BLACKPINK may be one of Korea’s biggest pop acts, but all four of its members — Jisoo, Jennie, Rosé and Lisa — were nervous to upload their recent video for their comeback single “DDU-DU DDU-DU.” “I actually felt concerned because we had a year long break,” Jennie explains. “Although we practiced and prepared very hard, due to the length of time we were gone I was nervous about the response”
They need not have worried: The video went on to set a new 24 hour debut record for a K-Pop girl group, and in August landed a slot on on YouTube's 10 most played Songs of the Summer list. More recently the clip surpassed 500 million views, making it the fastest video from a K-pop group — and first ever from a K-pop girl group — to reach the milestone. “We are absolutely mind blown,” Rosé says of the video’s success. “We are so lucky to have our fans to support our music and to have our new listeners come across our music through YouTube.”
The record breaking video and overarching success — they have reached as high as #4 on the global YouTube Top Artists chart this year — are a testament to BLACKPINK’s ability to break down musical and geographic borders. Since forming in 2016, the quartet’s music has reached nearly every corner of the globe, earning massive views this year in countries like Indonesia (426M), Thailand (287M), the United States (128M), Japan (102M), Brazil (98.5M) and Mexico (78.3M) along with Korea (147M).
"YouTube is kind of the main platform that helps us let people know who we are and also reach and appeal to so many fans all over the world," Jisoo explains. "Just by looking at the comments," adds Rosé, "you can see how far and wide our videos are reaching a global audience."
To understand the group’s unique appeal, look no further than the aforementioned clips for "DDU-DU DDU-DU." Jisoo, Jennie, Rosé and Lisa play chess on a giant board, climb through bank vaults and swing on a chandelier in a chapel, still finding time to dance in front of a neon pagoda and ride on a tank that glitters like a disco ball. The clip has enough ideas for 20 videos, all slammed together into one. Rosé describes it best: "It's a colourful, big production, and everything about it shouts BLACKPINK."
But for the members of BLACKPINK, eye-popping clips and earworms like "DDU-DU DDU-DU" — along with clips like “마지막처럼 (AS IF IT’S YOUR LAST)”, “붐바야'(BOOMBAYAH)”, “휘파람'(WHISTLE)”, “불장난 (PLAYING WITH FIRE)” — wouldn’t be possible if it was not for their dedicated fan base. “Without our fans, all the work we do would practically be meaningless, much like speaking and singing to a wall,” Rosé explains. “Our fans give all the meaning to our song — they are our biggest influencers.”
"YouTube created a bridge between us and the public," adds Jennie, “so that we could showcase our music, visuals, and ourselves to a broader audience.”
In January, the group made that bridge even shorter through the 12 episode BLACKPINK HOUSE, which invited subscribers to join the group in their home. "We wanted to show all of the aspects of our lives beyond our performances on stage to our fans who have always been so supportive," Jennie says of the show. “Of course having cameras around our house was a bit awkward in the beginning but we got used to it very quickly. We had so much fun making the show.”
“I think it is very important,” Lisa explains. “We try to interact with fans a lot.”
Series like BLACKPINK House gives fans a way of seeing what the group is like outside of their music videos and live performances. Their always popular dance practice videos, meanwhile, deconstruct the videos themselves. The concept is a familiar one for subscribers: In a single take on an empty soundstage, BLACKPINK recreate all of a video’s choreography, encouraging fans around the world to study the moves and upload videos of their own.
The stripped down take on 2017’s “마지막처럼 (AS IF IT’S YOUR LAST),” for instance, has itself tallied over 100 million views, and inspired numerous fan tributes filmed across the globe.
"Usually, it does not take long for our fans to produce and upload cover videos on YouTube after we release our own music videos and dance practice videos," Jennie explains.
“They are super good at it,” adds Lisa. “It is very impressive seeing our fans doing our moves so well, especially doing highlight choreography and even mimicking our facial expressions in detail.”
"I feel rewarded the most when I watch fans all around the world doing our cover dances and enjoying it regardless of their gender, age, or nationality," Jisoo says. "But then again, I feel kind of responsible that we have to practice harder and do our best to show them even better dances."
It's this sort of intercontinental creativity and deep fan interaction that YouTube makes possible. In the hands of artists like BLACKPINK, the platform can transcend geography, creating new networks of people who communicate through videos and comments in real time around the globe.
“Our music has reached so many people and fans across the globe through YouTube,” Rosé continues. “It’s our online stage where we perform, converse, show who we are as BLACKPINK to a global audience, which wouldn’t quite be possible if it wasn’t for YouTube.”