[#22] Ladies' Code - "나쁜여자" (Bad Girl)

From: "CODE#01 나쁜여자"
Released: May
Territory: South Korea
Previous Best of Entries: First Appearance
Other notable song(s) from 2013: n/a

Every year I pay attention to less and less rookie groups -- there are just too many of them and at least half are pretty generic, so I only pay attention to those who are talked about, or who I chance upon. Like Ladies' Code. I can't remember exactly why I decided to listen to their debut EP, but I'm glad I did because "Bad Girl" is one of the best songs I've heard all year. (Obviously, because they made the countdown and this high at that!)

What caught my ear at first was their vocals -- the girls who get singing lines (I assume all of them?) have such gorgeous timbres, and all of those timbres work really well with each other. Usually when you have a group where all members such distinct vocals, they tend to overpower each other (there are exceptions to that of course, like DBSK) and they end up trying to outshine each other on songs. But that's not the case with Ladies' Code and "Bad Girl." And, to a certain extent, it's because there are no chorus parts in the song -- everything's a solo, so it sounds more like they're taking turns and passing the song around amongst themselves. Which is perfectly fine. Which works. I haven't seen a live performance of this yet so I can't really attest to their vocal abilities, but the quality of their vocals, and how they were treated by the production, is definitely a highlight of the song.

But of course, what sustained my love for this song was the arrangement and the production. For a girl group of stature, I didn't expect such a musically-conscious arrangement and such strong production. But I got both. The drum line is gorgeous -- especially when it gets highlighted at the verses when it's juxtaposed against the very graceful string section -- it's confident, but gives the song an "epic"-sounding dimension of sorts. The piano line is pretty as well, it's sharp and like the melody sounds a bit naughty around the edges, but it sort of gets overpowered after the intro, which actually sets the mood of rest of the song. Mainly because the central element of the arrangement really is the brass section. It's so prominent throughout (on purpose, clearly) and so it's what gives the song character and it's what drives the dynamics of everything else.

"Bad Girl" is probably one of the best debut songs I've heard from a girl group. It's a great song on its own, catchy, with an arrangement that carries Ladies' Code's vocals and brings out the strengths of their voices as a group and as individuals, and strong production to top it all off. I couldn't ask for more in a debut single, to be honest.

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