Sometimes, it’s important to take a step back and remember how young some groups are in the grand scheme of things. For example, Red Velvet hasn’t even hit the four-year mark. Yet, they just released the repackage of their second full album. Add in their five mini-albums, and two singles, and that becomes even more remarkable. And that vast discography is loaded with hidden gems.
Off their first full album, The Red, “Red Dress” is a song that always comes off as bursting with potential, and I mean that literally. The frantic pace of the verses, combined with the high-energy claps, almost vibrating synth lines and Red Velvet’s manic performances give the impression that the song is about explode. The relative calm of the chorus comes off as the eye of a hurricane; just enough peace to draw breath, because you know the crazy’s coming back around. The structure of having the verses and pre-chorus always climb up the treble clef, only to be wound down in the chorus is addictive as hell, and was one of the first signs of just how weirdly awesome Red Velvet could get.
Speaking of weirdly awesome, “Lady’s Room”. It’s a smooth R&B song that showcases Red Velvet’s talent for harmonization, but let’s be real: it’s here because it’s an ode to the lady’s room. While the joke about girls going to the bathroom in a pack likely dates back to Mesopotamia, it is based in truth, a truth Red Velvet celebrates. This is a jam about taking a break from your night out to meet up with your girlfriends, trade gossip, primp a bit, and just take some time out from your wild evening to chill with your girls. It’s silly, it’s fun, and it’s pretty accurate.
I’m not typically one for ballads, but “Cool Hot Sweet Love” is a surefire exception. Their second EP, The Velvet is all ballads, but this is the one that stands out. For one, it has that killer off-kilter production, atonal synthetic bloops married to lush vocal arrangements. It’s as multifaceted as the love described, shifting from trippy and bizzare on the verses to the slick chorus, all glued together by Red Velvet’s knockout vocals.
Russian Roulette is, to this day, one of the worst things I’ve ever reviewed. And yet, “Some Love” is my favorite Red Velvet song. It’s light and fizzy, the touches of tropical house adding real levity to the track. The snaps and pops fill out the track and play against the piano, turning what could have been sour, discordant chords into a chaotic, messy, but solid whole. The playful tone of the vocals pick up the sassy, easy vibe of the song, while providing a sugary counterpoint to the lyrics, where Red Velvet plead with their boyfriends to show them the affections they give away in spades. “Some Love” is fantastic, pure and simple.
A track off of Rookie, “Happily Ever After” is a poppy, upbeat track that perfectly encapsulates the feeling of falling in love with love, just with a more modern twist. The phrase “happily ever after” is one that we tend to associate with fairy tales and gentle romance, whereas the song is brash and noisy, built on a foundation of hand claps and synth runs. Yet, that’s the point– happily ever afters aren’t just for Cinderella. Red Velvet, despite being confident, vibrant, and colorful tomboys, are just as enchanted with the idea of a perfect guy as anyone else. Sure, they might not want Prince Charming, but they’re head over heels for the idea of someone who is made for them, and have no qualms about indulging the fantasy.
One of the new tracks on The Perfect Red Velvet, “All Right” is a foray into pure dance-pop. Drawing from disco, this retains the energy of Red Velvet, but it’s tempered with more a more adult sound and a fair bit of class. While Red Velvet tends to tracks that induce the audience to indulge their zanier, sillier sides, “All Right” is a more mature dance track. It’s got an edge of chill to it, one that lets the audience let go of their stress and worries in order to dance, but never tips over the line into frenzy. It’s fun, it’s mature, and it’s got a killer groove; “All Right” is more than all right by me.
While those are my picks for Red Velvet’s best b-sides, I know they’re far from the only choices– cutting this list down got painful! Any Red Velvet B-sides that you adore? Leave them in the comments!
(Images via SM Entertaiment, YouTube)