I really wish that I enjoyed Irene and Seulgi’s Monster more than I do. I love a good badass, female-fronted comeback, but the track’s droning vocal loop just sounds like bad Halloween to me. Because of this, I’m happy to see that they’re promoting the superior Naughty (놀이) as a follow-up. While Naughty doesn’t bring anything new to Red Velvet’s discography (and doesn’t even sound much like a sub-unit track), its rhythmic deep house sound is a great match for the girls.
Naughty sneaks its way in, pulsing on a groovy bass loop that’s heralded by a pitched vocoder hook. It all feels very fashionable, even if this particular sound has been done to death over the past few years in K-pop. Irene and Seulgi bring an effortless cool to the track, never stretching their voices but meeting the rhythm with precision. Their expressive performance keeps Naughty interesting throughout, especially when they play with the melody during verse two.
Naughty’s chorus is more staccato and chant-like than I expected, but it has an addictive energy consistent with the production, which feels aloof but inviting. In many ways, the track sounds as if it could have appeared on a 2015-era SHINee or f(x) album, which is actually a pretty big compliment all things considered. And while I think an injection of robust melody (even just during the bridge) would have made Naughty an absolute standout, I predict it’ll enjoy long-term, slow-burn appeal. At the very least, its percussive arrangement fits well with the summer season, embracing old trends but harnessing the kind of quirky style that fits Red Velvet best.
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