Friday K-Pop Fiesta - November 17th, 2023

Red Velvet makes a triumphantly creepy return, KARD sneaks in a feelgood special clip and more as we roll onward into mid-November in 2023

Friday K-Pop Fiesta - November 17th, 2023
Red Velvet returns with their 3rd full album and title track “Chill Kill”. Source: SMTOWN (YouTube)

So I’m just giving you all fair warning now, that next week, there will probably be one or two Dreamcatcher songs on here. I’m of course blatantly biased as they’re my favorite K-Pop group, and if I published a Friday K-Pop Fiesta without listing a song of their upcoming new release, I’d just be a dirty liar, and we can’t have that, can we? As such, I hope you readers are ready for some rock/pop goodness when that rolls around.

Til then, this past week has been a fun K-Pop week of expected bangers and cool surprises, so let’s take a look at what’s been on my playlist.

ENHYPEN - “Sweet Venom”

It’s probably obvious if you’ve read my Friday articles by now, but I mostly listen to girl groups, with a few exceptions. That’s not anything against boy groups - I think between the sharper, more aggressive choreography, the fact that they tend to have more members (7 is the magic number for me, beyond that and I have trouble connecting with a group), and the typical music style, I don’t have many I listen to regularly. But there are exceptions.

Sweet Venom” by ENHYPEN appeals to me because the song itself is a bit slower-paced, the vocals more distinct and not in-your-face, and most of all, a choreography and singing style that reminds me a lot of Michael Jackson. This is a funked-up bop, with a cool CGI-based video and a catchy chorus, and it made me stop in the midst of my usual browsing of recent releases to check out.

VIVIZ - “Untie”

B-sides from recently released albums getting time to shine is always a bonus for me, and even though VIVIZ appeared here last week for title track “MANIAC,” after seeing the performance video for “Untie” I had to include it. As always, the ex-GFRIEND members show off why they were known as the queens of synchronization, and when you couple that with an R&B style song with awesome choreography backed up by other dancers, you get yet another earworm.

I always expect SinB, known for her excellent dancing, to deliver here, and Umji, despite being a bit self-effacing about her choreography ability, is better than she thinks, but I’ve really appreciated Eunha here. Eunha’s been known to be almost stereotypically sweet and nice even in a world where sweet and nice is a K-Pop standard. But having a more mature type of song for her to sink her teeth into has allowed her to expand how she presents herself, and you can see that on display in a dedicated performance video. I’ll have to check out live performances of this song, because this one definitely impressed me.

KARD - “Fireworks”

Underrated or underexposed groups always get a plus from me because they’re essentially working the industry on hard mode, and co-ed group KARD fits this category for sure. I actually didn’t expect that they’d release a song this week, so seeing the Project Play track “Fireworks” was a nice treat to see. Even though this is a softer, more emotional song, there’s still that KARD sass and attitude layered on top, that sort of devil may cry mood that has kept them sustainable where a less talented group might not be able to do so.

I’ll say this a lot when a KARD song makes my list, but the co-ed thing isn’t just some marketing gimmick to draw in fans interested in something different - this quartet really does each have something to contribute and weaves both male and female vocals into really cool tunes. Obviously everyone is on point with their singing of such a light tune, but this time around Jiwoo stood out to me - she’s been known to me to have a more husky vocal tone so for her to flex her pipes in a ballad like this one was really neat.

Red Velvet - “Chill Kill”

Ever since a set of lockers and a piano came tumbling down with murderous intent while a gleeful and cheery refrain sounded in the MV for “Russian Roulette”, I’ve always had Red Velvet on my list of groups to check out whenever something releases. Their signature creepy vibe and dissonant MV imagery has always made everything they do entertaining. When “Birthday” came out last year, it still had that Red Velvet vibe to it, but I sort of felt like it was more weird and surreal rather than creepy, and it may me feel like the song was missing something.

I should have never doubted Red Velvet to go back to their creepy wheelhouse, because that’s what “Chill Kill” and frankly, their entire 3rd album, has turned out to be - a return to the somewhat disturbing tone of their most iconic releases. The group went all-in for this image, dyeing their hair all the same black color, coupling mental stress and a bit of psychopathy, and dropping in what pretty much was implied to be a murder cover-up. And then, as the coup de grace, they toss in the happiest, most peppy chorus you could imagine. This is classic Red Velvet, on both a musical and an MV level, and it shows. If you have a hankering for more, B-side “Knock Knock (Who’s There)” will extend the horror vibe for you. This album’s also a full, which means if you’ve been starved of Red Velvet content or want a heaping helping of who they are, there’s plenty of tracks this time around.

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