SOLO starts off strong – one would assume that Jennie is already past the phase of tears and anguish that forges gaping holes in the beautiful girl’s heart after a tragic break-up. In the build-up leading to the chorus, there’s an almost orchestral sound of “oh, oh oh oh, oh” marking out each new verse before the beat drops. It’s glorious and magical when contrasted with the singer’s charming vocals.
Whistles feature prominently in the SOLO by Jennie, a member of the immensely popular KPOP quartet, BLACKPINK. They mark out beat drops, signal an epic chorus and breakdown, and lend a charismatic and nearly hypnotic quality that is present across BLACKPINK’s discography – except this is Jennie in a solo song, belting out powerfully that she’s “tired of pretending. I’m done”. Coincidentally, BLACKPINK released a song entitled “Whistle” in their debut year, 2016 – which captured my heart as well as SOLO.
The choice of declaratives, “I’m done”, “This is not a touching love story” to describe the possible post-breakup situation Jennie is in makes her voice strike clearly and powerfully across one’s ears, in that she shapes a narrative of growing through pain, with clarity. The lack of metaphors and usage of direct references to concepts of a love story in the beginning draws this out for listeners very nicely.
The line “No romance, No sincerity” makes Jennie’s SOLO all the more powerful, for it unites the song with raw emotion of a broken hearted individual – This is a song about past love, and ironically: There is sincerity, in the pain sung about going “SOLO”.
I especially love the line
You’re sitting on your feelings / I’m sitting on my throne,
for this use of figurative language in “sitting on your feelings” that depicts the annoying and indecisive actions of an ex-lover is transposed onto reality, with the physical power-move of “sitting on my throne”.
SOLO is true Jennie, who remarked that her music was “part of BLACKPINK’s”; in that the song bothers to capture both the strength of a character moving on, yet features an underlying softer strain that seeks to highlight the vulnerability in her.
I’m referring to the heart-breakingly raw time-stamp (2:13) of the music video, where Jennie is sobbing, and the lyrics reflect a brief moment of chink-in-her-armour:
I like being alone, because I should be true to myself.
❤ for Jennie and SOLO.