Most of the time, a k-pop group’s title track is the best song on their album. But, sometimes b-sides deserve recognition too. In the singles-oriented world of K-pop, I want to spotlight some of these buried treasures and give them the props they deserve.
Red Velvet’s Zimzalabim has proven to be one of the year’s most divisive title tracks, which surprises me because I find it much more palatable than previous single Really Bad Boy. As usual, though, Red Velvet’s mini album is strong all the way through. No one song stands heads and tails above the rest, but there’s a welcome sense of cohesion throughout the entire thing. For now, my standout is the funky Bing Bing.
I’m curious about the origins of the expression “bing bing,” since there seem to be so many K-pop songs with the exact same title. Is it just a placeholder sound, or does it actually mean something? Either way, the song finds Red Velvet at their grooviest. The instrumental bops on a chugging guitar loop that reminds me of Stevie Nicks’ Edge of Seventeen by way of Destiny’s Child’s Bootylicious. A repeated injection of harmony gives the track instant character while taking advantage of Red Velvet’s strength as performers. Bing Bing’s chorus is repetitive as well, but not in the monotone way that repelled so many from Zimzalabim. In fact, I think this hook would have worked very well within Zim’s carnival-like atmosphere. It has a touch of retro funk to it, and will no doubt make for a fun concert highlight.