The blatant, proud declaration of girl power is reminiscent to some of the most successful girl groups of recent years who always seemed fully invested in the group identity. Starting in the late '90s, the Spice Girls had their five different spices, with each girl having a polished image and performance style. Plus, their two smash albums, Spice and Spice World, all played off their name, not to mention the lead singles from both introduced the different members (see Mel B and Geri Halliwell's rap on Spice's "Wannabe") or became a group anthem (Spice World's "Spice Up Your Life").
TLC had their T-Boz, Lisa "Left Eye" Lopez and Chili with each member's part instantly identifiable in a song. Destiny's Child may have been ultimately overpowered by Beyoncé, but the group's story was one of pop's most well-known with the ladies putting their story into music (the group's member exits were addressed on "Survivor") and eventually began shouting out the different members ("Kelly, can you handle this? Michelle, can you handle this?"), making a reunion performance like Coachella 2018 all the more welcome. The Pussycat Dolls committed to their theme and had clear branding in their look, merchandise and songs; look back to verses from collaborators like Busta Rhymes, Missy Elliott and Snoop Dogg.
Interestingly, the most successful wave of Western girl groups of recent years did not use those same tactics. The two obvious front-runners, Fifth Harmony and Little Mix, typically do not publicly push the fact that it's a group singing their insanely catchy singles on the record, with the collective identity feeling more like a backdrop. While tracks like "Wings," "DNA" or "Salute" touched on their personal story as a group (member Leigh-Anne Pinnock has a "Wings"-inspired butterfly tattoo), it was only recently that the LM ladies seemed to let their narrative -- or the public's perceived narrative -- directly creep into the music with "Shout Out to My Ex," an apparent kiss-off anthem to the media's obsession with Perrie Edwards and her ex-fiancé Zayn Malik. That single was voted British single of the year at the 2017 Brit Awards, one of the highest honors in the U.K., as well becoming one of the highest-charting entries on the Hot 100.
It also feels like some of K-pop's biggest and most globally successful girl groups have their team branding in mind too, as seen in now-disbanded acts like 2NE1 and 4Minute. But also look at groups like TWICE crafting hooks around their names (their debut single "Like Ooh Ahh" included the "I ain’t no easy/ Better think about it twice" bridge), while Red Velvet have done a nice job by embracing both sides of their name with bright pop and slick R&B tracks, and Pristin opened their debut single chanting "We are Pristin!" All three of those groups, along with BLACKPINK, scored impressive debuts with their first releases on the Billboard charts.
All in all, it feels like BLACKPINK may be hitting on a larger sentiment when it comes to their girl-group identity and clear pride as a girl group. There's an excitement in any group owning their identity, but BLACKPINK is doing it in a way that feels like the listener is joining in on the hype and helping craft this story. Four women coming together to declare "BLACKPINK is the revolution," heard on the new track "Forever Young," is powerful -- it's not one person changing things; it's BLACKPINK.
Moving forward, it seems like it would only help the quartet to put more of themselves into the music. There are topics the group could address that could fit to their personal story, perhaps their frustrations or worries for their long-awaited debut that was teased for years, pressures of the industry or maybe the worries they feel as potential global stars. But BLACKPINK's runaway success does not seem to be a fluke and touching on something larger than just uber-catchy hits -- there's a power in them being confident and proud of their power as a girl group in a way that only the best, and most global, girl groups can.