[Review] Red Velvet go back to ‘red’ side and come up with surprisingly bland “Power Up”

Red Velvet is coming off an excellent 2017, with four of their songs (Peek-A-Boo, You Better Know, Talk To Me, Red Flavor) ending up as my favorites of the year. 2018 started just as well with the slow-burning ‘velvet’ side in “Bad Boy, and as a follow-up they tried to tap back into the quirky energy of the ‘red’ side with “Power Up“.

For as much as “Power Up” attempts to recapture old glories of their ‘red’ side by bringing tempo and oddities, the song itself is actually surprisingly bland and uninspired. The verses are passable in an unremarkable way, but the pre-chorus is surprisingly weak and muted, and build is something songs rarely fail at. No matter, as while the bass tries its best, the chorus doesn’t amp things up much either with a melody that seems to just exist. The whole thing is also pitched too high, washing out the rest of the chances to appeal.

I obviously don’t mind relatively childish songs as long as I find them catchy, but at least efforts like “Rookie” had some semblance of a hook that would bury itself into your ear. There was a catchiness to it that caused you to remember it whether you wanted to or not, and that just doesn’t exist with “Power Up” despite the attempt with the “ba-banana-ba-ba-banana-nana” refrain. Honestly I spent a lot of the song waiting for something to happen, even just for the sake of being actually weird or interesting, and it just never comes.

Of course, it doesn’t really matter as Red Velvet is at the stage where “Power Up” will smash anyway. But it’s hard to think that at any stage I’ll be purposefully seeking this out to listen to, not because it’s abrasive but just because it’s rather underwhelming.

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