Some months ago, I spent an evening watching these mnet “fancam” videos focusing on all the Red Velvet members in turn doing “Ice Cream Cake”. On and on, over and over, I watched and I was yugely entertained. Even though I’ve never quite warmed to “Ice Cream Cake” as pure music, I reveled in Red Velvet’s cuteness and enthusiasm, and at some point I pondered that, having thus spent so much time lost in their fancams, it would be practically immoral not to post the darn things and extol them to the heavens.
Well, I don’t think I got around to that, but let me spare from oblivion the fact that I did so spend an evening. Now flash forward to the present: last week when Red Velvet’s new single “Dumb Dumb” came out, I watched the mv four or five times over the first couple of days before letting it slide. I had high hopes, and even thrilled with optimism when I found the video had “dropped”. This was a go-make-coffee level event: what day won’t be brightened by the release of a new Red Velvet video?
And I liked it, yes: but I also felt, as I’ve felt before with “Ice Cream Cake”s mv, that the High Concept Space Age Teenybopper thing is a little too twee, or self-conscious, or– I don’t know, something. More Splenda than spun sugar, maybe. And I thought about ‘reviewing’ it, but then days went on, and suddenly we’ve got a Lovelyz8 comeback about to explode, and Red Velvet becomes background noise.
But I woke up with “Dumb Dumb” in my head (I did sneak in one or two more views of the mv past the initial four or five), and suddenly I really like it. Yes, like “Ice Cream Cake” there’s a self-conscious State Of The Art Of Western Pop In 1997 quality about it (it really is too good for American radio, yet it’s clearly Westernized in a way most non-SM ENT K-pop, thankfully, isn’t), but it’s still so clever and infectious and exultantly silly, I can’t help but like it.
The lyrics, too, are quite charming. This is a case where the chorus suddenly becomes more infectious once you recognize what they’re saying:
The video, too– but I should save that for another day– strikes a lot of resonant notes with my own childhood memories of the 80s. Not that the 80s are the exlusive provenance of the video’s myriad points of departure: you could argue that, as Armond White complains against Coen Brothers comedies like The Hudsucker Proxy, it’s referencing so many decades at once, it doesn’t really know where it’s head’s at; but it all works out like a bizarre electro-hop pastiche of Christmas programs and educational film strips and maniacal daydreams. OMG Yeri, hide under the desk when sixteen Irenes (or was that Seulgis? or was that Wendys?) come attacking you!!! It’s that damn robot assembly line’s gone wrong again, oh whattodo?!?!
I just eat that up, I really do.
So here’s Irene doing “Dumb Dumb”:
–I think Irene’s the one who’s supposed to be the “classic Korean beauty”, which would make her something like the Jihyun of Red Velvet.
Anyway, Seulgi I think rocks more the hipster, stylenanda style of Korean beauty:
Well, I like them both, but I still doubt my powers to pick them out in a lineup. So that leaves me with Joy, Wendy, and Yeri. I think Joy is my bias– she fits the archetype of sweet-but-saucy-looking (and slightly round) girls I seem to fantasize about the most and who give me the biggest pheromonal pings in realworld contact. But relationships with them, well . . . it’s all so complicated. I wonder if something’s wrong with me somehow, that I’m miswired to avoid the high cerebral relationships I could have with a girl like Wendy who’s bright and very clean and on my level, instead pursuing these slightly weirdo girls who amuse me but don’t understand me and can’t follow my highbrow aesthetic and moral principles? [Ed.: Maybe you’re gay?] –No, no. Hey, what part of “slightly round” don’t you get anyhow?
I’m not advocating race-mixing, but if there were such a thing as a future Eurasian masterrace, I suppose it would look like Wendy. Seriously, I want great pure Asian ethnicities and great pure European ethnicities, and basically I’d like to see Sun People stay the hell away in their stupid tropics and, as far as I’m concerned, pass out of the scene in silence. White-yellow hybrids are vastly preferable to any other hybrids, and I assume that (for all their mental illness) they’re at least humanly viable, but that doesn’t mean I want to see hundreds of millions of caucagooks (to say nothing of jooks– forgive me, Narsha L! but there’s Emma S. to think about here) all over the place.
But I could see the amusement value in teasing Wendy: “Hey, are you sure you don’t have a little white in you?”
–Just teasing, Wendy. So sorry. Carry on, Red Velvet, carry on!