A K-pop group’s title track isn’t always the best song on their album, even if it’s the one most people will hear. Sometimes, b-sides deserve recognition too. In the singles-oriented world of K-pop, I want to spotlight some of these buried treasures and give them the props they deserve.
I hate to admit it, but I don’t particularly care for Red Velvet’s latest mini. I mean, it’s fine. It delivers a lot of the sounds we’ve come to expect from the group. And, the ladies elevate anything they touch. But song for song, it’s lacking the kind of standouts that would have me rushing back for more. When stacked against total triumphs like The Red or The Red Summer, it feels oddly muted. And even compared with previous summer efforts (Summer Magic, The ReVe Festival), it just doesn’t overflow with the adventurous spirit I’ve come to expect.
Of course, this could be the curse of a long hiatus. More time away allows expectations to bloom impossibly high. SM Entertainment has chosen to play it safe with Red Velvet’s return, and I suppose that’s their right given the group’s stature. They’ve already paid their dues.
Luckily, Pose offers a glimpse of that old off-kilter sound I love. It comes across as a long-lost track from the f(x) archives, though I’m sure that’s not actually the case. But, it carries the same quirky-cool energy. The verses unfold over a drumline beat, delivered in a sing-talk style that works well with the instrumental. The pre-chorus injects more melody, preparing us for a bizarre little drop before the brunt of the chorus kicks in. As expected, the ladies sound absolutely commanding here, their voices layered in gorgeous harmony. The chorus isn’t quite long enough for my taste, but it’s hard not to get swept up in its robust texture.
The performance brings warmth to a track that might otherwise come across as too aloof and cold. And for those seeking more experimentation, Pose’s tense, ascending bridge brings the madness. It’s not quite peak Red Velvet, but it’s the most interesting blast of energy that Queendom offers.