10. “Day 1” (2015)
There’s no better way to put it: “Day 1” sounds like an anime opening or ending song (think of the Manga series, Cardcaptor Sakura), or an animation of the “smiley-girl in a magical world” genre). That’s its charm. With its dreamy and positive mood, “Day 1” makes the perfect transition for “Cool World”.
9. “I Just” (2017)
While “I just” had a music video, it was not promoted as a single. It’s considered a Red Velvet b-side, but it’s one of their most satisfying. The beat gives an airy feel to the song, while its hip-hop elements are contagious. The catchy “eh eh eh” hooks make you want to sing along. It’s hard to say whether “I just” is more suitable for dancing, or for relaxing. But who says we have to choose?
8. “Look” (2017)
Synthpop does wonders for Red Velvet. The harmonic vocals of the group reverberate throughout songs like “Look”. The “다 다 다”s (da da das) and “봐 봐 봐”s (bwa bwa bwas) in the chorus produce an echo that converses with the echo of the drum beats, a sound typical in ’80s pop). There’s a “Lucky Star” Madonna feel to this song, while it still sounds modern and refreshing as well.
7. “Perfect 10” (2017)
“Lights, camera, action”, Wendy says at the beginning of “Perfect 10”, so you know a show will begin. It is, indeed, a show of all the best things Red Velvet has to offer: finesse, flawless choirs, and well-crafted composition. “Perfect 10” is a sensual R&B song with a bit of tone painting (the technique of composing a melody that mirrors what’s being said in the lyric). For example, in the second half of the chorus, the melodies are stressed in sync with the lyric “in each trembling breath”, reflecting the act of trembling.
6. “In My Dreams” (2022)
Like a ballerina at the finalé, “In my dreams” sits graciously at the end of The ReVe Festival 2022 – Feel My Rhythm (2022). “In my dreams” suits the ballet core of the album beautifully.
The lyrics speak of platonic love (“In my dreams, you love me back”), following the “dream within a dream” formula. To borrow an expression from the lyrics, it’s the type of song that makes one feel as if they’re “stepping on clouds”. This waltz-rock with hip-hop beats is among the most interesting arrangements in Red Velvet’s discography.
5. “Red Dress” (2015)
That “Red Dress” was chosen to open the shows of Red Velvet’s first tour, Red Room, says it all. It’s a song with tremendous potential for the stage.
The big-band grandiose and sharp vocals of the verse contrast with the hip-hop beats and lower-pitched melody in the chorus. It’s like an explosion in reverse, it starts strongly and lowers down. But this tension is what makes the song interesting and suited for pop performances, rather than sticking only to its musical theatre resemblance.
4. “Cool World” (2015)
The soundscape of “Cool World” thrives in the type of nostalgia that just can’t fail. It’s the nostalgia for an imagined past, scenarios unlived, fantasies not fully explored. Or, if synthpop does not evoke nostalgia in you, you can call it escapism, longing, or dreaming of a perfect world.
However, there’s no melancholy in “Cool World”. The lyrics aim for a positive mindset: “If I wear my favorite shoes / They could take me wherever I want / Like Dorothy in Oz”. The song is well arranged, so you’ll feel the message even if you don’t understand the lyrics. “Cool World” is the musical equivalent of a sigh.
3. “Knock on Wood” (2021)
Listening to Red Velvet can feel luxurious. “Knock on wood” is one of these R&B and synthpop blends where the beat alone oozes “chic cocktail party” vibes. The vocals shine effortlessly in delicate falsettos. There are no moments of exaggeration.
Their way of singing “Baby, knock on wood” in between the chorus lines is subtle like a soft whistle. Even though the “exaggerated” side of Red Velvet is key to their brand, the smoother side of their vocal palette is too. And when they’re paired with catchy melodies like “Knock on Wood”‘s, the outcome is sophisticated.
2. “Kingdom Come” (2017)
The drums in “Kingdom come” show you that Red Velvet’s R&B is not just any kind of R&B. The pads add a mysterious tone that, intriguing enough, matches well over the drums. And then comes the ladies of Red Velvet, singing a sensual melody.
If you’re into American R&B, “Kingdom Come” will sound like slowed-down Amerie drums and Aaliyah melodies, with maybe a touch of Mariah Carey in the second half of the chorus. Maybe add the Weeknd chord progressions, too. Or, just throw away all these references and take “Kingdom Come” for what it is: a great representation of all the elements that make Red Velvet’s “velvet” side so special.
1. “Body Talk” (2017)
There’s tension from the beginning of “Body Talk”. A synthesizer fills the soundscape, gradually accompanied by more layers of sound and beats. It takes 30 seconds for the first verse to start which, in 2017 (the time of the song’s release), when songs were cut for immediate attention-grabbing, is seemingly a lifetime. This introduction paints a picture that reflects the song’s message. It’s like the singers are gathering the courage to face a hard truth, little by little.
In the chorus, they sing: “Why do I hear everything? / Each and every thing / Even things I don’t want to know / All your body talk”. It’s sad but so beautiful. There’s a sense of space in the production that adds drama and a bit of ethereality to the song.
The lyrical motif in “Body Talk” is the perfect metaphor to explain the music of Red Velvet. Everything in their music talks: production, composition, lyrics, vocals. This might explain how the group is able to convey so many sensations even if, contrary to “Body Talk”’s lyrics, its meaning is not always easy to identify. “Body Talk” builds an atmosphere of its own and sounds timelessly thrilling.