Welcome back to another instalment of K-Pop Deep Dive. This week I want to talk about one of the most versatile female K-Pop groups that I am familiar with. In an industry where most of the music is expected to be bright and bubbly, there’s is one group that likes to shake things up with every new album they drop. This week it’s about none other than Red Velvet.
Red Velvet debuted originally on August 1st, 2014 as a four-member group with the single “Happiness”. A fifth member was added to the group in March of 2015. The name of the group is supposed to represent the two sides of the group’s music. They have the “Red” side that signifies a more vivid and blood image of the group, whereas the “Velvet” side reflects a classier and toned downside.
When it comes to their music, Red Velvet is very versatile and tends to be very experimental. They can go from releasing some bubbly pop songs, such as Happiness and Ice Cream Cake, and switch it up to some more smooth, R&B style songs (‘Be Natural’ or ‘Automatic’). In that same year, they can release something that’s more of a mix between their Red and Velvet side such as Rookie and Russian Roulette and also release ballads such as One of These Nights. When it comes to diversity in genres and music, I find Red Velvet to be one the few groups that are not afraid to try out something new instead of rinsing and repeating what has worked for them before. Due to this, I find Red Velvet refreshing and a group I keep returning to.
Although I can’t seem to find any particularly deep meaning in the lyrics of Rev Velvet, I do notice the group using a lot of symbolism in their music videos. Just scanning through all the music videos, they have released, you can see high production value for their videos as well as well written plots for the music videos. One thing that I really enjoy about Red Velvet, besides the music, is how entertained and mesmerized I get watching their videos. You find yourself watching the videos on loop trying to catch small hints and hidden symbols. Every time you watch you can discover something new. And if that doesn’t get your attention, I don’t know what will.
The interest in Red Velvet also stems from their image. For every album they release, they have a certain concept that they use for their visuals, whether it be the music video, stage outfits or photoshoots. When they do their “red” concepts, they tend to dress in very colourful, girlish clothing. When they do their “velvet” concepts, they gravitate more towards mature and dark outfits. Red Velvet also has been praised for breaking stereotypes in the Korean music industry. Usually, girl group concepts tend to fall under two categories: “cute” or “sexy”, often to fulfil a certain fantasy. In South Korea, girl groups tend to have a male-dominated fan base, but most of Red Velvet’s fans are young women. They were even named by IZE Magazine as one of the successful female figures who helped transform the “passive image” of South Korean women.
When it comes to Red Velvet, they are diverse in many aspects as well as interesting to follow. They are the symbol of empowerment to many young females around the globe. Their music is so diverse, there’s is sure to be at least one song you would fall in love with. So why not go and give them a listen. You might be surprised by what you find.