Tuesday, January 15th, 2019

Exo – Love Shot

If you see a faded sign by the side of the road that says [4.14] points to the…


[Video]
[4.14]

Jessica Doyle: “Love Shot” feels as if the songwriters gave up after the second draft (and one of the notes for the third draft was, “Fix the way the melody wanders in the bridge”). Give credit where credit is due: Chen has finally been de-mulleted, Xiumin gets some decent close-ups for once, and Slightly Angsty Yet Mostly Stoic 1930s Fighter Pilot D.O. is an excellent idea that SM should pursue further. And after “Tempo” (and “Gravity“, for that matter) it’s not like Exo has to prove themselves. But haven’t these guys worked hard enough to get to release two solid singles in a row?
[4]

Alfred Soto: Rather heavy-handed about its electro-dub for listeners who heard “Underneath It All” in the CVS food aisle that morning.
[4]

Joshua Minsoo Kim: Sheesh, at least “Ko Ko Bop” had some spring in its step. That song’s reggae elements added something interesting to the song, here they just contribute to the overall drabness. The lazy “na na na” hook doesn’t help either, and the rap verses reveal how frustratingly lethargic this wants to be.
[2]

Crystal Leww: Remember that period immediately following EDM pop 1.0 when K-pop was taking it to its maximalist extreme? What about when K-pop was doing pop house or future bass? Well, “Love Shot” is Exo doing their worst Twenty One Pilots. Congrats! Someone call the Suicide Squad soundtrack guys.
[4]

Katie Gill: I see that the US pop trend of replacing a chorus with a drop isn’t just a US exclusive. Yes, the chorus technically has words (even if they’re just “na na na na”), but the structure fundamentally remains the same. At the end of the day, this is just a middle of the road, slightly boring, nothing-to-write-home-about song that the boy band can’t even muster up excitement for. Never have I heard the phrase “it’s the love shot,” a phrase which sounds like it has so much potential to be fun and exciting, be delivered so blandly.
[5]

Nicholas Donohoue: More an anesthetic shot, which I guess is a type of love shot. “Na na na’s” can get you pretty far, but this is an apathetic use of my beloved nonsense syllables.
[4]

Alex Clifton: Exo’s good at turning the mundane into something dramatic; think about the rush of emotion in “Call Me Baby” where it’s the sugariest high, or the melodrama of “Monster.” “Love Shot” is the closest I’ve heard them in a while get to something more in line with that, but there are a few moments when it falls a little flat. It’s really catchy and guaranteed to be stuck in my head for a few days, but I’m not stuck on this song the way I can get with K-pop — which is to say, it’s a good song but not a great one.
[6]

Tuesday, January 15th, 2019

City Girls ft. Cardi B – Twerk

More of this JT, less of that other one…


[Video]
[6.50]

Thomas Inskeep: Miami’s City Girls are following in the steps of other nasty female rappers like Lil’ Kim, Khia, and Trina (who herself is the godmother of Yung Miami), rapping unabashedly about sexual pleasure and not giving a fuck who cares. And with an M.O. like that, who better to feature on their single “Twerk” than the queen of 2018, Cardi B? Musically this is Miami in spades, not only influenced by Trina and Trick Daddy but also freestyle icon Debbie Deb, and you know what “Twerk” ultimately sounds like? An anthem, and not just for strip clubs. Watch this become a massive, female-empowering, 2019 hit, just as it should be.
[9]

Alfred Soto: It rattles and horns its way into my consciousness like 1987-era Beasties, and my local girls and Cardi fling rhymes for the love of it, because the words sound cool. Docked a point for using 2013-era slang.
[7]

Joshua Minsoo Kim: Producers Rico Love and Mr. Nova couldn’t have picked a better sample to work with, as all three rappers here provide a killer response to bounce classic “Choppa Style,” asserting why they’re great and what they want. The verses are, naturally, the best thing about “Twerk”; the buzzing synth in the chorus is comparatively dull. Regardless of your take on this, I’m sure everyone can at least agree that it isn’t as toothless as “In My Feelings.”
[6]

Nicholas Donohoue: City Girls do a good job mixing the hard edge in “Lemon” with the sweet hustle of “Nice For What” and then taking the popular ascendancy of bounce back to its roots by being primarily about ass. Oh, and Cardi is here. Who doesn’t love when Cardi’s around?
[6]

Crystal Leww: I’m so annoyed that Cardi B is the new anointed one. Both JT and Yung Miami not just out-rap her, but they’re both also loads more fun! But other than that, inject this directly into my veins. New Orleans bounce is still capable of thrilling as a production style — the screwy synth sound is a nice touch here. 
[7]

Will Rivitz: Less New Orleans producers making bounce and more New Orleans producers aping Diplo aping bounce, but Diplo’s bounce is better than the bad rap it gets. It helps that the three rappers here swagger all over the beat with the confidence of women fully aware they’re “God’s gift to a dick (woo!),” making the song where less self-assured performers might break it.
[7]

Jonathan Bradley: New York gave New Orleans the Triggaman break, which is one of many reasons putting Cardi B on a bounce beat ends up working more intuitively than geography might suppose. South Florida’s City Girls make their own civic contribution; there’s more than a bit of Miami bass in the booming low end of their track — the quintessential music for strip clubs is yet another familiar context for Cardi in this cultural exchange. And she does outshine her hosts, her star power and her verbiage overcoming any residual road game disadvantage.
[6]

Nortey Dowuona: Low, limping bass slogs after the dribbling synths while bouncing drums buoy both Yung Miami and JT while Cardi struggles to keep her footing before finally letting the groove bounce her up.
[6]

Ian Mathers: I feel like this would work just a little better for me if the production, No Limit flip, or the City Girls’ performances weren’t ALL so relentless; 2 out of 3 would probably work great. That’s part of why the moderately more paced beginning of Cardi’s feature is my favourite part of the song, but also the bit that reveals how much better this could be; the rest of it feeling both a little exhausting and longer than its pretty modest running time.
[5]

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: Obvious and sweaty, but in a way that fully reconstrues those factors as compliments.
[6]

Tuesday, January 15th, 2019

Lizzo – Juice

Drink up!


[Video]
[7.92]

Alex Clifton: I would write a more coherent review, but honestly this song is three minutes of me just yelling “HELL YEAH, HELL YEAH, HELL YEAH!!!!!”, so make of that what you will.
[8]

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: EAT YOUR HEART OUT, BRUNO MARS
[10]

Crystal Leww: Lizzo taking a play out of Bruno Mars’s book to get into her Prince phase is something I can get behind. Remember that jolt of lightning that “Gotta kiss myself I’m so pretty” was? Take that and magnify it by ten with “Heard you say I’m not the baddest, bitch, you lie.”
[8]

Jonathan Bradley: Lizzo’s personality begs to take the place of the song — she is effervescent and playful and a whole lot of fun to be around — but “Juice” remains a song. Unfortunately, that song is a very modest funk that works so hard to realize its throwback ambitions that Bruno Mars might have rejected it as too much schtick.
[5]

Katherine St Asaph: I blame Bruno Mars for this latest exhilarating cut of Minneapolis-made, Princely funk sounding like autopilot. But to be fair, “Juice” kind of is Lizzo on autopilot, self-admittedly (“don’t even gotta try”), with a tossed-off post-chorus — which is still more exhilarating than 90% of artists.
[6]

Will Adams: Turns out five years is the amount of time it takes for me to become bearish on this style of shiny funk pop, but “Juice” gets by on the sheer force of Lizzo’s personality. Things get interesting in the last minute when the rhythm section goes into overdrive; the rest is the funnest fluff you could find.
[6]

Joshua Minsoo Kim: Say hello to the most agreeable pop song of the year. If this exceedingly generic funk pop was handled by anyone without Lizzo’s level of charisma then it’d be an automatic dud, but she sells every single line, even the most hackneyed. I wish the bridge was more robust, but the song swings back around to the chorus soon enough that it’s not a huge detriment.
[5]

Alfred Soto: Holy hell, that riff — even the reverb works. Boasting about the quality of her bodily fluids, Lizzo promotes sex positivity while keeping her rhythm section employed. This is a track where cowbell and timbales dare the audience to blame them for their juice. 
[8]

Nortey Dowuona: The echoing, clanging guitars and open, slipping drums carry Lizzo’s bright, light-footed coo and oration, while the slithering, squeezing bass drips orange juice around her, which she then surfs into the clouds, just as slivers of guitar snarls and full-throated horns roar. It’s perfect.
[10]

Thomas Inskeep: This upbeat, ’80s-inspired pop/R&B/club track (if you’re looking for antecedents, think Gwen Guthrie) is the definition of “ebullient.”
[10]

Ian Mathers: I had to go back and check, but yeah this may be even more unrestrainedly, exuberantly joyful (not to mention motivating – I might need to start playing this for myself every Monday morning) than “Good As Hell”, and that song already made me feel like I could punch the ceiling off of whatever room I’m in.
[10]

William John: Lizzo releasing a clarion call to the ballroom this luminous in early January might seem perplexing, but I think it can be rationalised in one of two ways — either she’s particularly fond of her fans in the southern hemisphere and wished to impart on them a summer’s gift, or she figured that in early January, where most of us oscillate between feeling hopeful for new beginnings and hopeless at the thought of another year ahead on this slowly burning furnace of a planet, songs which resolutely emphasise the joys in drawing confidence from oneself become imperative. No matter the reason, it’s here, it’s big, and it sounds at once like the beach and a wedding and a rainbow-lit club and the sort of thing I’d wiggle my bum to while washing up. Whether it will stick around long enough to impact the northern hemisphere summer is a question yet unanswered, but we can hope and dance contentedly in the meantime.
[9]

Nicholas Donohoue: I was a big Lizzo skeptic — she was obviously a charismatic performer with a clear message as to what she’s achieving, but that message was for someone who wasn’t me. It turns out I’m a huge idiot, because Lizzo being herself and using every bit of herself is for everyone. “Juice” isn’t my favorite track from her, but the brass section, the Jane Fonda Workout aesthetic, the beautiful line of gross and sexy she walks on the word juice: it’s something only Lizzo could serve right now.
[8]

Monday, January 14th, 2019

Chung Ha – Gotta Go

Stepping out alone after her Readers’ Week collaboration


[Video]
[6.83]

Joshua Minsoo Kim: While Chung Ha showed immense promise during her Produce 101 and I.O.I days, “Gotta Go” solidifies her as one of the best Korean female soloists today. She partners with Black Eyed Pilseung and Jeon Goon here — the same people behind her breakout hit “Roller Coaster” — for her most impressive single to date. The song features a dazzling arrangement of synthesized flute melodies, warped vocal samples, trap-like percussion, ice-cold synths, and a spattering of freestyle elements. It comes together elegantly, at once desperate and sorrowful and seductive. Over the instrumentation is Chung Ha’s vocal melodies, curling and soaring to express her anguish: she’s in love with someone but it’s already midnight, and the threat of losing everything looms over her now that it’s time to leave. What is “Gotta Go,” then, but an unresolved Cinderella story — one that portrays the horrifying realization that after the royal ball comes the same, loveless life of old. There’s no fairy godmother, no glass slipper, no search party to come; the real world has no qualms about your vanishing happy ending. In a final attempt at changing the trajectory of her life, Chung Ha screams out in the bridge: “I’m really trying to make you see!” In the extended instrumental section that follows, you sense her intransigence turning into acceptance; the cries of “Gotta Go” that were once a last-minute grasping at straws are now of dejected admission. The End.
[7]

Thomas Inskeep: I like the tone of Chung Ha’s voice a lot, and the track is so all over the place (trappish beats! weird synth hiccups! brief freestyle fx!) that I can’t stop listening for more elements. This is how you throw everything and the kitchen sink at a song and make it work.
[8]

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: A trap pop song but with the saturation on everything turned all the way up — when the bridge comes in with a new array of candy-colored hooks with a minute left in the song, I was almost shocked at the sheer excess. If anything, “Gotta Go” is slightly overstuffed. It’s a great time as is, but with a little extra time to breathe Chung Ha’s charming vocal performance could really shine.
[8]

Nicholas Donohoue: One thing that has endeared me to my limited dive into K-pop is how much effort is put into every detail of production, which is what interests me here; this sounds like a demo track. A detailed, layered and managed demo, but one where the hits sound a little too low, the breaks in the transitions seem rushed and messy, and like a few more vocal takes mixed and matched could have heightened the song more.
[5]

Alfred Soto: The sampled whistle grows in intensity in the last third until “Gotta Go” rattles like a Rihanna or freestyle track yearning to breathe free.
[6]

Ryo Miyauchi: That snakecharmer’s flute sounds deceptively simple for a song with a complicated story, and the dark bass shrouds it in this vague aura of familiarity like a face you can’t quite remember. It inspires a curiosity that works in Chung Ha’s favor as she lures you closer only for the night to seemingly get in the way. She may sing about the end as an unfortunate farewell in the chorus and especially the bridge, squeezing as much melodrama as she can out of the implied loneliness. But she’s ultimately the one in control of this narrative, always the one tapping her watch to signal her time to go without a care for a clean exit. She makes you a fool for believing in such a thing called fate.
[7]

Monday, January 14th, 2019

Tory Lanez ft. Rich The Kid – Talk to Me

We would like to be clear that these blurbs are not an invitation for Tory Lanez or Rich The Kid to ever, under any circumstance, talk to us…


[Video]
[2.67]

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: “Prissy little missy” is the most disqualifying set of words in the history of pop music.
[2]

Crystal Leww: There are pros and cons of being an industry plant. For Tory Lanez, the pros are that he can sometimes make polished, radio-ready songs that jump on trends hard like “LUV” or “Miss You.” The cons are that he can sometimes make uninspired garbage with abusers such as Rich The Kid like “Talk to Me.” 
[3]

Thomas Inskeep: I’m just terribly impressed that these guys have expensive cars and jewelry and get women to sleep with them because — they’re famous? They’re rich? Because it’s not due to talent. This is as generic as trap & B gets in the late 2010s, with a boring-ass track supporting an undistinguished singer and an undistinguished rapper. Yawn.
[0]

Joshua Minsoo Kim: Tory Lanez’s Auto-Tune crooning is grating more often than not, so it’s a pleasant surprise to find myself drawn to this hook. Or at least, that’s what I thought during the song’s first 35 seconds before he repeated it so often that all charm was lost. He exudes confidence when he brags “I’m hella rich and I love to talk shit,” but “Talk To Me” doesn’t really grant you a chance to care about anything other than that hook. Rich The Kid’s presence is only welcome because he acts as temporary reprieve.
[3]

Ryo Miyauchi: Tory Lanez does just enough to get by. He ties his bland player rap to that stretchy cadence, punctuating each end with that melodic punctuation of “baby,” in hopes that its catchiness can cover up his banalities long enough until the chorus comes. There’s also the shiny beat and the Travis Scott ad libs working for him, both of which feel like generic additions in the current rap charts but glisten just enough to contain interest.
[5]

Nicholas Donohoue: iF yOuR Use oF StUDLy caPs is tHE MosT MemORAbLe asPEcT oF YouR OuTPut, yOu MAY havE A pROblEm.
[3]

Monday, January 14th, 2019

Jax Jones & Years & Years – Play

That is, Jax Jones is collaborating with Years & Years; Jax Jones & Years is not collaborating with Years, and nor is Jax Jones collaborating with two individual and separately credited artists named Years. Having settled the ampersands, let’s take a listen to the song…


[Video]
[5.50]

Thomas Inskeep: Light but not throwaway, simultaneously airy and dancefloor-driven, this is house music of the variety that Jones has spent the past couple of years proving he’s damned fine at making. And Years & Years’ Olly Alexander is an ace foil, proving it with a playful vocal that avoids sounding like just another male singer on a pop-house track.
[7]

Joshua Minsoo Kim: More department store-friendly house from Jax Jones. Previous collaborator MNEK is here, but Olly Alexander also joins in and… sounds devoid of all personality. There’s potential for poignancy with the “Play me the song that will make me belong” hook, but this is much too sterile for anything resembling actual emotion to register.
[2]

Scott Mildenhall: Like the silent partners of La Roux and AlunaGeorge before them, you’ve got to wonder how Mikey and Emre Years feel about the use of their band’s name on a song two thirds of it had no hand in. In all likelihood they couldn’t care less, and would correctly point out that no, really, AlunaGeorge are still unified in portmanteaudom. But it does pose questions of synecdoche and Trigger’s broom. If this were an Ollyless instrumental produced with The Other Two, would it still bear their collective title? These are the mysteries posed when a song is so slick that all other thought slides off it. It wouldn’t be half as effective if Olly weren’t there.
[6]

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: Taken outside of the luxurious trappings he usually operates in, Olly Alexander comes off as much less interesting than usual — what’s charming on Years & Years songs is here wavering between anonymous and just annoying. It’s mostly Jax Jones’s fault, though. If a song sounds like paint-by-numbers EDM crossover, then it’s hard for even a performer as unique as Alexander to come off well.
[4]

Crystal Leww: I thought “Play” was paint-by-the-numbers the first time I heard it in late 2018, but after hearing it again in early 2019, it’s been kind of difficult for me to stop listening to it. And that’s it, isn’t it? It’s not that Jax Jones is reinventing anything about dance music or even doing anything that isn’t kind of behind the curve. “Breathe” sounded a lot like “How Deep Is Your Love.” “Ring Ring” is tropical house after trophouse was a thing. And “Play” is jumping on the train of ’80s-inspired dance music. But Jax Jones has yet again showed that it’s not about being first on a sound revival, but it’s about making sure that it sounds good.
[8]

Alfred Soto: Nothing in this collaboration disrupts Years & Years’ image as expert purveyors of anguished kineticism. This time, Olly Alexander replaces the Christian subtexts with music-as-god: Think “Let the Music Play” without the anguish and as pop house. 
[7]

Katherine St Asaph: Rictus-grin pop house with well-worn and dubious songwriting tropes: repeated ocean/emotion rhyme; a reference to some other “song that will make me belong to you,” implied not to be the one playing. Olly Alexander’s pinched tone sounds a bit like Daniel Bedingfield, but that just reminds me that “Gotta Get Thru This” has the tension this lacks.
[3]

Nicholas Donohoue: This has an inkling of resemblance to Janet’s “Someone to Call My Lover.” Yes in its sound cues, but more importantly in its heart and soul, in its cautioned glee wrapped in apprehension that’s taken off in some dual daydream and real life. 
[7]

Saturday, January 12th, 2019

Bonus Tracks for Week Ending January 12, 2019

You’ll be happy to know our writers have been staying busy in the brand new year!

First, some more 2018 wrap-ups for you to enjoy:

But that’s not all:

Friday, January 11th, 2019

Anderson .Paak ft. Kendrick Lamar – Tints

.Paak’s turned his car into a disco, and nobody’s invited.


[Video][Website]
[6.50]

Crystal Leww: Anderson .Paak and Kendrick Lamar are such a natural fit together that once I heard “Tints” it just felt like it made sense. “Tints” is a great song for them to showcase the reason why; they use tinted windows in a car as a metaphor for how people hide aspects of themselves from others. Really blowing out a concept into a full blown song (or album) is something that Anderson .Paak and Kendrick Lamar, two critical darlings, would do. The song is fine – it’s not overbearing or overwrought and kinda grooves and bounces along, so yeah, checks out for these two, I guess.
[6]

Alfred Soto: The early ’90s house vibe faintly echoed in the strings, which itself was a disco echo, is this single’s most attractive quality. It’s neither labored nor a rictus grin. But Paak’s chalky timbre is the last I’d wanna hear at karaoke. 
[6]

Thomas Inskeep: I wish I’d paid attention to .Paak’s sophomore album Oxnard earlier, because the shit jams, and foremost among those jams is “Tints.” He’s kind of the singing version of his buddy Lamar — I know that .Paak raps too, but his singing is stronger. (And I’d love to hear the pair do a collaborative album.) “Tints” is an absolute windows-down car-rocker, perfect for sunny California days, complete with a rubbery bassline. It’s also my first favorite song of 2019.
[10]

Nicholas Donohoue: This is tap dance delivery over a disco beat and while not Anderson .Paak’s first foray into the genre this is the most lived in and comfortable he’s sounded in the style. It’s also nice to see Kendrick doing building block moves to cultivate a living legend persona.
[7]

Nortey Dowuona: Shiny, fizzing bass swims underneath glittering synths and stomping drums while Anderson glides right over while Kendrick tosses off a simple tagging to show he was here.
[6]

Joshua Minsoo Kim: It’s obvious that Anderson .Paak and Kendrick Lamar would pair well together considering how similar they are, but much like “Deep Water,” “Tints” only hints at the potential of such a collaboration. .Paak ends up having the more hard-edged performance because of his gravely voice, and this only points to how Kendrick’s casual verse feel like a missed opportunity. I’d prefer a more flamboyant and bombastic song from these two. The female vocalists at the end are a nice consolation prize.
[4]

Friday, January 11th, 2019

Meek Mill ft. Drake – Going Bad

If you had “Day 5” on the “When will The Singles Jukebox first feature Drake” sweep, congratulations, you win!


[Video][Website]
[5.00]

Crystal Leww: Well, seems like these two have buried the hatchet. No surprise! It’s boring!
[5]

Thomas Inskeep: Of course it opens with Drake’s verse, because every Drake feature opens with him these days so that you hear it first when streaming and come back to it because DRAKE. But good God, this is the worst verse I’ve heard from him in years, and Meek follows it up reminding us that prior to his stay in prison, he wasn’t a very interesting rapper. This is going bad, alright, but not in the way they think.
[1]

Ryo Miyauchi: There’s not much going on lyrically to elevate this beyond a symbolic gesture after the series of events post-“Back to Back.” Meek Mill scribbles some leisure rhymes; other parts of Championships offered more memorable commentary. Drake, meanwhile, keeps “Going Bad” engaging with his catchy cadences by stretching and tightening them however he sees fit.
[5]

Nicholas Donohoue: I am all here for reconciliation of two rappers even if I have no idea why they were fighting years later. Apparently Drake had at least 3 dedicated diss tracks compared to Meek’s 1 which is hilariously on brand. Individually Drake sounds confused with the words he is saying, Meek seems happy that he got the career lift and friendship both on track. It’s a cute ditty, but the backstory is the only reason we’re here, let’s be real.
[5]

Edward Okulicz: I initially heard Meek’s line about “bands all on your head like Jason Terry” as “bands all on your head like dysentery.” This doesn’t make sense, but a) I don’t know anything about basketball, and b) in yet another rap track using old-timey cartoon piano and not much else, one must find points of interest where you can. Drake sounds like he’s savouring the beat more than Meek so ending the beef was probably kindness on his part.
[4]

Alfred Soto: God in heaven, Drake’s opening verse and pre-chorus surpass Meek’s in swag and imagination. He raps as if he’s pirouetting on every key of the piano sample; he raps as if he’s got something to prove; he raps as if he hadn’t “won” the 2015 beef. 
[6]

Julian Axelrod: Petty beef aside, these two make a lot of sense together: Meek’s gruff yelp is volatile enough to rough up Drake’s sound, but distinct enough to avoid getting sucked into Drizzy’s vulture-esque vortex. Their 2012 collab “Amen” is the banger time forgot, but “Going Bad” crystallizes their chemistry into something close to perfection. Wheezy’s drunken piano lurch turns The Nutcracker into a headknocker, while Drake’s run-on flow is just unpolished enough to feel exciting. But this is Meek’s song through and through. You can practically hear him bouncing off the walls of the studio, bobbing and weaving around the beat until he throws his hands up and bulldozes through. If this song ignites Drake’s feud with the Beatles, their 2021 teamup is gonna be fire.
[8]

Joshua Minsoo Kim: Wheezy’s piano chords are almost cartoonish in their incessant back-and-forth. Drake finds a way to change his flows and throw in some singing to make it seem like we’re in a funhouse. Meek Mill isn’t as lockstep with the beat, so it’s inherently less engaging. Even though Drake just repeats a verse to close out the song, it ends it on a high note.
[6]

Friday, January 11th, 2019

Red Velvet – RBB (Really Bad Boy)

But do they really really really really really like him?


[Video][Website]
[5.00]

Joshua Minsoo Kim:Bad Boy” found the girls referring to some dude by such a title if only to flaunt their own superiority (the English version’s chorus: “Hit ’em with my love / Shot another bad boy down”). The “Really” here thus feels tongue-in-cheek, and the song doesn’t aim to be sensual; it only wants to provide relentless fun. If a K-pop group wants to flex their vocal chops, a surefire way to approach an upbeat pop song is to make it ridiculous. Red Velvet do just that, even more than usual, and unsurprisingly succeed. From the excessive harmonizing to the whistle register shriek to the “he’s a really bad boy” whispers, “RBB” compounds a bunch of different vocal deliveries over syncopated percussion to ensure the ride never ends. The bridge is the song’s secret weapon, though. Its pillow-soft synths give this impression that they really do care about getting this guy, and the rest of the song is just them living out the excitement of having a crush. While “RBB” comes close to being a caricature of their sound — it bears more than little resemblance to “Dumb Dumb” and “Rookie” — there’s too much here that’s expertly executed to call it such. My favorite little detail: watching the girls do jump rope choreo because the song features the sounds of something akin to jump ropes whipping around one’s body.
[7]

Jessica Doyle: For me the arrangement’s fatal flaw is how many times different vocal lines step on each other or simply disrupt the immediate flow; you can barely get through five seconds without an “Alright” or a whistle-scream. The worst case is the refrain “You’re a bad boy, and you’re bad for me,” which would have been fine it it had been repeated only once or twice. It’s as if the producers didn’t trust any one element to capture our attention by itself, which is a strange (and dispiriting) assumption to make about a group that’s been able to handle as many complex-yet-good songs as Red Velvet has.
[3]

Alex Clifton: Red Velvet are queens of excess, which is why I’m slightly disappointed by this song. I kept waiting for it to go bonkers and it never hit that level. There’s a lot of nice vocal work here and I love the vocoder effect, and I suspect that if this came from any other group I’d be entirely enthralled. But I love Red Velvet because they’re not afraid to go big, and sadly this falls a little short.
[6]

Nicholas Donohoue: A powerhouse saxophone spooky cute track. I love song craft by MadLibs.  
[7]

Stephen Eisermann: The horns and instrumentation are energetic and fun as hell, but too many times in the song the girls sound like the Pitch Perfect Cast, and I’m not sure that the shift in melody works as well as the group thinks it does. They all have lovely voices, but this material just isn’t up to par. 
[4]

Julian Axelrod: Red Velvet follow up a masterpiece with the most blatant, exhausted retread since Chubby Checker. Somehow they’ve sullied both their own formula and Little Mix‘s.
[3]

Edward Okulicz: I’m highly confused by the saxophone in this song. At times, it sounds like it’s going for a Halloween sort of feel. At other times, it just blarts aimlessly, distracting from the rest of the song and being a general nuisance. And this is not a song that can cope with distractions, because there’s already too much going on between all the clumsy vocal lines tripping all over each other and the whistling. There’s probably three really good songs in here, but someone needed to perform the surgery to separate them first.
[4]

Alfred Soto: After “Red Pleasure” and “Dumb Dumb,” a disappointment. The yeah-yeah-yeahs cop to Baroque Era Destiny’s Child, not terrible when conveying lust but mediocre when a stronger musical correlative for conveying what a bad boy does to bad women. 
[6]