[Review] Seulgi makes impressive solo debut with the compelling “28 Reasons”

It’s been like 50 years now, but Red Velvet member Seulgi is finally getting a project to herself, and it’s been a surprising wait since she quite frankly always seemed most likely to fit the female soloist mold out of her group. Well, now given the spotlight, thankfully her debut with “28 Reasons” has mostly proven to be worth the wait.

While this deliberate R&B-laced track doesn’t seem like it would be up my alley at first blush, it actually works out much better than I expected. Even though it’s subdued, the haunting soundscape with a bit of sinister edge is established immediately to provide intrigue as things ramp up. Perhaps most importantly, the chorus is dynamic with the heavy bass joined by Seulgi’s vocals coasting over strings, whistles, and a robotic-sounding synth that reminded me of Transformers doing their thing. Meanwhile, the “28 reasons mollado dwae/da aneunde” section is subtly an earworm of a hook that I look forward to with anticipation on repeat listens. While not bombastic, “28 Reasons” has an effortless complexity to it without trying overly hard to prove itself, if that makes sense.

Of course, Seulgi’s performance plays a significant role in its success, as she’s able to convey a certain intimacy and forcefulness within all the mischievous of the lyrics. Stuff like “I kiss your brother” will understandably be a memorable moment for many, but the contrast between those biting moments and the dramatic runs of emotion is what makes this work. She’s extremely strong during the choruses, but the bridge is a great example of Seulgi being allowed to shine, building slowly and soulfully, then bursting forth when the instrumental eventually drops out for a moment worth the price of admission itself. That helps make a very strong closing case, and ends up leaving a lasting impression.

In terms of the whole package, the music video does showcase the good/evil contrast that Seulgi wants to play with thematically, though it is more of a performance video than I thought it would be. Nevertheless, this marks an extremely strong debut single for Seulgi and it’s hard not to be excited, not just about “28 Reasons” but for what’s to come in her future as a soloist.


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