Red Velvet - Power Up

 
 

 

We haven't heard from Red Velvet since about six months ago when they released "Bad Boy" earlier this year. Prior to heading into this, I did manage to learn that this new comeback would be written by the same people that crafted up "Peek-A-Boo." That combined with the fact that it's Red Velvet, and topped off with the fact that it was going to be a Summer comeback following up "Red Flavor" set me up with some damn high expectations. I'll admit that the teaser for the song had me a little worried, but after I learned my lesson with "Rookie," I decided to just trust Red Velvet.

The Song

After listening to the song in its full, I definitely understand it a lot more. The hook of this track is littered with excessive energy through its pumping electronic tones and it isn't shy about it in the least. The verses provide a little reprieve from the heaviness of the track by dropping back on a little of the bass, and then you're just absolutely blasted when it gets to the chorus. That contrast and progression helps in providing a nice crunch as well as hitting a balance that's much needed for parts as bouncy as this song has. 

Continuing with all of the things that I enjoyed with this track, I absolutely adored the way that the line distribution gave the girls play between one another. Hearing Irene's deeper tones splashed against Wendy's buttery softness, for instance, added an excellent additional weight. The vocal colors of each member are used gorgeously in this track and I think it helps just give a bit more edge to the song in the best way. I will admit that it seems that Yeri continues to get less and less lines, which is a little disappointing, but that's a discussion for another time.

As should be expected with Red Velvet, this song is incredibly different from everything else that's going on at the moment. They always manage to give us something expectedly unexpected, and "Power Up" is certainly along those lines. A friend of mine said that he felt that this had to have been made with some Japanese promotions in mind because the song has a very J-pop feel to it, and I don't think that I disagree with that. This is likely one of the most childish songs that Red Velvet has released to date, and that's where I fall off the train a bit.

Let me clarify - I think that this song is stupidly catchy. I woke up this morning with the "banhana" part in my head even just from the teaser, in fact. However, I have to remain consistent. I criticized TWICE as well as OH MY GIRL for having tracks that I felt were childish, and though Red Velvet are my absolute favorites, I have to do the same here. It's not quite on the same level as the prior mentions, fortunately, but it's undeniably more in that direction. It's not something that I feel like I'd hear on a morning cartoon, at least.

I'm going to go a bit cliché here and sandwich some compliments between my negatives. Irene's vocals at the start of the song sounded a lot more confident and stable than some of her previous times singing, and it was great to see some improvement even in a group that's one of the top groups out there in general. There's a very subtle "la la la" during the "banhana" song that I missed on my first few listens, but after identifying it, I think it's such a great vocal overlay and a cool way to just throw in something that's catchier than anything should ever be.

Alright, back to some critiques. Aside from what I've already mentioned, there were a couple of other gripes that I had with this song. I've noticed a lot of tracks using some samples that I often hear in YouTube videos, and "Power Up" seems to have the same kids cheering going on in the background. I'm not really a fan of that sound being used in songs, and it's used pretty often in this track, so I could have done without it completely or at least not as often as it cropped up here. The bridge dropping out to basically just percussion and having the girls chant was very cheerleader-y, and I wasn't the biggest fan of that. Lastly, I've got to mention that I'm not really sure I enjoyed Joy's high note right before that section, either. 

Alright, enough of the disliking. I loved that the majority of these vocals were bright and refreshing, and that the transitions between sections were pretty damn seamless. The chorus section where they roll some wavy vocals for "ayayaya" was absolutely infectious. This song as a whole serves as a nice follow-up to "Red Flavor" and I have no doubt that it's going to eat up the charts. For me personally, though? I like the song enough, but it's likely going to be one of my least favorite titles from Red Velvet. It's not a bad song, but it's not my type of style. I truly do wish them the best with this comeback and their promotions, and I'll obviously still support them. 

(Random last note: I love hearing Wendy sing "Reveluv".)

The Video

Alright let's just start off with the obvious. Who the hell is doing Red Velvet's voodoo magic!? Seriously, how are they still managing to find ways to upgrade their visuals at this point? I feel like they've only gotten better with each comeback and my brain cannot compute this. There definitely is a wizard behind this, it's the only logical conclusion to draw. 

Okay, jokes aside! Let me just state that seeing Irene getting to do some ironing in an actual music video is ridiculous. I know that she loves it, but I didn't expect it to get taken this far, and I love that it did. There's a lot of small things like that put into this MV that are just nice little references for fans to catch, which is always nice to see. From the fruits from "Red Flavor" to the conveyor belt being a callback to "Dumb Dumb" there's just so much to take in and enjoy.

I do have to make a quick gripe, though. Red Velvet has joined my absurdly long list of groups that have included a 'retro television' in their music video. I was already sick of seeing them in videos at the beginning of this year, so I have to admit that I was immediately disappointed. I'll admit that they at least used it for a purpose, so it's more forgivable here than it is for a majority of the other videos that have used them. Yes, I know, this is a very random gripe, but hopefully I can make a video about this sometime soon to explain it better.

Back to the compliments! I loved all of the outfits in this video. From the weird girl scout ones to the summery picnic ones, every single thing that they wore looked amazing. The concept of this video was really fun and right up Red Velvet's alley as well. There's just enough oddness to keep it in their general lane of interesting ideas executed in an even more fascinating way. I really love how everything throughout the video was a bit more of a weird mystery and then it came together in the end to coalesce into a fairly simple concept of the girls each having something unique to add to a mix, which is exactly how I feel about Red Velvet musically. 

The choreography this time around does seem a little fluffier than I think I was expecting. Red Velvet has always done some of the most interesting dances when it comes to girl groups, and even when it came to a song like "Red Flavor" there was a nice bit of power and edge to latch onto. This time around, that mostly seems to occur during the rap section, but I'd have to see it in its entirety to say for sure. 

While this video ended up being a lot simpler in its idea than I thought while watching it for the first time, I really loved it. I think that there's just so many little things here and there that I liked, and it just made for an enjoyable sum total experience. 

Conclusion

This is probably the longest review I've ever done - and for good reason. Red Velvet is my absolute favorite group out there. However, I have to be honest and admit that "Power Up" isn't really my type of song. I think it's amazingly catchy and addicting, and that it does still manage to sound like a Red Velvet track. I just can't get past the less mature nature of it. If you like J-pop songs that are over-the-top when it comes to energy, this will definitely be a contender for your song of the year.