Netflix Docu Review: BLACKPINK: Light Up the Sky

October 31, 2020

I think it's becoming a trend now on Netflix to have music documentaries. The very first one I watched was the one with Lady Gaga entitled Gaga: Five Foot Two. That film was the main reason I wanted to have access on Netflix. The next one I really enjoyed was the one about Taylor Swift - Miss Americana. There's actually another one coming up on Shawn Mendes. However, the one I'm writing about today is the first one I have seen that is about a KPOP group. The docoumentary is entitled Light Up the Sky, and the group is BLACKPINK, a four-girl group under YG Entertainment.

I have first-hand witnessed how this group rose to fame. I could still remember the teaser photos of each of the members that YG Entertainment released days before their official debut. They also released this video of them rehearsing a dance, and everyone in the comments were saying how good the blonde one was, which is Lisa. Well fast forward to now, we all know that Lisa is the dance machine of the group. I followed the first few months of their debut and I couldn't help but compare their style with 2NE1 (which is a group that love and  I saw live in 2014!). Four years after BLACKPINK's debut, they are now one of the most recognized KPOP idol group out there and also the first one to perform on the prestigious stage of Coachella.

I liked the fact that the documentary focused on the hardships that the girls of the group had to go through to achieve this fame. It's common knowledge among the KPOP community that groups that debut under the big 3 company (SM, YG, JYP) almost always become famous and successful (although this norm was broken by BTS recently). However, this documentary showed that all the members of BLACKPINK - Lisa, Jisoo, Jennie, and Rosé - also had to work hard to achieve what they have today. On average, they spent 5 years as trainees, working tirelessly everyday across different classes - singing, dancing, etc. I couldn't believe it that Rosé actually didn't dance and Lisa didn't know a single Korean when they started. And now just look how they are! Rosé breaks the stage with her moves while Lisa now converses like a native Korean on talk shows! This is also proof that you can get better through constant practice and proper mentoring.

I think this is the first group that I watched wherein almost all the members can communicate in English. I always feel at awe hearing their different accents (I love Rosé's the most 💓). I believe their capability to do interviews in English made it easier for them to connect to the American audience and to promote their music there.

I have known KPOP since 2009, and seeing this documentary allowed me to get an insight on how the community is nowadays, a decade after (because I'm no longer active in the scene now). There will always be new things to learn. Here are my takeaways:

1. KPOP training is really no joke.
Looks like the training process is still unchanged today. The trainees all live together in a boarding house and they train almost everyday nonstop (~14hours/day according to the documentary). Then there were performances being held where the executives are present to judge and grade them (it must have been so nerve-wracking 😨). Jennie said she got sad every time she had to say goodbye to a fellow trainee friend who gets eliminated. 

2. The pressure will always be ON.
You'll think now that the group is successful and all, they are now confident at the top. Well, it's the exact opposite. As their producer, Teddy Park, stated in the documentary: as they grow more popular, the fans expect more from them. How will they ever live up the hype?

3. It's a common sentiment for artists to feel empty after a performance on stage.
That's what we hear Rosé saying in one part of the documentary. I heard that being said by several artists (most notably in my memory are IU and Taeyeon). I hope all artists get to take care of their mental health after all their exhausting days of practicing, performing, and travelling around.

4. Even if the band is very popular now, every member is still grounded.
It's nice to see that all members (well that's how the documentary showed it) are well aware that fame doesn't last forever. They are happy on where they are right now (heck they all had to leave their personal lives to be trained to stardom) and they just wanted to enjoy what they currently have. I liked it that the documentary showed them talking about their future plans -- about getting married and having children, that they see a life after the years they would spend on stage.

Some other new learnings that I got about the group are: 
  • Jisoo is the exact opposite of my impression of her. She is actually the unnie of the group and has the strongest personality (she doesn't cry and is very street smart, as per Teddy Park's observations).
  • Rosé's voice is so mesmerizing and she has potential to do songwriting. I loved her scene in the documentary wherein she was creating music at the dance studio at night because she couldn't sleep, and also that one wherein she tested recording her idea of a ballad song (I hope that gets officially released as a song!).
This was a nice watch - a documentary with a a light-hearted tone of what it's like to become a KPOP star. I would be interested to see something like this about other KPOP groups. Hopefully soon, Netflix! 😀

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