Ailee – 'BUTTERFLY'
2. Want It
4. Room Shaker
5. LOVE (Feat. Chen)
6. Nothing At All
7. You Are So Precious
9. Ain’t That Pretty
10. Heartcrusher (Feat. Undaunted, DJ Koo)
It's been almost three years since we've heard anything from Ailee, but now we have her newest LP, 'butterFLY.' She worked hard on this one, taking in some guest artists and snagging a producer credit for herself. It took two years to get this one out, including changing title tracks several times, until they finally settled on "Room Shaker."
"Midnight" starts with tinkling synths, but Ailee's powerful husky voice soars right over the instrumentation. Like usual. She's just a powerhouse, and she shows off that ability from the very first track. Next up is the disco-inspired "Want It." It's got a lot of that retro feel to it, particularly at the start, where she belts out the lyrics over horns. It often has that marching beat, too. It's a wonderful song that brings up a lot of nostalgic memories. "Headlock" begins with some somewhat understated beat, and a minimum of instrumentation. It's a little hard to quantify, but it takes a bit to find its footing when it becomes a fairly good R&B tune. It's a little less coordinated as a melody, and I wasn't as much a fan of this one as compared to the first two songs we've heard thus far.
Amusingly, part of the title track "Room Shaker" is the melody from BLACKPINK's "DDU-DU DDU-DU." I didn't expect that at all. It's actually sort of unusual for Ailee, having some club-banger influences, as well as EDM. I think it works quite well, particularly with her lower register. I'm not sure I would have used this as the title track, though. "LOVE" hears her teaming up with EXO's Chen for an R&B ballad. They do a good job here, with her rather fierce voice contrasting with Chen's emotional falsetto. The thing I like about it is they remain consistent throughout, rather than trying for that dramatic ending.
"Nothing At All" is another R&B tune, which she's quite good at. This has a more bluesy sound to it than the others. The piano is a bit repetitive, which detracts from the song some. At least she's not a slave to the metronome and packs each line with emotion and sweet sweet syllables. I also like how the music is turned down so we can hear her voice better. She takes a slower turn on "You Are So Precious." This is a cross-genre song that has a lot in common with singer-songwriter style music. I could totally hear this playing in the background in a coffee shop somewhere. It gave me a cozy vibe. "Fire" is another R&B style tune. It's more modern R&B, which I like a lot. And we hear the traditional vocal flourishes that Ailee has mastered so perfectly. I also like her range on this particular tune. Do I like this one? Yeah, it's fire.
Starting off with some folk influences, "Ain’t That Pretty" eventually hits club-banger status. While you groove along to one part or other, the styles are blended awkwardly here, and I didn't like this one that much because it didn't flow that well. At about the halfway mark it kinds of redeems itself, but I'm not sure it was more because the song changed, or that I got used to hearing it. "Heartcrusher" is pure club-banger, with synth wubs, clashes, and an overall very danceable beat. I love how this one holds together. It blends all sorts of styles from tropical house to disco and just is pure ear candy from start to finish.
It's interesting that we don't have some of the other influences we've heard from her in the past, notably the absence of high notes. She was really able to belt those out on previous releases. But she crosses genres here more than once, including EDM, which is an odd choice. And like a queen, she handles it adroitly. I like the direction she went with this album because it definitely never gets stale. And now she can put another jewel in her crown.
Ailee's MV for "Room Shaker" is fascinating.
The visuals in this particular music video can't be beat. None of the sets are particularly groundbreaking, but the way it's filmed keeps your attention. It's a fast-moving clip, where every second or so the camera is moved elsewhere. You have no time to be bored. The sets are boring -- nothing here you haven't seen before -- but the camera angles, lightning-fast transitions, and glitches that were left or deliberately added keep your eyeballs glued to the screen. Not to mention Ailee herself.
There are faux classrooms, parking garages both lit and unlit by neon, plus indistinct parts where she's shrouded in darkness and her surroundings are blurred (but not her), folding seats, and even the interior of some kind of truck. The effect is arresting, and not only that you have the choreo that adds another dimension to the whole thing.
I have to give some love to the choreo, if only for the sake of Ailee's aching knees. Her every movement screams attitude, and declares "queen." And it works so well. Regardless of how she really feels, these kinds of MVs that make a gal out to be fierce just grab my attention.
And you've read to the end and are still asking if I like it? The answer is an unabashed yes.
MV SCORE: 9.0
ALBUM SCORE: 9.0