Next album review is Red Velvet’s Queendom, the group’s sixth mini-album. It is the group’s first comeback since the release of The ReVe Festival: Finale in 2019, which is headlined by Psycho, which was unfortunately cut short due to a stage accident involving Wendy, which left her and Red Velvet absent as a whole group throughout 2020. Queendom (the mini-album) is headlined by the title track of the same name, both of which was released mid-August of this year.
2. Pose – Pose seems to find a balance between Red Velvet’s Red and Velvet side (again, do they still categorise their releases between the two?) and reminds me of their past hits. Pose had that quirky element within in its synth pop instrumentation. It made the song lively and quite fun. I also like the bass that we got as part of the background, which gave it depth and an intriguing influence. The smoothness of the vocals, especially in the chorus, and the rapping gave Pose a level of sophistication that aligns with the group’s Velvet side. It isn’t a mind-blowing say, but it was nice overall. (8/10)
3. Knock On Wood – Knock On Wood is another pleasant pop song. The synths in Knock On Wood definitely added to the song, making it more interesting, and added texture to the otherwise plain song. It isn’t an overwhelming amount, allowing the song to achieve that ‘pleasant’ description. The vocals further showcases, especially when the members sing together in the chorus. There was a bit of catchiness in the ‘Knock Knock’ hook. My only gripe about the song is the high pitch ‘Knock Knock’ that Yeri (for the first post-chorus hook) and Irene (for the second post-chorus hook) delivers in the background as an echo of the hook. (8/10)
4. Better Be – I personally liked the direction in which Better Be was going in. The song has this really smooth urban chicness feel to it, which stood out for me. This is thanks to an instrumental. The consistency (which tends to be a sore point for me) worked incredibly well in this song and aided the members to bring out that chicness through their contributions to the song. I really like the husky whispering of the song’s main hook, and the amazingness of the vocals during the verses and choruses. The harmonies also boosts up the song, while the rap-speak was well suited for this song. (9/10)
5. Pushin’ and Pullin’ – We get a bit more oomph in Pushin’ and Pullin’ thanks to the drums and bass. It is what is missing from the album. While it does align itself with the rest of the album, this is my pick for the strongest song on the mini-album. This is simple because of that oomph and that extra serving of vocals we get in Pushin’ and Pullin’. It was their strongest effort yet (on this album), as evident by the ad-libs. The R&B instrumental had a striking factor to it, thanks to the piano and drums. (9/10)
6. Hello, Sunset (다시, 여름) – We have heard sophisticated, pleasant and chic sounds from Red Velvet. And now it is dreamy Red Velvet. I really like how light the group’s vocals, especially when they sing together for the chorus. It was warm and definitely soothing. Instrumentally, the song is quite simple, tapping into the R&B genre, and there isn’t anything special about it. But if you were to take away one thing from Hello, Sunset, it definitely has to be the vocals. (7/10)
After a year and seven months since Psycho, Red Velvet have made their grand and elegant return to the KPOP scene with Queendom. It had definitely been while since a full group’s comeback. Wendy spent most of 2020 recovering from her horrible accident at the end of 2019 and Irene had an unprofessionalism scandal last year. However, it all wasn’t bad news during this hiatus. Irene and Seulgi formed a subunit and promoted both Monster and Naughty last year, while Wendy and Joy made their respective solo debuts with Like Water and Hello earlier this year. Yeri also debuted as an actress. But it is really great that we can finally see the five members regroup and promote together again!
Queendom falls more on their Velvet side/concept of releases. For those who don’t know (do they even still use this method to describe their releases anymore?), Red Velvet’s releases can be either of their ‘Red’ concept (vibrant and bold concepts) or ‘Velvet’ (classy and toned down concepts). If you are a fan of Red Velvet, you can hear the ‘Velvet’ profile from a mile away. The new song is a pop track, but it quite subdued in comparison to their other works. It still has an upbeat instrumental, which I think makes Queendom still relevant for the current Summer season. There is a nice ‘pop’ to the instrumentation. It also features similar melodies in the chorus, which reminds me of some of their earlier works (that are more on the ‘Red’ side, though). However, the major flaw I found with Queendom is that there was a really standard vibe coming from the song. Pleasant at best, if I were to give this observation a tagline. That being said, I am appreciative of the group’s delivery of the song. The vocal work in Queendom felt refined and elegant, like the rest of the song, its concept alignment and the lyrics of the song (which were all about being ‘kings’ and ‘queens’ of our own lives and that we shine brighter when we come together – adapted from SOOMPI). I also found the vocals to be quite vibrant, which I thought was much needed breath of life to the song (i.e. saving it from the standard nature of the instrumental). I particularly love how Wendy pushes herself in the chorus, her high note and her ad-libs at the end of the song. They were definitely well-placed and helped give the song a bit of zing. The rapping from both Irene and Yeri were also really nicely done and in such a cleanly fashion. The rap-speak delivery felt just right for this song. The‘Ladida-do Ba-badida‘ is also quite catchy. Overall, a pretty decent track from the song. What they lacked in one area, they made up in another area. And it is enough for me to enjoy Queendom.
The music video gives me Harry Potter vibes thanks to all the magic that is going on in the video. But rather than Hogwarts, the music video’s premise is an underground mailing centre, with all the members being a critical member of the postal service. I could feel the elegance from the video and how well it matched the song. But other than that, I feel the ‘pleasant, at best’ tagline would be applicable to this video as well.
Like the song and music video, the choreography (from what I can see in the music video) has that really elegant and flowy nature to it. And because of this, I find it fitting with the song. But it isn’t the most mind-blowing piece from the group. The ‘Ladida-do Ba-badida‘ post-chorus hook looks like it will be the most interesting part of the choreography, since the members each do something different from the looks of it in the first iteration of the hook.
Song – 8/10 Music Video – 7/10 Performance – 8/10 Overall Rating – 7.7/10
Hello. Welcome back to the usual transmission of song reviews. We start off today with where we left off on Monday. Joy, one fifth of Red Velvet, made her solo debut at the start of the week with Hello and the mini-album of the same name. She is the second member to officially go solo, with the first being Wendy, who made her solo debut earlier this year with Like Water. While we are all excited to hear from Joy (and the other members through solo and unit promotions), I am still waiting for a full group Red Velvet comeback, which hasn’t occurred since December 2019 with the release of Psycho. But I guess we just have to wait a little longer. In the meantime, let’s have a listen to Joy’s Hello.
If Monday’s review was for an emotionally charged rock track is at one end of the spectrum, then Hello is another rock-influenced track at the other end of the spectrum. Joy’s Hello is cover of a 1999 single titled Good Bye by Park Hye Kyung. I personally do not have much to say about the song aside from the fact that I really liked it. I didn’t know what to expect from Joy when it was announced that she would be making her solo debut. So I was geninuely surprised to hear such an enjoyable song that really boasts addictive and colourful energy. Joy’s cover carries over the same energy and cheerful vibe from the original song. If anything, Joy’s version amplifies the energy, released in a day and age where technology gives that opportunity to take it to the next level. But the rock influences within Hello is only one side of the song’s instrumental. There is a lot of brass during the chorus to really heighten the energy and happy feeling of this version. And this really appeals to me (because you know I like my brass). I also find the song really suitable for the upcoming season of Summer, as it is chirpy, extremely upbeat and refreshing to listen to. It ticks all the boxes of what you would want in a song positioned for release in Summer. As for her vocals, I find Joy’s vocals make this version super sweet and youthful, which fits her image and personality. Like the original song, the choruses was probably its most defined moments, with the verses falling into the forgettable category unfortuately. The chorus had the really catchy and colourful melodies that the song relies on. Overall, Hello was a great step for Joy for her solo career. Hopefully she returns soon with an original track as the title track that shows off more of her skillset!
The music video for Hello was super cute. While I am sure there is a deeper meaning to the video, just looking at what you can see on the screen in a literal sense already brings a smile to your face. Based on the start of the video, it appears that Joy is in some sort of stagnant part of her life. She clearly looks tired and is pretty much over whatever she is experience. So after some responsible cleaning up, she starts afresh and goes on a road trip. On this road trip, she comes across a young girl and decides to take her home. The only probably is, she is relying on a map that is handdrawn (by the young girl I persume). So she seeks the assistance of local bikers. seafood divers, farmers and surfers, who point her in the direction of the young’s girls home. After a long road trip, we see Joy reunite the young girl with her family. It is such a happy and feel-good type of video, complimenting the energy coming from the song. Even the waves and smiles on the faces of the locals bring one to your face.
Not entirely sure if there will be any choreography for this solo debut. Based on the original performance of the original version, there was no choreography. Instead a live band played in the background while Park Hye Kyung sang live. There is a possibility that Joy might do the same. But I think this is a great opprtunity to separate the cover from the original. We will find out more come Friday when she makes her first appearance on stage with Hello.
Song – 9/10 Music Video – 10/10 Performance – To Be Updated Overall Rating – 9.4/10 (To Be Updated)
Next up on the list of solo releases that I am reviewing this weekend is Wendy’s solo debut title track. Like Water is the title of her debut single and it was released on the Monday that just past, alongside her debut mini-album (which shares the same name). Wendy is also the first member of Red Velvet to officially begin a solo career in the music industry. She has done some solo work before through collaborations and OSTs previously, but has not been given the opportunity to promote a mini-album under just her name. This official start is also a return to music promotions for Wendy. For those who missed the news back in 2019, she was badly injured at after a stage fall while performing Psycho, which left her in hospital for a while. She was notably absent in 2020, so that she could rest and recover from her injuries. She did release some music, but nothing substantial. Early 2021, she returned as a member of Red Velvet for a SM Concert. But things have been quiet on that front since that major performance milestone for Wendy and Red Velvet.
I was not surprised when I realised that Like Water was going to be a ballad. Firstly, the title felt like a name you would give to a ballad. Secondly, as Wendy is the main vocalist of her group, it is typically the expectation that she would go down that route as many main vocalists have done before. But don’t get me wrong. I am not saying Like Water is like any other typical comeback. Like Water wowed me when I first heard the song. And that is solely due to the captivation spell that Wendy had me under with her vocals. Her high notes were flawless, enabling the song to soar to new heights. Another positive about the vocal department in this song is how clear and straightforward her vocals were. While it may sound like I am referring to that ‘typical’ description again, I actually in fact appreciate this direction. It is always nice to hear a release that is not complicated or overdone once in a while. And so Wendy’s Like Water comes at a perfect time for me. I also find that Wendy’s vocals in this song remind me of labelmate’s Taeyeon’s vocals (and that is a high compliment to give someone, given Taeyeon’s power and influence in the industry). The melodies in this song are so flowy, feeling like a natural water stream you would hear in a forest. What makes Like Water unique is the folksy instrumentation we get. It may sound like another typical contemporary ballad with its instrumentation if you simply take a glance at it. But when you pay close attention, you find that there is a fair bit of a folk influence to its makeup. And if you still question it, then the instrumental break we get about half way through the song should be enough to prove you otherwise. Altogether, Like Water is a stunning ballad that shows off Wendy’s vocals and marks the return of the Red Velvet member to the KPOP music scene.
The song Like Water isn’t an emotional one. Rather, it has a happy tone to it that makes you want to smile. (For those who don’t know, Wendy likens her love to her partner to the need and feeling of water in the lyrics). That smile feeling is shown throughout the video, with Wendy smiling whilst delivering her lines. One thing I liked about the video is how the video captured Wendy from afar. In many of those scenes where you can tell there is some distance between Wendy and the camera, you will notice they are pretty wide shots and there is a lot of space above her. To me, I think it shows how there is no clouds above her (which would commonly be synonymous with breakup ballads and emotional songs). There is imagery of rain throughout the video which make sense given the song is about water. But I find it smart to not include grey clouds (i.e. the source of that rain), which can be heavy and loaded at the same time, and this would not be a good fit for the video.
Song – 10/10 Music Video – 8/10 Overall Rating – 9.2/10
It is time for another album review. Today’s album in focus belongs to Red Velvet’s first unit, Irene & Seulgi. This duo debuted on earlier this month with Monster as the main promotional track. Two weeks later, the duo followed up with Naughty, which wowed fans (including myself) with its awesome sound and jaw-dropping dance. Both Irene and Seulgi also had solo videos, with Seulgi’s solo video also doubling up as a music video for her Uncover solo that is also on this mini-album. All the links to the songs I mentioned are below. And while listening to each song, why not read my deep dive into the album and the side-tracks.
3. Diamond – I really like the sensual vibes that we get from Diamond. It is that sleek style of R&B that reminds me of their rendition of Be Natural (previously released back in in 2014). In comparison to that song, Diamond has a bit of more energy to it, thanks to the beat in Diamond’s instrumental. While the instrumental is already quite weak, the song gets stripped at the bridge. Its placement really helped prevent the song from being too consistent, which is a common occurrence with R&B songs like this. The vocals from both members were quite nice throughout this song. They really do suit the R&B style as proven by this track. I also like the diva-vibes that come off the ‘Diamond in the rough’ repetition that opens and closes the song. (8/10)
4. Feel Good – Feel Good continues the R&B sound from the preceding track. This one has more of a kick to it when it comes to the chorus. While there is a consistent backbone that runs throughout most of the song, the chorus features a suitable but typical selection of synths. While the choice of style made sense and felt natural, it lacked uniqueness and memorability. And hence, it did come off as a bore to me. This is quite a pity, because I liked the direction in which the verses and pre-chorus was taking, especially the ramp up to the chorus. I just wanted a little more to the chorus. Not too much to throw the song off balance, however. The vocals were good. They sounded emotionless at times, but I felt that was appropriate when I went through the lyrics about feeling indifferent to their ex-lover and ruining their ex-lover’s life. (7/10)
5. Jelly– I expected Jelly to be a lot more upbeat regardless of their choice of genre. And that was delivered. In fact, I find the instrumental to be teasing us with its playful nature. It is subtle, but likeable. Once again, the vocals are quite good. I liked how they bolstered themselves up by singing together. It added a bit more energy to the song. I also enjoyed the use of brass in the song. It adds to that subtle playful nature that I mentioned. But it does so in a refined way that fits the R&B sound we get on this album. I would have enjoyed the song more if had stronger hooks and melodies. I felt the song lacked memorability due to the two lacking components. I did find the high pitched ‘What’ just before the chorus to have a bit of that memorable factor. But it wasn’t enough. (8/10)
6. Uncover (Seulgi Solo) – Uncover was the special track on the album and performed only by Seulgi. A music video was released for Uncover during the same week when we got the Naughty music video (I think was last week). As expected, Uncover takes on R&B. It is an aesthetic song, based on its abstract and choppy instrumental. I really like the small details in the instrumental, which adds to that aesthetic appeal and some textural components to the song. Her vocals are really nice in this song and adds a smooth flair to the song that the instrumental lacked due to those small details I just mentioned. It isn’t the most memorable song the album, but it definitely is a strong one nonetheless based on music and vocals alone. (8.5/10)
You may know that I have been withholding a few reviews as the corresponding music videos were released after I already covered them in my album review segment on this blog. And as promised, those missed music videos reviews will be out soon. But I do still watch them! Today, I had a listen and watched Red Velvet – Irene & Seulgi’s latest music video release for Naughty and just knew that this needs its standalone review. And that is why we are here. I have yet to review their Monster mini-album but I have previously reviewed the Monstertitle track, which you can read after this review.
With Irene & Seulgi’s mature and dark turn with this Monster unit debut, Naughty‘s presence on the album felt appropriate, but also a missed opportunity. When I first listen to the album, Naughty seemed to be the most logical choice for the title track over Monster. Monster had a dullness to it, which let down the chosen title track. Naughty, on the other hand, had a level of dynamism and hypnotic appeal that just clicked. And this helps overtake that dullness that I was disappointed with in the actual title track. This song takes on deep house and features many crunchy synths to give Naughty a wonderful sense of texture. I really liked the sassiness that started the song and stayed in the background during the verses. I liked the bass that comes along with the song, adding to the already mentioned dynamic atmosphere of the song. I liked how the chorus had a chant-like delivery, which was thoroughly interesting and helped with the said appeal. The vocals during the rest of the song was quite good. I still do think Naughty could have used something more, like a rap sequence to add some further edge to the song or add an additional layer of intensity. But what we got anyway is already enough to satisfy me. And given how positive my thoughts on the song were, Naughty is obviously a superior track on the album.
The ‘Episode 1’ in the title of the music video confuses me. Does that mean that the unit will be releasing music videos for all side tracks? Or is something else coming our way? No one knows. I guess we just have to wait and see. In the meanwhile, I thought the music video for Naughty was terrific. It is more of a performance video, given its focus on the choreography and it strays away from the use of closeups. I felt the start and end of the video where the two are walking towards and away from each other felt a little unnecessary, unless they are what connects the ‘episodes’ together. I would have been fine with the choreography centered shots as they had really good post-production and its simplicity with the grey-scale tones made it aesthetic. I really liked the solo shots where the member in focus is dancing opposite the member behind the camera. It definitely looks like we are doing the performance and adds a unique depth to the video.
The performance for Naughty definitely leaves a wowing impression. The mixture of voguing (Not too sure if this is the right category of the moves as the tempo doesn’t necessary match what I associate with voguing, but given their use of their arms) and tutting in this performance looks very cool and hypnotic. It will definitely be a stand out routine of the year given its visual appeal.
Song – 9/10 Music Video – 9/10 Performance – 10/10 Overall Rating – 9.2/10
It has been a while since we heard from Red Velvet, which I assume is due to Wendy’s recovery from the stage accident that grounded their Psycho promotions to a halt at the very of last year. But now Red Velvet has returned to the stage in the form of a duo subunit, Red Velvet – Irene & Seulgi, which is up of (you guessed it!) Irene and Seulgi. The official release of their debut title track Monster occurred on Monday, but the music video was not released until Tuesday. And I accidentally napped unexpectedly, resulting in a further delay in the review. And before I nap again today, here is my review for Monster.
If you go into this song thinking we will be getting something Red Velvet usually puts out (as that is what you might think given the name Red Velvet is retained in the unit’s name), be prepared to be surprised. Monster has a very distinctive sound. It is like Monster took Red Velvet’s darkest and edgiest sound and amping it up to the next level. It starts with a high pitch and slightly distorted ‘Na Na Na‘, which undoubtedly sets the tone of the song. We then enter a very sinister and suspenseful verse, before launching it a more energised chorus made up of trap elements and dubstep. The song’s vibes and sound essentially repeat itself once that ‘Na Na Na‘ distorted vocals return at the end of the chorus. But while the song does have that unique distinctive sound for current times, I do find the repetition to dull the song’s appeal. It could have been intriguing and interesting, provided they change up the song’s textures a bit as it progressed to give it some variety and freshness. I do commendable Irene and Seulgi’s vocals, which were superb in this song. They added character to the song and helped Monster achieve those sinister and suspenseful vibes that I mentioned earlier. I particularly liked the entire second verse, as there was some interesting colours and vocal profiles there. The chorus had nice melodic hooks, but like the repetition flaw, it soon became dry and dull. There ‘I’m A Little Monster‘ was impactful and came off strong in a subtle manner. Overall, Monster was a fair effort. Just not as mind-blowing as I hoped it to be.
The dark and edgy sound that the song opted for was reflected in the visuals of the music video through the horror influence. While it was quite good to watch, this horror concept came off as rather tame. I wanted to see them go that extra mile as they could have explored a lot of imagery and stories, conceptually. We see the members dressed in white doll-like dresses that resemble the clothing that we see young girls wear in horror movies as they die or haunt the living. Seulgi creepily crawling in one scene towards herself and then walking confidently in the next, similar to how I remember some demonic ghosts would haunt the living in some movies. We see Irene playing with dolls in a creepy manner and in one of the choreography shots, we see a devil’s face edited over Irene’s face. It didn’t scare me, but it had me jumping up and down excitedly as that was the type of scare that I wanted to see. I did like the sets, as they gave off a haunting without going explicitly into cliche haunted house land.
I really liked the outfits they wore and the makeup they donned in the music video. It really suited the music video. And I can’t wait to see them on stage with those exact same outfits and makeup. For the choreography, it looks like a stunning routine. Best parts include their starting formation, (which looks like a creepy creature) and Seulgi twisting Irene to include the ghost face (simple yet effective in terms of coolness).
Song – 7/10 Music Video – 8/10 Performance – 8/10 Overall Rating – 7.5/10
It has been a while since the last Past Album Review (i.e. an album review from previous years of my choosing) as I always ended up choosing a studio album, which usually consisted of 10 or more songs. So, they are quite time consuming and lengthy to write up. And it is because of this that I have been skipping a few weeks of PARs. But I am hoping I can get ahead during this week, so I have a bunch to schedule. For this week, it is another studio album that took me the last few weeks to write. I am talking about Red Velvet’s The Red, which was released back in September 2015. It featured the title track Dumb Dumb and was highly praised overall for its quirkiness. Personally, I think the album is a good mix of tracks that highlighted Red Velvet’s potential at the time. Looking back, it is one of Red Velvet’s more iconic releases to date. Let’s have a closer look at the album.
2. Huff n Puff – Quite sure that at the time of its release, I would have considered Huff n Puff to be a one-of-a-kind song. And that feeling might be the same after all these years. I really liked its roughness, heaviness and robustness. As mentioned before, the childish notes in the instrumental, along with the trap breakdown we get in the song gives it a fun feel. The crashing at the end was also a fun nod to the Big Bad Wolf. Their hooks to be quite creative and catchy, adding to that fun feel even more. The shouty nature of the chorus really helps them stand out in the chorus, which is very heavy with dramatic thumping. The members opt for some rapping throughout the song, which really compliments the song’s nature. We also get a Wendy Happiness moment, though in Huff n Puff, this is shared between Seulgi and Wendy (and my pick for best moment, aside from the chorus). (9/10)
3. Campfire – The members are reminiscent of a campfire, which is where the first moves of a relationship were made. In the midst of all of that, there are cutesy actions referenced by the members associated with camping and campfires, which gives the song that innocent swing. Once again, their delivery is a mixture of rapping and vocals. While the rapping was very nice, their vocal work stands out the most in this song. As for the instrumental, it is made of a mixture of heavy thumping and an upbeat R&B rhythm. Quite attractive, if you ask me. I would love to see a instrumental for this song and wonder what direction would they take. It would be interesting to see them go with some edgy with this song. There moments that I thought were a little forgettable (i.e. the verses), but overall, Campfire was another strong side-track. (8/10)
4. Red Dress – Another upbeat number. But the instrumental for this is a lot lighter and bouncy at the same time, which is a little different from the heaviness that we have heard thus far. But while the song starts off in a very powerful manner, I did not like how they toned down the energy for the chorus. It is like an inverted song. I would have loved for them to go with an even more intense chorus and have that executed decently to help blow me away. I am glad that the final chorus manages to up the energy (relatively to the other choruses in this song). But it still doesn’t cut it for me. Their vocals were nice and crystal clear throughout the song. I say that because they easily could have masked their vocals with an overpowering instrumental in any of the song on the album thus far. But the producers made sure the members shined in each song so far. (7/10)
5. Oh Boy – The opening to Oh Boy feels like it can be used as the opening to a sitcom or teenage TV show. I like its boldness and Wendy wows with her vocals in just the opener. Joy also performs the opener throughout the song as well, showcasing her vocals. What I like about the song is that it just continues as it is. The instrumental is already bold thanks to the energy that comes off it. So, there is no need to change it. The member’s vocals add to this boldness and really strengthens the song in a way that really captures your attention. I also like how it is in the forefront of the song and sounds very crisp on top of the instrumental. It is very catchy and upbeat. Overall, a really strong side-track on this album. (10/10)
6. Lady’s Room – I really like the 90s feel to the instrumental. It felt like it could have come from a hip-hop track and it also feels like a song that could have come from LOONA (a much more recent group, who debuted a few years after the release of this album). Obviously, there is a little more to the song’s instrumental. It is toned down to be appropriate for this girl group. While I think there are good vocals in this song, I find that the song’s melodies feel little lost and non-cohesive in this track. The vocal melodies and instrumental just don’t merge nicely together and this weigh the song down for me. With that in mind, Lady’s Room could have been more enjoyable with the right fitting melodies. (6/10)
7. Time Slip – The song has R&B roots, but the melodies during the verses seem to direct us toward the hip-hop genre. It is a very nice mash of the two genres. The song feels quite clean and straightforward, with the various sections of the song attaining to one of the two genres. Never do they actually merge to be uncategorizable. The R&B sections (i.e. the choruses) showcase the group’s smooth vocals, while the members do a fair amount of rapping in the song’s verses. It is backed with a really trendy instrumental. And with all these elements together, Time Slip easily could have been released now and I would not even ping it as a song released years ago. I really liked the ending of the song. It is dragged out, but it ties the song together quite nicely with its bass and their catchy ‘Baby here we go’ hook. (9/10)
8. Don’t U Wait No More – Aside from the title track, Don’t U Wait No More seems to the peak of Red Velvet’s Red side. For those who don’t remember or know, Red Velvet releases tend to fall into two categories. Red is more of their colourful and energetic releases, while Velvet is their more silky and mature releases. It seems like Red Velvet releases don’t follow this system anymore, but it is always interesting to guess how songs would fit into the categories. Opening the song up is the very catchy hook of the repetition of the title. It is paired with what I would consider to be a wacky instrumental. It makes use of a bouncy set of synths that is quite low, contrasting with their vocals (which is where the energy is injected into the song). While the shortness might be a flaw for those who enjoy the song, I can see why the song was kept short. It relies heavily on repetition and if it went on for any longer, I fear the song would be considered repetitive (in a bad way) and excessively boring. But don’t worry. I like it the song exactly how it is. (8.5/10)
9. Day 1– The initial moments of this song, I thought the song was going to fall into their Velvet side. But that would be ill fitting, considering that the entire album is called The Red (and hence alludes to their Red side). But in a matter of seconds, the song injects a fair amount of enjoyable energy into the song. I really liked the old retro vibes in this song. It feels like it could easily be a musical number thanks to the song’s melody. Even the ending has that Hollywood theatre type of vibe to it. The chorus was cute and quite catchy. Vocally, Day 1 is a very strong song. The fact that they sing together in the choruses are further signs that support the musical feel of the song. Wendy’s high note was pretty good. I was concerned about how they would bolster the song, but the high note and inclusive singing in the chorus resolved that concern with minimal effort. (9/10)
10. Cool World – Cool World is a very pleasant pop track. It ends the album neatly. A little too neatly, if you asked for my personal opinion. While the song does have a refreshing vibe thanks to its easygoing instrumental and it does feel quite suitable for the Summer season, the song feels quite bland. We don’t get much from the members in this song other than straightforward vocals. I wished that the song somehow had more of a zing and energetic vibes, which would be more enjoyable. But still, Cool World works gracefully and comfortably as an album ender. (7/10)
Red Velvet made their comeback with Psycho and their third studio album at the end of 2019. Unfortunately, it was not part of the 2019 album review lineup due to its late release and hence it becomes the first album review to be released in 2020 (which obviously is occurring today). This studio album features 4 new tracks (including the title track, Psycho) and all the tracks that was part of the ReVe Festival series (to be linked within the review). These will not contribute to the final rating, however. In other related news, Red Velvet is no longer promoting Psycho due to the injuries that Wendy sustained during the 2019 SBS Music Festival rehearsal.
2. In & Out – Red Velvet delves into R&B pop for this track. To me, the track felt like if a song from the group’s Red side was remade for their Velvet side, with the song feeling and sounding like it was polished and refined. There is a smoothness to the track, which I thought was very cool. I really like the heavy beat that features in the instrumental, followed by the trap sounds that really give the song some character. I thought the group’s execution of their vocal and rapping were top notch and worthy of a listen. As for the lyrics, the song portrays an on and off again relationship that they are experiencing. (8/10)
3. Remember Forever– Remember Forever is a pop ballad that is bound to get you swaying along to the music. I really like that flowy side of the song, which really makes the song appealing to me. There is a grand nature to the song, which really made it feel extra special. I also enjoy how they incorporated some rapping. Usually, I wouldn’t be a fan of this tactic. But it worked really well this time around. Finally, I really enjoyed the harmonies that all the members contributed to at the end by singing together, bringing the series to a close in an inclusive and warm manner. (9/10)
To read the album review for The ReVe Festival: Day 1 (Sunny Side Up, Milkshake, Bing Bing, Parade & LP), click here. For the full review for Zimzalabim, click here.
To read the full album review for The ReVe Festival: Day 2 (Carpool, Love Is The Way, Jumpin’, Ladies Night & Eyes Locked, Hands Locked), click here. For the full review for Umpah Umpah, click here.
16. La Rouge – A special track included at the very end of the third studio album is La Rouge. La Rouge is actually the name of their recent concert and the track itself was also performed at the concert. I thought the instrumental was very ear-catching, going with that 1930s sound in modern way. The upbeat chorus also made the song appealing. Vocally, the members sound very sensual and different from their past tracks/styles (referring to both their Red and Velvet side that we have heard so far). It is a pity that this is a bonus track, as I would love to see more live performances of this track. (8.5/10)
At the end of each year, the three major broadcasting companies in South Korea (SBS, KBS and MBC) organises and broadcast a very fruitful and dynamic music festival, bringing together the top KPOP acts of the year. 2019 is no exception and with a year as busy as 2019, it is often quite hard to get invited to these festivals. And with each show running for a couple of hours, different stages/performances/remixes of the year’s hits and one-of-a-kind collaborations, it is often hard to keep up with these festivals. Today, I have decided to organise a list of performances from each of these three festivals that I thought were excellent, different and worthwhile in checking out. I have done this before but over the years dropped it as I had very little time. Now that I have some time on my hand, I thought I return to this segment for the 2019 festivals.
SBS Gayo Daejun – 25th of December 2019
When we talk about the SBS Music Festival, we need to address the issue of safety. After all, it costed Red Velvet full group promotions for their Psycho comeback, due to injuries sustained by Wendy due to the unsafe nature of SBS stage. We did manage to get one full lineup of the group performing Psycho on stage as it was pre-recorded. because of that, I put Red Velvet’s Psycho performance on my list of favourite performances from that day. Other performers also had falls on the SBS stage, from what I remember reading. Other stages at stood out for me were:
Stray Kid’s Miroh – I did not know how Stray Kids could top Miroh’s intensity by rearranging the performance to be even more intense.
NCT Dream’s Boom & NCT 127’s Superhuman – Both tracks had a really cool dance addition to it. On top of that, we got to see the same ‘switching of jackets’ that Mark did at the 2018 SBS Music Festival between Dream and 127’s performance. Only this time, it was Haechan!
Oh My Girl’s Bungee (X-mas Version) – Always good to have a X-mas themed remix on Christmas Day. It made Bungee, an already vibrant and colourful track, more suitable for the season.
Mamamoo’s Gogobebe – The rock remix for this performance was superb.
Seventeen’s Home and Snapshoot – We got to see a warmer side of the group and the more joyful side, especially after all the darkness we got from HIT and Fear.
TWICE’s Medley of Tracks – I really liked the band element to their performance and how they tweaked the concept for Fancy and their more light hearted tracks. I just wished the band was DAY6 (where is DAY6 in all of these festivals), which would have made the performance even more worthy of a view.
BTS’s Dionysus – I have always been a fan of BTS’s darker side. This performance is a return this side, which I greatly appreciate.
KBS Gayo Daechukje – 27th December 2019
I personally did not have much interest in the KBS Music Festival as I thought the stage looked really bad and the camera work wasn’t the best. This wasn’t also the only problem that occurred that same night. APINK’s %% performance was cut short, disappointing fans, APINK and viewers in general. If I were to choose one standout stage, it would have Golden Child’s Wannabe stage. Their dance intro was very good and showed off intensity that was aligned with their new look/concept. And I really liked how smooth the transition between dance intro and actual song was. Only a few toehr performances caught my attention and they include:
Song Gain’s Introductory song – Song Gain, for those who don’t know is a trot singer that trended this year. For Song Gain’s performance, she managed to incorporate all artists into her song, which I think would be a challenge.
NU’EST Love Me – It wasn’t so much their choreography or song that caught my attention. But I thought the raised stages for the end really highlighted the good parts of their overall choreography, providing what could be said as an epic end to their stage.
ASTRO’s All Night + Blue Flame – I was waiting for ASTRO to do All Night in some capacity during these festivals. But with Moonbin out of action, it seems like the group would opt for the 5-member Blue Flame instead. So automatically, ASTRO’s stage for All Night alone would make this list. Blue Flame ended up being very epic as well, which is why their entire segment is on this list.
Oh Ha Young, Joy and Yerin Mr. Mr. collaboration – I haven’t heard this song for some time now and I really enjoyed this throwback. Also surprised that they covered the entire song, which usually isn’t the case.
MBC Gayo Daejejeon – 31st December 2019
MBC’s Music Festival is one to always watch. Their stages always have a look that shows that they have been planning for a while. The collaborations for this festival are always something to talk about. And why not watch it live as the year goes out! There is nothing like ending 2019 and start 2020 with KPOP! However, the MBC Music Festival was also plagued with an early termination issue. This time around the victim was Kim Jae Hwan, who only got to perform Nuna (he should have performed The Time I Need as well. For standout performance, I am putting down ASTRO and Oh My Girl’s creepy and jazzy cover of IU’s Red Shoes. It was different and colourful. Other stages to check out:
Stray Kid’s Side Effects – Another intense song that they managed to upgrade and make darker. The creative minds that put together these stages for Stray Kids are killing it (and need a pay rise instantly).
Seventeen & Mamamoo Collaboration – Two of my favourite groups have come together to form one dream team. And this was such an amazing stage.
Seventeen’s HIT – Mingyu shouldn’t be playing with fire. It is dangerous. But one epic opener to the stage. Also, somehow Seventeen managed to insert a dance break in the midst of the stage, which I think earns a mention at the very least.
Hyuna’s Flower Shower – Her choreography is essentially the same as the one she performed in the past. But the chorus instrumental is changed slightly, which I thought made the stage a lot cooler for the end of year festival.
Taemin’s Move & Famous – MBC’s Music Festival had a theme, The Chemistry. And you can’t have a theme about Chemistry without Taemin. While he didn’t do anything special to Move‘s stage, his dance alone is already 100% fitting for a ‘Chemistry’ themed music festival.
(G)i-DLE’s Lion – Another reason to why we need to look out for this girl group is their special stages. Lion is practically a game changer for the group.
Lovelyz’s Beautiful Day – I really like their ballad start to their stage and how they built it back up to the original song in an effortless manner.
Red Velvet is nominated for Best Female Group, Best Music Video and Best Female (Group) Choreography in the 2019 KPOPREVIEWED Awards. Voting closes on the 31st of December, which is almost a week away. So to support Red Velvet, click here to vote for them in the survey!
A major release this late into the final month of year tends to be quite rare, as groups are preparing from the end of year music festivals and other special events. But it seems like we will be getting a couple this year. The first is by Red Velvet, who returns with the final part of the ReVe Festival. The title track for this release is Psycho. Previously, the group returned earlier in the year with Zimzalabim and Umpah Umpah, as part of the ReVe Festival series.
Zimzalabim was probably one of their craziest tracks, while Umpah Umpah ended up resolving to be a regular pop track for Summer. So it was hard to form an expectation for Psycho. But it ended up being an urban pop dance track that felt very polished and refined. I would also say this would be a logical follow up to the R&B sound that we got through Bad Boy. Just Psycho ends up being much more appealing for me. The instrumental backdrop felt simple, allowing the vocals to do majority of the hard work. There was some falsettos in the pre-chorus and I really like how they all sing the chorus, making the song feel more impactful. The chorus also had this very addictive swaying effect, which helped make the song more alluring. The melodies also kept the song feeling fresh and smooth. There was a slight moment of rapping which I felt they could have extended to give the song an extra boost of oomph. But other than that, Red Velvet comes out with another smashing song.
The title Psycho definitely alludes to something eerie and dark. And I really like how the music video nails this idea. In terms of visual concepts, I must admit that Red Velvet is one of the most versatile groups ever. Of course, their stylists should also get a shout out for really helping Red Velvet pull off these changes. There seems to be a 1930’s vibe to the music video, given the sets and some of their outfits. Wendy’s shorter white coloured hair style is probably the biggest change of all. Each member looks very creepy, with the production team putting together a music video that makes the members look like crazed psychos/stalkers throughout the video.
Based on what I can see in the music video, the moves look like there is a bit of attitude infused into it. And it makes sense given the song style. Some parts look a little weak, while others look quite strong. So it would help if there was some live performance (to make a better judgement). But I don’t think there will be any until Christmas Day (25th of December) when the group’s first stage is scheduled at the SBS Gayo Festival. But for now, I think I rest with the comment that the choreography is satisfying.
Song – 9/10 Music Video – 10/10 Performance – 8/10 Overall Rating – 9.1/10
I hope to be back on the normal schedule last week. But due to my studies, that was put on hold for a bit. So I am now hoping that I am able to return to that normal schedule this weekend, with this album review kicking it off. Red Velvet made their comeback 10 days ago with Umpah Umpah and their second album release in The ReVe Festival series. Per usual with any Red Velvet release, they have managed to come on top on this week’s music shows so far. But it is now time to see how the album faired.
2. Carpool (카풀) – While I was briefly listening through the album to see whether it was worth writing an album review for it, I was drawn to Carpool. It was bright and upbeat, two of the things I totally like when it comes to KPOP tracks. Sprinkle in with some funk, give the track to Red Velvet and let them own it. I really enjoyed the vocals in this song, as it was rather clear and the instrumental (to a degree) took a backseat approach, allowing the vocals to be capitalised. I also enjoyed the melodies throughout the song, making this a standout track, in my opinion. My pick for the highlight has to be the part of the chorus where they sing together. (9/10)
3. Love Is The Way (사랑은 길이다) – Love Is The Way slows down considerably but continues the bright tone that we have heard so far on the album. This time around the track opts for a retro style, which reminds me of a lot of SNSD’s Lion Heart. To be honest, some of the Red Velvet members reminded me of some of the SNSD members throughout the track. I really like the ‘Your lips say no, but your heart says yes’ line that is featured before each chorus. I think the biggest flaw of the track is that its slowness was very evident, particularly since it was following Carpool, which was a lot faster and snappier. It did cause the retro track to come off as sluggish and dry. (7.5/10)
4. Jumpin’ – We return to something a little more upbeat. Given how its tempo seems to be in between Carpool and Love Is The Way, I think this would have been a suitable song to have in between the two so that the latter song did not come off as sluggish. Despite that observation, however, with a song titled as Jumpin’, I would have expected a little more energy to come from the track. It wasn’t sluggish. But it wasn’t eventful, I could say. Their vocals were quite strong in this track, which I guess helped offset. But it felt more abstract with this approach. I would also say this track is moderately catchy and I wouldn’t mind listening to the song occasionally. (7/10)
5. Ladies Night – It is a night that I am not invited to. But Ladies Night seems to bring out the good side of Red Velvet. I really like their slight retro approach with this R&B track. It seems to match the rest of the album nicely. The brass gives it a lot of colour and character, making the instrumental stand out. I also thought their vocals, which was a lot softer than the previous tracks, were well presented. And I liked how their vocals and instrumental blended together nicely. (8/10)
6. Eyes Locked, Hands Locked (눈 맞추고, 손 맞대고) – When I was checking out the album, the final track caught my attention. Its title is rather intriguing. And I didn’t know what to really expect with a song titled Eyed Locked, Hands Locked. It ended up being a ‘love at first sight’ ballad with delicate vocals, fitting for the softer instrumentation that the ballad had opted for. Throughout this album and within this track, all the members have been singing together for the chorus, which I think works very well with Red Velvet. Other groups do this, but they tend to inefficiently or overuse this technique. It does feel a rather typical way to end the album, but I can’t deny that it is a good track to end the album on. (8/10
One of the bigger releases of the week came on Tuesday. Despite just wrapping up promotions for the very catchy and fun sounding Zimzalabim two months ago, Red Velvet has returned with Umpah Umpah, which is featured on the group’s 6th mini-album, The ReVe Festival: Day 2. Since its release on Tuesday, the song has already topped the charts, as expected for the popular girl group. However, the group has faced some problems with their concept, with accusations made against the group and SM Entertainment for plagiarizing outfits designed by Paris Stern (read the article here).
If Zimzalabim wasn’t to your liking because it was a little more out there in comparison to Red Velvet’s usual style, maybe you will like Umpah Umpah. Listening to the song, the brightness and energy from Zimzalabim is still present. But it is toned back and not as in-your-face as the mentioned track. Once again, Umpah Umpah is quite addictive. There was a number of layers to this. Firstly, the main repetition was keyed into my mind within a few listens. Secondly, the chorus was extremely melodic, which made their vocals shine ever so brightly. Thirdly, the instrumental made the track feel light, offsetting the heavier effects made by the deep Umpah Umpah repetition and their vocals. Towards the end, the song becomes anthem-like, which might be a first for the group and SM Entertainment. Overall, I thought the track was very well suited for the Summer season. Fun fact: you might be able to catch some of their references to past tracks including Ice Cream Cake, Red Flavour and Dumb Dumb in the lyrics.
Summer is about to end in Korea, so Red Velvet is making a last-minute trip to have some fun in the sun. But they are stopped in their tracks by a horrible rainstorm. So they use other methods to keep the fun ongoing. This includes playing board games and watching some TV. But some things just get in the way, such as bumping your head on the table while playing monopoly, a horrible TV connection (which Seulgi was picked to fix) and a leaky roof. While it looks like they are about to give up on their adventure of fun indoors, the group seems to use their imagination and persistence to enjoy their times indoors, which I think was highlighted by the group closing the door one more time without any disappointed looks or body language. Overall, it is another fun video that goes very well with the song!
Interestingly, there hasn’t been a live performance with the entire dance as of yet. And as far as I am concerned, I don’t think there were any teasers for a comeback stage next week as well (but do let me know if I am wrong, I just don’t remember seeing on on my Twitter feed). Form what I could see, the choreography looked nice. It felt like their least intense set of moves yet. But it was bright, fun and energetic, which are all elements that we have come to know and love Red Velvet for.
Song – 9.5/10 Music Video – 9/10 Performance – 8/10 Overall Rating – 9.1/10
As I have been mentioning over the past 2 weeks, I reflect over the 1st half of 2019 through two posts. The first post is the recap of the Number 1 songs from the Weekly KPOP Charts for the period between July 2018 to June 2019 and this was published last week. The second post is my pick for most favourite songs from the first half of the year. This is irrespective of the charts (or any charts for that matter) and reviews, as sometimes my favourite songs don’t reach the top. I have listed 10 songs below, in no particular order, which I believe represent the best of the best that 2019 has offered to us so far.
Boogie Up – WJSN (Cosmic Girls)
Q&A – Cherry Bullet
Woowa – DIA
Side Effects – Stray Kids
The Fifth Season (SSFWL) – Oh My Girl
Zimzalabim – Red Velvet
Valkirye – ONEUS
No – CLC
Sunrise – GFriend
L.O.V.E – Park Ji Hoon
I wanted to add a few more but think limiting myself to 10 would probably be best, otherwise, I’d be copying and pasting majority of 2019’s releases onto this page.
Do you agree with my picks? What about your favourite tracks of 2019 so far? Comment down below!
If anyone knows how to remove catchy song lyrics from a person’s mind, could you please let me know. It has been one week and I still cannot get it out of my head. While I work on that, let’s focus on their new mini-album, titled The ReVe Festival: Day 1 (which is also the start of a new trilogy). Eagle-eyed fans have noticed that the album cover for this release (shown below) features the concepts from all Red Velvet’s past title tracks, such as a conveyor belt from Dumb Dumb; the colourful landscape, wardrobe and creature from Rookie; a fruity Ferris wheel representing Red Flavour; the wolf’s head from RBB (just to name a few), leading fans to speculate that this new trilogy may be a blend of their Red and Velvet concepts.
2. Sunny Side Up – One of my original comments that I ended up scrapping from the Zimzalabim review is that the vocal bridge was like a throwback to their Velvet side. But listening to Sunny Side Up, it feels like this R&B styled track could be the actual throwback to the Velvet side. While the title does resemble something we expect from the Red side of the group, the track engages smooth vocals and melodies, which make it extremely pleasant to listen to. I also think there is a reggae-influence in the track, though I am not entirely sure. It is extremely subtle and not as explicit as other Summer tracks. I also believe more rapping could have transformed the track, as I did want something more towards the end to accompany the cool rap sequence we got in the first verse. (8/10)
3. Milkshake – The way Milkshake started almost felt like the song was going to be a retro explosion. But instead, the track remained on the R&B side. I found the track to be groovy and upbeat (but with a sense of style and class). An applause must be given to the vocals for this track, which really made the song stand out for me. It isn’t their most impressive work. But accompanied alongside the instrumental, the vocals do hold up the track a fair bit. I am on the fence regarding the rapping, however. It felt like it went in a cutesy direction, which I wasn’t that fond about. The intro was revisited a number of times as a post-chorus hook and they actually fitted in quite well, given the boundaries of the track had now been provided. (9/10)
4. Bing Bing (친구가 아냐) – My pick for best track on this album is Bing Bing. We get a little more energy with this track, departing from the previous R&B theme. Repetition is the major technique used that keeps me (and other listeners) hooked onto this song. However, I can see the repetition technique being a barrier, preventing some people from enjoying the track, as it could result in blandness and uneventful sound. But I find their vocals bring in colour and personality to the track. The vocals are outstanding, particularly as we get to the end of the song. And the repetition makes the track so much catchier and more memorable, in an aesthetic way. I also like the continuous build-up that is enabled in this track, bringing the track to a climatic ending. (9/10)
5. Parade (안녕, 여름) – Parade has this fun sound to it and contains a fair bit of colour that makes it fit in with Red Velvet’s sound. And the energy does provide a youthful touch to it, which I enjoyed. But I can’t really pinpoint the parade in Parade. It sounds more like a playful playground tune, which results in the song going down a more childish route as it progressed. The dings featured in the background reminds me of bicycle bells, for example. I think the best moments of the track is when the members come and sing together. It hides some of that childish sound. The vocals were nice. It is just disappointing that the song didn’t fit my expectations, as it felt like it had a lot of potential. (7/10)
6. LP – LP kicks off with some elevator music (and I think the tune is maintained throughout the track). But the overall song featured a slightly faster tempo, making the elevator music less elevator music (and draining). So overall, I think it is a solid track. I did like other sections of the song as well, such as the saxophone solo for the bridge and use of brass to give the track some character. I thought the vocals were good. Once again, not as impressive. But given how it seemed like they were working with elevator music as its backbone, I can’t blame for not bringing out the vocal guns. But despite that, the vocals manage to bring some hooks to the space and definitely making this track stand out a little more. (8/10)
Mentioned in yesterday’s review, there were two major artists returning with new tracks yesterday. The first was the rising male group, Stray Kids, and the second (and focus for this review) is the well-established female group, Red Velvet. Their title track is Zimzalabim, which may be a foreign word to some (I have personally not heard of the word before). Google defines it as a magical word (similar to as Alakazam), so definitely we will expecting some hints of magic in this comeback. This is also the group’s first Korean comeback since RBB (Really Bad Boy).
My first response to the song was definitely a big WOW! I personally don’t think any words that I would use to describe it would be enough to fully cover the immense and loaded sound that we got from Zimzalabim. The track is extremely colourful, which is definitely something Red Velvet nails every time. Every single detail within the instrumental seems to be placed for a purpose. It would be hard to imagine the track without the presence of cowbells or that zipper spiral sound. I like how dark the chorus of the song, contrasting well with the more upbeat and bright verses. The members sound amazing. I thought RBB was an impressive display of vocals, but it seems like Zimzalabim managed to topple RBB from its throne. The rapping, I felt was perfect. But definitely, the stealing moment has to be the triple punch we got from Joy, Seulgi and Wendy for the bridge. The dance break was equally as awesome. I can see why it might be cringy for some people but I think the track is amazing as it is.
Zimzalabim is the magical theme park that the girls each buys tickets from. And from that point forward, it can be seen as a wild ride. Within the current trends of the KPOP industry, I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a hidden image within the music video (There might be something to Wendy, Joy and Yeri working at the theme park and how Irene was the only member not wearing the 3D glasses at the end). I did like how the theme park was put together despite its randomness. For example, the rollercoaster ended with a splash into a teacup, and then we are shown the members lounging around in the teacup. Once again, it is a very colourful and jam-packed music video, which reflects well with the song.
The dancing has to be an additional highlight to this comeback. I thought the serious tone of the chorus was conveyed well in the choreography, while the energetic dance break was well reflected. As for their outfits, they do seem odd-looking and mismatching. But its isn’t their worst.
Song – 10/10 Music Video – 10/10 Performance – 9/10 Overall Rating – 9.8/10