SM Entertainment is really pushing Red Velvet to the limit, huh? They had three full-blown comebacks last year, and with 2018 barely having gotten started, they’re already back again with a repackage of November’s full album “Perfect Velvet.” “The Perfect Red Velvet” delivers three new songs, including title track “Bad Boy,” a characteristically idiosyncratic, genre-fusing slow jam. This is the kind of track that checks pluses off a list—it’s very cunningly executed, though not quite as gripping, for me, as some past Red Velvet title tracks. All of the individual elements of good pop that we’ve come to expect from Red Velvet are here, and it’s impressive that they continue to come out with good song after good song so many comebacks in a row.
Ostensibly the musical and conceptual continuation of their previous comeback, “Bad Boy” certainly has the watermark of “Peek-A-Boo,” evident especially in the droplet-like synths that string together like beads on a thread to form the centerpiece of the instrumental. But I would consider “Peek-A-Boo” upbeat, while “Bad Boy” has a more relaxed, almost languorous structure. Like I said, “Bad Boy” has everything you hope for: a body-rollable beat, lustrous and richly layered vocals, a crafty use of bass to support dynamics, and that very Red Velvet soundbite that blends weird and catchy, in this case the “oh-way-oh-way-oh” in the background of the hook. It definitely brings the conceptual union of the fun “red” with the sensual “velvet” that was promised by “Perfect Velvet,” in perhaps an even better balance than “Peek-A-Boo.”
The other two new songs on the repackage also ring with Red Velvet-ness. “All Right” would have felt quite at home on any of the group’s “red”-concept 2015 or 2016 albums with its sugar-rush, slightly retro brand of quirky pop—though, now that I think about it, it also would have been a standout on those albums, which just goes to show how Red Velvet really does improve with every comeback the way their fans say they do. The slower, jazz-touched “Time to Love” recalls the “velvet” side of Red Velvet’s identity, bringing to mind songs like “About Love” and “Hear the Sea.”
Notably, “The Perfect Red Velvet” is the first repackage album for a girl group under SM since Girls’ Generation’s “Mr. Taxi” in 2011. This is indicative of SM’s new Red Velvet agenda, which became apparent midway through last year when they suddenly upped the girls’ activity by a factor of ten, giving them a webshow and a Twitter account as well as a blitz of new music to perform. If SM continues to promote the group as they’re doing now, Red Velvet might be the next top girl group—that is, if the acceleration of supergroup TWICE continues to slow and if Red Velvet themselves don’t burn out before the end of the year. This latter certainly isn’t the least of my concerns, especially given the difficulties SM artists have faced within the past months, not to mention the stacked schedule Red Velvet have had between end-of-the-year award shows and preparations for this comeback. But their performance is as professional and charismatic as ever, so ideally the coming year will bring them as much success as their recent comebacks have had.
BAD BOY: KAYBOP OR KAYFLOP? Bop.
Take a look at Red Velvet’s “Bad Boy” MV below: