Review

Song Review: Red Velvet – Irene & Seulgi – Monster

It’s been a long time coming, but SM Entertainment has finally given us a Red Velvet sub-unit. Apparently, we still have to wait a bit for the music video, as it has yet to be published at the time of writing this review. And if I’m being picky, I really wish the agency could have come up with a more creative name than “Red Velvet – Irene & Seulgi.” I guess that tells you everything you need to know, though!

Monster brings together these two powerhouses, harnessing their darker, more sultry side for a track that pulls equally from current and past trends. The result isn’t nearly as impactful as SM had probably hoped, though it’s always a joy to hear Red Velvet’s voices in any capacity.

The song opens with a heavily filtered, horror-show vocal riff before moving into a slinky verse that pulls and pushes at the percussion to keep things interesting. Melodically, this feels more like vamping than deliberate, satisfying structure, and I think that hurts Monster’s overall appeal. The chorus offers a more developed refrain, but brings nothing new to Red Velvet’s oeuvre. They’ve delivered catchier, more impressive hooks within this same style, which makes Monster feel oddly inessential. This hook is followed by that same warped vocal from the song’s introduction. It grows sillier and more obnoxious each time you hear it, and feels like a particularly odd fit for July. If anything, this is Halloween fare.

Though Monster’s chorus draws from trap influences, its climactic breakdown is pure dubstep. Back in 2013, dubstep was a key ingredient in K-pop. I got pretty tired of it back then, but it’s a welcome inclusion nowadays. Unfortunately, Monster doesn’t do anything interesting with the genre. Rather than let its unpredictable sound drive the structure of the track, it feels tacked on here and there to make Monster feel more monstrous. With all the talent involved behind the scenes, I’m surprised that this ended up sounding so underwhelming.

 Hooks 7
 Production 7
 Longevity 8
 Bias 7
 RATING 7.25

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

19 thoughts on “Song Review: Red Velvet – Irene & Seulgi – Monster

  1. I (unsurprisingly) love it, they sound divine ♥️

    I understand why it’s probably gonna be a divisive song though.

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  2. I didn’t listen to the song yet, was waiting to watch the MV. But after listening to the teasers I would’ve thought you would send the song to hell haha it seems like their vocals are making it remaining above 7.

    Thinking about it, they’ve been too late for Halloween, and this year they’re too early. whoop

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  3. Um, so, well, its Okay? But not compelling or essential. And it is completely and totally lacking any sense of what makes Red Velvet Red Velvet, or even an SM song an SM song. The vocals for one, this song could be sung by (almost) anyone. I would have hoped there would be more, better harmonization going on than this song provides for. This could be almost anyone, or almost any group.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The only thing that makes me enjoy this much more than I should is the vocal layering during the chorus and how clean the production sounds. The girls sound great!

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  5. I’m dissapointed, but not surprised. This was always going to be a performance track, and the fact that they delayed the MV doesn’t make the song itself any favours. Had we had MV to go along with the song, I suspect I would like it much more, because these two are very good dancers and I am still looking forward to seeing the choreo, but without the MV to support the audio this just doesn’t do it for me, chief.

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  6. The song was more or less what I expected when I heard of the subunit. I really think that the inclusion of Joy’s voice would’ve given it more dynamic and charisma. I look forward to seeing the MV though as well as the live performances for the choreography.

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  7. I preferred the 2nd verse over the 1st, which is a rare occasion since the takeover of trap breakdowns. The typical SM sing-together-chorus is a nice surprise (Yoo Youngjin, was that you?), because I waited for an edm-drop. It is not as special as it wants to be, but Monster will still jump into my playlist. (Not sure about the b-sides, though)

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  8. Well, I liked it a lot more than Psycho at least, maybe it is just I don’t have much experience with dubstep kpop (this is an exo song!). That said this song do feel like meant for other girl crush groups with SM approach to vocal performance and strong will to resist beat drop choruses. I like how the second verse uplifts the song from the grating fare the first verse set up. Also the girls are having Russian roulette levels of production values again which I welcome.

    Another thing to bring up is that the talent behind this song is mostly Korean and obviously not a song camp production. Back to song camps I guess?

    Judged by the top line credit the second single “Naughty” will be the unapologetically red velvet sound again.

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    • Oh wait, I got it wrong, Josfghd is “Uncover” producer. It is interesting that Koreans see future bass as a minor focused genre

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  9. So yeah, this song is… nice. Definitely a solid 7 but it lacks something, something that elevates the melody. To me, this feels like a unfinished demo that was submitted to SM as the first draft of a song. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a nice song and the girls’ vocals get to shine particularly in the chorus but, for such an awaited debut, the first subunit of a group like Red Velvet, it doesn’t feel satisfying, at least to me.

    I’m glad Seulgi gets to show off more of her performative skills, she’s a great dancer and singer, and she’s probably the member with the most potential for becoming a soloist. Still looking forward to what she will or could release in the future, even if this song doesn’t meet my expectations.

    I wish SM had taken a different route with their debut, “Monster” just feels like the average velvet track Red Velvet would release on a repackage. I think they could’ve chosen a style that maybe Red Velvet had explored once before, as a chance to go deeper on a style that suited their eldest members best. Maybe something jazzy or funkier or disco or something with party vibes to go with the season. Even something similar to reggae-influenced “Sunny Side Up!”
    Sooo many thing I could change in this debut but I’m glad SM has come to their senses a bit and is investing more on Red Velvet, even if they should’ve done it sooner.

    Also, don’t get me started on the MV fiasco… It’s always SM the one having problems releasing the MV the day of the comeback. SM is my favorite company IN TERMS OF MUSIC STYLE (i love their groups and all but the company is a mess) but I’ve never heard of any other company that has faced this issue.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I forgot to add that the dubstep dance break in “Monster” were kind of boring, which it’s one of the reasons I find the song a bit boring I guess. It’s just not entertaining to listen to, watch them perform during it? Yes. But casually listening to it? It just sounds annoying. SM has done it better before, like with “Catch Me” by TVXQ. Now that’s fun to listen to.

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  10. Hmm…I like bits of it but it seems like one of those instances where I wish it was a full Red Velvet comeback instead of these two. I don’t know if Irene has the ability to carry her weight in a duo. It feels a bit empty with the two of them.
    I think it’ll be one of those songs that is greatly improved with the MV.

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  11. I have to say I was expecting something better. SM described it as a dance-pop song so I was hoping for something more upbeat and suited for summer.

    I still like this and it gets a solid 8.25 from me, but it would be better off as a fall release. Maybe even as a b-side.

    As for the music video, it’s wonderful and so is the choreography. SM outright said it would be a performance-focused song, after all. I hope Naughty (the follow-up single) isn’t, though.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. The song is fine. It doesn’t do much for me either way; I wouldn’t go out of my way to play it but I probably wouldn’t skip it on shuffle. The music video and the choreography are stunningly gorgeous. Seulgi in particular is absolutely shining as an all round performer. Though there were all sorts of stan twt speculations about gay shenanigans going on when this subunit was announced, I’m still surprised this amount of homoeroticism made it into the MV. Although I suppose the queerbaiting might be part of the appeal. I can’t say I’m not a little baited, in this case.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. This is, hands down, one of the greatest songs of the year. The hook? The bridge? I mean… Seulgi singing the house down, even Irene (which is the queen of lacking energy) is serving dominatrix vibes. I don’t undestand how deaf can be a person by not loving this track… It’s probably of those Blackpink fans that spams “how you like that” all over the internet of something… Well, poor y’all.

    This is one of my favorite songs of the year, that’s the tea.

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