‘Blackpink: Light Up the Sky:’ The joys, angst of a K-pop group

‘Blackpink: Light Up the Sky’ is now streaming on Netflix. Supplied
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Updated 16 October 2020

‘Blackpink: Light Up the Sky:’ The joys, angst of a K-pop group

CHENNAI: It has taken only a couple of years for Blackpink to become one of the biggest girl bands in the world, with members Jennie, Jisoo, Rose, and Lisa continuing to smash new records.

They were the first K-pop girl group to play at the Coachella music festival and to reach 1 billion YouTube views. They broke three Guinness World Records with the single “Kill This Love,” and are the most subscribed female group on YouTube.

But how did they manage to do all of this?

Caroline Suh’s Netflix documentary, “Blackpink: Light Up the Sky,” presents in just under 80 minutes a visually rich story of each of the group’s four women in their 20s.




Blackpink came into existence in 2016 only to touch the skies in just three years, becoming an unbelievable sensation. Supplied

The work, now on Netflix, happily does not turn out to be an exercise in color, gloss, and high fashion, but draws us into the women’s personal lives and rigorous schedules, which were stressful and involved sacrifice, comparable to the kind of tough regime that Olympic athletes undergo in their race toward gold.

Blackpink came into existence in 2016 only to touch the skies in just three years, becoming an unbelievable sensation. That happened at Coachella in the US, where the spectators, thousands of them, went delirious watching the women sing and dance.

Suh splendidly balances the team’s professional life by presenting hit songs such as “Whistle,” “Kill This Love,” and “I’m Ready for Love,” with their personal joys and even griefs. Her attempt to humanize the quartet is gloriously lovely.

The director introduces each group member in a very leisurely way, in places far away from the noise and din of the madly cheering crowds.

Rose is Korean, grew up in Australia, but was born in New Zealand, while Jisoo was born and raised in Korea. Lisa comes from Thailand and was a rapper and lead dancer before joining YG Entertainment. “I have been dancing since I was in kindergarten,” she said. Jennie was always “super shy.” She was born in Korea but moved to New Zealand when she was 10 years old.

Behind the glitz and high living, first-class hotels, and business-class travel (or was it first), the young women missed their homes and families, especially during their long tours, sometimes stretching months on end.

“I would talk to my mother every day,” one of them said. One can sense wistfulness, the creeping loneliness and quiet that follow every concert. Then there were those missed experiences. “A lot of people make memories as a high-school student, but I never had that,” Jennie said.




Lalisa Manoban in Blackpink: Light Up the Sky. Supplied

The quartet’s training began in their early teens, and they could see their families once in two weeks. Suh incorporates audition videos of the girls before they were picked by YG, which looked out for that quality that goes hand-in-hand with stardom.

Suh’s documentary is wonderfully intimate, and between the concerts, she incorporates the fears and fancies of the women. They are nervous at their first meeting with journalists and bloggers, and the natural bonding among the four gives them a kind of warmth and strength to face the challenges of an extremely competitive profession.

But will they be together once the Blackpink phenomena ends? “The thing is, you can never tell how long it will last,” Rose said.


Spotify unveils top 5 most streamed K-Pop acts in Saudi Arabia, UAE 

Updated 20 October 2020

Spotify unveils top 5 most streamed K-Pop acts in Saudi Arabia, UAE 

DUBAI: To celebrate the monumental impact of K-Pop on fans around the world, Spotify delved into its listening data for some of the genre’s best-known acts. From BTS to ATEEZ, here are the five most streamed K-Pop groups across Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt. 

BTS 

Formed in 2013, BTS has spearheaded the K-Pop drive into the Middle East with catchy, upbeat music. The seven-member South Korean boy band recently notched up the first No.1 on the US Billboard Hot 100 singles chart by a South Korean group with their first all-English language single “Dynamite.” 

Blackpink

It’s not just the boys that are driving the K-Pop obsession. Seoul-based girl group Blackpink, who recently released their first Netflix documentary “BLACKPINK: Light Up The Sky” on Oct. 14, are also experiencing a serious surge in streaming. Their latest release “The Album” became the #1 global album on Spotify during the week of launch. 

Twice

Beside Blackpink, Twice have also established themselves in the region. This is a big month for the nine-member girl group: Oct. 20 marks five years since they hit the scene in 2015, and on Oct. 26 they are releasing their second full-length Korean album “Eyes Wide Open.”

Stray Kids 

The fourth most streamed act in the Middle East is Stray Kids. The group consists of eight male members, who are currently preparing for their Nov. 22 virtual concert on Beyond Live, the online performance platform. Their most famous hits are “Grow Up,” “Voices” and “Side Effects.” 

ATEEZ

ATEEZ is one of the most recent K-Pop acts. Formed in October 2018, the eight-member group has already made it to the region’s top five most streamed K-Pop bands. Not just that, but as of September 2020, the group has released five Korean-language EPs, one full-length album and two Japanese albums.