Red Velvet - RBB (Really Bad Boy)
It’s been a little under four months since Red Velvet had their last comeback. I keep it no secret that I’m a pretty big fanboy of Red Velvet, but I do my best not to let that fact cloud my judgement when it comes to their music. “Power Up” was the first song, title or otherwise, that I actually disliked from them, so I have to admit that it was a bit of a shock. That being said, the teasers and other previews leading up to this release were all seeming like something that I’d like a lot more - and so I went into this hoping that we’d see a bit of a return to form for the group.
Okay, so.. I wasn’t thrilled at first when I was listening. To be honest, everything in the song was so compacted that layers were starting to overlap and it felt pretty overwhelming. However, the one thing that was distinctly true no matter my opinion of anything else happening was that the vocal melodies in this track are INSANE. It isn’t like I’ve not shied away from praising Red Velvet’s impressive vocal presentations in the past but this is something else entirely. If “Kingdom Come” was the magnum opus of their Velvet-side vocal melodies, I wouldn’t hesitate to classify “RBB” as the Red counterpart.
In terms of instrumentals, I gotta say that I wasn’t really feeling the cartoonish horn. It didn’t seem to gel well with everything else and it gave the song a very different vibe than I would have expected from just the vocals. The quick bits of piano and bursts of bass booms were solid, though, but overall it felt like this relied so much on the girls to carry most of the weight. Don’t be mistaken, though - that’s exactly what they did.
Once you unravel all of this song’s pieces and pick them up on successful listens, I think this song becomes an addictive roller coaster ride of excitement. The general progression is crazy, and all of the little ad libs add so many punches of energy and flavor that you just can’t stop feeling hyped. The bridge is the one point of true reprieve, and even then there’s still a steady increase of concepts being introduced to bring to the final chorus that seals the deal.
I think that this is likely going to be another one of those tracks that feels pretty divisive within the fandom. Similarly to a song like f(x)’s “Red Light” or even Red Velvet’s past release “Rookie,” this is most likely going to be a grower that takes a few listens to untangle all of the patches weaved into this intricate tapestry.
Alright, now the music video is actually where I take a bigger issue. Now this is definitely a personal thing, but I just don’t feel like this song felt dark whatsoever, especially not with the cheesy horn instrumental. So to see a Halloween aesthetic painted all over this MV was more than just a tad off-putting. Don’t get me wrong, I love Halloween concepts, and I honestly wish this wasn’t delayed so it could have been the one true Halloween MV since 2018 completely skimped out on us, but I just don’t think it matched at all.
That aside, holy mother of Jesus Christ who styled Red Velvet for this video? Make sure they are always in charge of their styling. Everybody looked so damn great and there were tons of outfits that I’m excited to see in live performances. Seulgi is murdering with that blonde hair, Yeri’s blonde streaks looked so good, Joy somehow keeps stepping up her visual game, Irene is as flawless as ever, and Wendy finally didn’t get every awful styling choice imaginable. It’s a miracle in living, breathing aesthetic form.
Conceptually I liked the whole wolf idea, especially when Irene did the silly shadow puppet of it. It gave a small kind of throwback to when it was revealed that she was the puppeteer at the end of the “Rookie” MV in a way. There were some seriously great scenes in this video and I loved a lot of the transitions, too. The choreography looked entrancing and I’m excited to see the whole of it live. That part with Irene and Wendy stepping together is like pure fan service in the best way.
Overall, I liked the music video, I just don’t think it really matched the tone of the song. Even still, it was entertaining and the rather frenetic pacing of the video mirrored the song’s momentum and progression pretty well.
“RBB” is an absolute monster of a song. Trying to absorb it all within your first listen is probably impossible, but as you listen to it more and more, it will likely be something that you can piece together on your own and figure out. The vocal melodies are some of the most intricate that you’ll ever find in K-pop, and while it’s not for everybody, I think it’s a great showing of what Red Velvet is truly capable of. If you’re a fan of Red Velvet I’m not sure what you’ll think of this, but if you ended up digging songs that sounded overly complex at first before you came around and enjoyed them, this is probably going to work really well for you.