The biggest contemporary girl group is K-pop act Blackpink, but unlike the omnipresent boy band BTS, it’s unlikely that most music fans know that. Blackpink’s fanbase, which refers to itself as “Blinks,” believe they know why their favorite group isn’t more ubiquitous: poor management.
According to Billboard, Blinks have begun protesting Blackpink’s parent company, YG Entertainment, for failing to deliver on previous promises, including the release of a mini-album in March. Since debuting three years ago, Blackpink has released 13 tracks and no full-length album. But the music video for their 2018 single “Ddu-Du Ddu-Du” recently became the only K-pop video to surpass 1 billion views on YouTube. Surely, there’s a disconnect between the amount of music the group is releasing and their insatiable fanbase.) The fan account @RADIOBLACKPINK decided to protest by hiring a truck to drive around Seoul blasting “both BLACKPINK’s music videos and listing demands from fan communities,” Billboard reports.
An admin of the account shared the following statement:
“After much discussion and consideration, BLINKs decided to unite and fight for BLACKPINK. We believe they have an extraordinary potential that is being wasted under the YGE administration, and, as fans, we don’t feel comfortable with the current situation. YGE have been feeding us with lies and false promises ever since the group debuted and even though we know the company has other artists to manage, BLACKPINK’s management is still underwhelming when compared to their incredible success. We, as fans, are tired and disappointed that the group’s potential feels subdued due to YGEs ways. Three years of existence, 13 songs, no full album, no proper promotions and only one comeback per year is infuriating and unacceptable. That being said, we decided to take action.”
On Twitter, YG responded by assuring fans there would be new releases in 2020:
“YG is all ears when it comes to fans’ concerns regarding BLACKPINK, as well as all of our artists. BLACKPINK is at the last leg of [their] 2019-20 world tour, consisting of 32 concerts in four continents, 23 cities with now ending with Japan dome tour. At the same time, they are working hard at the recording studio for their new album. We appreciate Blinks’ interest and would like to ask you to continue supporting the girls working on their album release schedules in [the] early part of 2020.
All of us at YG would like to express our deepest gratitude to the fans and would like to take this opportunity to share with you that we are doing our absolute best to give BLACKPINK and Blinks the best music YG has to offer.”
Here’s the thing: it was Yang Hyun-suk, founder and head of YG Entertainment, who first promised new music from Blackpink back in February. The timing is suspect. The following month—when the aforementioned mini-album was supposed to drop—Seungri, a member of the mega-popular K-pop boy band BIGBANG, was booked during a police raid at a nightclub he runs in Seoul, following allegations that he supplied “drug-addled” women for clients to have sex with for money. In the press, the incident and ongoing investigation has been referred to as “the Burning Sun Scandal,” and Seungri promptly apologized and left the industry. Prior to Blackpink, BIGBANG was YG Entertainment’s biggest client. Two months later, Yang Hyun-suk resigned from his position.
I wouldn’t doubt anyone who suggests Blackpink’s career appears to have slowed in 2019, especially in the midst of the ongoing sex crimes that surround their parent company. It’s not fair to them to potentially lose momentum in a pivotal moment in their career. It’s not surprising that Blinks have mobilized to draw attention to what they see as gross mismanagement, but it’ll be interesting to see what, if anything, comes from it. In an industry as notoriously secretive as K-pop, I can’t say I’m confident there will be much improvement.
Until then, “Ddu-Du Ddu-Du” still goes.