Song Review: Wendy (Red Velvet) – Like Water

Wendy (Red Velvet) - Like WaterAfter a 2020 spent in rehabilitation after an awful accident during rehearsals for 2019’s SBS Gayo Daejun, Red Velvet’s Wendy makes a triumphant return with her first solo mini album. I feel like SM releases a ballad-heavy album every year around this time, and they rarely elicit anything more than a sigh from this particular K-pop blogger. What can I say? I’m just not a ballad-lover. But, Wendy’s voice is something special, and Like Water is much more satisfying than I expected.

Like Water knows exactly what it wants to be and executes that beautifully. It has a lulling quality, as gentle guitar and tranquil synth touches blend with Wendy’s measured vocal. In places, the instrumental isn’t far from American country music, which isn’t something I expected to hear, let alone enjoy. The melody is simple, memorable and effective. But when push comes to shove, Like Water rides on the strength of Wendy’s performance. Her vocal is warm and rich and never over the top. And even though the song often veers toward adult contemporary territory, her commitment elevates it.

My favorite moment comes during verse two, where the central melody gives way to a lilting instrumental change. A string section lends this segment an open, cinematic feel as Wendy’s voice becomes another wordless part of the symphony. Like Water could have embraced this tone even further and been all the more successful for it. But at its heart, the song is a traditional, sentimental pop ballad. My own bias limits just how high I’d rate this style of music, but Like Water exceeds my perception of what a springtime SM ballad can be.

 Hooks 8
 Production 9
 Longevity 8
 Bias 8
 RATING 8.25

20 thoughts on “Song Review: Wendy (Red Velvet) – Like Water

  1. SM does like to show off their singing talent with solo ballads. It is very clever because it does position their artists for solo careers and OSTs and all those other Korean singing shows (Immortal Songs and the like). The song gives off a very Taeyeon “I” vibe (which is forever “Peaches from the sky-ee-yyyiii-eee-yiiii” to me). Its alright. The vocal is lovely.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. omg yes! i agree, wendy’s performance really elevates this song, and her voice brings a lot of timely warmth and comfort in these trying times ❤

    will there be any b-side reviews? Why Can’t You Love Me is my favourite & it’ll be cool to read more thoughts on it 👀


  3. I’ve always love these acoustic band-type ballads, but I feel like the song is such a vibe that’s not the same as a basic ballad, and Wendy’s vocals elevates the already good song to even better.

    (That string section, perfect.)


  4. This is stunning, and it’s gonna be a deserved hit. One of my favourite songs of the year. Already sounds like a classic, tbh.


  5. ballads like this really aren’t usually my style, but i’m completely won over by her vocal performance. she just sounds SO good, and some of the lyrics hit kind of hard given her situation. even though red velvet has been one of my top groups for a while, i didn’t really expect to like this, but i’m honestly blown away and certainly glad to have wendy back!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Her voice is truly beautiful! It does not happen often (when listening to pop music) that I am captured by the singing itself. There’s no strained belting or unnecessary runs here, she sings with a sort of beauty and ease that I do not often hear. Her voice is gentle, but not really airy or breathy- there’s a full, supported tone.

    It is difficult for a ballad to catch my attention, let alone keep it – but this is a gem!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I love Wendy’s voice. That said, all five songs on this release feel like driving Bugatti stuck in first gear. Track three revs up like it’s going into second gear, then settles back into “speed bump” and “children crossing” velocity.

    Shame. She could easily break a little ground into the western market with a peppy song released as both a Korean and an English version. Kind of like how LOOΠΔ did with “Voice”/”Star”. Oh well…


    • Judged by the chart reaction Wendy’s situation is better than Luna, but vaguely in the same ballpark. The “English speaking market friendliness” is hyperbole at best and people only show favoritism towards them on a social media enthusiasm level but don’t reflect on sales number at all when compared to teammates

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m not much of a ballad lover, nor a fan of Wendy. However, this actually gives me chills. I’ve never loved a slow song so instantly.


  9. This has been stuck in my head since I heard it! Her vocals are so clear!
    This song knows what it wants to be and executes it perfectly. I haven’t loved a ballad this much since 11:11.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. When I say I hate ballads, I seriously mean I hate them. I can barely listen to more than 30 seconds unless it at least deviates from aloof, aimlessly depressing feel most ballads go for. With that said, Like Water is seriously something else. I haven’t loved a song like this for such a long time. Like Water is personally one of the most solid pillars of 2021’s K-pop releases; it just feels so special.


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