After the almost universal acclaim given to ‘Bad Boy’, fans and casual listeners alike were excited to see Red Velvet’s next venture. ‘Power Up’ came along in August, but it lacked a certain something and received mixed to negative reviews. Now they’re back again, and fans wonder if they will reprise the well received Velvet concept, or if they will falter once more. ‘RBB (Really Bad Boy)’, Red Velvet’s first vocal-centered title track, is definitely full of twists, turns and surprises. Sometimes it works, and other times it falls flat…
Release Date: November 30, 2018
Total Runtime: 19 minutes
Recommended for: RnB fans; funk fans; pop fans; those who love the more experimental things in life; those who prefer vocally driven songs; fans of Red Velvet’s RED side
NOT Recommended for: anyone looking to listen to Red Velvet’s VELVET side; anyone looking for a softer, more subdued Red Velvet
- ‘RBB (Really Bad Boy)’ [+ Eng. Ver]
First things first, I will go right ahead and say that this is a nice music video. It has some good variety, which prevents it from getting too boring. I love all the outfits the girls are wearing and think that this is their best era fashion-wise. The video is quirky and has that weirdness that is an essential part of Red Velvet’s identity. It’s not their best MV but it’s pretty up there and does what it needs to do.
Now let’s get into the song: I absolutely love the trumpet sound that is sprinkled all over ‘RBB’, and it is even more glorious when paired with that kick drum that makes up the foundation of the track. There isn’t a dull moment in the background instrumental, and even though the drum is the most prominent part, everything else is so well balanced. The twists and turns are also handled graciously and not one part sounds disjointed or underproduced. If there are any problems with ‘RBB’, they certainly don’t arise from this stellar backing instrumental.
More than any other Red Velvet title track, ‘RBB’ does a spectacular job of showcasing just how talented these young ladies are – especially Wendy. My main complaint about Red Velvet tracks has always been that they may be catchy and experimental, but they do little to show that Red Velvet stands out as a vocally capable unit. Some of them work, like ‘Bad Boy’ and ‘Dumb Dumb’, but even then, they feel restrained by the need to create a catchy, memorable hook that will resonate with the general public. Thus, Red Velvet’s side tracks are always the ones that indicate their vocal capabilities, but not everyone listens to the album tracks. It is good to finally have a title that not only pushes the girls out of their comfort zones, but tells the general public that Red Velvet is not your run-of-the-mill idol group.
It’s obvious that SM wanted Red Velvet’s vocals to shine in this track, and they did, but they also showed something else that the producers might not have intended. For sure, making a track that highlights one’s vocals can either be good or bad, as a successful venture depends on both the singer’s delivery and the production team’s ability. Some vocal focused tracks may be successful in showing that one certain singer has vocal ability, but they forget to be interesting. Thankfully, ‘RBB’ does not fall into this category. Instead, the production does a good job of highlighting what they girls can do. The beats flow well with the vocal melodies, which saves the song from being a boring, forgetful mess.
However, just because ‘RBB’ is not a forgetful mess does not mean that it isn’t a mess in other ways. The vocals are impressive, but very quickly become grating, especially as the song goes on. Wendy, being the skilled vocalist that she is, carries her lines well especially when she is required to belt – like in the first chorus. Her vocal tone is also suited for this type of track and so her raw power coupled with her incredible ability make her the biggest star in this track.
The problem arises with the other girls, who aren’t as good as she is. This is mainly a problem with Seulgi and Irene, but for different reasons. Seulgi is the lead vocal and so she gets to share some high notes with Wendy/ However, not all her notes are necessary. The biggest problem is the chorus, when she has to keep repeating “aye aye aye aye”. Now, this might also have to do with the lack of a proper chorus (which we will get to later). Seulgi is by no means a terrible vocalist, she is actually quite good and has tremendous potential, but her parts in ‘RBB’ do more to showcase her limitations rather than her strengths. Irene’s problem is also closely tied to the lazy writing. Her random screaming at several parts is just bizarre and unnecessary. It also makes the track that much harder to listen to.
The lazy writing in this track really brings the group and the song down. It’s almost as if someone sat down, wrote the hook “Oh my God! He’s a really bad boy”, got happy with it, and decided to add a few more lines here and there to a beat and call it a day. The lack of words in this track is appalling. The verses are wonderful but way too short and their impact is diminished by the non-chorus. The pre-chorus is also nice and gives the girls some time to harmonize.
The bridge is, arguably, the best part of this track. It’s so melodic and feels like a proper RnB track. The backing beat, which slows down a bit, enhances the vocal performances put on by Seulgi, Wendy and Joy. However, the chorus is just abysmal. It’s basically Wendy and Seulgi repeating “Oh my God! He’s a really bad boy” for what feels like 75% of the song. The other 25% is really good, but it’s just too short and feels almost non-existent when paired with a lazy chorus and random screeching.
The English version of this song is nothing to write home about. Unlike ‘Bad Boy’, ‘RBB’ does not offer anything new to the song. The lyrics are also quite disappointing, considering the fact that ‘Bad Boy’ had near flawless English lyrics. I understand that SM is trying to branch into the Western market, but this is not the way to do it. This feels like trying too hard. They tried too hard to get an international hit that they forgot to make a good song. I do not think the English version was necessary, but I am also sympathetic to those international fans who would have wanted to understand what they’re listening to.
Despite many lengthy complaints about ‘RBB’, I quite enjoy it. Granted, the bad outweigh the good, but the track just has something about it that is so Red Velvet that I cannot stay away. I prefer this to ‘Power Up’ – which in my opinion is the worst track put out by Red Velvet. I’d put this in the lower ranks of Red Velvet titles, but some changes would have made this their best title yet!
I was excited to learn that Red Velvet would be doing a pop-punk track. Punk-pop is one genre that they have not tried yet. I was curious to see how SM go about this without losing the group’s core identity. The chorus is truly magical and reminds me of “You Better Know”. The hook is so well incorporated with the rest of the lyrics that it does not stick out like a sore thumb. In fact, there are two hooks in the chorus, one that begins it and another that ends it. It’s almost surprising how ‘Indie’ this track is. I could see some K-Indie artists releasing ‘Butterflies’ with moderate success. ‘Butterflies’ is the perfect song to get casual listeners into the mood of another Red Velvet mini. ‘RBB’ might not be universally loved, but ‘Butterflies’ is a safe but well-made option.
- ‘So Good’
It is not a Red Velvet album without a slow, ballad-type song. In the past, I have often felt that Red Velvet ballads are filler. Thankfully, ‘So Good’ breaks that monotonous cycle and gives us something to digest with this sexy, slow RnB jam. The vocals and production are so perfectly balanced. For once, we have a slow Red Velvet song that does not bog down the entire album (the way ‘Moonlight Melody’ did to Perfect Velvet).
- ‘Sassy Me’
For some reason, ‘Sassy Me’ sounds like something a group like Danity Kane or the Pussycat Dolls would release – and that’s a great thing! This track is just as its name suggests – bold, sexy, and sassy! The vocal fry isn’t even an issue here, and elevates the melody to new heights. The vocals are fantastic, and the harmonization in the chorus is wonderful. The song has a bit of pop and funk to it, which is so fitting considering its message and theme.
‘Taste’ has that old-school RnB feel that is nostalgic rather than dated – in the same way that Rookie’s ‘Talk to Me’ was. It’s also really funny that Red Velvet manages to make a food-related song so catchy and fun. It’s not catchy in the “Wow, this is a hot mess” kind of way, but actually has a lot to offer musically. As is a theme with the entire album, the vocals absolutely deliver. Wendy’s surprise rap performance has to be the highlight for me, however. Irene, Yeri and Joy make up the rap line but fans who pay close attention to the group’s activities knows that Wendy is capable in her own right – and might even be the best one. Along with ‘Sassy Me’, this is my favorite song on the album.
‘RBB (Really Bad Boy)’ will definitely be a disappointment to many but there are other things to be happy about. The rest of the album is stellar, and the side tracks make up for the title track’s faults.
However, the most exciting thing of all is Red Velvet’s upcoming US tour! After years of being one of the best selling K-pop groups in the US, Red Velvet will finally be gracing several arenas to meet and entertain Reveluvs and casual fans alike. The Redmare US tour is going to be an extension of hugely successful Redmare tours held all over Asia.
To get more information, try the #REDMAREinUSA tag on twitter. Currently, the LA and Dallas venues are packed, but Miami and Chicago still have space. Click here to learn more about acquiring tickets at the box office.
While you try to get some Redmare tickets, you might also want to see the new ‘RBB’ English Version music video!