Review

Song Review: Billlie – Ring x Ring

Billlie - Ring x Ring
The teasers for Billlie’s debut seemed to promise a lore-filled concept with spooky atmosphere and – maybe… just maybe – new musical ideas within the stagnant K-pop girl group landscape. Billlie certainly has the pedigree, hailing from Mystic Story (home to acts like Lucy and Eddy Kim, and with strong ties to SM Entertainment). Debut track Ring x Ring was composed by the prolific Lee Min Soo, producer of such classics as Brown Eyed Girls’ AbracadabraSixth Sense and IU’s Good Day.

With all this talent and support at the helm, it’s hard not to come away from Ring x Ring feeling a bit disappointed. Comparisons to K-pop classics sets the track up for defeat, and that probably isn’t fair. But, it still hurts to see the girls head down a trendy girl crush route so similar to their peers.

Luckily, Ring x Ring still finds some space for adventure. The menacing synth riff that props up most of the track feels ripped from a horror movie, and gives Ring a sinister backbone. I like how this contrasts with the lighter music box notes sprinkled throughout the verses. And though I find the arrangement a little jarring, these segments propel forward on a catchy series of sing-talk riffs.

The song switches gears for its chorus, and this transition should work better than it does. The group clearly boasts talented vocals, and the performance feels otherworldly in a good way. But, the chorus’s melody disappoints. It relies too heavily on simple, repetitive ascending notes that fail to forge a fleshed-out refrain worth getting lost in. Still, Ring x Ring displays a ton of potential and I can see Billlie quickly transforming into a vital new K-pop voice.

 Hooks 7
 Production 8
 Longevity 8
 Bias 8
 RATING 7.75

41 thoughts on “Song Review: Billlie – Ring x Ring

  1. I like how it’s pretty rough around the edges. The mix and vocal sound remind me of some contemporary J-pop, where the vocals are a little less tuned and slightly rawer.
    The instrumental is creative but also sounds slightly cheap. It’s perhaps too quiet in relation to the vocals?
    But I really like the vocal performances in the chorus.

    Parts of it feel quite out of the blue and creative while other parts feel derivative.
    It’s trendy but also quite strange. I don’t love it but I admire it. In some ways, the approach and sound remind me of Craxy “Aria”, but that is a much more structurally creative and unique song.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. The melody in the chorus has something, but other than that the song forgettable. I felt like it lasted for so long though, I couldn’t tell the verses apart from the chorus on the first listen, maybe thats why. It’s different from the usual disjointed kpop sound (except for that rap part, what was that? The rap was not needed. It could be soon good if some small things were just changed, like a lot of kpop songs.

    I liked the girl with the short black hair, her voice sounded so nice in the first verse, but when she started rapping it was kind of generic, nothing unique. There always seems to be one girl in a new group that doesn’t have much to bring, but I believe that she will improve, like all of those girls always do.
    I actually liked their vocals in this, I had seen a video of them singing before this and it was not it -_-

    5 minutes later and only hearing the song once and I can remember the chorus, that’s something at least, usually I don’t remember a chorus until I listen to it a couple more times.

    Like

          • I’ve only heard it twice but it makes me so ridiculously happy that I can say that I love it. There is just something about it, along with the music video – I would usually find it so cringy (especially the space scenes), but I smiled so brightly throughout it

            Like

    • I did not mean the short black haired girl when talking about the girl that needed improvment. I was talking about the girl with the pink hair. Now that ive watched the mv again I can see that she has some kind of dancing positon, so thats something ig

      Like

  3. Since I expected everyone to casually say they dislike it. I am making a review on why this song is one of K-POP’s best attempts at experimentation in a long time. It is something, I have never expected coming from this industry. The usage of sirens, coupled by the camp production and arrangement is so jarring I love it. This song is one of K-POP’s most successful endeavors in a long time. Billlie has managed to create a once in a generation symphony of chaos and harness it so properly.

    I have to admit, I am a bit biased here. I never expected to love this song out of the first listen. It is like one of those moments in my life I question if my opinion is valid or just an echo chamber. However, thankfully I know I am not the only one who loves the song.

    The song truly does have its criticisms: that is for the weak verses just overshadowed by the berserk instrumentation, the instrumental arrangement of the song is wild as hell and so sharp to even listen, the engineering issues, and probably many more that I don’t notice.

    Liked by 6 people

  4. My initial reaction to this was…confusion. This is definitely not what I expected and admittedly I am dissapointed, but after a few listens its not bad i guess. It shows potential, i like the production of it and believes there’s some interesting ideas here and there. The verses are probably the biggest sore spot on the song. They just a bit dull and repititive. I will after reading the lyrics, they feel they’re meant to sound conversational maybe. Idk. Either way, now time for IVE and Kep1er to debut. Hopefully to greater avail.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Going in knowing absolutely nothing and with no expectations, it was not what I expected, and I like it! Honestly I had a similar reaction the first couple of times I listened to “Luna” yesterday (and oh boy has that been on heavy-for-me repeat) – it sounds like something different and it’s taking my brain a minute to figure it out. I get the trendy elements are there, but it feels like it hangs together better than anything I’ve heard from the established girl crush groups this year. The synth riff could be annoying but instead it gives the song energy and movement. Urgency, even? And not that there’s a high bar at all, but I actually thought both of the main rap verses were a good step above the current girl group norm.

    And once again, the dance looked great and I’m really excited for the stages. I’m not sure what shifted, but going into the year I was consistently disappointed by girl group choreographies (Purple Kiss and Dreamcatcher being notable exceptions) but this is the last several girl group comebacks/debuts have knocked it out of the park, while the boy groups just haven’t been that interesting for a few weeks now (BLITZERS being the one exception that comes to mind).

    The EP is really worth a listen, too. I might end up playlisting the entire thing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • If that isn’t real brass on “the eleventh day” it is hands down the best fake brass I’ve ever heard. And I did playlist every single track. I like the title, but I think we’ve got a GHOST9* situation here where the EP holds together so well it elevates the title. The songs actually reference each other while checking off the obligatory checkboxes.

      *Speaking of, they’re coming back! Yay! I really hope whatever shit was going on got sorted out, because they’re one of very few groups I would actually like to give money to for physical albums. November was looking really slow but all of the sudden there’s comebacks coming out of the woodwork.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Speaking of BLITZERS, Will Make A Mistake has now become a win in my book. I came off a little disappointed after the first listen, but there’s definitely something about it that makes me go back for more. Even though the chorus is lazy at best.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. This is a bit of everything and the kitchen sink, a bit like if Craxy Aria-era were to cover a Red Velvet song, it would sound like this. Like a mashup of basic girl crush concept with Power Up and Aria with Ice Cream Cake. (The latter for its distinctive key change in and out of the chorus, which also happens here.)

    Is it trying too hard to be off kilter? Probably. Yes. I mean, the album is called “The Billage of Perception” as if they looked through a real physical dictionary for what else starts with Bil- regardless of whether it is a word actually used in English today. Even this literate person thought “Billage? like The Bilge Pump of Perception?”.

    I’ll take it anyway. Yeah, click, buy. Not many kpop songs gift us with clever key changes these days anymore.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. The instrumental is really good for like 80% of the time but then it reigns back and kills the momentum several times. It’s got a very j-pop alt idol feel, even the EP cover reminds me of close namesakes Billie Idle. But it just keeps going back into standard k-pop gg terrority and not in a good way. Which is sad since there’s a lot of potential in there that’s just getting overshadowed.

    Like

  8. Okay, I really got sucked into this today and had to write up my thoughts on the whole EP. For real, I haven’t loved an EP/album this much all the way through since maybe GHOST9’s second EP.

    RING X RING: A few listens and I’m totally in love with this. I really like the main synth riff and can’t remember the last time I heard a kpop title that went full instrumental for as long as this does – almost 25 seconds solid. The ending is abrupt in the “wait, I want more!” way I got from JUST B’s “Damage”. I’ve had this EP on repeat for an hour or so this morning and although I think I wish the EP opened with an intro, every time this track comes around it stands out the way a title track should.

    flipp!ng a coin: My least favorite b-side, but it actually flows really well from the end of the last track. The first minute of this sounds like a million other chanted fourth gen gg songs, to the extent I almost skipped it on first listen. It gets interesting in the second minute with the addition of some vocal effects and almost-industrial sounding brassy synths. By the time we’re into the third minute I’m really enjoying it – there’re weird ad libs popping up and I’m almost reminded of “God’s Menu”. I wish it went harder from the beginning, but there’s promise there. 3/5 on its own, 4/5 in context with the rest of the EP.

    FLOWERLD: Mostly standard ballad, but the instrumentation really elevates it for me. I love some strings flourishes and the moving piano line complements the vocals really nicely. There’s a guitar in there that comes out midway and towards the end and makes me really happy. The vocals are perfectly fine – I’m not blown away but I’m not distracted either. 4/5

    the eleventh day: Starts off with a nice, groovy feel, and again the instrumentation is winning me over. The percussion sounds great, there’s some funky guitar noodling, and I really can’t decide if the brass is real or not – there’s some fry starting around 0:55 and 2:30 that I haven’t heard a synth manage to duplicate, although I’ve been fooled before. I think the vocals are better suited to this style than the last track, or maybe I just like the low, slightly husky sound better. Whoever decided to bring in the record-scratch sample in the outro is a genius as far as I’m concerned. 5/5

    everybody’s got a $ECRET: Bold choice opening with a sample from the Nutcracker Suit fading out into some plucky synths, I can’t quite tell where they’re going with this until the first chorus, when the Nutcracker riff comes back mixed with some creepy distorted synth. I can’t figure out what is happening to the song structure from here on out, I’m just enjoying the weird, creepy goodness. There’s a bunch happening with the ad libs – it reminds me in a good way of PURPLE KISS’ “Zombie”, but less cute. 2:21 brings in some vocals that stand out as especially strong for the first time this EP, reminding me a bit of the great main vocalist from PINK FANTASY. 5/5

    the rumor: I love the funky, almost Latin vibes from the beginning, and the the guitar comes in and I’m in love. Some trendy chanting but they’re mixing it up with some actual rap and dynamic changes that is peak ITZY. I wish the outro went bigger than it does, but it’s a solid dance track and ends the EP on a strong note. 4/5

    Liked by 1 person

  9. While the title track is a bit off-putting to some, this album is the most complete I have heard from a group in a while. everybody has a $ecret is begging for a buried treasure, and the other tracks (save for the repetitive, cloying flipp!ng a coin) are not to be missed. Finally, the concept. While marred by the same obtuse verbosity present in the lore of OnlyOneOf or even Loona, it manages to be very compelling. It’s worth diving into, and I hope Billlie keeps going with what is one of the most unique concepts in kpop at the moment.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. This sounds amazing to me. Give me more. What exactly is girl crush, anyway? It seems…empowering. is this the closest South Korea gets to feminism?

    Like

    • I think of girl crush as about the level of empowering as the Spice Girls – problematically catering to the male gaze but still progress. I don’t actually hear or see as much girl crush in this as Nick does, though. The influence is there of course, since it’s been a (if not the) dominant GG style for a while now, but I think this track and album go in a much more interesting, less well-trodden direction.

      A couple of points that stood out to me – the choreo for this song includes an extended dance break ending with one of the members doing a breakdance-style stunt just after 2:30 that I’ve never seen a GG member do anything similar to before. Related, the members have been styled in more practical and less revealing clothing than I’d expect from a girl crush concept. And I have no idea what the song is actually about (“there’s no trace is she dead dead? nothing is known can we talk talk?” but I don’t think it’s about either “I’m great” or “Boys stink”.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hmm really promising!!! The melody in the chorus is so interesting because it reminds me of that powerful 2nd gen girl group sound instead of the attitude heavy hyper sound lately which can be a hit or miss to me. It’s that the mixing sounds very unpolished from the instruments even with the microphone used and I wonder why because that’s not the case for Lucy (which are under Mystic as well).

        Liked by 1 person

    • I think it’s definitely pitched that way and sometimes the execution matches. But as with any trend that becomes ubiquitous, a lot of efforts tend to get watered down.

      Like

    • Well it seems kinda bonkers in a fabulous way. I’m trying to think what reminds me of but having a hard time. Something from Broadway or an old musical.

      Like

    • I did a quick google, and came up with this which is pretty accurate: “Girl crush concept is badass and swaggy type of concept . Girl crush concepts portray a strong and independent women image. A concept that shows fierce and confident women with an empowering theme.”

      However, that fierce confidence comes with a certain visual style – think Bratz or LOL dolls. The vocal style tends to be short and direct, more like short shouts than singing.

      A good example that I think of as “girl crush” is Itzy’s “Dalla Dalla” or “Wannabe”. In theory, the song is saying how different different they are, and how they want to be themselves, to be me me me. Everglow “La Di Da” is another one. And yet, the “girl crush” style is actually very conforming to what someone would think a contemporary pop star should strut and dance and look and sound like.

      (I use these particular examples, because I actually like these songs.)

      I’m old, so for me its very fun but its a teenager concept. Its what someone might think feels empowering, but actual empowerment is the exact opposite – its being listened to as a grown up, not having to be all dolled up and shouting at everyone to be heard.

      Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.