Thursday, December 19th, 2019

SAAY – ZGZG

With thaanks to Bill aand this raad K-pop jaam…


[Video]
[7.88]

Kayla Beardslee: Now this is how you do an anti-chorus — not as a cop-out to avoid a drop, but as surprising but earned payoff after a minute of playful, brass-backed fun.
[8]

Alfred Soto: The frenetic arrangement suggests Destiny Child, but not even Kelly, Michelle, and Beyonce dreamed up so many sub-choruses. 
[7]

Bill Upton: Between the same tired Latin influences being used in every other comeback, or trop-house’s bloody and battered corpse being beaten up some more, it’s not been a great year for K-Pop. but the R&B, indie & hip hop scenes have shone. In a year like this it ends up coming as no surprise that the biggest pop triumph to come out of South Korea ended up coming from an R&B singer in SAAY. Right out of the gate ZGZG comes stomping through, demanding attention, and the song doesn’t let up with horns blazing throughout alongside heaps of attitude and charisma dripping from SAAY’s delivery. The intense, high energy build-up culminates in a much more minimal, reserved chorus that works way better than it has any right to. The song’s funky, fresh and accessible, but not basic or simple by any means. Its middle eight proves that, which starts with a tense, bubbly r&b back-beat, swaps back to it’s loud, in your face horns and then transitions into a marching band segment, right before dropping you back off in its pre-chorus, which ends up climaxing in a rap before you finally even get it’s closing chorus. With production as huge as this, a lesser artist would’ve easily been swallowed whole, but SAAY rises to the challenge and owns it. ZGZG was a bold breath of fresh air in a year that desperately needed it.
[10]

Ian Mathers: The horns are actually a bit frustrating, just because what’s there does work well enough that I wish there was a bit more, especially when the whole thing downshifts for the pre-chorus and even more for the chorus (not a move that tends to work for me, admittedly). We end up with good bits too strong to ignore and some structural factors that don’t really work for me that keep me from loving the whole thing.
[6]

Kylo Nocom: An entire history of anti-drops and Ari-adjacent pop has met its endgame. “Are you ready to party?” SAAY asks, offering a thousand The Dutchess shaped reasons to say yes.
[8]

Will Adams: At its best when at its most hyper-percussive, at its lesser when the horns keep overstepping their role, “ZGZG” is impressive alone taking, in 2019, the mid-’10s subdued-chorus trend and blowing its predecessors out the water.
[7]

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: “ZGZG” is almost too perfect as a banger — it’s like they took the best sounding instrumental touches from the past decades of pop, from the horn section and drum line to the Mustard-leaning snaps-and-heys to the absolutely gorgeous fuzz bass. It’s a work of pop scholarship, a knowledge-driven flex that works because of SAAY’s wise choice to not let any element control the track. She’s the only constant, and even her vocal performance shifts and adapts as the beat does. The only thing that doesn’t work is the rap break, which fits with the “Deja Vu” vibe of the track but feels like studied nostalgia rather than authentic joy, which the rest of the song has in excess.
[8]

Edward Okulicz: Like if, say, Beyonce’s “Work It Out” had a tune, this is a goddess-descending-a-staircase fanfare of the highest order.
[9]

Reader average: [9] (1 vote)

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