She’s arguably the most successful music star to come out of Australia in the last decade – and one of the most popular of all time. Like Kylie before her, she’s known by a mononym to legions of adoring fans. But unlike Kylie and Delta, she’s not yet a household name in her home country. Today, as she releases her very first solo single album, it’s time everyone knew her name: Rosé.
Rosé – real name Roseanne Park – was born in New Zealand but grew up in Australia, calling Melbourne her hometown. She spent her weekends singing in church choir, but was “just a normal Australian kid,” she says in Netflix’s 2020 documentary BLACKPINK: Light Up The Sky. In 2012, when she was just 15, Rosé’s dad encouraged her to attend an Australian audition in Sydney’s Chatswood for South Korean record label, YG Entertainment. When she was offered a spot as a trainee with the company, she dropped out of school and moved to Seoul on her own to pursue her music dreams.
Rosé spent the next four years training tirelessly along with other budding Kpop idols, including the three other girls – Jennie, Jisoo, and Lisa – who would eventually make up Blackpink alongside Rosé. In their Netflix documentary, the four women all describe their trainee years as tough, but Rosé adds that despite her homesickness, she was determined to make it before ever returning to Australia.
Since they debuted in 2016, BLACKPINK have become a certified phenomenon, winning awards and breaking records on a regular basis. They are the best-selling Korean girl group of all time, and the highest charting on the Billboard Hot 100. They’ve collaborated with the likes of Dua Lipa, Lady Gaga, and Selena Gomez. They’ve performed in arenas around the world, including the coveted American market, and even became the first Korean girl group to perform at an American festival with their historic Coachella set in 2019.
Rosé herself has 36.9 million followers on Instagram, and in 2020 she became a global ambassador for Yves Saint Laurent. Her first solo single album, -R-, has had over 400,000 pre-orders, the highest number for a female Korean solo artist. The teasers for title track “On the Ground” have been viewed millions of times, and it’s fair to say the music video itself will surpass those numbers soon after its release.
It’s a level of success that far outstrips most Australian artists, including some of our most iconic. Certainly, Rosé and BLACKPINK have cut through in America in a way few international artists do. Which means it’s astonishing but also not entirely surprising that the general public and mainstream media in Australia haven’t really been paying attention.
K-pop is still a musical genre that is too often otherised, misunderstood, and dismissed. Radio shies away from playing music in any language other than English, and the insidious narrative of the “dark side of K-Pop” and idols as manufactured dolls persists. But artists like Rosé are pushing back against such misconceptions.
“I really have a lot of respect for music,” she says in Light Up The Sky. “So I don’t want to be just another girl who sings and just kind of tells everybody that she writes music. That’s the last thing I want to be.” While discussing her songwriting ambitions, Rosé also revealed her fear of putting herself out there in such a personal and vulnerable way. “I’ve alway[s] been so afraid of getting in the studio or writing something.”
But Rosé pushed through her worries to do just that. She has songwriting credits on both tracks on -R-, “Gone” and “On the Ground”. Both songs feature lyrics entirely in English and are quite different from BLACKPINK’s catalogue. For fans of the band and Rosé, they add another layer to her artistry, while for new listeners, they’re an opportunity to listen to and get to know this talented young Australian artist, with no language barrier to use as an excuse not to engage.
In 2019, on the Australian leg of BLACKPINK’s world tour, Rosé performed a moving rendition of “Coming Home”. She had returned triumphant, as she had promised herself she would, having achieved heights perhaps beyond even her wildest dreams. With the release of her first solo single album and continued success with BLACKPINK, she is set to reach even higher, with no signs of slowing down.
Written by Jenna Guillaume, an entertainment journalist and author of YA rom-coms What I Like About Me and You Were Made For Me. Follow her at @jennaguillaume.