Meet BIBI - Unabashed, Brazen And Bold
ELLE Singapore|January 2022
Unabashed, brazen and bold, South Korean R&B and pop singer songwriter BIBI is all for baring her feelings — even the nasty, uneasy ones — to the world
Chelsea Tang

BIBI is a soft-spoken personality. That much is what can be inferred from the way she converses — measured, collected, reserved. She makes a concerted effort to pause after each question; the little pockets of silence speaking of the cogs turning in her head before her low voice starts up in conversation again. “It’s rather good,” she says simply, after some time spent pondering over what mantra she lives by. “That’s the phrase. I’ve been a little more positive lately.”

Things have indeed been looking up for the 23-year-old R&B and Korean pop singer-songwriter, who launched her newest single The Weekend in October 2021. A catchy bluesy pop gem produced by music recording agency 88rising, the song dropped hot off the heels after Never Gonna Come Down, her soundtrack contribution to the hit Marvel film Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings in September. It’s been another jewel to add to a crown that includes the launch of her sophomore EP Life Is A Bi… in April, and the white-hot popularity of her songs, like Cigarette and Condom as well as Kazino which has racked up 22 million streams on Spotify so far.

It would also be pertinent to add that BIBI only debuted in 2019, when she signed on with South Korean record label Feel Ghood Music. She quickly rose to stardom with her first single, BINU. That same year, she came in as the first runner-up in the SBS competition show The Fan. In other words, BIBI was nowhere, now she’s everywhere.

Her allure seems contrary to the usual ideas of what makes a K-pop idol, because it’s anything but sunshine and rainbows. Laced within her hypnotic beats — the kind to head bob to with closed eyes on chill nights over mellow beers — is her signature singing lilt, characterised by a sultry timbre.

She sings, but not just about anything. Of sex, of fleeting flings, of buckling beauty standards. Of vices, of toxic comparisons, of overt positivity. Of the treachery that is life. In the music video for Kazino, she infiltrates a sleazy gambling ring in an attempt to save a girl, but gets bashed in the head, strangled to death, and eventually dragged out by the legs, leaving behind a trail of blood — the near four-minute mini movie is a bold commentary on gambling and sex trafficking. Life Is A Bi…, is about life being a rat race riddled with deception; in the music video she ugly cries (multiple times), and bawls to a goddess who nonchalantly dismisses her with the words “life is a b*tch, deal with it”.

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