Will Blackpink continue or will the group disband? Will the members move to another label or continue independently?
Rumors are swirling as K-pop’s biggest girl group and its agency, YG Entertainment, remain silent on the future despite their seven-year contract apparently reaching the end of its term in August.
On Tuesday, it was reported that Jennie and Jisoo had formed their own independent labels, although YG Entertainment denied the reports.
“Nothing has been settled regarding Blackpink’s contract extension or future activities,” was YG’s latest update on the matter released on Wednesday, a repeat of what the company has been repeating in recent months.
The company responded similarly about a week earlier, when another local report claimed that only Rose of the foursome had renewed her contract with YG. The rest would find new labels and set aside six months a year for group activities, Sports Seoul’s report said. YG had then said that “nothing has been confirmed and we are still in negotiations.”
The reports may sound baseless, but every little move the members make (or don’t make) fuels rumors that could point to Blackpink’s future.
Local media even highlighted Lisa’s recent solo trip to Paris. News reports revealed that, unusually, she was not accompanied by anyone from YG Entertainment, presumably because she had not renewed her contract with the company.
Rumors also circulated that Thai member Lisa, who has the group’s largest foreign fandom, might be looking for a foreign label.
Whether the four decide to stay together at YG or each of them looks for a new home, public anticipation is leaning towards their expansion as a group.
In the past, even the most popular groups disbanded or became inactive after the infamous seven-year anniversary, as individual members left for new labels in search of solo careers. Nowadays it has become more common for groups to renew their contracts, as in the case of Seventeen and BTS, or to remain as a group despite being affiliated with different labels, such as GOT7 and 2PM.
It is also likely that YG would refrain from announcing the end of Blackpink, which remains its biggest brand and biggest profit maker.
Investment research showed that the earnings surprise YG saw in the first quarter (a 457 percent increase in operating profit and 118 percent in revenue from the year before) was driven by the band’s yearlong “Born Pink” world tour, which started in October 2022.
A report from Hyundai Motor Securities predicted on Wednesday that the departure of a Blackpink member could deal a fatal blow to the K-pop powerhouse, with the quartet’s sales falling below 50 percent of current levels if more than two members would leave the office.
The “fatal blow” may not last long, as YG’s share price immediately plummeted 13 percent on September 21, when it was reported that only Rose would be able to stay at the company.
“It is unlikely that all members will renew their contracts. The most plausible scenario for now would be a renewal by some members and an expansion of Blackpink’s group activities,” the Hyundai Motor Securities report said.
The band members have also expressed their wish to continue together. During the final encore concert for “Born Pink” in Seoul on September 17, Jennie thanked fans for their time together, adding, “Blackpink will continue to be a great team.”
Amid all the confusion, Jennie is gearing up for her long-awaited solo comeback. The singer recently shared on the Weverse fan community that she is “in the final phase” of her new solo project. “I will open it as a surprise as a gift for fans,” she said.
In an interview for the October issue of Harper’s Bazaar Korea, she said that she is “making a unique song that is Jennie’s, the most like Jennie and only for Jennie.”
This will be her first solo release since her first single, aptly titled ‘Solo’, in 2018. She also unveiled ‘You And Me’ during the group’s recent world tour, although it has not yet been officially released.
After debuting in August 2016 with the first single ‘Square One’, Blackpink immediately rose to worldwide fame.
With their latest album “Born Pink,” the group topped the Billboard 200 chart as the first female K-pop group and only the fourth among all K-pop acts. In 2021, Blackpink became the most subscribed artists on YouTube, dethroning megastar Justin Bieber and retaining the top spot until now.
The group also has several Guinness World Records recognized accolades to its name, including being the most streamed female group on Spotify, with 8.88 billion streams as of March this year.
The group continued to set new career highs this year. The ‘Born Pink’ world tour attracted a total of 1.8 million concertgoers in 34 cities throughout the year as of October 2022, making it the largest world tour by a female K-pop act and the second largest for any K-pop pop acts. It also made its historic debut at the Gocheok Sky Dome with the tour’s two days of encore shows on September 16 and 17, becoming the first K-pop girl group to perform a standalone performance at the country’s largest concert venue.
Whether Blackpink will end its epic journey now, and if not, how it will continue as a group, remains to be answered. AP