Review

Song Review: Red Velvet – Queendom

Red Velvet - QueendomWith Queendom, Red Velvet have come off the longest hiatus of their career. It’s been over a year and a half since 2019’s Psycho. And while the girls have kept busy with solo projects, the unique Red Velvet sound has been missed. Momentous comebacks call for momentous songs, and Queendom’s dramatic title seems to promise a career-defining musical throwdown. Unfortunately, the music itself feels oddly reserved.

Red Velvet have a great track record when it comes to summer comebacks, and that enviable history might be clouding my judgement. The girls elevate anything they touch. That’s just a fact. But, Queendom doesn’t give them much to work with. Its muted synth backdrop casts a very safe, familiar atmosphere. Some tones in this tapestry almost sound like music you’d hear in an office waiting room, and keep the instrumental from flourishing even when it amps up during the chorus. Queendom’s second half is more successful than its first, and much of that is down to Red Velvet’s effusive performance.

Listeners are almost guaranteed to come away from Queendom humming its catchy doo-bee-dop post-chorus. This style of sing-song hook has never really been for me, but the song would be lost without it. Its verses don’t offer many melodic peaks, and the chorus itself feels a clunky and unmemorable. If it wasn’t for the girls’ exciting volley of vocal acrobatics, Queendom would pass by without incident. That’s not something I often say about Red Velvet songs. The song exists in an awkward middle ground – too straightforward and dull to stand as one of their great “red” offerings, yet not slinky or soulful enough to work as a “velvet” highlight.

 Hooks 7
 Production 8
 Longevity 8
 Bias 8
 RATING 7.75

53 thoughts on “Song Review: Red Velvet – Queendom

  1. It’s been five hours since i last listened to the song and I don’t even remember how it goes — not even the post chorus. I know it’s ladidadadiboo or something like that, but nothing is playing in my head.

    Though I’m pretty sure it’ll grow on me (just like zimzalabim did… horrifyingly). Right now it’s a 7/10 for me.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. Can’t deny the fact that I’m very underwhelmed by this comeback though the teaser putt me off already. I was hoping for a rhythmic funky offering judging from the teasers and I really don’t like the ba doo be la whatever post chorus. That said, it has already began to grow on me with a few listens. But the mini album is really strong, with pose and better be being the highlights for me. Knock on wood was not the electropop that I expected, but yeah it’s fine. This album has the musical bones of an NCT offering I must say.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. .
    Oh yeah oh yeah has morphed into Ay yeah Ay yeah.
    Then there is the half-step ascending line that gets repeated throughout. (it first appears around 0:12.)
    That’s about all I got.

    Well OK at least it rhymes. It gets a point for rhyming, and immediately minus a half point for basic grade school rhymes.

    We are queens and kings
    Shining bling bling

    Something in korea that ends in -ul
    Strong and beautiful
    something in Korean that ends in -oh
    something something Rainbow

    It’s now or never
    We got forever

    Liked by 3 people

  4. The biggest turn off for me with this song was the English lyrics -way too much, way too cringy and what’s probably the most important – way too clear to understand (in comparison, let’s say, with ONF’s Popping – I know that like 3rd of the song is in English but it doesn’t bother me at all which is not the case with Queendom).
    It’s a safe, forgettable song. Too bad.

    Liked by 5 people

  5. It’s weirdly straightforward, which ironically is pretty unique by RV standards, but it’s also a boring way. Not that it ruins the chances this song has, it’s a decent song despite being really lukewarm song-wise. It’s basically Umpah-Umpah’s straightforwardness without any energy.

    I still like it to be honest, but it’s not showstopping, just good enough.

    I prefer some of the b-sides more. I definitely wonder how everyone would’ve reacted with the f(x)-esque crazy Pose?

    Liked by 2 people

  6. This sounds almost exactly the same as Astro’s new single to me. A pop-house beat with some bright chords and a pleasant but forgettable melody on top. I think Wendy’s ad-libs at the end are the highlight for me, but even then they feel pared back in comparison to RV’s best. Maybe it’s a bit unfair to compare this to Psycho, given that song is a career-defining kind of great, but there really isn’t much that stands out to me about this.

    Liked by 5 people

  7. this song is like the best I*zone song I*zone never did…
    My first thought was also that this song is neither Red nor Velvet
    they sound great and the video looks like a Red Velvet video haha!
    the b-sides are very Red Velvet.

    Actually enjoying it in spite of its rainbow blandness.

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  8. It’s good, but it leaves me wanting the way Alcohol-Free did for Twice. MOR Red Velvet is still really strong, but I just don’t love it.

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    • Would’ve been a good b side track. I think the chorus is clunky because of their use of English words. SNSD had a similar problem with flower power and fan. It doesn’t ruin the song but the chorus melody wasn’t good enough to have this issue, although I think it would be even less memorable without this quirk. I really enjoy the instrumental of this song and the post chorus is very catchy so I can see myself returning to it. Red velvet give good albums so hopefully there’s a highlight on this one. Honestly, I’m just glad they’re back

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  9. I just hated the way the song completely pulled back in the verses. The drop in energy from the 1st chorus to the 2nd verse in particular totally pulled me out of the track. Other than that though, I still enjoyed it enough, and I have no problem with the post-chorus hook (if anything, it’s my favourite part of the song). Looking forward to listening to the album later.

    Overall, I like it and I think it’ll definitely grow on me even more, but it’s a little disappointing. Maybe I shouldn’t have hyped myself up so much 😂 but it’s the first full RV group comeback in so long, so who wouldn’t have been.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. It feels oddly boring and too reserved for a Red Velvet track. I put on Joy’s Hello a short time after and realised how much more I enjoy it over this.

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    • Yeah “Hello” was absolutely cynical play to maximize the trot charm Joy was originally trained for, and the more I listen to it the more I actually appreciate it. This is like none of it but still kind of low effort.

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  11. Yeah it’s bad bland and shows there had been like no solid plans for the group I think past Zimzalabim which is sad.

    Thing about these groups of similar age including Oh My Girl and Mamamoo is that technically it would be soooooo easy for them to just return to their previous superior self and release after release the companies just prove it with their action that his is actually impossibly hard.

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  12. Well… it isn’t BAD necessarily but imo does feel like a letdown after a year and a half of waiting. It has generic b-side energy to me. Of course, they sound great vocally and I like the MV but that is about all I can say. This is so boring by Red Velvet standards.

    I guess this continues my streak of being let down by girl group releases in 2021. Say what you will about 2020’s musical output, but last year did bring literally my favorite-ever title tracks from Twice, Blackpink, GFriend, Everglow, and Itzy (and probably more I am forgetting right now). This year has been such a girl group let down by comparison. 😦

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    • It really has been a bit disappointing for girl group releases this year hasn’t it? I love the same 2020 songs (I think) you’re referring to. On a more hopeful note though, most of the great 2020 girl group songs were released nearing the end of the year, so maybe that will happen this year as well?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Good point! We still have a few months left! For me, it was I Can’t Stop Me, Lovesick Girls, Mago, Ladida, and Wannabe (although I also liked Not Shy as a guilty pleasure lol). I’m clearly a big fan of the retro synthpop trend which had its moment last year and naturally biased me towards some of these. On the other hand, I’ve enjoyed WAY more boy group releases this year than I did in 2020, so I guess it balances out in the end!

        Liked by 1 person

        • This is totally me! I loved those songs, and I really loved the retro synthpop trend too. Like you, I’m also enjoying a lot more boy group releases this year, so there are some pros for us haha!

          Praying for the fall to bring things back for the girl groups 🙏

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  13. We’ve really progressed past the need for anything Red Velvet in 2021, can we get the Aespa album now that this comeback is over with

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    • …actually if they didn’t “mute” the bass like this (idk much about music production but it seems there’s a high-pass filter going on?) it would look cooler

      the 3d also looks kinda dull here… it’s not realistic as in “dumb dumb” neither artsy as in “rookie”, just… weird

      Liked by 2 people

  14. Only listened to it once and forgot it straight afterward. It’s boring, generic, doesn’t feel Red Velvet-y, has childish lyrics (I felt embarrassed listening to it. It’s not the kind of lyrics I’d enjoy singing along to), underwhelming, their worst title track?? I hate Zimzalabim and Rookie but I can accept them as Red Velvet tracks, even if I find them grating they’re bold and bring something new and interesting. This one? it’s offensive enough I had to listen to Psycho right after it to remember red velvet at their best.
    Maybe I wasn’t paying enough attention since the lyrics translation distracted me but the MV didn’t grab and I didn’t notice anything too interesting in the choreo.
    I might be too harsh but Red Velvet got me into kpop so I will always anticipate their releases. Hopefully they can release something better before 2021 ends /

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    • This is probably their last group comeback before they get sent back to the dungeon and “disband” indefinitely. SM making sure they go out with a whimper so they’re missed less

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  15. I do like it but I feel like I may be hyping it up a bit too much since I’ve been salivating at the mouth for a full-group comeback since the beginning of the year. I like songs with muted basses but in this case it works and it doesn’t work. For now it gets an indecisive and emotionally scarred Reveluv out of ten.

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  16. Well, maybe this is me being delusional, but I see this mini & single as a nice and bright re-introduction to Red Velvet after so many months, Wendy’s accident, Irene’s scandal, the pandemic…

    The title could’ve been better, but I get why it was chosen as “the” comeback.
    And the mini album is RV through and through, with Pose as the should-have-been single stomper and the rest of the songs being great examples of the heavy-on-harmony r&b-pop the girls excel at.

    With that said, I certainly miss some ambition, and I’m really hoping this is just the starting point to the new Red Velvet era. That long awaited third full album would be a good way to continue!

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  17. Nick! Great review as always! I agree with every point made.

    On a side note, I was wondering if you would do a feature something along the lines of “reviewing every SWEETUNE song ever!” because I am sorely feeling the absence of them in the current music scene. Also, is there a chance you could do a QnA? I’m sure a lot of us regular lurkers and commenters would like to know about our most eloquent and articulate Kpop reviewer!

    Liked by 2 people

    • A Sweetune feature would be fun! I would definitely have to gear myself up for such an exhaustive feature, but we’ll see.

      As for Q&A, have you heard about the site CuriousCat? I actually have an account there connected with my twitter, but have never used it. I’ve thought about linking it to this blog as a place for Q&A that doesn’t really fit within the comments section. Maybe this is the push I need to actually do it.

      Feel free to ask a question there if you’d like, and maybe we can get this thing rolling. Though I will be somewhat discerning when it comes to personal questions — especially if they involve any information that may be identifying. Some K-pop fans are CRAZY, and they don’t need new avenues to harass me! Haha

      https://curiouscat.qa/nickajames

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Wendy has one of my favorite tones in Kpop, and everyone else in RV is up there as well, so it’s always a delight to listen to her.

    My reaction to this is basically the same as how I reacted to BEcause (Dreamcatcher.) Music just a bit better than average, but yessss, the concept! The singing and performance! The girls are back!

    That being said, BEcause grew on me to the point where it’s now one of my favorite releases of the year, and I highly doubt Queendom will do the same. But I’m still happy to see activity from one of my favorite groups.

    Liked by 4 people

    • These were my two most anticipated comebacks for the second half of 2021, and I’m in the exact same boat as you. I was really disappointed with BEcause at first (musically), but wow that song has been such a huge grower. I didn’t even anticipate it possibly being one too. I’d love to be surprised again with Queendom, but my gut is telling me it will be a no.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I will love (almost) anything Dreamcatcher does. I get initially being underwhelmed by BEcause, and I agree that song is a hell of a grower. Helps that this is one of Dami’s better rap breaks in a while because it doesn’t completely kill the song’s post-chorus momentum (drum n’ bass shit is always good).

        This one… I’ve been busy with grad school again and haven’t really sat down with it but I don’t see it growing on me either, sadly. It’s just not all that interesting a song. I haven’t sat down with the album either (everyone is calling it weak, which is a bit alarming to me because RV’s B-sides are usually top-shelf) but I very much like “Pose” and do think it would’ve been the better choice for title.

        But yes do I agree. Red Velvet’s vocals can turn a meh song into something passable at the very least.

        Liked by 2 people

        • I was actually surprised at the number of people who felt this was an underwhelming rap for Dami. Her delivery might be a bit more subdued, but it fits and carries the energy of the rest of the song perfectly. I also think it was a smart choice to give the rap/talk parts at the end to SuA (it’s been a while since she has had non-vocal lines on a title track) since her tone and delivery have a smoothness to them that doesn’t feel jarring or abrupt. I thought this might be one of DC’s very rare misses musically, but the longevity and growth have definitely proven my first listen gut reaction wrong. And I’m with you lol… DC’s consistency is pretty damn enviable and sticking with the same production team has paid off remarkably well for them.

          As for RV, for plenty of other groups, this might be an above average comeback. But given their discography, to not have at least one standout song between their title track and B-sides all on a comparatively weak EP? It’s pretty unheard of for them, at least in my opinion. I do enjoy Pose the most as well, but I definitely wouldn’t say it’s a top tier RV song either. It doesn’t quite fully commit to its experimental sound in the instrumental, and while their vocal harmonies and ad libs sound great, it’s the rare case where I feel another group could also pull it off. I also get a bit thrown at some points during the verses since some of the sing-talk/rap just lacks the attitude necessary to carry the overall vibe and greatly varies between members. Is it bad? No. Is it great? No, but it could have been with a bit more commitment which is probably the most disappointing part. On a more positive note, if SM ever leans a bit more into a song along the lines of Pose, they really could knock it out of the park, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this a preview of something better to come.

          Liked by 2 people

  19. I agree that this is not “red” enough and not “velvet” enough to be called either one. The highlights for me are the post-chorus and Wendy’s incredible vocal runs at the end. I find the song pleasing, but it doesn’t do much to make me want to listen again, you know?

    Liked by 1 person

  20. I have to disagree about their summer releases, especially in retrospect. Red Flavor knocked it out of the park and is arguably my favorite girl group summer title track ever. But the others? They were some of their most “meh” material to me. I loved the experimentalism and intent behind Zimzalabim, but it just never worked for me. Other than that, we really only have Power Up and Umpah Umpah that were marketed as summer songs, and I always felt like they sounded more like something RV might have released early on in their career but had already matured past that point. They weren’t bad songs and I wouldn’t skip them if they came up on my playlist, but in my opinion they were a bit too cloying and didn’t take full advantage of RV’s gorgeous vocal harmonies. I don’t think they are enduring songs either. Red Flavor is something I still seek out to listen, the rest were more flash in the pan songs that you enjoy in the moment but don’t have that same longevity. Ironically, I think some of RV’s other Red title track songs like RR and ICC would have been top notch summer songs…. if they were actually released in the summer! And that’s not counting all the fantastic B-sides that could have made great summer title tracks as well.

    On to Queendom and the future!

    To a certain extent, and you can call me paranoid, but I don’t think this comeback as a whole bodes well for RV. After Psycho was such a massive hit with the public, Irene’s scandal, and their long hiatus due to Wendy’s injury, they needed to nail this comeback. But instead we get arguably one of their most generic releases ever and a strangely weak EP. For a group with such a strong discography, this is VERY odd. The only thing that holds this together and the majority of the EP is the members themselves. If this was given to another group, it would be a hard pass for most people. Nick phrased it exactly right, the RV members really do elevate any material they are given (and SM has always done extraordinarily well with the mixing of their vocal lines too). Generally, quite a lot of thought goes into RV’s concepts and imagery as well and they consistently blow their MVs out of the water, but I can’t help but notice this is probably the most (and only) completely straightforward video they have ever released. Even the budget seems considerably scaled back. Lyrically, we sort of get a “people power” song that also makes nods to their career as a whole. Combine that with Wendy’s injury (even in the brief choreography clips in the MV, you can tell Wendy no longer has the same range of motion or movement capability in her hip), the walk down memory lane that proceeded this by revisiting their B-sides, Aespa’s insane success, and this really feels like a partial sending off. I don’t think they will disband, but I think this is probably going to be RV’s equivalent to SNSD’s Party era. Their group activities will probably slow down A LOT. I think we will get one more comeback before mid-March of 2022. (There has been no news of contract negotiations yet, and that could be because Yeri joined a little over 6 months into their career… so either agreeing to continue those additional months or already signing a modified contract back when she joined isn’t a stretch.) After that? I don’t see any reason why SM would treat RV differently than they did SNSD and f(x) after their renegotiations (ie. possibly a tour, one comeback, and next to no other group activities for 3 years). If anything, SM has more reason to do that with RV than they did f(x) and SNSD. Someone please tell me my logic here is faulty! I honestly want someone to convince me that this is a reach, because I do not want to see RV fade away yet.

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      • I think it’s safe to say RV are not going anywhere. They pulled 3x the album sales of Psycho with Queendom, this means that SM would want to take advantage of this growth, no?

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        • That’s a tough call, because even with the amount of album sales they have, that doesn’t equate to much in terms of profit. (Also, album sales for Queendom might not reflect their future sales numbers since they will be naturally higher due to their long hiatus, the lingering hype from Psycho, and overall sales increases for K-Pop, though they would obviously still sell very well regardless). That’s why endorsement deals can be so important, especially for girl groups, to stay afloat and cover the cost of comebacks. The only other options are really mainstream success in Japan or the US and live performances and touring. I think a lot of it will depend on how viable Irene continues to be for endorsements given the scandal or if her scandal runs causes possible trouble for group endorsements as well. As far as touring goes, obviously that’s difficult, if not impossible, at the moment due to COVID. (Fingers crossed WordPress lets me create a paragraph here!)

          The other issue I can see is that even if everything does go well and there are no repercussions from the scandal, they are still in the same boat as f(x) but even potentially better off. All 5 members are well known and have solid individual careers. Both Wendy and Joy’s solos performed infinitely better than Luna’s (shame… free somebody is so good). If Irene can keep endorsement deals on her own, she and SM will probably start looking for ways to distance herself from the idol image to carve out a more long term career like Yoona. Joy is also doing well enough acting too. A group comeback has a huge cost and time/benefit ratio. Instead of having 5 people bringing in money individually, you have to temporarily pull the plug on their individual activities for almost 2 months for preparations and promotion. A comeback is also expensive for the agency whereas endorsement deals, pictorials, acting, and variety show appearances cost them nothing but can make much more in return. This is pretty much what sunk f(x) (and even SNSD to a lesser extent). Victoria was making far more money in China on individual activities that pulling her out for a group comeback would result in a financial loss. The same held true for Krystal, hence all the Amber + Luna releases. Even with SNSD, why promote the group when Taeyeon alone can pull in the same amount if not more as a soloist, which is less expensive and time consuming than working with a full group, all while the other members continue to bring in money from their own individual careers at the same time?

          I don’t think RV will disband. I think SM is testing the waters right now with a group comeback right now to see how much of a lasting impact Irene’s scandal had , rehabbing her image, and reminding advertisers that RV is still very popular. But after this? RV could have one more comeback early to mid 2022 with an EP or full album, giving them more than enough new material to tour with at any point in the future if SM decides to go that route. Heck, they might not even need anything more since they still have the entire ReVe Festival series along with their solo subunit material. Ultimately, SM’s goal will be maximizing their bottom line, not pleasing fans; and right now, the girls have successful enough individual careers that promoting them as a group any more than strictly necessary will cost more and earn less than prioritizing group activities. So in that regard, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them only having one or two more group comebacks plus a sort of “indefinite hiatus” goodbye/thank you release. That’s just my read on things though.

          Liked by 1 person

  21. I kinda had the same feeling you did but that chorus just hits me soo hard now. I keep spamming it. This one really grew on me fast haha.

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  22. This song sounds like an ad for contact lenses or something…
    It’s missing anything distinctly unique or memorable.
    I’m happy Red Velvet is out of their hiatus, but disappointed that the release that SM decided they should return with is underwhelming.
    Considering that Umpah Umpah (something unforgettable my ass) and Zimzalabim (no, Wendy, I’m not ready) are some of RV’s weakest tracks, I can’t help but feel like SM is ushering Red Velvet into inactivity and solo work.
    I might just be paranoid, since SM doesn’t necessarily have a great record of providing fans with *closure* when a group disbands. SM loves a disbandment solo!

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s my same read on things too. And with RV, they have 5 strong potential (and already proven) moneymakers in the girls’ solo careers compared to 2 for f(x) and, again, only 2 major ones left in SM from SNSD (Taeyeon and Yoona, not that the other girls are slouches by any means, but they don’t and didn’t have the earning potential individually that all 5 of the RV members have now either currently or when SM sent them into a soft retirement/hiatus following their contract renewals). That means any group comebacks for RV entails stopping the members’ individual activities for a solid 2 months at minimum just for a release that will cause SM to spend far more money while simultaneously losing all 5 potential revenue sources temporarily that would be coming in from their individual activities. Heck, at this point, some of the members can probably make more just from a few sponsored Instagram/social media posts than a comeback since it’s all profit and no investment from SM having to pay for MV, album, and promotions costs, etc.

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  23. It reminds me a bit of Chungha’s “Stay Tonight” for better and for worse. It’s refreshingly unaffected and trend-free, but more acrobatic high notes than an actual melody which really limits its ceiling for me. It is a little underwhelming (though I concede it’s hard to beat “Psycho”, which I fucking adore and still play on repeat to this day) but I’m just happy to see them as 5 again.

    Liked by 1 person

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