HomeStoriesScathing BLACKPINK And LE SSERAFIM "Coachella" Reviews From Popular Music Critic Become...

Scathing BLACKPINK And LE SSERAFIM “Coachella” Reviews From Popular Music Critic Become A Hot Topic

Kim had much to say about all three performances.

The high-profile performances of K-Pop acts BLACKPINK and LE SSERAFIM at Coachella throughout the years have been met with a critical appraisal from renowned music critic Kim Do Heon, sparking a heated discussion among fans.

lsrm coachella voguejp twt
| @voguejp/X (formerly known as Twitter)

BLACKPINK’s inaugural 2019 Coachella set was met with mixed feelings from Kim, who found their live vocals underwhelming. Despite this, he acknowledged that the group’s performance embodied the festival’s eclectic spirit.

BLACKPINK is performing live at Coachella. It’s really surprising that a K-Pop girl group is performing at Coachella… but their singing is quite poor. The decadent atmosphere and the chaotic EDM hybrid do seem to set the mood well though, don’t they?

— Kim Do Heon

bp 19 review

However, when revisiting BLACKPINK’s return as headliners in 2023, Kim’s review took on a sharper edge. He criticized the group for missing a significant cultural opportunity to present a narrative as rich and impactful as their predecessors on the Coachella stage. He remarked on the lack of depth and the failure to seize the moment to represent Asian artists meaningfully or to contribute to the narrative of K-Pop as a legitimate alternative music genre.

“If they had seriously embraced the significance of being a Coachella headliner, such a superficial and lightweight approach would not have emerged. It shouldn’t have just been a stage to showcase how pretty and famous BLACKPINK is. As the first K-Pop, and indeed the first Asian female group to be headliners at an American festival, there was so much narrative potential to draw from. Yesterday, Bad Bunny, the first Latin American artist to headline, packed his 25-song setlist with a lecture on the history of Latin music, a report highlighting the dire situation in his native Puerto Rico, and his personal narrative as a musician. The world realized the depth of Latin music and its legitimacy as alternative music, and recognized his superstar status.

What did Blackpink’s performance leave behind? A symbol of the Asian boom in America? The solidarity among women that the previous performer, Boygenius, demonstrated? The K-Pop system that made their today possible? The possibility of K-Pop as a new alternative music? Nothing remained. It was just one of many busy schedules they managed to handle.”

— Kim Do Heon

The scathing review lamented what he perceived as a step back from their previous Coachella performance, suggesting that the stage was a missed chance for K-pop to establish a serious foothold in the global music scene.

“Since the purpose was simple, it inevitably led to discussions of talent. Compared to the numerous artists who threw themselves into the Coachella stage, Blackpink was absolutely not at the level to be festival headliners. The early parts of their performance, where they added AR and backing vocals, were terrible. They didn’t even dance as passionately as the backup dancers. Only when considering the size of the audience, the dazzling devices, the drone show adorning the night sky, and the arrangements suited for a large stage, could one realize this performance was a highlight. The format, moving from group songs to individual member solos, would have sufficed for a domestic idol concert. It was a performance suitable for social media uploads, DVD releases.

It regressed in every aspect compared to 2019. Blackpink’s Coachella stage ended with a spectacular fireworks display. It momentarily dazzled everyone, but soon left only acrid smoke behind in the dark space. It was a waste of a stage that every musician dreams of. K-Pop missed a serious opportunity to be treated earnestly on the global market.”

— Kim Do Heon

bp 23 review

In 2024, LE SSERAFIM took the stage, and while Kim noted the group’s effort to present a dynamic performance, he also observed an apparent lack of energy as their set progressed. His commentary focused on the group’s strategy to leverage strong band accompaniment to mask vocal weaknesses and produce a more robust sound. This tactic, however, was not enough to dispel his observations of the group’s tense performance.

What you expect at Coachella is not ‘perfect singing’ but rather a dynamic performance that can only be shown at this festival. A strategy that hides weaknesses and enhances strengths is needed. LE SSERAFIM, perhaps conscious of debates over vocal ability, had a strong band accompaniment and made the sound powerful, but as the performance went on, they appeared to lose energy and looked tense.

— Kim Do Heon

lsrfm 24 review
| TheQoo

Kim’s reviews have stirred a conversation around the expectations for international K-Pop acts performing at a festival as prominent as Coachella. His reviews that while perfect singing may not be the hallmark of Coachella, the essence lies in delivering a memorable performance that plays to an artist’s strengths.




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