Friday, January 11th, 2019

Red Velvet – RBB (Really Bad Boy)

But do they really really really really really like him?


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.

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.

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.

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

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. 

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.

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.

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. 

Reader average: [5.87] (16 votes)

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4 Responses to “Red Velvet – RBB (Really Bad Boy)”

  1. This song is abominable. The first bad red velvet title track

  2. But that was Power Up

  3. The vocal arrangement in this song is completely bonkers. Those vocal runs by Wendy are excellent.

  4. I thought I really hated this song, but I really adore this song now. This entire song is extremely fun to sing along to while being really bonkers, which I actually can’t say for a lot of songs?