Rather than take an expected route for her solo debut, Red Velvet’s Joy has released an album of covers. She reinvents songs of the past few decades, including title track Hello (안녕). This is a cover of Park Hye-kyung’s 1999 hit Goodbye, and mostly opts for a straightforward interpretation. But, I’m delighted to hear her tackle something more upbeat and summery. Usually, cover albums like this don’t venture too far from coffeehouse fare.
Hello will jolt you awake from its very first moment. The song gallops forward on splashy brass and sprightly percussion. It’s almost comically buoyant and upbeat, but I love songs that open with this much confidence. Of course, that sets a very high bar for the rest of Hello, and its verses feel relatively disappointing and uneventful. They’re much more laidback, harnessing the reggae-like rhythm of the original. But, they come across more “adult contemporary” than groovy.
Thankfully, there’s always another chorus waiting in the wings, and Hello‘s energy is indefatigable. The song plays like a coiled spring, bouncing from one refrain to the next. Joy sounds positively radiant on the track, imbuing it with light and positivity. If a vocal could smile, this one would. Compared to some of the bigger voices in Red Velvet, I’m not sure I’ve given her talent much focus in the past. But, she knows her charms and uses them well. Hello is strongest when it follows suit, doling out its exclamatory brass with generous abandon.