Red Velvet’s Dumb Dumb was one of the best kpop tracks of last year and, along with Ice Cream Cake, helped to build tremendous good will towards the girls. Because of this, I’m utterly bewildered by SM’s decision to release the tepid, downtempo One Of These Nights as their new single. Part of me wants to pat them on the back for bucking the trend and releasing a ballad title track, but that part is vastly overpowered by the fact that Nights feels like a total momentum killer at a time when the group really needs to keep the hits coming.
I don’t have any intrinsic hate for ballads, and I’ve enjoyed Red Velvet’s “velvet” tracks so far, but if a major pop act is going to release a downtempo song as a comeback single, it needs to overcompensate for its lack of energy by being pretty darn brilliant in other areas. One Of These Nights is a fine track in its own right, but it’s certainly not brilliant. What we have here is a moody, slightly off-kilter Korean ballad that trades the genre’s propensity towards overwrought vocal climaxes for a sleepier, more subtle approach.
While this results in arguably the best showcase for the girls’ voices yet, it doesn’t make for particularly engaging listening. The melody feels familiar, highlighted by only the gorgeous coda at the end of each chorus. And unfortunately, the timid production doesn’t take the song anywhere special. It simply floats along pleasantly, never catching fire. One Of These Nights feels more like an album’s closing track than a single, and likely would have received far more praise in that role. As is, expectations were simply too high for this to feel like anything but a missed opportunity.