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With two No. 1 albums on the Billboard World chart and seven hit singles, it isn’t hard understand why BLACKPINK is one of the most popular girl groups in the world. But how were BLACKPINK’s members discovered? Lisa, Jennie, Rosé and Jisoo have been in the band since it debuted with “Boombayah” in 2016, but what were their lives like before BLACKPINK and how did they become trainees for YG Entertainment? Well, like most K-pop bands, BLACKPINK’s road to success is complicated.
BLACKPINK, formed by YG Entertainment (one of the “Big 3” entertainment companies in K-pop), debuted in August 2016 with their first single “Boombayah.” Since then, the four-member girl group has achieved international success. The band, which has sold millions of records worldwide, became the first K-pop act to perform at Coachella in April 2019. The girl group also has a song, titled “Kiss and Make Up,” with Grammy winner Dua Lipa, and has caught the attention of celebrities like Harry Styles (who attended one of their concerts in April) and Ariana Grande. So, yes, if you haven’t heard of BLACKPINK by now, it’s time to catch up. And what a better way to start than learning how the band’s four members—Lisa, Jennie, Rosé and Jisoo—became a part of BLACKPINK in the first place.
Jennie was the first BLACKPINK member to become a trainee at YG Entertainment. According to Korea Boo, Jennie moved from Seoul, South Korea, to New Zealand at 10 years old. While she was a student at ACG Parnell College in Auckland, New Zealand, Jennie was interviewed for a documentary by the network MBC, where she revealed that she listened to a lot of K-pop and had dreams of becoming an entertainer. (The documentary also made her first BLACKPINK member to be on TV.)
When she was 14, Jennie’s parents wanted to transfer her to a school in Florida in the United States to become a lawyer, but Jennie, who had dreams of becoming a ballet dancer when she was young, convinced her parents to allow her to return to Seoul, so she could pursue a music career. That same year, she auditioned for YG Entertainment with Rihanna’s “Take a Bow” and became a trainee. Jennie, who sings and raps in most of BLACKPINK’s songs, initially auditioned as a singer, but the heads at YG convinced her to train as a rapper as well after learning that she was one of the few trainees who could speak English. As a trainee, Jennie was featured in the music videos of several other K-pop stars, such as G-Dragon and Lee Hi. Jennie has also expressed that she was worried she would never debut after spending six years as a trainee at YG. Now, she’s considered one of BLACKPINK’s vocalists and rappers.
In 2010, Lisa attended an audition in Thailand, where she was born and raised, to be a trainee at YG Entertainment. Of the 4,000 people who auditioned, Lisa was the only one to pass. When she moved to South Korea in 2011 to be a trainee at YG, Lisa, who was in a dance crew in Thailand before BLACKPINK, didn’t know a word of Korean. She studied hard at the language and eventually became fluent enough to be a rapper in BLACKPINK. As a trainee, Lisa was featured in the music videos of K-pop stars, such as Taeyang. Though Lisa sings in some of BLACKPINK’s songs, rapping is where she shines. As a Thai, she’s also the only member who isn’t of Korean descent.
Jisoo, BLACKPINK’s lead vocals, became a trainee at YG Entertainment in July 2011. On an episode of Radio Star, she revealed that she was scouted by an SM Entertainment agent at a YG Entertainment concert, where she turned the offer down. Along with her K-pop career, Jisoo is also an established actress. Before her debut, she starred in commercials for brands like Samsonite, LG Electronics and Nikon, as well as the Korean drama The Producers. She’s also appeared in the music video of K-pop artists, like Epik High and HI SUHYUN.
Rosé was the last member of BLACKPINK. Raised in Australia, Rosé had a knack for singing, songwriting and musical instruments. In 2012, when her father heard of an audition for YG Entertainment in Australia, her father immediately signed her up. “I used to live in Australia. It was a rural neighborhood, rather than a metropolis. So I stayed home playing the piano or the guitar and singing,” Rosé previously told fans. “My dad noticed that I like music, so he took me to audition. Before I auditioned, music had been a hobby, but once I came to Korea and realized where I stand in terms of skills, I became more passionate and competitive about it.”
She became a trainee in May 2012 and had the shortest training period in BLACKPINK. As a trainee, she was featured on G-Dragon’s song, “Without You.” Now, Rosé is regarded as BLACKPINK’s main vocalist.