Song Review: Lee Hi – Red Lipstick (ft. Yoon Mi-rae)

Lee Hi - Red Lipstick (ft. Yoon Mirae)Lee Hi’s recent output is solid and rewarding, but it’s been a long time since I’d call one of her singles “fun.” Granted, K-pop has more than enough upbeat, exciting material. Lee Hi is in no way required to jump into a style that’s not a match for her ambition or personality. But, I’ve always hoped for a new single that continues the enticing energy of 1,2,3,4 or I’m Different. By embracing K-pop’s current retro trend, Red Lipstick (빨간 립스틱) answers that call.

I wouldn’t have expected Lee Hi to venture down this route, and that’s half the fun of the track. The funky synth deposits listeners in the past, with musical touchstones from the 80’s and 90’s. The production casts a familiar tone but never overplays its hand. At the same time, Lipstick’s melody feels more indebted to the early 2000’s. This trio of influences works especially well, as the legendary Yoon Mi-rae ties everything together with a double punch of charismatic rap verses. Her vocal is especially well-suited to this material — especially as electro squiggles swoop in to add a bright party atmosphere.

Lee Hi feels less comfortable with the sound, and that’s to be expected. I’m pretty picky when it comes to vocalists in this genre, and can’t help but feel that Lipstick might have been elevated by a more rhythmic vocal performance. Hi doesn’t have a dancer’s instincts for groove and her voice never quite lives inside the rhythm. This is especially evident when contrasted against Mi-rae’s effortless performance. But, her soulful tone compensates, adding texture to the track. Producer Chancellor does a lot of the heavy lifting, delivering a supple groove that makes everything go down easy.

 Hooks 8
 Production 9
 Longevity 9
 Bias 8

5 thoughts on “Song Review: Lee Hi – Red Lipstick (ft. Yoon Mi-rae)

  1. I’ve got mixed feelings on this one. The retro style is hit or miss for me, and I didn’t find that the song suited her voice as well as “I’m Different” or “HOLO”. I like b-sides “Intentions” and “ONLY” quite a lot, though, and the MV was fun, especially seeing all the cameos from her new label. The stage was unfortunately underwhelming though – there are ways to make a performance dynamic even when the soloist isn’t a dancer (see BIBI’s excellent “Bad Sad Mad” stages, or Young K’s debut stage) and whoever was in charge of putting this together really dropped the ball.

    As a side note, “I’m Different” was one of my very first introductions to k-pop back when I was an extremely casual listener. I figured out who Bobby was a while ago, but this is the first I realized who the two vocalists were. Nice!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes I agree, the music shows show was underwhelming. She isn’t really moving at all, and worst of all she isn’t even bothering to sing or lipsync for over half the song. ‘

      There are plenty of ways to craft a choreo around a singer who isn’t much of a dancer and still have an exciting stage. Plenty of examples in the old movie musicals, as well as Broadway stars who have people dancing around them while the star still has purposeful movement.

      Right here in kpop, Akmu both as a duo and Suhyun as a soloist is a prime example. ‘


  2. This is one of my favourite songs of the year. Not a single second is wasted in this: it makes space for two rap verses, a bridge and a great melodic outro! And don’t even get me started with that voice!


  3. I have mixed feelings about this one as well. The main problem for me is that I don’t like pop songs that tell me to dance dance dance with music that doesn’t make me want to dance dance dance. I feel like this song composition is an intersection of some Trolls movie song with Justin Timberlake, with the energy turned down to an 8 and the bpm set 10bpm too slow.

    Here is an example of a song that tells me to dance, and I really do want to dance. Or at least seat boogie in my office chair. The bpm is perfect here.
    Jamiroquai “Canned Heat”


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