Song Review: Red Velvet – Psycho

Red Velvet’s ReVe Festival series has seem them blitzing through a variety of styles with all the whiplash of a good carnival ride. Though I wasn’t too hot on it in the moment, the polarizing Zimzalabim remains my favorite title track from the project. It encompassed their quirky “red” side, which has always been my preferred Red Velvet concept. With new single Psycho, the girls have returned to the mellow r&b sounds that made 2018’s Bad Boy such a durable hit.

SM Entertainment has mined this restrained style for a number of comebacks over the past few months. Though different in energy and sound, Psycho almost feels like a continuation of EXO’s Obsession from last month. The track unveils over a plodding, trap-assisted beat that reminds of the pop-r&b of the mid-00’s. Unfortunately, I was never a fan of this vibe, and the production here does little for me. It’s missing the kind of groove that makes songs of this genre so enjoyable. It needs more syncopation, or some additional musical flourish that would breathe renewed life into the track as it goes on. Apart from a rumbling burst of synth in the chorus, the instrumental feels somewhat inert.

Absent of interesting rhythmic shifts, the girls’ vocals do much of Psycho’s heavy lifting. Their harmonies are airtight as always, and give the track needed oomph. The pre-chorus falsetto is a great treat, even if I’m not as sold on the melody it’s supporting. But when it comes down to it, I’m just not bowled over by Psycho’s repetitive hook. Like too much of the track, it feels overly predictable. I kept waiting for some kind of modulation. Psycho delivers a welcome twist during its finale, offering a secondary hook that aims for anthemic in a Little Mix sort of way. Like the rest of the song, it’s mildly effective. But, Red Velvet have mastered this sound with stronger material in the past.

 Hooks 8
 Production 7
 Longevity 8
 Bias 8
 RATING 7.75

Be sure to add your own rating by participating in the poll below!


15 thoughts on “Song Review: Red Velvet – Psycho

  1. Nah know you wouldn’t like it. I kind of agree for the most of what said, *especially about “continuation of Obsession” part*, but it’s doing better in charts than before so whatever. Christmas songs are not supposed to be good lol.

    Also is this truly worse than “Lalaley”?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve never been anything more than a casual RV fan, but this is actually one of my favorite releases of the year. I see streamlined and anthemic where you saw predictable, and the conservative flourishes throughout felt constructive without being distracting. The synthy sparkle in the early verses, Wendy’s delectable pre-chorus, the little old-movie motifs sprinkled throughout–these were expertly done for me.

    The lyrics are gorgeous, too. There’s something to be said about romanticizing dysfunctional relationships, I’m sure, but regardless it felt mature and true to a lot of modern relationships. That relentless “hey now, we’ll be okay” finale encapsulated the spirit so well–stubbornly hopeful, with the sort of self-assurance that seems like it’s partly trying to convince one’s self. Dragged up memories of parallel times in my own life upon the very first listen.

    My favorite Velvet track, and in contention for my favorite RV track overall. I’m a fan.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. “The ReVe Festival’ Finale” wraps up this project for the girls. It’s listed as a mini-album, even though it contains all 16 tracks from the 3 part ReVe Festival series (sort of like the “MADE” series from Big Bang). There are four new songs, “Psycho”, “In & Out”, “Remember Forever” and a special track “La Rouge”.

    My ranking order of for these new songs is as follows:
    1. In & Out – Should’ve been the title track, imho.
    2. La Rouge – Worthy of a single release on its own merits.
    3. Psycho – Well, maybe it’ll grow on me?
    4. Remember Forever – Nice ballad, for a ballad.

    Reference #1 (I&O):
    Reference #2 (LR):


  4. Except for the fantastic falsetto in the prechorus and better vocals overall this sounds like a kpop cover of a Taylor Swift style contemporary pop, sans sass. Or a kpop reinvention of that ava max psycho song that came out last year.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I feel like the predictable chorus and song structure are intentionally made this way. Psycho feels like the song to wrap up the whole Reve Festival trilogy, and after so many quirky and polarizing releases, I don’t mind a no-brainer straightforward pop although that’s usually not what Red Velvet releases.


  6. Psycho – yet another RV track with a silly English title (Russian Roulette, Zimzalabim, Umpah Umpah, Sappy, Dumb Dumb….)

    However, unlike an actual psycho, there’s no surprises here.

    I think it’s time for me to move on and find my next favorite girl group. But let’s still be friends, ok?


  7. You need to understand this: being unpredictable ALL THE TIME is the most anti productive thing to do. You’ll end up being predictable despite all the efforts made. Try to differentiate the electronic elements vs classical strings & brass & percussion and how those two interact with vocals and you will see how this song need to be competitive in structure.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I completely agree, being predictable at times is ust good pop writing. Even some “predictable” things within kpop, are not exactly predictable in the greater ecosystem of pop music. I also noticed that this review blog does not seem to have much training in music theory. Does that not invalidate the points made regarding “predictability”? Just a thought. I must say though, it’s a shame that SM did not release the theatrical version of psycho on streaming platforms.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Judging from the votes the review and comments are way off in underestimating the high quality of this song Psycho. I gave it a 9 but it grows in estimation with each listen and it may soon rise even higher. Red Velvet has slowly won me over through time, including this song for not being too overly bad ass with a super swaggy beat drop and hip throb and no strained vocal forced too high in a feigned cute style. They simply have some of the best natural harmonies and lead vocals I have heard hearkening back to classic styles of the Andrew Sisters and old school R and B revamped for the modern day and this song on repeat is kind of a reprise of all this with some nods to opera thrown in. If this is boring count me as I listen to it on repeat. Resonant, fluid beautiful and strong not too high, not too cute or too forced into the bad ass overload. I have almost convinced myself into giving it a 10.

    Liked by 2 people

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