K-pop documentary reveals bond behind the band

Blackpink’s members Jennie Kim, Ji-Soo Kim, Lalisa Manoban and Rose explore their path to stardom and their group’s familial relationship in Netflix’s documentary ‘Blackpink: Light Up the Sky.’ // Photo courtesy of Netflix

Our Take: 3/5 Stars

The bright lights illuminate the scene as Blackpink walks on stage. Each member assumes her position and in moments the audience is overwhelmed with the group’s harmonious vocals, bright lights and pop music. Sometimes, that is all that the audience sees – a group of four strong, beautiful women performing in unison, but what happens behind the scenes?

Just in time for the release of BlackPink’s latest record,“The Album,” Netflix’s new documentary, “Blackpink: Light Up the Sky” premiered. The film follows Blackpink, a prominent all-girl Kpop group, and their journey
to fame.

The documentary goes through each member’s backstory and how they ended up on YG Entertainment, a South Korean entertainment company that trains and produces music for up and coming artists. All four of Blackpink’s members — Jennie, Lisa, Rosé and Ji-Soo — joined YG in their early-mid teens, and most of them dropped out of high school to train with YG.

The exposition of their challenging training days sets the tone for the rest of the documentary and their journey. Showcasing each member’s background serves as a contrast to the rest of the documentary, where they are more often seen as a family rather than acquaintances or friends.

Next, the documentary takes on a more intimate tone, walking through a timeline of Blackpink’s releases. From their vulnerabilities performing on stage to the overwhelming amount of pressure the group faced to release hit songs to the physical and emotional exhaustion they felt on tour, the documentary becomes much more personal.

It describes the challenges each group member faced as they quickly ascended to fame. After all, one of their first singles, “Whistle,” reached the number one on the South Korean charts in two weeks and went on to receive international attention.

But “Blackpink: Light Up the Sky” doesn’t stop there. Interviews with each member highlight individual challenges and how the group came together to overcome them. The most prominent feature of Blackpink in its early days was the diversity within the group. Jennie is originally from China, Lisa is from Thailand, Rosé is from Australia and Ji-Soo is from South Korea. The diversity within this group was unheard of before Blackpink.

Jennie served as an English teacher for many of the group members and refined her own skills, recently producing an English-Korean rap hit, “Solo.”

All group members are fluent in at least two languages and developed the versatility to easily switch between languages by working with each other.

Ji-Soo, the oldest of the group, said that she felt an older sister-like instinct to “protect the other members and take care of them.” This instinct especially kicked in when Blackpink went on their first tour. In fact, Jennie referred to Ji-Soo as unnie, the word for “older sister” in Korean.

Lisa and Rosé became close friends, as they were recruited by YG Entertainment in the same time frame and quickly relied on each other to go through training. Through these roles, Blackpink became a family.

The turning point in the group’s journey was performing at Coachella for the first time in 2019. The group was about to complete an exhausting world tour and was especially nervous about an unexpectedly large audience. However, the performance helped them realize that Blackpink was not just a traditional K-pop girl group.

“They knew we wanted to try something creative and new,” Jennie said. Members also learned how to draw passion from the crowd to better their performance and become comfortable on stage. This was an important stepping stone in their journey and has shaped all of their on-stage performances since.

The documentary also disclosed Blackpink’s vision of the future, specifically the scary thought the group will be replaced by the younger generation in the future — but the group doesn’t seem very concerned about this fear.

Stream “Blackpink: Light Up the Sky” on Netflix now.