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Jisoo blooms with debut solo album, 'ME'

Jisoo's debut album "ME" made her the first female K-pop solo artist to achieve one million preorders for an album. – Photo by @BLACKPINK / Twitter

On March 31, Jisoo, a member of the internationally-renowned girl group BLACKPINK, debuted her long-awaited solo project, "ME." Jisoo is the final member to have a solo debut out of BLACKPINK, with members Jennie Kim, Lisa and Rosé debuting before her. 

Many Blinks (BLACKPINK's fandom name) have expressed frustration with YG Entertainment's lack of solo content for the girls, despite the group being nearly seven years old. Kim's "SOLO" was released four years ago as a single, and it took nearly three more years for Rosé's solo "On The Ground" to be released. 

Jisoo's solo project was released with the opening track "FLOWER," accompanied by the b-side, "All Eyes On Me." Like all other members' solos, this debut was a single album. In a world where male K-pop solo artists and groups tend to dominate physical sales, Jisoo became the first female K-pop solo artist to achieve one million preorders for an album.

As expected from YG Entertainment, every teaser image, music video and album inclusion was gorgeous and carefully packaged. In one of the first teaser images, Jisoo is wearing red floral jewelry, averting her gaze from the lens, setting an elegant tone for the album. Many fans have attributed this trait to her as she holds an ambassadorship for the luxury fashion brand Dior. 

Like most of YG Entertainment's songs, producer Teddy Park worked on Jisoo's solo debut album. "FLOWER" shares many elements of his usual style, starting with a staccato string instrumental that weaves its way into melodies throughout the song.

The song is laid-back, elegant and sophisticated as Jisoo sings about a relationship gone sour, as the man likely cheated on or betrayed her. She opens with, "A-B-C, Do-Re-Mi / I was as nice as that." Their relationship likely made as much sense as the order of the alphabet or singing scales but it turned out to be a farce after the man revealed his true colors.

"FLOWER" then transitions to the pre-chorus, a lovely set of transcending piano arpeggios, allowing Jisoo's vocals to finally bloom. Her voice tends to be svelte, which is treated with care in the first part of the song. But with this pre-chorus, more of Jisoo's raw emotions are allowed to shine as she sings, "There was nothing left but the / scent of a flower."

Like most songs produced by Park, the chorus feels a bit empty, lacking the strong bass and foundation I tend to desire in songs that utilize this particular formula. But Jisoo's charisma more than makes up for it in the music video, as she opens her hands to reveal a particularly clever piece of choreography: rings that resemble a blooming flower on the inside

For me, the b-side "All Eyes On Me" was the standout of the single album. The pre-chorus is similarly transcending, but the instrumental drop is far more satisfying and full than the one in "FLOWER." The drop feels nostalgic, reminiscent of the sort of dreamy pop-drops in the music of the mid- to late-2010s. 

In the song, she implores her imaginary lover to only look at her and "make (her) feel alive." The lyrics are far more compelling, and thanks to the composer known as 24, the song's composition feels much more thought out. Jisoo asks the listeners to "focus on her" as she pours her emotions into this song.

This single album feels almost like watching a scorned woman find her confidence. "FLOWER" is a collection of solemn musings about a failing relationship. The music video is broken up into chapters, with the first seemingly being about the discovery of infidelity. She wanders around beautiful spaces in ridiculously gorgeous gowns, lost in her thoughts and seemingly confused.

But as the song progresses, she gains more confidence, blaming the ex-lover for not holding onto her. The second and third chapters display this newfound independence as she rips off a necklace of beautiful pearls, letting them fall to the ground.

"All Eyes On Me" is the aftermath of "FLOWER," exploring Jisoo's new life as an independent woman. Here, she commands much more strength than in the first track, being honest and forward with her intentions. 

While the wait was long for "ME," it's by far my favorite solo project of the four BLACKPINK members. Jisoo has a reputation for being one of the more overlooked members regarding talent, but this solo debut proves many skeptics wrong. Jisoo's talent blossomed a bit late, but charisma and dedication like hers are rare to see. That'll make all the difference in her success story.

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