Nearly two years ago, Secret’s Song Ji Eun made her solo debut with the utterly addictive pop of 25. That track suited her light, girlish vocal tone perfectly, so I was a little worried when Bobby Doll (바비돌) seemed to be taking a darker, more midtempo approach. As with many of TS Entertainment’s most recent comebacks, the composition duties fall to in-house creators Bak Eunwoo and Bak Suseok, who have shown incredible versatility but haven’t yet crafted something truly seminal.
Bobby Doll is full of interesting ideas, from its vaguely jazzy instrumental to its subject matter. Though the song’s verses are fairly straightforward, there’s all sorts of complex — almost freeform — ornamentation happening in the background. The nimble acoustic guitar almost takes precedence over Je Eun’s vocal performance, which is a bit of a problem. Luckily, she reclaims the spotlight during the chorus, which is highlighted by a nice bit of falsetto that keeps the otherwise repetitive hook from feeling stale.
I’m also glad that Ji Eun is given a chance to sprinkle brief rap segments throughout the track. It gives a sense of liveliness to a song that could easily feel stifled by its own conviction to its somewhat murky musical concept. But even so, I miss the bright, bubbly Song Ji Eun of 25. It makes perfect sense that she’d want to try on a more sultry sound, but Bobby Doll is ultimately more interesting than it is enjoyable. Though it’s beguiling in the moment, it’s also not the kind of thing I can see myself drawn back to very often.