Though there were plenty of delays and typical YG Entertainment shenanigans, Lisa has FINALLY made her solo debut. (I’m not exaggerating when I say I’ve been waiting for this moment for YEARS.) I love BLACKPINK’s music and I fully support them all, but there’s no question she’s my favorite member. It’s been that way since the very beginning, when she kept drawing my attention in that pre-debut dance video five years ago. Now she’s arrived on the solo scene in style with a single named after herself (the CONFIDENCE), and it’s truly my newest obsession. So fair warning: my inner fangirl will come out a lot in this post.
“LALISA” nicely toes the balance between hip hop and pop, not unlike some of BLACKPINK’s biggest hits. It flows smoothly from start to finish, seamlessly showcasing various aspects of Lisa as a person and performer. After a confident foot-stomping intro, she slows it down to a more chill yet alluring first verse. (As an alto, I’m so thrilled by those low and rich notes she’s singing.) She switches to rap in the second verse, starting off slow again but quickly increasing the tempo and ramping up the excitement. In the bridge, she takes a quick moment to show off her cuter and more lovable side before diving into an even faster and more intense rap break. And of course, all of this is connected by a ridiculously catchy chorus that gives off peak girl crush vibes.
If you know my music tastes at all, you’ll know this kind of song is right up my alley. (What can I say? I love my dance music and my club jams.) So obviously, I’ve been all about “LALISA” since it dropped. I really enjoy the whole thing from beginning to end, and the beat and the bass are particularly satisfying. But to be honest, I do think it could have been more adventurous and and experimental. I know BLACKPINK tracks generally aren’t as risky compared to other other K-pop acts, but I think “LALISA” didn’t have to be quite so safe. Lisa has such a powerful presence and personality, so I wish the song packed a bit more punch to mirror that. But at least we get to hear her truly pop off during that rap break towards the end.
The music video for “LALISA” is bold, colorful, and clearly very high-budget. In other words, pretty much everything you’d expect from a YG Entertainment video. It’s one giant flex, and I’m loving every single second of it. And much like the song, it shows the many sides of Lisa. She’s the ultimate girl crush, fearlessly speeding around on motorcycles and ATVs. She’s a fierce fashionista who can pull off any hairstyle and outfit. (That leather jacket with Gene Simmon’s face on the back is truly something else.) She’s charismatic and swag incarnate as she raps through a megaphone while the police – or “POLISA” – follow her every command. She’s glamorous and beautiful as she spins around a pole with the greatest of ease. And she’s sweet and charming as she chills in the sand at a beach house.
Of course, the standout scene is the homage to Lisa’s home country of Thailand. It happens during the ending rap break, which also incorporates traditional Thai music into the arrangement. The set is built to resemble a Thai temple, with gold as far as you can see. Lisa herself appears in traditional Thai clothing, and she looks absolutely stunning and regal. I’m not Thai myself, but I am Southeast Asian (American) and my family is originally from a nearby country. Growing up in a predominantly white community in the US, I almost never saw people like me in any kind of media and never felt represented. One of the reasons I actually feel so connected to Lisa is because we’re both Southeast Asian, and it warms my heart to see how much love she gets from all around the world. So I personally find this part of the music video incredibly impactful, and it genuinely makes me a little emotional every time I watch it.
Last but certainly not least, let’s talk performance. In my opinion, Lisa is one of the best dancers in K-pop – and she’s most certainly one of the best performers. And honestly, I love the dance for “LALISA.” I think it’s super entertaining, and I’m 100% engaged as a spectator all the way through. I could easily watch it ten times in a row or more. The moves were clearly chosen with care, and some of them are destined to become iconic with time. (My personal favorite is those side-to-side hip bounces in the chorus.) It’s very easy for fans to learn and dance along to, which I think is probably something Lisa and her choreographers had in mind.
That being said, I’m not going to lie: I had VERY high expectations for the choreography, and part of me thinks they weren’t fully met. It’s kind of like how I feel about the song – it’s excellent as is, but I wish it pushed the boundaries a bit further. This was an opportunity for Lisa to really show us what she can do outside of BLACKPINK, and I was excited to see her wow us with some killer dancing. I know she’s definitely capable of more than this choreography gives her. But even if she doesn’t tear up the stage like I was hoping for, I can tell that she’s sincerely giving it her all. These moves might be easy for her, but she’s obviously paying attention to every single detail and making sure everything looks spectacular. Expertly-executed choreography can be just as satisfying as technically difficult choreography, so I’m still ultimately quite pleased.
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.)
As you all probably guessed, I love everything about “LALISA” – I had to wait almost three years for it, but it was definitely worth it. I actually think this is the longest reaction post I’ve written so far, because I have so many things to say. Like I mentioned before, I personally wish it pushed the envelope a little more – but that’s really because I know Lisa is so freaking talented, and I want all that skill and potential to be realized. My feelings certainly don’t take away from the fact that it’s a great release all-around. “LALISA” is everything I was hoping it would be; it’s just not everything I hoped for and more. (It’s hard for me to articulate, so hopefully that makes sense.) But in any case, I’m so proud of Lisa and her strong solo debut, and I will most definitely be blasting “LALISA” in this household for weeks to come.
(“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 belong to YG Entertainment. Featured image is of Lisa at Inkigayo – the original photo and can be found on the show’s Twitter account here.