f(x)’s “Electric Shock” comeback last year was so underwhelming. It’s not that the song was bad per se, it’s just that it wasn’t what anyone should want from a group like f(x). f(x) should always be a little left of center and singing about oddball stuff like blood types and wooden dolls, not churning our formulaic electro-pop that would be better suited to the likes of 2NE1.
Thankfully, it looks like f(x)’s journey into dulldom was just a slight hiccup, because the girls are back with a new single that’s every bit as weird and wacky as “Pinocchio (Danger),” “Rum Pum Pum Pum.”
First of all, it’s about wisdom teeth. f(x) compare themselves to the pesky molars in another one of their typically bizarre metaphors, with lyrics like, “Attention boys! I’m a bit different / I pushed aside all the others and took my place,” and, “I will pierce through your heart’s wall and grow.”
The song’s “Rum Pum Pum Pum” title is used to represent the sound of a beating heart, which is brought to life with a brilliant “Little Drummer Boy” sample that later segues into samba. And that’s just the type of the iceberg: The busy production also features exotic hand drums, whiplash-y snares, funky sixties guitar riffs, synthesized squirts, and alien vocal layering. But this kind of thing’s expected from the song’s talented co-writers, Dsign Music, who also helmed Girls’ Generation’s genre-bending “I Got a Boy” and EXO’s operatic dubstep anthem, “Wolf.” Plus, it’s a K-pop song after all, and K-pop isn’t one for subtlety.
“Rum Pum Pum Pum” excels because it’s off-the-wall and intricate, but it never sounds like too much is going on. Everything is used for the right amount of time in the right quantity at the right moment. Dsign do this so well that they even trick you into thinking there’s not enough happening — especially with the crafty hook structure, which starts off as a hypnotic tease, gives you everything on the second chorus, and then leaves you hungry for more by the end.
Also, I can’t forget Amber when listing the song’s merits, who finally delivers a killer rap verse that’s neither comically-bad (“True dat, you know I got it!“) nor awkwardly tacked on.
The only bad thing that can be said about “Rum Pum Pum Pum” is, unsurprisingly, the music video. The ladies of f(x) look just as incredibly cool and stylish as they always do, and it is the prettiest set-based clip they’ve done to date, but I still say that they’re better than SM’s dance-in-a-box MVs. Music this interesting deserves a visual to match.
Other than that, welcome back, f(x).