“널 어떡해야 좋을지 잘 모르겠어 난.”

“Dumb Dumb” by Jang Jae-in, Giantpink and Perc%nt | Before I overplay this song and it loses its mystique, I’ll write about this. Yes, for the eagle-eared out there, this is a cover of Red Velvet’s signature song. Apparently, there’s this web series where two entertainment companies, S.M. and Mystic, do cross-pollinating stuff like this. I bet it’s only the case because the former bought a majority stake on the latter, though. (Red Velvet did this song the same week, which, well… but then I am not familiar with the original.) I haven’t heard of Perc%nt before, but I know Jang Jae-in for her soundtrack work, and Giantpink won the last season of Unpretty Rapstar, a show I of course haven’t watched, but know of because it brought us Kisum. So this one – this one’s sexy. Sure, it might wear off its welcome soon, but considering the original is the distillation of Red Velvet’s quirky pop concept (one they can’t seem to get a grip of now, which is a shame) you would have never thought an approach like this one would work, but it did. So, there. Enjoy. [NB]

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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]