Rumor has it that SM tried to model Red Velvet’s “Zimzalabim” after SNSD’s 2013 smash hit, “I Got A Boy”. The two tracks are similar in some things but differ in one major way: the “I Got A Boy” producers actually remembered to add a central theme to their track. However, it’s not all bad. The rest of the album is actually quite nice.
Release date: June 19, 2019
- 짐살라빔 (Zimzalabim)
- Sunny Side Up
- 친구가 아냐 (Bing Bing)
- 안녕, 여름 (Parade)
Total Runtime: 00:20:05
Recommended for: Fans of Red Velvet’s quirkier, messier, Red side; those who like upbeat, cheerful songs; those who like Red Velvet’s more experimental tracks (see. “Rookie”).
NOT Recommended for: “Bad Boy” stans; Those who prefer Red Velvet’s softer, sexier side; Velvet stans.
- 짐살라빔 (Zimzalabim)
Whoo! Are you ready for this?
Well, maybe. It sounds like something one would say while waiting to raid Area 51. Listen to the beginning instrumental. I rest my case.
I quite like the little bells at the beginning there. It adds a level of creepiness into the song that I really appreciate. I also like how the sound gets higher with every fourth bell. It’s a catchy and captivating sound that I wish was more present in the song. The drumroll adds a very nice touch to the overall feeling of the song and is a great lead-up to Irene’s verse.
Rap line starts the song – which is not very usual for Red Velvet tracks – and right off the bat, it’s pretty clear that “Zimzalabim” will be on the quirkier side. Irene is no rap master – well, ironically, she is – but she sounds really nice here and her delivery works for the most part. There is an awkwardness to the melody but I would not fault her for it. I would say that it has more to do with the way the verse is written. Yeri’s rap sounds a lot better here than it does in some other Red Velvet tracks though it might be because she isn’t rapping in a high-pitched voice.
The one problem I have with the beginning is Joy’s verse. Both the delivery and the writing just don’t do it for me. There is a very awkward pause in her last line that sort of ruins the experience of her verse. This is truly unfortunate since the instrumental is quite good here. I love that the drumroll effect is kept throughout rap line’s parts, creating a very effective build-up to what could have been a smashing chorus. Nonetheless, it does well to give a carnival-like feeling to the song, which is exactly what SM was going for.
One thing that surprised me was the lyrics. I expected the song to be gibberish since it has one thousand different sections, but the lyrics were well-written and flowed quite nicely. They are also quite uplifting, which I love to see, and are the type that anyone could relate to – flat earth conspiracies be damned.
There is a recurring problem in “Zimzalabim” and that is the jarring transitions between verses. This song jumps through so many hoops but a lot of those jumps are not done well. The first one occurs right after Joy’s rap. I would assume that Wendy’s and Seulgi’s parts are meant to serve as the pre-chorus buildup and in many ways, they do work. The problem is two-fold. First, the rap line’s verses have already served the purpose of being a sort of climax leading up to something. To follow that up with another climax almost cheapens the previous one and leaves the listener confused. There is also a great shift in tone. Wendy and Seulgi sing their parts to a more subdued instrumental, which thematically doesn’t sound like it’s leading to something.
Perhaps it would have served better to have something else between the rap line’s verses and vocal line’s parts but then the song structure would be weird. Interchanging the two parts might also mess up with the overall tone of the song, though it might help with cementing a true climax that works with the eventual beat drop in the chorus.
To say that “Zimzalabim” lacks a chorus is an understatement. All they do is repeat the incantation “zimzalabim, zim zim zalabim, zim zim zalabim zim zim”. I hope that paints an accurate picture of how empty the chorus is. At least the incantation has some inflections to it so it’s not totally monotonous, but when you have a group like Red Velvet you might want to show off their vocal chops with a proper chorus. A chorus is also a great way of bringing a track back to its center.
A song can have all the pivots and divots one would want, but a proper chorus could bring everything back together in a neat and melodic package. “Zimzalabim” has a confusing melody partly because the chorus is non-existent. It is even more frustrating because the previous two sections leading up to this foreshadowed an incredible chorus. The follow-up is just as important as the climax… always.
The second half follows a similar sound and structure to the previous pre-chorus, which is pretty confusing, to say the least. I don’t quite like the second part of this track. The highlight has to be Irene’s part but everything else just feels out of place. The seems to pick up again by the dance break and reaches an all-time high during the bridge. I love that SM is allowing Red Velvet to flex their vocal muscles in a title track – something we don’t usually get to see. The bridge is a perfect showcase of how strong Red Velvet’s vocal line can be individually and as a whole unit. The harmonies are incredible and Wendy’s high note (hello!) makes everything better. I don’t even mind that there is yet another shift in tone because the bridge is truly amazing.
I tend to hate dance breaks in K-pop songs. Usually, they feel like a lazy excuse to fill the song with an instrumental where a meaningful verse could be. However, “Zimzalabim” has a dance break that actually works, both visually and audibly. It’s absolutely rewarding to watch the dance break because the choreography is killer, but it is also not awkward to listen to without any video.
“Zimzalabim” has one of the best music videos I have seen this year. It’s got a lot of effects, but they are very smooth and polished, so there are no jarring images. The sheer variety of color and set pieces adds a quirky effect to the video that is so Red Velvet. The outfits work too. They do a good job of highlighting the carnival campy theme of “Zimzalabm” and the album at large.
I like to think that “Zimzalabim” can be divided into three different sections. The first section is the one that begins with the rap line’s verse. The second follows Wendy and Seulgi and the last is the chorus. Individually, these sections are very well-made. The production is great and the composition works in that moment. However, the different sections do not work well when put together. The song begins to lose its center and starts to drifts into all kinds of directions that are very confusing and hard to follow.
I mentioned above that the song was modeled after SNSD’s “I Got A Boy”. “I Got A Boy” has a reputation of being the “Bohemian Rhapsody” of K-Pop because it switches from section to section. The difference between “Zimzalabim” and “I Got A Boy” is that every now and then, the latter track goes back to a common center after all those switches. Even with the jarring shifts, “I Got A Boy” has a common theme holding it down and the transitions are actually connected to that theme. “Zimzalabim” tries to replicate that but it fails to deliver a proper chorus. It’s just one word chanted over and over again without any thought put into how that word could connect to the other parts of the song.
With all that said, I actually enjoy “Zimzalabim”. I appreciate the level of thought that SM put into this whole era – especially conceptually. Do I wish that the track was not so jarring to listen to? Yes, I do. However, I understand that Red Velvet is a group that is always pushing boundaries and dong what is outside the norm – that is precisely why I like them. Whether those attempts to be different work is a discussion for a different time. However, one must always appreciate the sheer musicality and artistry this group always displays.
“Zimzalabim” might be a divisive title track but The Reve Festival Day 1 has some of Red Velvet’s best side tracks. While the latter half of the album is superior, the entire album is a nice treat for those Red enthusiasts that have been waiting for a true Red album for the summer.
- 친구가 아냐 (Bing Bing)
“Bing Bing” has not been ranking high in fan lists and that makes me very unhappy. It’s easily one of the highlights of the album. The deep funky bass had a sexy feel to it, despite the overall song being quite cute. I love that the verses are not forgettable fillers to get to the chorus. They work as a perfect buildup to the laid-back climax that is the chorus.
I don’t even mind that the chorus repeats the words “Bing bing” because the vocals are to die for. Vocal Velvet’s harmonies are center stage throughout this track, which is always a treat for fans. Wendy, as always, is exceptional, especially when it comes to her high note right after the bridge. The bridge does have a bit of a “Get Lucky” vibe but in the best way possible. For anyone craving for a funky, upbeat track with lots of guitar riffs, “Bing Bing” is definitely a must-listen.
- 안녕, 여름 (Parade)
“Parade” is the track that perfectly represents the carnival theme that SM was going for. The beginning even has the background noise of a busy crowd. “Parade” isn’t as vocal-heavy as “Bing Bing” is but that is okay. The backing production makes up for that. The vocal distortion during the latter parts of the chorus adds a very nice touch to the campy feel of the song, without making it obnoxious. The best part of this track: the video game effects. “Parade” is quite experimental with how many different sounds it incorporates but, unlike the title track, they work well when put together. This quirky bop should be a staple for any parade and is perfect for the summer.
I did not expect to like “LP” as much as I do when I first heard the teaser. It’s a perfect blend of soulful R&B and jazz. As expected of any Red Velvet R&B track, the vocals deliver. “LP” is the sort of song that would play in a high end hotel’s elevators. Its sweet, sultry sound is a perfect way to end the album. The organ in the background is sure to take any listener to church and, coupled with that sultry 20th century jazz fell, LP should definitely be on everyone’s summer playlist.
"Zimzalabim" had the potential of being an iconic summer hit. Like "Really Bad Boy", it has a lot going for it, but the bad parts sometimes outweigh the good. The rest of the album, however, is incredible and has some of the best 'red' tracks to date. I would not consider this album a total loss, but it is hard to stay positive when the title track is a total dud.
- This is one of Red Velvet's most cohesive albums to date. Every single track was added for a greater purpose and effect. Not one song feels out of place or like a filler.
- "Zimzalabim" is one of the rare Red Velvet title tracks that allows the girls to flex their vocals. Wendy's high note may not be "Shine on me" levels of iconic, but baby girl killed it.
- "Sunny Side Up" and "Milkshake" are not highlighted here but they are also great b-sides. I just thought that the latter half of the album was more musically interesting and rewarding than the first half.
- I have not talked about it much but the choreography is truly incredible. Kyle Hanagami, Janelle Ginestra, and Switch did an amazing job. Though the chorus was a let down, the choreography for it certainly did not disappoint.
- As it was with "Really Bad Boy", Red Velvet have delivered yet another album in which the b-sides far outshine the title track. This is not a case of the b-sides just being too perfect. The title track was a mess.
- SM seems to forget that they are not invincible. Even they are capable of making a couple of bad decisions. Releasing "Zimzalabim" as the follow-up to the already divisive "RBB" was a bad power move. Like, really bad.
- "Zimzalabim" almost spoils the album. A title track is meant to represent the thematic center of an album. Many people are encouraged to listen to an album if the title track is impressive. "Zimzalabim's" messy structure does the rest of this gold-standard album no favors and that is a darn shame.