[Review] Birthday – Red Velvet

Red Velvet’s Feel My Rhythm is nominated for Best Group Performance (Female) of 2022 in the 2022 KPOPREVIEWED Awards. Support Feel My Rhythm and your other favourite performances, songs and artists in the 2022 KPOPREVIEWED by clicking the link here to vote.

Kicking off this week is Red Velvet, who returns after 8 months with their new single Birthday and the second part of their 2022 The ReVe Festival 2022 series, The ReVe Festival 2022 – Birthday. It follows Feel My Rhythm, their last Korean comeback from March of this year, and the release of their first Japanese studio length album in April of this year (which was headlined by the single Wildside).

To me, Birthday comes off as a muddled and underwhelming song. The instrumental of Birthday is what I considered to be muddled. Birthday continues the similar composition that was present in Feel My Rhythm, where a classical sample (for this track, the piece in question is George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue) is merged into a pop release. And for the purposes of Birthday, the classical sample ends up being mashed with trap elements. It ended up being a decent mix in my view, but I feel like the backing could have been more balance. Birthday places more emphasis on the trap elements, and I personally feel that this overpowers the delicate classical sample. My guess is that this is intended to make the song more riveting in the modern era. But I just feel it doesn’t do the classical element of the instrumental justice. As a result, we don’t get that same satisfaction that we got from Feel My Rhythm. As for the melodies, this is the side of the song that I thought was underwhelming. I feel the melodies and hooks were both underbaked and childish at the same time. This type of melody would have been perfect if the group was starting out. I have no issues with the group embracing a youthful side to their music, just not with an elementary and empty sound that we got in the final product. And preferably, one in which did not feel mismatched to the image they are aiming for/had created for themselves. I also feel like the melodies could have been weightier and more fleshed out. This would have helped Birthday build more character and feel more prominent. Throughout all of the song, there was only one element which I thought was interesting, and it would be cool for the group to explore this element in their releases into the future – the tinge of rock that we got in the bridge. More of it would be on trend this year and would have been great to explore now given that I am not over this rock genre trend. Overall, I think it is safe for me to say that this is not their best work ever.

The music video for Birthday begins with Red Velvet being denied from attending a party by the cartoon Gingerbread Man. In a rather petty move, the members return to the site of the party. But instead of presents like in the initial scenes, the members bring bats to infiltrate the party. They successfully do this, as per the ending scene. But after they defeat the Gingerbread Man. That is what I got out of the video, which was oddly childish in my opinion. I guess it complements the song in that regard. However, there are mature themes in the video, such as the cult-like fashion in which they summoned that balloon bear that shoots from its eyes. Aside from that, I quite enjoyed the colourful nature of the video and the fun energy the members did a great job of conveying throughout the video.

As for the choreography, I don’t see much potential in this department. I am quite surprised at this. I tend to look for the positive in all the negative, but I just thought this routine was relatively weak compared to their past routines. The only aspect that I thought might be worth flagging is that the routine was quite smooth. But aside from that, nothing really stood out..

Song – 7/10
Music Video – 8/10
Performance – 5/10
Overall Rating – 6.9/10

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