Rosé’s song is FINALLY here! After many months (and a couple years) of promises, YG has finally delivered and brought us the much anticipated solo debut of BLACKPINK’s main vocalist. While I’m constantly frustrated by YG and their annoying delay tactics, I have to say: when they get something right, they really get it right. “On the Ground” is absolutely perfect for Rosé, and it’s everything I imagined and more.
“On the Ground” is Rosé’s reflection on her life and her rise to stardom. She sings about how she worked so hard to get this far, but now she’s realized that she had what she needed all along. So even though she’s at the height of her career, she can’t – and won’t – forget all that brought her to this point. It’s a touching sentiment for any star to deliver, but I find this especially poignant with someone like Rosé. The ladies of BLACKPINK are truly massive stars right now; with all the magazine pictorials and luxury fashion endorsements they have, it’s easy to see them as mega celebrities and not real people. But “On the Ground” is so honest and to the point, reminding us that Rosé is still relatable and figuring herself out like any young woman. And while the parallel is clearly drawn between her life before and after fame and recognition, the message that you already have everything you need for success is applicable and inspiring.
I really like how both who Rosé is as a celebrity and as a regular person is reflected not only in the lyrics but in the music itself. The verses are more down to earth and reflective, focusing on Rosé’s sentimental voice and adding in some guitar strumming to ground everything. It reminds me of music I listened to when I was in high school and college, like early Taylor Swift or even Selena Gomez. While I obviously don’t know Rosé personally, this is exactly the sound I was envisioning for her solo. The chorus, however, shifts into something that’s more electropop or perhaps even EDM. It’s not really the “fierce queen” vibe BLACKPINK so often puts forth, but it is pretty typical for a pop princess. I was a little thrown the first time I heard the chorus – I was expecting the whole song to have the calm yet inspiring feel of the verse – but now, I think that it’s an interesting blend that really shows off both sides of her personality and how they come together. This is also beautifully illustrated in a short scene in the music video, where a glammed up Rosé lovingly watches her more casual self playing the piano.
Also, I just want to take a brief moment and point out the quality of Rosé’s voice in “On the Ground.” I know some people don’t really think that she’s a good singer, but I’ve always personally thought that she was pretty talented. That being said, I have noticed that her voice in BLACKPINK songs can be a bit sugary sweet. This is not something unique to Rosé or BLACKPINK – many agencies direct girl group members to sing in a higher and more cutesy tone because that’s what’s popular with the general public. But when I first heard “On the Ground,” I realized how much fuller and richer her voice sounded. It seems like how she sings “On the Ground” is closer to her real voice, and I really like that YG let her sing in a more genuine way.
I waited to write this post until I could watch Rosé’s Inkigayo performance, and I was surprised that she had a full-on choreography. I think it’s a lot more atmospheric than your average K-pop dance, since it lacks a key point move like Jennie’s “SOLO.” The background dancers are definitely doing more. But at the same time, that makes sense because she should be focusing on her vocals. All in all, it paints a pretty picture and it’s entertaining to watch. I definitely love the floor choreography while the camera captures them overhead – I do enjoy dance moves that are literal and related to the song.
Like any BLACKPINK music video, the one for “On the Ground” is stunning. Rosé looks absolutely beautiful as she cycles through one gorgeous outfit after another. I will say that I would have preferred just a *touch* more substance. Don’t get me wrong; a lot of the scenes were really cool – especially all the ones that involved fire – but it sometimes seemed like I was watching a high-concept ad for luxury fashion or perfume or something. “On the Ground” has such sentimental value for Rosé and is about an important lesson that she learned, and I just feel like whoever made this kind of missed an opportunity to use that as the main thematic subject. But the piano scene did illustrate that, and I know that BLACKPINK music videos tend to be mostly aesthetics with one really thought-provoking moment thrown in (like in “DDU-DU DDU-DU” and “Kill This Love”). So although it’s something I’d have liked to see, it’s really just a minor thing. Also, the scene at the end where Rosé is flying in a field of roses is actually my new favorite aesthetic.
MY OVERALL INTEREST LEVEL
(NOTE: My options for each category are “Love,” “Like,” “Neutral,” “Not My Style,” or “Dislike.” But I rarely dislike anything, so I’ll mostly be using the other four.)
I’ve always loved BLACKPINK’s music, but I’ve truthfully never had the same level of attachment to the members themselves. The reason a lot of people find K-pop so appealing is because groups often seem like relatable people who just so happen happen to be famous pop stars. The companies really want to make you feel like you could be friends with these idols if they weren’t famous. Ironically, BLACKPINK is now SO famous that it’s hard for me to relate to them at all. Plus they’ve often been directed to act overly cutesy when not onstage, so I just find it difficult to get a read on their personalities and what they might be like in real life.
I went into “On the Ground” knowing I’d like it, but now I’ve completely fallen in love with it. And not because this song is in English, although that does add a layer of relatability for me. I get the complaints of how that doesn’t make it as genuinely “K-pop,” but I agree with Rosé’s statement that the song feels better suited to that language. And she was born in and grew up in anglophone countries (New Zealand and Australia), so singing in English adds another level of authenticity. And that authenticity is exactly what draws me to “On the Ground” and moves my feelings from “like” to “love” – because I can tell how it’s clearly a very personal song for Rosé. We never truly know what any celebrity is really like, but I think that “On the Ground” is Rosé taking the chance to open up and give us a glimpse of the true her. I truly respect that, and I’m really glad that she did. I certainly feel like I can appreciate her and her music even more.
(“Knee Jerk Reaction” is a column I created to talk about comebacks or debuts when I don’t have a lot of time to write in-depth reviews. A knee jerk reaction is like an automatic response, so it’s a post about my initial thoughts on the song, the music video, and the performance if it’s available. Compared to my reviews, everything is more stream of consciousness and less analytical. And everything is 100% my own opinion!)
SOURCES: Music video and featured image belong to YG Entertainment.
I also linked a Soompi article that you can read here.