f(x) Rum Pum Pum Pum

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).

  • Suzy Sooyoung

    ICONIC SONG!

    Honestly it’s so subtle and so intricate I love it!
    And how flawless did Krystal and Sulli look?

  • Nicole Naeun

    I swear SM has been amazing this year! I have yet to find any flaw of their releases since I Got a Boy. RPPP is no exception, I love how it’s very complex with the vocal layerings (eventhough I could def use some more beltings from Luna).

    As for the video, like you said, it’s very disappointing. I was so excited to see the visual after watching the art film, but none of those clips from the art film are in the actual MV. Amber with the shark baloon was iconic and should’ve put into the MV. f(x) is known for their quirky music and style, yet their videos are one of the most generic, basic videos in K-Pop. Do something ’bout this, SM!

    Anyway, can somebody edit this video and cut all Krystal’s solo shots! Bitch is overrated, Vic Sulli and Luna are giving me 110% real hotness in this video.

  • oppar is not yours

    SM is on a roll this year! *O* i can’t wait for the album. and it seems amber co-wrote the one w EXO’s DO w one of the noize bank guys. i’m also excited for that music spoiler they’re gonna do. aaaaaah! so many things to look forward to!

    by the way, are u gonna make a half year kpop songs list?

    • heauxbag

      i completely agree. only the most generic-loving flops think otherwise…

  • twinkle9

    LOVE ITTTTTTTTTTTT…. I cant wait to see them live.

  • MIKEE

    Finally Amber, FINALLY! This song is perfection!! I kept discovering new sounds every time I listened to it, you’re right it is layered beautifully. I would’ve liked a little more Luna but its all good. Clearly this mv is all about Krystal, and I haven’t seen her look this stunning in a while (never really understood why people think she’s so gorgeous, Amber is the prettiest IMO). I’m going to forgive the recycled sets because the song is so amazing and their styling is on point. Now THIS is an f(x) track, welcome back girls.

  • Marhaebwa

    I’m in love with Rum Pum Pum Pum and using (첫 사랑니) (first wisdom tooth) as th Korean title is so punny and clever since 첫 사랑 without the 니 means ‘first love’. It’s very ahead of its time.

    What I will say is: one – SM will always disappoint with their box MV’s. We hate them but its a trademark they’ll never let up.
    Two – Why make Krystal the lead in this drama-less MV? Are they trying to make her a standout star? I don’t understand. From what I know, many fans love her for being hot, a good singer and GG Jessica’s sister; but some Koreans can’t stand her attitude.

    Conclusion – SM should have made Amber the centre of attention. Everyone loves some Amber.

    • rex

      Actually Krystal is the most popular member of the group. Although she’s rumored to have a bad attitude, Koreans generally find her very pretty and she’s looked up to as a style icon.

    • oneclearnight

      Krystal is the face of the group and SM pushes her more than any other member. Like Kai, Yoona etc. It’s the way they work.

    • Josh Chinnery

      From what I can tell, Koreans find *anyone* who says what’s on their mind to have a bad attitude XD

    • tiktokcheekaboom

      looool I was scrutinising the MV and I honestly can’t see how krystal gets more solo shots than the others – maybe her red hair makes her stand out so much that you think she’s the lead? I thought she only got solo shots during her parts, same as the other members, so I can’t see what all the fuss is about krystal getting too much spotlight ><

  • kpopalypse

    f(x) is fundamentally a dance group, so they will always be in that box. It’s simply the format that makes the most sense. Honestly I was too busy perving at Sulli in that Geek shirt to really notice the box…

    • Yeezus Croissants

      I would enjoy f(x)’s box videos more if SM utilized f(x)’s dance skills and gave them more difficult moves. It’s sad when a dance group is only seen doing baby dance steps for their promotional work and not being used to their fullest potential. This video would be so much better if the choreo had an extra oomph factor.

      • kpopalypse

        I always thought that was the whole point of Amber – with a boyish image she didn’t have to wear raised or high heels like the other girls, and could therefore do more physical movements. You can see it in the Hot Summer video where she’s doing leaps in places where the other girls just kind of step briskly. You see it here too, but with the video cutting between the full routine and closeups it’s hard to truly judge the dance until they do it live.

        • Yeezus Croissants

          I see what you mean with Amber and watched a live performance of RPPP. You can see more dance moves in the live performance than in the MV, which focuses on the poses.

          I just feel like other SM artists have had some awesome choreo this year and f(x) got weak sauce. I would love to see a fun and killer dance from them a la IGAB. I think they could pull it off.

          • tiktokcheekaboom

            F(x)’s choreography may not necessarily be ‘fun’, but it definitely isn’t ‘baby step dance’ my dear – it takes an acrobat to pull off large exaggerated movements, but it takes a dancer to pull off a combination of delicate and sharp movements with finesse. I personally really approve SM’s choice of choreography for all of F(x)’s songs, because while they may not appear challenging, I’m sure anyone who dances can tell you that they are pretty darn difficult to perfect and pull off with such ease that F(x) does. It’s a bit sad that so many people on the internet keep dissing their dances as ‘easy’ and boring due to the fact that they aren’t jumping around or sliding on floors or doing splits, when it is in fact getting increasingly technical and complicated. Take another look at their dance for rum pum pum in a different light, and you’ll see just how brilliant the choreography is!

  • Michael Bodnar

    I love how SM is giving all their groups a new sound. I got a boy, Why So serious, wolf, and Rum Pum Pum Pum are sooooo different than what the artists are use to but they work and it shows.

  • sylfi

    I’m still disappointed that their dances are way below par for what they’re capable of (see NU ABO, please), but this is much better than Electric Shock and it’s actually, y’know, good.

    I love how they’re getting a Sophie Ellis-Bextor reject, too. This song and Shadow bode well for the album, hopefully it meets my expectations.

  • KingBeaArthur

    It’s all about Luna (and a bit of Krystal) for me! Thank GLOB SM let her dye her hair dark again; It was long overdue. I had instant love for the song the first listen but I agree the mv was such a waste.

    I can’t wait for “Pink Tape” < too bad EXO's repackage is being released a week after! That's some piss poor scheduling on SM's part.

  • CaptainJoeHook

    SM has been incredible this year, this is fantastic and I’ve always wanted proper vocal layerings where you can hear each individual voice like this in kpop plus more harmonies please. It’s too bad the average kpop fan prefers ‘Trap’ to all the other SM songs this year though.

  • Lin Misfits

    I guess I’m the minority who hasn’t been impressed by SM lately. Ever since 2012, they’ve been releasing bad to mediocre albums, with song titles that are cluster fuck with random sounds with no clear direction, trying to make it sound edgy and shoving it down the consumers throat.

    They used to release amazing singles yearly for each artist, from Sorry Sorry, Gee, Ring Ding Dong, Lucifer etc.

    But that all stopped when they realised the consumers will buy anything, so they’ve been lazy and focusing on marketing.

    That’s just my opinion. If you love it, then great.

    • Hmm, sounds like you just described 2NE1 honey!

      • Lin Misfits

        Well that’s true. I’m not a fan of them anyway ;)

    • Reed Livengood

      I could never understand why people think Ring Ding Dong is a good song.

      • Josh Chinnery

        Same. Sure, it’s catchy and danceable, but it’s so basic and dat autotune -_- It’s like it was their version of Electric Shock XD

    • Josh Chinnery

      While I agree that they’re title tracks have been rather hit or miss as of late (I still can’t believe they released Wolf after it leaked XD), they’ve been releasing knockout albums (in fact, I’m pretty sure they’re releasing the weakest songs on le album as title tracks to make the others look good :3).

      • Lin Misfits

        In my opinion, “XOXO” by EXO was SM’s best released album for a long time. Next would be SHINee’s “Why So Serious”. Apart from that, the rest have been disappointing.
        But that’s just my opinion. If you disagree then I’m happy for you that you’ve been enjoying their music :)

        • Josh Chinnery

          Why So Serious > Dream Girl > XOXO > I Got a Boy

          I think Why So Serious is better than XOXO, but XOXO is still a really strong album.

  • Fantastic song but my gosh all the SM acts have the same sets/format just slightly varied. White/Bright set contrasting a darker set and quick cuts to each with up close shots in between.

    See EXO Wolf, F(x) Electric Shock, SHINee Why So Serious, TVXQ Catch Me, and to a lesser extent SNSD Boys.

    Side note: What did they do to my Krystal! Red hair, red eyes and so much of her.

  • Andi

    I fell in love with f(x) because of “Pinocchio” and then almost gave up on them last year when they came back with “Electric Shock”. But this…this is giving me everything I want and expect from f(x). The instrumental and the vocal layering are fantastic. The MV sucks but I expected as much from SM, so I’m not really bothered that much. Also, I can’t help but laugh at all the k-pop fans who loved “Electric Shock” but don’t like “Rum Pum Pum Pum”. Basic bitches.

  • vjx89

    I didn’t like it. Maybe it’s a grower, idk.

  • UncleFan

    Needs more Luna. Otherwise… flawless.

    I’ve given up hating on SM for the cheap videos. I figure if they used the money saved from the MV to pay Dsign Music, then the money was well spent.

  • Johnnyyy

    The song itself is great! But the video? It’s basically Electric Shock 2.0 I mean not that i expected them to step out of the box, but they could’ve used different sets. They basically look alike.

  • loved the song; hate the mv/dance

  • Bluebeat

    Love the track. It sounds really sweet and the music video is very colorful. Really suited the song. f(x)’s choreo are so tight. They really are the female SHINee <3

  • Josh Chinnery

    Every time I see a new SM video being released for the masses, I laugh at the idiots who think that SM is finally letting their artists out of the box. The only people who were allowed to leave were EXO and BoA, and BoA left le box because she put her brother on the project XD *ahem* Anyway, this song is everything I needed and more. After being introduced to f(x) through Electric Shock (yes, I was late to the game, sue me :P), I thought they were meh; the song was like SHINee’s Ring Ding Dong, except less no autotune. But this song… THIS SONG IS EVERYTHING!!!!

  • tiggles

    holyasdfghjkl Airplane <3