Red Velvet Spring Back Into Their Own Rhythm in “The ReVe Festival 2022 — Feel My Rhythm” — In Depth Review
In a time where the Kpop industry is trying to openly move onto the next generation more and more each day, and the new artists are still trying to craft their own blueprint, Red Velvet have come back to swoop in and show everyone else what Kpop is like at its best — and unconsciously proving that they still have their own unique and unwavering IT factor after having all of these years under their belt.
The title track “Feel My Rhythm” is in every way, the perfect embodiment of Red Velvet. With the classical sampling of “Air On The G String” by Bach being the heart of the song, Red Velvet sets the mood of lovely spring while the added modern musical elements converts the song from classic to innovative in a seamless blend. In my opinion, this track is the perfect representative of Red Velvet’s signature experimental nature.
As the re-opening of “The ReVe Festival” project originally from 2019, “Feel My Rhythm” is the ideal spring time re-launch to set the joyous mood. Lyrically, the song speaks about letting go and being swept up into their rhythm which fits ideally as the kick off for the ReVe Festival 2022 project. The girls re-immerse themselves in upbeat cheerfulness with bubblegum pop playful melodies and phrases yet mixed with the contemporary instrumental with the classical strings brings a sense of growth and maturity.
The song opens luxuriously with a rendition of the classic “Air on the G String’’ sample with Wendy and Seulgi’s airy vocals gliding above the strings. I love the little touch of the tape rewind at the very beginning that opens the music to the sample; it seems like a clear acknowledgement and appreciation of the timeless classic song itself. All the way until the soft ad libs end and Joy comes in with the Red Velvet name drop, it sweeps into the first very modern sounding beat in Irene’s first verse. The strings are pushed to the side to introduce the contemporary kick and snare, trap beats, a subtle buzzy synth bass, and unique contorted clacking bell-like dings with modern pop melodies for the verse. The Bach sampled strings are reintroduced in the pre-chorus along with the buzzy bass, thinner trap-like percussion, and a prominent thumpy kick drum added as it builds up to the chorus. In the almost heavenly perfect bright pop chorus, the sample gets to fully shine in the spotlight in a new refreshing modern way. The melody sung in unison by all the girls is from the melody of “Air on the G String” and all the while the string sample of the melody is being played in the instrumental under the vocals. While paying a beautiful homage to the original, the quintessential experimental nature of Red Velvet spices it up with the advanced bass, percussion, and the small manipulated vocal effects. The song continues to spiral the combination further by fully adding the strings to the second verse now with even more warped electronic instrumental elements. The bridge is the culmination of all the instrumentation so far, starting with the airy vocals over the strings and simple snaps building to more intense percussion, then diverts to one of my favorite moments in the whole song with brief glitchy game-like effects with Joy’s bubbly voice. The song perfectly ends with a gorgeous as ever high note from Wendy that leads into a modulated final chorus to lift the happy and bright spring vibes for the most satisfying refreshingness.
The following b-side “Rainbow Halo” speaks for itself with the colorful synths and catchy hook; it could easily pass for a bonus Mario Kart rainbow road level soundtrack. The bright synths with a demanding knock on the door and clap percussion along with Red Velvet’s radiant vocals are the center of this track. The post-chorus is without a doubt the best part of the whole song, with the unexpected but very welcomed saxophone playing along the biggest earworm of the album, “rainbow halo dance, rainbow rainbow halo dance.” While the saxophone FINALLY gets more time to shine in the final chorus with a more improvised solo to add more flavor to the vibrant instrumental, just as a personal wish, when listening to the song I always crave more saxophone and feel like it’s kind of under utilized, but that could just be me who is an avid more-saxohpone-in-pop-music activist. However, while it is a subsequent Red Velvet fun pop song, I do feel like a more dynamic tempo throughout the song instead of the stable mid-tempo that drags it down in a sense would more satisfytingly play with and build up energy. I feel like it wants to grow more energy but it never goes anywhere, which feels like a lost opportunity.
The grittier synth pop “Beg For Me” about showing their confidence to their lover (with more straightforwardly sensual lyrics than most Red Velvet songs) is reminiscent to me of something that would belong on Ariana Grande’s “Dangerous Woman” album. This track does a great job at balancing the intensity of bass and vocals with the smooth verses, and then the bumped up filtered bass and more depth along with the quickening trap beats into the chorus. The bass is still the star of the show along with the girls’ pop vocals, with synths to round out the shape and compliment it all. The chorus and the iconic “dance for me, work for me, beg for me” post-chorus make this song a great pop staple added to the group’s discography. The lack of post-chorus into the bridge with a revved up synth that compliments the relaxed rap verses from Wendy and Joy with a new energy and the short moment of the instrumental completely dropping out except a thin lingering synth, snaps, and Seulgi singing sensually singing “just beg for me now” before going into the final chorus makes it more energetic and worthwhile waiting for it.
“BAMBOLEO” is the song that I have been waiting on my knees for Red Velvet to finally have in their discography. The lofi intro of sprinkled of 80s synth with Red Velvet’s harmonious vocals that leads to the infamous reverbed drum fill diving into the slap bass and compressed drums lets you know it’s gonna be a fun and gorgeous city-pop inspired track. The lyrics are fittingly about getting beautifully lost in dancing the night away; the glittering synths, slap bass, and compressed drums with the occasional drum fill are the core of the song. The falsetto chorus complete with the signature “BAMBOLEO” and fulls synths are addicting and satisfying for a full pop chorus. The flanged guitar comes in after the second chorus unexpectedly as a nice surprise, and holds its own in a little free solo among the sea of other synths and instruments. For the bridge, that and the percussion drops out, then the bass and and drum fill comes back in and to the chorus with Red Velvet’s beautiful high notes. All the instruments dance harmoniously, where the guitar comes back into play back again for a little while and ends on the simple synths to softly close the song out.
There is no easy way to say this, but personally, “Good, Bad, Ugly” is easily at the bottom as my least favorite track in this album. In actuality, it’s nowhere near a bad song, but just slightly boring for Red Velvet standards. There are a decent amount of existing tracks (in their discography) that have this same format, mid tempo and kind of cringe English lyrics throughout the whole song doesn’t help the lack of bland melodies and generally unchanging (already bland) instrumental. Honestly, before reading the translation it seemed like a cheesy one dimensional self love song, but I do appreciate that there is a bit more nuance in the actual topic which is appreciating the bitter and sweet moments of life and feeling secure enough in yourself to feel excited about every moment because it is beautifully unpredictable. With that said though, I still find the english lyrics cringey, even if a little less so. The instrumental has a nice classy, laid back vibe with piano, slight brass, and snaps, but it’s really nothing to write home about.
The unexpected gold mine closer of “In My Dreams” has already shot to the top of fans all time favorites from the group, and for good reason! The music box-like lofi opening instrumental sets the mood as dreamy and innocent. Then, they hit you with the first of the main reoccuring line sung in enchanting harmony — “In my dreams, you love me back.” The first experience listening to that and the rest of this song just hits you in the face and instantly makes your heart drop and flood with a wave of deep inner yearning you didn’t realize you had. The pristine and light music box-like notes dance on top of the booming bass and hard hitting kick drum that almost cut through the delicate vocals from the members in the verses. The building of desperate longing builds with the pre-chorus that drops the bass and percussion entirely with just the members’ alluring, swirling harmonies. The drums slowly build back and then the chorus hits you right in the center of your heart with the booming bass back and the brash drums that are just threatening to turn the dream Red Velvet are singing about into a nightmare. The girls sing in the chorus pleading to be left in their delusions and sound like they are on the edge of whimpering to themselves if they reach the end of their self-aware illusion. While all of the members hold their own vocally (as well as in harmony) in this song, I have to mention the second pre-chorus where Irene takes the lead and sings the iconic line “In my dreams, you love me back” in the most haunting way it’s been sung before that unlocks even more chills. The occasional “oh, oh, oh” that enters in the latter end of the song is also a nice detail that adds extra heart-wrenching distress. The vocals at the end get a final push with main vocalist Wendy delivering breathtaking adlibs, before the outro mirrors the intro, now with added context of knowing how devastating this seemingly pure love really is.
In my personal opinion, as a fan who was kind of disappointed by the previous Red Velvet comeback that was supposed to be the grand comeback after an almost 2 year hiatus, THIS is the grand comeback that I felt was missing. A new chapter in Red Velvet’s musical career set with a starting mini album as fresh and exciting as “The ReVe Festival 2022 — Feel My Rhythm” feels both fulfilling and invigorating to Red Velvet’s long career so far in an industry where female artists come with an impending expiration date. At this point, Red Velvet don’t have anything to prove, but still have everything to show.
“Feel My Rhythm” — 9.5/10
“Rainbow Halo” — 8/10
“Beg For Me” — 9/10
“BAMBOLEO” — 10/10
“Good, Bad, Ugly” — 6/10
“In My Dreams” — 10/10