Red Velvet’s “Dumb Dumb” effectively lacks melody, figures to grow on you

Red Velvet, SM Entertainment‘s clone group, released the “Dumb Dumb” music video and … well … for better or worse it’s probably gonna take a while to fully process.

That said, my initial impression is that it’s mainly for the better.

I’ve always been at a loss for why Red Velvet have developed so many stans besides being gifted the exposure of being from SME. For my taste the songs were always meh to average, and while they’re supposedly a flawless visual group, not a single one has ever really struck me outside of Seulgi every once in a while. With “Dumb Dumb” though, while I’m still not sure exactly how much I like the song, I do think they’ve continued to build on what they established in “Ice Cream Cake” and all the hype is starting to be backed by results.

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“Dumb Dumb” is probably going to be polarizing because it’s not melodic at all, opting instead for a chanting type of chorus — sort of reminiscent of the nursery rhyme format in HyunA‘s “RED“. As with HyunA’s track, I really enjoyed the implementation of that effect, and it not only helped the song stand out but also helped to make it memorable. The “dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb” parts were a nice break from a “chorus” that had a ton of volume, and it allowed the chanting pre-chorus to star. All that was missing from the pre-chorus was a megaphone, really.

So if I enjoyed the meat of the track then why can’t I decide how much I like it yet, right? Well, I get where they were going with all the elements and the sort of mashing everything up into a purposefully disjointed “I Got A Boy” type of sonic mess, but I don’t get why Red Velvet (or anybody in SME, really) absolutely have to include a rap break. It’s tolerable if kept to a minimum, but this was quite a lengthy talk-rap section, and just like in “Ice Cream Cake” it dragged and was sorta distracting. The change of pace wasn’t used well, especially since it immediately went into a bridge that consisted of a ballad type of pace. They correctly assumed that listeners would need a break from the barrage of brass in the instrumental and the almost omnipresent yelling, but I think both the timing and execution of it needed to be better.

While it does have problems, Red Velvet’s “Dumb Dumb” had a combination that appealed to me in its chanting hook and a ton of brass, and together with its catchy bass-line, it just feels like a song that will grow on you over time even if 15-25% of the song seems a bit off in the end.

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As far as the music video goes, I have no idea what’s going on with the concept and I’m not sure I care enough to analyze it to find out. I guess it seems like some kind of freeing themselves from soul-crushing conformity plot, which is an always ironic message to receive from idols. Visually, they’re all styled the same again, in some type of troll effort to make them the Korean Stepford Wives, so I can appreciate that. I still don’t quite get what everybody else is seeing in them, but at least Seulgi is beginning to stand out. The best part of the music video, though, is seeing the choreography in action, which looks pretty aggressive, and it should be fun to see them perform the whole thing on stage or in a dance practice video.

As a whole, this has been my favorite Red Velvet comeback, and it’s mainly due to my enjoyment of the song. I still don’t think the styling does them any favors visually, and the mashing together of “weird” stuff just to have it be “weird” in music videos has always been a turn-off to me creatively, but at least the group finally seems to be living up to the expectations everybody set for them.

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