It’s been three long years since the release of Ailee’s last album, and even longer since she’s given us something relentlessly uptempo. My favorite Ailee song will always be the mighty U&I, which positioned her as a Beyonce-like superstar fusing undeniable attitude with unmistakable vocal talent. Just because you’ve got an amazing voice doesn’t mean you should be relegated to singing ballads. And if nothing else, new single Room Shaker is certainly not a ballad.
This is the sound of Ailee tackling a BLACKPINK-style hip-hop track, assuming a variety of roles that would normally be assigned to individual members. I love this idea in theory, and she definitely has the talent to pull it off without support. But with so much going on, Room Shaker is a little all over the place. It has its moments, but could have found a stronger chorus to fully capitalize on Ailee’s skills.
Shaker‘s blend of hard hitting hip-hop, EDM and trap elements has been familiar to K-pop for too many years now, making the end result feel a bit dated. Still, the arrangement is relatively strong and knows when to build energy for maximum effect. The song’s last minute is particularly effective, delivering a climactic blast of noisy production and vocal firepower. Elsewhere, Ailee spends more time rapping (or rap-singing) than belting out the kind of notes we’ve grown to love her for. With this in mind, the powerful pre-chorus emerges as a harmonic oasis before collapsing into a spoken-word hook that feels comparatively unimaginative. Luckily, Ailee’s a better rapper than expected, imbuing each moment of Room Shaker with a forceful charisma. Her energy has a way of elevating the less-than-stellar material she’s given, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see this song stick around throughout the summer.