DDU-DU.” With Rosé and Jisoo’s soaring pre-choruses, Lisa and Jennie’s tight rap verses, and a trap inspired dance chorus, “DDU-DU DDU-DU'' is a perfect showcase of Blackpink’s best attributes. For all those reasons and more, it was undoubtedly the favorite among Blinks who danced and sang along from the audience.
The arena quickly grew restless when Blackpink disappeared after a heartfelt performance of “Forever Young.” The assembled Blinks were not shocked by their disappearance, though. Instead, they anxiously awaited the cheerful encore that was sure to be a cherry on top of an already impressive showing. While the encore is typically reserved for the biggest and most high energy hits at most western artists’ concerts, at a K-pop concert, encores are about appreciating and celebrating the fans gathered together. After a short break where fans chanted the group’s name, the members of Blackpink emerged for the final time now sporting an assortment of their own tour hoodies and t-shirts. As they performed the final tracks of the concert — "Yeah Yeah Yeah”, "Stay", and "As If It's Your Last" — the group broke away from their sharp choreographies, using the more laid-back atmosphere to interact with fans by waving and making hearts toward audience members. It was a refreshing change of pace, allowing the members to interact with one another and show their personalities after nearly two hours of meticulously choreographed dance numbers.
As the lights flickered back to life and audience members slowly trickled out, the “Born Pink” logo was replaced by a scrolling list of credits thanking everyone from tour management to security. It was a small but heartfelt moment of recognition for the immense level of work that goes on behind the scenes. From the onstage performance to the lighting and stage design, the “Born Pink World Tour” is proof of Blackpink and their entire team’s continued dedication to creating high-quality performances.
—Staff writer Jen A. Hughes can be reached at email@example.com. You can also find her on Twitter @Jenhughes_.
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