Review: Rookie by Red Velvet

Rookie by Red VelvetIt wasn’t a glitch like I feared the last time. Red Velvet is in a rut. My unofficial second favorite K-pop group is in a rut. Rookie is their third mini-album in eleven months, and knowing that, I couldn’t help but wonder: “do we really need this?” The girls are becoming as overworked as Oh My Girl, who pulled off the same feat last year, and the strain is showing. The title track forces the group back to the quirky hole (after Russian Roulette seemingly forced them towards a more generic sound) but it’s a mediocre, unmemorable song, if not terrible, even. You’d expect the group behind “Dumb Dumb” to do better. The other tracks seem to be afterthoughts of weird decisions: “Body Talk” meandered to no resolution, while “Little Little” and “Last Love” attempted to showcase their vocals again, but, again, nothing memorable. Could it be that the songs are terrible, or that the girls have stretched themselves too thin? Well, if Rookie was released a year from now I would still think it’s a passionless mini. But the timing of this release, so soon after Russian Roulette attempted to regain lost ground, just highlights where things are going very wrong. [NB]2/5

Review: Russian Roulette by Red Velvet

Russian Roulette by Red VelvetRed Velvet somewhat accidentally fostered a reputation as SM Entertainment’s quirky girl group, in contrast to Girls’ Generation‘s straightforward bubblegum leanings and f(x)‘s more electronica-tinged output – but their last mini album, The Velvet, sputtered its way through the promotional cycle as it attempted to show off the group’s vocals. Not that they don’t have it, but Red Velvet is built on personality; I couldn’t help but think The Velvet was a blotch on their reputation (unless you’re a die-hard fan). Russian Roulette is an attempt at course correction, and to an extent it works: the title track is an irresistible little thing, an earworm on the very first play. It’s filled with songs that are light enough to be Red Velvet but not too pop to be like their sunbaes. Yet it feels like SM is trying to shoehorn the group into a more generic sound. Not that they’ve always been weird – The Red, their “pop” mini album, was very much a child of the 90s, as is this new one – but on this record Red Velvet feels terribly tempered down. I kept looking for that something, as much as I enjoyed the songs. May it only be a glitch rather than a sign of things to come. [NB]3/5

Review: The Velvet by Red Velvet

The Velvet by Red VelvetRed Velvet is decidedly two-faced. I don’t mean that in a bitchy, crazy way. I’m pretty sure they want listeners to see them as a bunch of quirky musicians who are also very feminine. Their previous release, The Red, is a literal quirkfest, what with “Dumb Dumb” playing out in a jumpy tempo and a clappy beat underneath. I regret not reviewing the album itself because it is something that you listen to as a whole. The Velvet, on the other hand, starts off with a soft sweepy single. I sadly am not a sweeping music person, despite years of playing the violin. I admit I was very intrigued when the teaser images were released, and even more curious when I saw the teaser video. I was almost certain they’d release a soft mid-tempo track they can dance to like “Be Natural”. The next few tracks were pretty upbeat, but they’re doing nothing for me so far. They go back to sweeping with “First Time”, which I actually love. That track is more outgoing than “One of These Nights”, with more solid vocals and a steady beat. I love that the songs in this mini are a little bit of this and that, but nothing overwrought. They’re just… soft, very soft. They included different versions of the single towards the end. I enjoyed the Joe Millionaire version. It’s something you play between Ladies Code‘s “Galaxy” and SoljiHani’s “Only One”. [SY]4/5

“또 너만 보면 시작되는 바보 같은 춤.”

“Dumb Dumb” by Red Velvet | I’m liking Red Velvet so far. I’m not sure about the other fans, but I feel like SM is slowly making this group their quirky-quirky one. Their last two music videos have been, yes, a little twee, but more pop-twee, if you know what I mean: the visuals and the arguably odd scenes, the lights, and of course, the music. “Dumb Dumb” opens with a catchy chant with a crescendoing beat for an undertone. Love that part. The chorus doesn’t do much to me, but every time they say “dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb,” I perk back up. I hope they keep up this pop-twee thing they’re doing, because it totally works. [SY]

Swap week two, day one: Niko takes on Red Velvet

Swap Week 2015“Be Natural” by Red Velvet featuring Taeyong | Last September I had Rainy write about five songs that I picked. We called it Swap Week. The deal – especially considering this was her idea in the first place – was that I would write about her five song picks in the future. That time is now. The song picks are inevitably Korean. We begin with Red Velvet’s cover of “Be Natural”, originally done by SES, arguably the first big Korean girl group. (While they blew up in the late 90s, this song was from their 2000 release A Letter From Greenland.) If you’re used to the wham-bang production of most K-pop – consider “Ice Cream Cake” – this is definitely an antidote, but I have to say I enjoyed the original more than the cover. I don’t know. Is it my expectations? Is it me feeling the cover is a bit forced? Is it because they didn’t really change much? What do I know? That’s also one thing you ought to expect in the next week. I may have written a bit about K-pop in the past few years, but my girlfriend is still the expert in this relationship. I am a noob. [NB]