Song Review: Red Velvet – Power Up

SM Entertainment’s summer drought finally comes to an end with the release of Red Velvet’s new mini album. The girls conquered the summer of 2017 with their monster hit Red Flavor, giving any new seasonal song a lot to live up to. But rather than return to Flavor producers Caesar & Loui, new single Power Up is composed by the team that brought us last fall’s Peek-A-Boo. This results in a track that *kind* of sounds like summer, but has its messy moments too.

Power Up opens with its trump card, a harmonized vocal hook reminiscent of 60’s girl groups. This is the sunniest element of the song, as its verses quickly segue into more traditional Red Velvet quirk. Refreshingly devoid of tropical elements, these moments retrain a retro influence while still feeling a part of modern K-pop. After a slowed build, Power Up launches into its chant-like chorus. I’d imagine this will be the song’s most divisive choice. It’s an atypical melody that verges on cloying. To be honest, if it had been performed by any other girl group I probably would’ve hated it.

Luckily, Red Velvet’s vocal blend carries the day. They have a way of making this ultra-quirky material work, and smoothing the overly-saccharine edges. The unusual rhythm helps, with enough variation to keep listeners on their toes. As far as choruses go, Power Up‘s shout-sung melody has nothing on Red Flavor. By those metrics, it’s hard not to see the song as a disappointment. But, just like the love-it-or-hate-it Rookie, I think this will become more addictive with familiarity. It’s a bit frantic and all over the place, but I’d take that freewheeling energy over yet another generic trop-bop any day.

 Hooks 8
 Production 8
 Longevity 9
 Bias 9


14 thoughts on “Song Review: Red Velvet – Power Up

  1. deep sigh at this summer’s releases tbh, no one really came back with a true and blue summer bop and I’m scratching my head; you’d think everyone would want a slice of that sistar pie. I was counting on 17, astro and twice to pull out all the stops but they all swerved in a different direction–RV was my last hope, and I don’t think I’ll ever be sold on this rookie-esque sound they seem to love so much. the closest thing we might get to a summer bop is rollin’ rollin’ from pd48, which is bleak as hell. i’ve got my fingers crossed for the loona release tomorrow

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad I’m not the only one who has found this summer in K-pop quite underwhelming so far. I keep waiting for a song that really knocks me out but I’m losing hope that we’ll get one before summer’s over.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m glad you like Red Velvet’s “Power Up” as well. It’s different, compared to their last summer comeback, “Red Flavor”; I like this change however. For your “Buried Treasures”-series, do you mind checking out “Mr. E.” on “Summer Magic”? I truly think it is one of Red Velvet’s greatest buried treasures, so to speak – alongside “Zoo”.


    • There will definitely be a Buried Treasure posted from this mini album later in the week. Right now, I’m just trying to decide between three contenders 🙂


  3. I’m still crossing my fingers and hoping that at least ONE summer release this year will be as good as something by SISTAR or LABOUM’s “Hwi Hwi” (even though it wasn’t intended to be a summer song, I can’t deny its charms)


    • I’m afraid we’re rapidly running out of time for that to happen 😦
      I kind of have my hopes pinned on NCT Dream’s rumored comeback, but if it’s anything like “Go,” we’re definitely not in for a summer smash.


  4. This song has grown on me. I might agree it’s not the massive summer breakthrough we were all expecting, Cookiejar would have been a far better pick IMO.

    However, Power Up is original sounding and stands on its own – before long, once we have forgotten our expectations, we will look back at this as another classic RV song. One thing I love about Red Velvet is you can’t predict what to expect from them next. That’s what makes them so great!


    • While I disagree with Cookie Jar being a better title track, I think Power Up will prove itself as an earworm. With that said, I think there were probably better promotional choices on the album.


  5. Banana bop! Sure, this isn’t as good as “Red Flavor” but what is? It’s still another great single from them imo, and the mini-album is song-for-song probably my favorite overall K-pop ‘album’ released this year. My choice for Buried Treasure would go to Mosquito, even though I love Mr E too.


    • The mini is super solid, but then again Red Velvet have a strong track record for solid albums. I love Mosquito too, simply for the fact that it brings back legendary producer Teddy Riley, who hasn’t worked with SM since 2016. It doesn’t hurt that it’s also a fantastic track!


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