YG Entertainment: Why isn’t it promoting Lisa properly?

Despite being denounced for alleged incompetence and racism, YG Entertainment has remained silent amid calls for more promotions for Lisa. Image credit: Screenshot of 'Money' exclusive performance video on YouTube
Image credit: Screenshot of ‘Money’ exclusive performance video on YouTube

Despite being denounced for alleged incompetence and racism, YG Entertainment has remained silent amid calls for more promotions for Lisa. The popular BLACKPINK main dancer and lead rapper has been breaking records left and right with her solo debut album “LALISA”. Lisa has dethroned her own group to become the female artist with the highest first-week sales on South Korea’s Hanteo Chart, and the first female soloist to become a half-million seller on Hanteo, for which she will get a Gold Certificate. She has broken Taylor Swift’s YouTube record for the music video with the most views in the first 24 hours, with “Lalisa” generating a remarkable 73.6 million views. And in a plot twist, Lisa beat Drake when her unpromoted B-side track “Money” debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s Rap Digital Song Sales chart.

YG Entertainment, however, has been criticized for not properly promoting Lisa and her solo debut album, whether in South Korea or the US, where BLACKPINK is under Interscope. In 2018, the Korean entertainment company signed an agreement for Interscope and its parent company Universal Music Group to represent BLACKPINK worldwide, outside of Asia. Lisa’s fans — called Lilies — have pointed out that Lisa’s success as a solo artist has been achieved despite the glaring lack of promotional activities, such as appearing in music shows and variety shows in South Korea, guesting on more US shows, or having more radio interviews in the US. In fact, Lisa’s fellow BLACKPINK members Jisoo, Jennie, and Rosé have seemingly done a better job promoting her when the four of them got together on Friday, Sept. 24, and delighted BLACKPINK fans — called BLINKS — with a series of clips on their social media accounts of them dancing to “Lalisa”.

Racism or incompetence?

The baffling lack of the same kind of promotions for Lisa, which some fans have speculated before was due to South Korea’s Chuseok — despite her solo album debuting a week before the holiday break — have made her fans wonder if incompetence and racism are involved. For instance, some wondered during her launch week if there is a different set of rules for a non-Korean soloist promoting in South Korea, since Lisa is Thai.

The absence of any explanation from YG Entertainment has caused Lisa’s huge fanbase in China to wonder why the timing for the launch was not considered, since the agency knew about Chuseok.

Her fans have criticized the agency for not doing its job and “betraying” Lisa.

Lisa broke records and made history before and after the release and continues to do so. And while Lilies (Lisa’s fandom) are happy for her, they’ve noticed that YG has only given the Thai-born idol bare minimum promotions. Many fans pointed out that the fanbases were the ones who organized and helped the album chart and break records as they have been working day and night to make the already hit debut even more successful. And they’re tired that they have to do the agency’s work.

To be fair, YG Entertainment has rolled out new promotional activities in the past few days, most notably an interview with Rolling Stone.

Yet YG Entertainment still has not released a schedule of further promotional activities. It has also bewildered fans with the unusual number of fansign events for Lisa, seemingly prioritizing these instead of performances and interviews.

Beyond K-pop

Lisa is the most popular member of BLACKPINK outside South Korea, and in fact is one of the world’s most popular K-pop idols, period. Yet for some reason YG Entertainment and Interscope have not taken advantage of that to heavily promote her solo debut in the US, particularly since “Money” is an all-English song.

In fact, so many people all over the world who never liked K-pop before love “Lalisa” and “Money”.

For instance, Ashley Crespo shared this video of her introducing “Lalisa” and “Money” to her cousin, who is not a K-pop fan.

When her cousin fangirled over Lisa’s style, Ashley told her: “You should see the album cover for it. It’s like very R&B-inspired, ‘coz that’s kind of like her vibe.”

After the “Lalisa” music video ended, her cousin said, “Oh my God, I’m embarrassed I have goosebumps!”

Even the most cursory social listening will reveal that many people are saying that Lisa was the one who introduced them to K-pop. And with her popularity around the world, her appeal is transcending K-pop, because a growing number of international fans love “Money” precisely because it’s not typical K-pop, but an actual hip-hop song.

International appeal

It seems that as K-pop grows more popular all over the world, gatekeeping by longtime K-pop fans, particularly in South Korea, is happening. This includes the insistence on keeping K-pop “pure” and using South Korean taste and standards to judge songs, which may be irrelevant to international fans.

Caitlin Benson’s reaction video to “Money” highlights how Lisa’s appeal is going beyond traditional K-pop and how she’s being embraced by non-K-pop fans.

“Lisa is my favorite girl K-pop rapper, period. She did that. She stomped on that. It’s over. Bye. Oh my God. Everything that Lisa has to offer was literally in this video. Period. Lyrics — some people think that Lisa’s verses are like not that good or like not too intricate. Girl, the flows and the lyrics, especially like in ‘Lalisa’ — and “Lalisa’ she even shouted out her freaking girls when she didn’t have to — like yeah granted she might not be rapping the fastest or rapping the most, like with the most metaphors in the line or whatever. But still she has a very specific way she does her ish, and she does her ish the way she does her ish. I like her flows, I like her lyrics, it’s boss girl status.”

Promote Lisa in US

In her KarenReacts reaction video for Lisa’s “Money” exclusive performance video, Karen shared how much she loved the song. She also noted that Lisa’s success is due to her power, because YG Entertainment hasn’t been promoting her.

Commenting on Lisa’s upcoming collaboration with DJ Snake, Ozuna, and Megan Thee Stallion, she said: “Maybe let that be the American promotion that she gets. Because she’s just been doing this just because of her power and not much of YG’s help.”

Meanwhile, Sne, who is a dancer, posted a reaction video showing her appreciation for the choreography in the “Money” exclusive performance video. She added that she would love to see a dance practice video to see the full choreography without the cuts.

Saying she’s a huge Lisa fan but not usually this chaotic, Sne seemed floored by the “Money” video: “Twerking twerking when I buy the things I like. Come on, girls! Oh, the body rolls. And they’re so in sync, yes. They even, the arm just went in front, you know? It looked like a little tap tap on the booty but like, ‘Well done, girl. You’re doing the most.’ I’m speaking nonsense. I’m so sorry.”

People all over the world, including non-Kpop fans, have enthusiastically embraced Lisa and are promoting “Lalisa” and “Money”.

Isn’t it time for YG Entertainment, Interscope, and Universal Music Group to do the same?