You Bad! Don’t Make Me Cry (넌 Bad 날 울리지마) may just be my favorite title translation for a k-pop song all year. Not only is it an eccentric mouthful of misjudged, simplified English, but its lack of focus actually describes the song perfectly. And the best part is… none of this is criticism. I’ve been slowly warming to Matilda after disliking their debut back in March. You Bad is their best track yet, even if the awful mixing in the music video makes that very difficult to judge.
Matilda have been experimenting with their sound, as most rookie groups of their stature tend to do. With You Bad, I think they’ve finally found something to build on. The track feels like a blend of 2NE1 and T-ara — two massive girl groups whose trademarks sounds have been sorely missing for the past few years. We kick things off in midtempo reggae territory. The song spends no time easing into the first verse, hitting the listener all at once. From that point, there’s no time to recover. The track is pure whiplash, bursting from one genre to the next. As the EDM influences (reminiscent of both Number 9 and Sugar Free) burst in with the chorus, You Bad has been completely transformed. But it keeps transforming, never content to rest on one style for too long. This results in some interesting (and initially confusing) percussive changes. I’m not sure if I’ve ever heard a k-pop song play around with the beat this wildly.
One criticism I’ve had of Matilda’s music thus far has been the vocal production and performance. Though I liked Summer Again, the vocals felt a little shrill at times, as if they needed a better arrangement (or maybe just some restraint). You Bad‘s performance certainly isn’t restrained, but it utilizes many effects and autotune to pull the notes in synthesized directions. Normally this wouldn’t be something I’d be into, but with a song this weirdly diverse, it actually works. The song is definitely a love-it-or-hate-it type of affair, but I’m thrilled to see the girls commit to something so out there.
(Video below, but please try to track down the properly mixed audio of this track. The mixing in the music video is atrociously bad)