[Review] Red Velvet return with surprisingly conservative “Queendom”

Red Velvet have been away for seemingly forever in the K-pop world (two years), which has left a notable hole in K-pop landscape as they’ve been one of the more consistent hitmakers, churning out quality year after year. With the return of Wendy (from injury) and Irene (from an attitude mess), Red Velvet look to make their mark “Queendom”.

“Queendom” bucks the current trend of girl groups doing aggressive gurl power lite tracks and does a heavily melodic version of gurl power lite instead. It’s a welcome change of pace in the current landscape and effectively sets them apart. Also, it figures to make all the right kinds of people upset in terms of concept, so I’m all for it.

Yet, I can’t help but feel something is missing. Usually the aspects of their singles that grow on me with time are initially abrasive or repetitive sections that eventually soften and become catchier over time, but “Queendom” feels oddly conservative for Red Velvet, coming off as something like a pre-release for the anthem set to come. That anthem never arrives, and instead we get a solid song that’s uplifting and bright, providing decently paced verses and a pleasant enough chorus, but is otherwise surprisingly flat aside from Wendy’s occasional vocal runs. It just never gets going even though it feels like it wants to be a lot of fun.

In the past, I’ve admitted that Red Velvet songs are ones that I’ve probably missed on most frequently, at least in terms of their songs appearing to consistently age well to my ears. I’ve mentally factored that into things when writing this, but the difference with “Queendom” is there’s nothing that really stands out that would cause a shift in opinion. It’s just a straight-forward pop effort that at times borders on elevator music, which should be good enough for those who have been craving this comeback for years now but unfortunately doesn’t add much to their legacy of quality.


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