Illustration of Rose.
Rosé's solo career takes flight with two stunning new tracks. (Illustration by Adam Rappe, Columbia College, Chicago)

On Her Solo Debut, ‘R,’ Rosé Forges Her Own Path

The Blackpink singer has conquered the world alongside her fellow girl-group members. Now she is ready to shine on her own and pay homage to her past.

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Illustration of Rose.

The Blackpink singer has conquered the world alongside her fellow girl-group members. Now she is ready to shine on her own and pay homage to her past.

2016 signified the beginning of South Korean girl group Blackpink’s journey to global stardom. Five years later, 2021 will feature the solo debut of lead vocalist Rosé as she prepares to show the world a new side to her musical skills.

In the five years since Blackpink’s debut, Rosé has grown as an artist and earned her stripes as a skilled vocalist, dancer and musician. On March 12, Rosé officially released her debut single-album simply titled, “R.” Departing from Blackpink’s signature pop EDM sound, “R” aims to highlight Rosé’s musical skills and honor her past that shaped her into the multitalented, globally renowned artist she is today.

Making of “R”

It’s no secret that the singer has been working on solo ventures for quite some time. The group’s Netflix documentary, “Light Up the Sky,” features a late-night scene of Rosé strumming her guitar in the middle of a dimly lit practice room and singing a soulful ballad. She explains, “This is my stress relief. Everything makes sense when I’m doing this.” Moments like these interspersed throughout the documentary show how personal music is to her, and why she chose to wait to finally release “R.”

Another scene features Blackpink’s longtime producer, Teddy Park, discussing Rosé’s intense work ethic. He stated, “When it comes to writing songs, Rose has certain stories in mind. And she is shy about sharing that story. It’s just super personal to her, it’s like her story.” Growing up in a humble Australian town, Rosé took to singing and playing guitar in her church choir. It was there where her love for performing began to blossom. Rosé has made her gratitude for her homegrown roots abundantly clear, and that love beautifully translates into her work. The delicate work and craftsmanship Rosé demonstrates in “R” is also reflected in the direction she chose for the music video.

The debut officially commenced with the release of a music video for “On the Ground.” Fans were quick to notice all of the hidden winks to her hometown and even callbacks to previous Blackpink music videos. Details such as Australian films on the marquee in the background, the image of her smiling down at a younger version of herself playing the piano, to her writing “Roseanne” on a mirror as she stares back at her reflection, all show how personal of a project this is for her — and how important her story is to her work as a musician

Tracks

In the almost five years since Blackpink’s debut, fans have grown to love the group’s signature pop anthems that create the perfect beats for earworm lyrics. Despite being under YG Entertainment, a company known for its strong hip-hop and EDM influences, Rosé chose a more personal direction for her solo debut.

“R” leads with the track “On the Ground,” a song written by Rosé herself portraying a more down-to-earth, introspective glance into pop stardom. Rosé’s melodic, colorful voice enhances the unique mix of acoustic guitar and an EDM hook. When looking past the upbeat tone of the instrumental, a more somber image shines through. In the chorus she sings, “I worked my whole life / just to get right / just to be like / ‘Look at me, I’m never comin’ down’ / I worked my whole life / just to get high, just to realize / everything I need is on the / everything I need is on the ground.”

In an interview with StyleCaster, the singer spoke candidly about the personal inspiration behind the track. She explained, “From when I was a trainee, I lived day to day, running towards my dreams. Once in a while, there are moments where I’d question my motives, and I think the lyrics express this really well. I think this is something to learn from as well.” True to her roots, “On the Ground” is a homage to her youth. A love letter to her time as a young girl spending hours playing instruments with big dreams of sharing her art with the world.

B-side track “Gone” is an intimate, moodier track reminiscent of Rosé’s musical inspirations such as H.E.R. and the Velvet Underground. The track is a sharp contrast from “On the Ground” and highlights her skills as a self-produced musician. Although the song took the backseat in promotions, fans appreciate how the raw-sounding acoustic track complements her deeply emotive voice.

“Gone,” a drastic departure from the music Rosé has previously made, is a rock-leaning breakup song that challenges her skills as a vocalist. Rosé’s smooth voice evokes a palpable, but relatable, sense of heartbreak. Her masterful vocal runs accent the second verse as she sings, “All my love is gone and the hate has grown / Standing all alone / and I’m searching for something / but I can’t feel nothing / I pack my bags and go on / This don’t feel like home.” When speaking to Nylon Magazine, Rosé admitted that “R” was her chance to experiment vocally. She stated, “Since this is my solo debut, I wanted to try out different sounds and different vocal techniques. I tried some new things. I think you’ll get to see a new musical side of me.” Luckily, she did just that. There is a night-and-day difference between “Gone” and “On the Ground”

Choreography

Renowned choreographer Kiel Tutin has worked with Blackpink for years, so it was no surprise to discover he is the creative mind behind the intricate choreography for “On the Ground.” The choreography feels perfectly tuned with Rosé’s skills as a lead dancer. Known for her skill in blending fluid movements with perfectly executed sharp movements, the choreography is a masterful blend of grace and power.

Performances for “On the Ground” also feature a strong group presence from Rosé and her team of professional backup dancers who have worked under her label for years. Throughout the choreography, there are intricate movements and formations that can be a challenge to uniformly execute as a group, but Rosé’s team perfectly nails them in each life stage featured in the video. From every line, formation and stunt, it is a marvel to watch Rosé and her team move as one.

With its chart-topping success and high praise from both fans and critics, Rosé’s debut single-album has cemented itself as one of the most globally successful debuts from a Korean solo artist. Within days of its release, “R” soared to the top of Billboard’s global charts and Rosé has already skyrocketed to 7 million Spotify listeners.

Years of waiting have made the success of the album all the more worth it to the singer, and she is already working on her next big musical venture. After five years of only seeing Rosé as a member of one of the world’s biggest girl groups, solo debut “R” shifts the spotlight from the glamorous world of Blackpink’s Rosé, and into the artistic mind of Rosie Park.

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