[Album] Red Velvet – The Red

The Red is the first album released by Red Velvet. Dumb Dumb was used as the promo song.

thered
Released: September 9, 2015
1. Dumb Dumb
2. Huff n Puff
3. Campfire
4. Red Dress
5. Oh Boy
6. Lady’s Room
7. Time Slip
8. Don’t U Wait No More
9. Day 1
10. Cool World

The Red opens with the promo song, Dumb Dumb, and what an explosive way to start. An upbeat pop tune with some R&B elements in the melody, the song uses the repetition but in a way that ends up as an earworm. The hook is simple but effective and it always feel properly placed throughout the song so it doesn’t get too overbearing. I do find the fact that the verses are short to be a good thing as it helps focus on the catchy chorus. Wendy also does a great job with the high notes that pop up throughout. Huff n Puff has a few more hip-hop elements in the music, which helps bring a different edge. I do like the verses a bit more than the chorus though. The chorus really reminds me of something from f(x) from their second and third albums as it has a funkier vibe to it and a bit more of an unpredictable but bright pop sound. It’s quite catchy and solid album track. Campfire is a nice followup as it slows things down a bit, but keeps some form of energy in its funky R&B beat. I love the attitude in the verses and the girls all sound great here. The chorus isn’t as infectious as the last two songs, but there is a nice vocal element that really helps to show off Seulgi and Wendy’s voices. This is another solid tune. Red Dress has a lot of energy to it and I love it. The verses help to build up all this energy and then the chorus comes in and it sorta goes down instead up. It’s a really interesting twist and while I was expecting something to keep reaching higher, I like that it changes to something more drawn out and heavy hitting. It’s a fun song. Oh Boy brings something a bit more laidback, but it still has power to it. I love the music and the brighter sound works nicely with the R&B-styled melody. I do think there are times where the song sort of drags on a bit too long, but it does have some really strong parts to it. I also like that things were changed up by making the chorus more falsetto-based. Lady’s Room feels like it has a bit more of an oldschool sound going for it as the music is somewhat reminiscent of 90’s pop. Unfortunately, that’s probably the best part about it as the chorus is a bit forgettable. I wish the hooks were stronger or the music brought more energy. While the verses aren’t bad, they don’t quite make up for it as the slowed down pre-chorus breaks the flow. I do like Time Slip a bit more as the subtle R&B and hip-hop elements really work well here. It definitely has more energy than the last song and the melody is much catchier. I don’t really like the rap breaks that pop up in the middle of the song though as it makes me think more of “Fancy” by Iggy Azalea. Don’t U Wait No More is a bit of a mess, but is still a lot of fun. It tries to blend a lot of different melodies together that creates a bit of a puzzle. That combined with the odd music really helps bring a different kind of tune. It’s not my favourite song, but it is quite memorable and I love the harmonies that pop up throughout. Day 1 is the song that most sticks out on this album because it is totally different from the other songs and sound more like something sung by Lovelyz. It’s still quite nice with its light ska sound and more laid back nature. With that said, it just sticks out too much and it doesn’t quite hit the spot for me as the chorus comes off lackluster. Cool World is back to that more straightforward dance/pop sound that the group was doing earlier in the album. I really like the verses to this song as the music works nicely there. However, the melody doesn’t quite match the music once the chorus comes around. It’s a bit slow and tries to be more dramatic, but the hooks are a bit dragged out. Not a bad tune, but not the strongest.

Overall: This album started off quite strong, but I feel like it slipped a bit as it continued. It’s not to say it is a bad album, as there are no bad songs on here. Just that some of the songs just didn’t stand out that much or had some qualities to it that just didn’t quite fit to my liking. It’s a well-produced album and there are some quality tracks on here though. I do wish there were a few more songs like Dumb Dumb that I would really fall in love with though.

B+

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[Mini-Album] Red Velvet – Ice Cream Cake

Ice Cream Cake is the first mini-album released by Red Velvet. The title track was used as the promotional song and was their first big hit.

icecreamcake
Released: March 17, 2015
1. Ice Cream Cake
2. Automatic
3. Somethin’ Kinda Crazy
4. Stupid Cupid
5. Take It Slow
6. Candy (사탕)

Ice Cream Cake opens the mini with an explosive start. Actually, it’s rather creepy with the odd “lalalas”, but the song does gain energy as it progresses. The verses are pretty lighthearted with some xylophone and beats. It’s the chorus where the transition really blasts things off. The beat is more numerous in pace and there are some weird elements added like the scratchy sounds that layer on top of everything. It’s definitely a defining moment for the group and brought something a bit different, but still totally catchy. Automatic is similar to the group’s cover of S.E.S’ Be Natural, with its midtempo R&B sound. I absolutely love R&B and the melody is really addicting and works nicely with the funky bass and light synths. It isn’t as exciting as Be Natural, but it does have a way of getting stuck in your head with its airy delivery. I do wish there was a bit of a push at the end, but the girls sound great and everything is smooth and effortless. Somethin’ Kinda Crazy goes with the R&B route, but with something a bit lighter. I do like the harmonizing and the playing off of each other in terms of vocal arrangement. The verses are definitely more fun though. The chorus is a bit lackluster and doesn’t really make as strong of an impression as I was hoping for. It’s still catchy and I do like the beat, just I wish the melody was a darker. Stupid Cupid starts off in a cool way with the 60’s rock kind of sound, but it does change things up once the beat comes in. The beat takes some getting used to, but it does grow on me as the song goes on. The melody is unfortunately a bit forgettable and the vocoder on top of the vocals sort of detracts from the songs energy. The transition into the brighter sound of the chorus is a bit grating as well considering the rest of the song is more attitude-based. Good production though. Take It Slow is a bit lackluster. Considering the rest of the mini features some interesting sounds, Take It Slow brings a safe coffeehouse pop song. It’s not a bad song by any means, but it just ends up really forgettable. The only thing that saves it is the odd key change halfway through the song which then brings in a nice bridge. It’s a decent song and has a sweet melody, it’s just not the most memorable. Candy slows things down a little more and brings some R&B elements into it. It’s like the last song in that it is a bit too generic (for Red Velvet I think), but it does has some nice energy once the chorus pops in. The melody isn’t totally predictable and there are some great harmonies that pop up throughout the song. It’s not bad.

Overall: The production to this mini was great, as expected from SM. Unfortunately, there were some weaker parts to the mini. Either I didn’t think the songs pushed it enough or they were a bit forgettable, the mini started to falter around the halfway part. It’s not a bad album by any means and is a great first mini for Red Velvet.

B

[Digital Single] Red Velvet – Be Natural

Be Natural is the second digital single released by Red Velvet.

benatural
Released: October 13, 2014
1. Be Natural

While their debut was a boisterous and exciting pop song released under what is considered Red Velvet’s ‘red’ songs, Be Natural is a sensual R&B cover of a classic S.E.S tune that falls under the ‘Velvet’ label. This version doesn’t really change that much from the original except modernize it a bit with the production. The beat is still at a nice higher midtempo pace that works with the slinky and flowing melody. The song keeps up the excitement and never really drags down. I absolutely love how it features the girls’ vocals, especially Wendy’s. She really works it here and does some nice belted notes. I’m not the biggest fan of the rap, but Taeyong’s feature does show off his skills. I wish this part was also done in a calmer manner as it does stand out a bit too much.

Overall: This was a cool follow-up to their debut and I would say I actually prefer this style since I adore R&B. It’s a nice updated version of the original that still keeps all the great points about that version, while providing a slightly newer twist.

A+

[Digital Single] Red Velvet – Happiness

Red Velvet is SM’s newest girl group and are known for their wacky concepts. While I enjoyed their songs before, I was never a big fan until more recently as they have a pretty strong discography. Happiness is the group’s debut single.

happiness
Released: August 4, 2014
1. Happiness (행복) [MV]

Happiness is an vitamin pill and the title fits the song so well. It’s an upbeat pop tune that has that SM style of placing different styles together into one song. The verses are upbeat and fast paced, but it leads to the calmer pre-chorus, which does a wonderful job building up to the chorus. The chorus is pretty made up of just La La La’s and saying the title, but everything comes together so well with the stomping beat and chant-like vocal arrangement. My favourite part has to go to Wendy’s bridge where she belts it out. It’s the odd part out of the song, but still works in the grand scheme of things.

Overall: Red Velvet’s debut is energy filled and an exciting way to get into a new group. The production is as crisp as usual given it’s from SM and despite the messiness at times, everything pulls together to bring a solid track. Definitely helped to solidify their image.

A