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How BLACKPINK Became the First All-Female Group to Top the Billboard 200 in Over a Decade

"In our mind once the album comes out the real work begins," says Sam Riback, executive vp/co-head of a&r at Interscope Geffen A&M.

The top of the Billboard 200 albums chart has been dominated by Bad Bunny‘s Un Verano Sin Ti for much of this year, as the Puerto Rican star continues to make headlines and break records. But this week, he faced a powerful new challenger in BLACKPINK, as the sophomore effort from the K-pop group, BORN PINK, overtook the Latin superstar for No. 1 on the Billboard 200.

Even a few years ago, a battle for number one between Puerto Rican and Korean acts in the American market would have been unheard of. But in today’s music business, when multiple Latin and K-pop stars have broken through as formidable hitmakers in the U.S., it’s far less of a surprise. Adding to the excitement of BLACKPINK’s chart-topping feat is that they’re the first all-female group to top the Billboard 200 in over a decade.

While most teams this year are spending their promotion dollars on TikTok and online marketing, BLACKPINK’s opted to focus on in-person activations. That includes their “Light Up The Pink” campaign, in which they lit up monuments around the world in the group’s defining color to celebrate BORN PINK‘s lead single, “Pink Venom.” That effort and more helped lift “Pink Venom” to a No. 1 debut on both Billboard global charts, with the track drawing 212.1 million streams worldwide in the Aug. 19-25 tracking week — the second-biggest worldwide weekly streaming total since the Global 200 began in September 2020. And that success so far helps earn Interscope Geffen A&M executive vp/co-head of A&R Sam Riback the title of Billboard‘s Executive of the Week.

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Riback, who has worked with the group for the past four years, says that although the label has already enjoyed a successful rollout for BORN PINK, their efforts to lift BLACKPINK to even greater stardom and recognition are only just beginning. “I can’t reveal too much, but between Interscope and our partners YG/Black Label we have some things up our sleeve that fans are going to be blown away by.”

While BLACKPINK featured other artists like Cardi B and Selena Gomez on their first album, what was behind the decision to make BORN PINK entirely focused on the four ladies of BLACKPINK?

With this album being so highly anticipated, we felt it was important for BLACKPINK to focus on the incredible chemistry and unique style that each member brings to the group. In doing so I believe it showcased why collectively they are one of the most formidable pop groups in the world.

Can you speak to the recording process of BORN PINK? It’s the first time the foursome were together to record a new album in two years. Were there any great moments that may have indicated to the team that you all had a No. 1 album on your hands?

With each recording process I am always so impressed with the amount detail and focus BLACKPINK and [producer and creative director] Teddy [Park] put into each song that ends up on the album. When they started to share songs like “Pink Venom” and “Shut Down” that came together in the final hours of recording, [with] the one-two punch of those moments we knew that BLACKPINK were going to launch this album with a bang.

BORN PINK debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart this week, making them the first all-woman group to achieve this in over a decade. How do you and the team plan to keep the momentum going in the weeks to come?

We’ve been working with BLACKPINK for more than four years now, and it’s been the same team at Interscope that has been there every step of the way. From marketing to radio to our digital teams and publicity, everyone has given this group every ounce of creativity and expertise they possess. So this result has been really gratifying for everyone involved.

In our mind once the album comes out the real work begins. I can’t reveal too much but between Interscope and our partners YG/Black Label we have some things up our sleeve that fans are going to be blown away by. We are really looking forward to continuing to amplify BORN PINK.

What key takeaways do you have from the album’s success that you can use in future releases, both for BLACKPINK and for other Interscope artists?

My biggest takeaway is how universal the music BLACKPINK makes is, how it connects so many people around the globe. It is a really inspiring time to be a creative executive in the music business as so many cultures and genres are coming together to push the boundaries of what is possible in pop music.

How have you seen BLACKPINK’s sound as a group evolve over time? What are some distinctions between their new music and their previous work?

Collectively I see a confidence and swagger in the music they make that has grown over the years we have been working together. BORN PINK is probably their most refined collection of songs, and I can’t wait to see where they take pop music next.