Red Velvet dropped “Russian Roulette” moments ago, and while there are a bunch of catchy elements to it, ultimately the release seems to represent a regression of sorts … but you’ll have to check in on me later.
The thing that stood out for me the most on the initial listen was how blended together everything sounded. If I wasn’t watching the music video, it would’ve been difficult to tell who sung what parts, and the song structure had minimal obvious cues about where the chorus or verses started and ended. The bridge was about the only thing that broke the trance they were attempting to cast with this metronome predictability, and while I get that part of the concept is to be robotic and that it coincides with the retro electronic instrumental, it doesn’t mean the song has to be generally monotonous.
Still, the repetition of the words and the the driving instrumental are ingredients for a catchy song, and I was definitely into it for a verse and a chorus. But after a while it gets a bit repetitive, and the ingredients never seemed quite complete the whole recipe for a successful pop track.
Red Velvet are at their best when they make what should be a mess of a song work, like with “Ice Cream Cake” and especially “Dumb Dumb“, but this felt a bit like a regression to what made me relatively ignore them after their debut (until later). While I enjoyed elements of “Russian Roulette” and found it addictive at times, it felt a bit like a B-side in the end and I was hardly itching to hit the replay button.
When it comes to the music video, you can throw what I said about the song out the window. It starts off on the same path as the song does, with a relatively kitschy, basic concept that seems like it’s gonna be a standard innocent/cute school concept except with dyed hair.
Fortunately then, it goes completely off the rails and ends with them trying to kill each other.
Idols trying to kill each other will generally work for me.
Hell, they even had the table be a part of this, which is becoming a Red Velvet trademark.
This includes the look they shoot to me when I run up to them and request that Seulgi steps on my throat.
Additionally, the glimpses of the choreography we got also looked like the dance practices and choreography videos will be something to look forward to, much less the live performances.
While I’ve liked previous releases from Red Velvet more, I do think “Russian Roulette” has the most potential for a mainstream pop hit out of all of them. There are a lot of light, fluffy, and addictive elements to this track that wasn’t there for even their best previous releases, and despite what I said about the song, I think even I would like to check in a couple weeks later to see if it grew on me at all (reminds me to maybe finally start that planned feature).
Based on what the music video showed, Red Velvet will probably have a successful promotional period with the stage performances and choreography videos and all that. As such, I just get the feeling that “Russian Roulette” has a lot of potential to grow on the listener eventually if you’re on the fence like I am, even if it is in a slightly annoying way in the end.