Lisa does Thailand proud with long-awaited solo debut

BLACKPINK’s Lisa (Lalisa Manoban) finally unleashed her highly anticipated solo debut on Friday with her mini-album LALISA, which blends elements of Thai culture with K-pop hip-hop in the title track. 

The album dropped on Friday at 1 pm in Seoul (GMT+9) alongside a music video of the title track. Already the Thai-born member of the highly popular K-Pop girl group has made history with LALISA becoming the fastest debut music video in YouTube history to reach more than 10 million views in 90 minutes.

Prior to this, the 24-year-old singer, rapper and dancer also made history with the most and fastest pre-orders for an album by a female Korean soloist in South Korea’s music history, with more than 800,000 pre-orders in just three days. 

Shortly after the debut, the hashtag #TodayIsLalisaDay dominated Twitter trends worldwide as fans around the world shared their excitement for Lisa’s solo debut. 

Thai Heritage

“Because this is my first solo album, and also because the title of the album is my name ‘Lalisa,’ it holds a lot of meaning for me,” Lisa said during an online press conference ahead of the album’s debut.

“I want to display who I truly am,” she added.

Lisa said she had asked her producer Teddy to arrange the song in her native Thai style, adding “Thai-style sounds” to the track. Lalisa’s music video also featured a scene in which she dances in Thai traditional costume and settings.

“(Being a Thai K-pop star,) I wanted my album to give a Thai feel as its gem, and YG’s producer, Teddy, arranged the lead track in the way I expected. I also sported Thai outfits in its music video and made traditional Thai dance movements,” she said.

With one of the final scenes in the video paying tribute to her Thai heritage, the artist could be seen donning a mongkut, or a traditional Thai headdress often used as crowns for South-East Asian monarchs and Thai classical court dances, as well as a stunning traditional Thai dress designed by the brand Asava, a contemporary Thai luxurious clothing brand. 

Asava, posting the design of her dress on Instagram, said that the golden cape crop top and mini-skirt was crafted particularly for Lisa and the music video. The costume “was specially made in traditional Thai brocade golden silk delicately woven in metal-threaded ancient patterns from Lamphun province,” the statement said.

“The outfit is hand-embroidered, embellished with sparkling Swarovski crystals throughout,” the brand added.

The setting of the scene, with a Khmer-inspired castle theme and a throne, also paid tribute to Prasat Hin Phanom Rung Historical Park, a Hindu Khmer Empire temple complex located in Lisa’s hometown of Buriram, Thailand.

Political statement?

Another scene that has caught the public’s attention features Lisa among paramilitary figures clad in body armor. The scene evoked images of protests in Thailand where security officials have harshly crackdown on pro-democracy youth protesters for the past year.

The scene was not lost on famous Thai anti-establishment rap group Rap Against Dictatorship who screen-capped the scene on their Facebook Page with the caption, “Thainess presented in the MV is crowd control police with tear gas,” “so touched!”

Lisa has previously been called out by members of the Thai protest movement for staying silent while the crackdowns happened. She is likely forbidden from making political statements as part of her deal with the record label YG Entertainment.

Lisa, whose full name is Lalisa Manoban, is the third member of the four-member girl group and the only non-Korean member of BLACKPINK to make a solo debut, following in the footsteps of her fellow members, Jennie and Rose.

Apart from billions of streams and views in BLACKPINK, Lisa is the most-followed K-Pop star on Instagram, with more than 58 million followers.

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