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’ Abracadabra / Sixth 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.