Bad Guy - Single (2020)
Review By Dan Fister
January 29, 2021
Though a cappella repertoire can vary widely, spanning selections from jazz standards to obscure B-sides, covering the latest hits is a time-honored tradition. The Jackson Jills, Tufts University's oldest all-femme a cappella group, assume the mantle with their rendition of Bad Guy, Billie Eilish’s electropop sensation.
Arranger Addy Mirliani deftly transcribes Eilish’s signature song but doesn’t do quite enough to take advantage of the a cappella medium. Effects in post-production replicate the original track’s heavily-produced sound. However, these effects cannot make up for static background vocals, an issue that any group that attempts to cover Bad Guy will face, given that the source material privileges Eilish’s singular timbre and a catchy, driving hook. Adding in more dynamic contrasts and creative moments that break free from the established texture would go a long way.
Nevertheless, with more singing as opposed to Eilish's vocal fry in the melodic line, filled-out and balanced harmonies, and a solid vp foundation from Paige Morss, the song comes across well. Miley Xiao brings charisma and adept vocal flourishes when she takes over solo duties in the second verse. The rest of the group bring neither Xiao's flirtatious demeanor nor Eilish’s intensity and instead feel aloof. The Jackson Jills could benefit from following their soloist's lead and turning up the emotional energy.