What I like most about how Red Velvet was formed is the fact that everything has been clear since day one – that there are two facets to the group. A “Red” side represents their fun, quirky, and lively concepts while a sleek, more sophisticated “Velvet” side exists at the group’s other extreme.
It’s a pretty smart move from SM because it means that the group will not be stuck to one image. Aside from that, they can play with the dual concepts as much as they can because within those Red and Velvet sides are different clusters of genres that they can explore.
This is exactly what took place in the group’s most recent comeback track, “Rookie”.
Perhaps the most polarizing single Red Velvet has released, “Rookie” is clearly a play on how far their red can go. It starts with a really bouncy and funky groove (shout out to the slick bass in the verses) then tries to slow down the pace with a slightly trippy pre-chorus up until it reaches the chorus which features an explosion of a rather childish (and as for some, annoying) chanting the song’s title.
It’s completely understandable how most people who follow Red Velvet find the track a little flat than other Red singles primarily because it isn’t as explosive as “Dumb Dumb” or as instant as “Ice Cream Cake”. As for most Red singles, it is the bombastic chorus that really draws listeners in and Rookie (or even Russian Roulette) does nothing of the sort.
However, this does not necessarily mean that they are not as catchy as Rookie’s chorus is one of the group’s most hypnotic, along with Russian Roulette’s “heart-b-b-beat beat“.
What I’m really just trying to say here is that in order to appreciate Rookie, one should be immersed as to how far the Red in Red Velvet can go. It’s a different hue of red, but ultimately ends up as red nonetheless. It can stand on its own but it’s not their best (Russian Roulette is, fyi). Just think of Rainbow trying to recreate “A” with “Whoo”. It’s great but it’s still no “A”. While we’re at it, there’s actually no chance of recreating “A” or even “Mach” at this point.
Whoo, you’re no A!
And there’s nothing wrong with that. Actually, there is one. SM is pretty dumb for saying that this will be the comeback that will make RV catch up with their contemporaries. It could probably do well knowing that the group sells fairly well, but it’s not the one that will make everyone’s heads bop with how catchy and LSS-inducing it is. This is not the one, SM – try finding other ones from your vault and try it again for the next comeback.
Now, let’s talk about the album because this one got me confused. First things first, I don’t subscribe to SM’s idea of combining the red and velvet elements into one song because it just won’t happen. They can come together in one package (just like the ICC EP) but they won’t be able to come up with a song that is a fusion of both. They say that they did that with Russian Roulette but that song is an extreme Red down to its last note.
SM: Russian Roulette is both Red and Velvet, please show it lots of love
*jams to RR*
Anyway, this album (with the exception of two tracks) is a Velvet album at most. Or should I say it contains some of their best Velvet material yet. No, I still stand with the first one. The luscious harps in “Little Little” felt like the gates of heaven opened up for a bit and drowned us into a pool of K-RnB with a RV twist. “Body Talk” is probably one of their most sensuous tracks with its 80s synth and darker undertones. “Talk To Me” is an upbeat Velvet track (think Cool Hot Sweet Love) while “Last Love” is pretty self-explanatory.
What I got from this is that SM still is faithful to their Velvet concept which is something that I like but it will be relegated to B-side status just because selling Velvet to the public is pretty difficult when its tracks like Dumb Dumb that get their name out there. I still hope for a full-blown Velvet comeback but hey at least we got Rookie – a Velvet album with a Red title track.
Well, Rookie still remains to be a great release from the quintet but don’t expect that much of an earworm like their other songs. However, this still makes Red Velvet as one of the most exciting groups in K-Pop with a pretty solid commercial appeal because they can be anything that they want, anytime.
I’m leaving you with a song that I remembered after hearing “Rookie” (or Lookie, whatever).