Hailing originally from S.M. Rookies, Red Velvet’s members were hardly unfamiliar faces to the world of K-Pop prior to the group’s debut on August 4th, 2014. However, this initial recognition was not exactly indicative of what they would soon become, as one of the most excitingly audacious of the current SM groups.
Consisting of Seulgi, Irene, Wendy and Joy, the latter being the only non-Rookie member, Red Velvet have not yet released an album, but still they have stood out as a major force on the K-pop circuit with a future that is as bright as the smiles they are prone to wearing. This quickly became clear when they debuted with the single ‘Happiness’, which reached the number one slot in Genie’s real-time music chart and gained immediate global attention online.
This momentous arrival, though somewhat controversial for a series of reasons that in no way reflected upon the actual talent of the band, showcased a quartet who did not give the impression of having been together for six months and their performance on Music Core exemplifies this case. With both a musical and visual style that was eccentric and vivacious to say the least, the girls shone out under the immense pressure of the fourth SM Town Live World Tour that commenced only two weeks after their first performance onstage as a unit.
Then, during the middle of October, the band re-emerged with their reworked version of S.E.S’s ‘Be Natural’, presenting another distinct style and sound that was a major departure from their previous work. ‘Be Natural’ is the polar opposite of ‘Happiness’, a mature and soulful number that has essentially laid out the mission statement of Red Velvet: They are not going to be an easily defined group of singers, because there are over forty different shades of red and we have only seen two so far.
Joining SM in 2009, Bae Joohyun, better known as Irene originally came from Daegu, where she was born on March 29th 1991. She serves as the group’s leader and main rapper. She was part of the SM Rookies and performed with Seulgi on an earlier version of ‘Be Natural’. On the side, she has also appeared in Henry’s ‘143’ and SHINee’s ‘Why So Serious?’, while also working as a model. She cites BoA as a major inspiration and her favourite film is ‘The Notebook’.
Son Seung Wang, or Wendy came from Southern Ontario in Canada, where she was born on February 21st, 1994. She is perhaps the most musically gifted of the group as a former choir singer, with an ability to play guitar, saxophone, flute and piano to add to her powerful soprano voice, which is evident on debut single ‘Happiness’. First auditioning successfully for Cube Entertainment in 2011, she later made the move to SM in 2012, where she received online attention for her version of Taylor Swift’s ‘Speak Now’. She has also made appearance on the soundtrack of the drama ‘Mimi’, with the song ‘Because I Love You’.
Born in Seoul on the 10th of February 1994, Kang Seul Gi operates as the group’s main vocalist and visual. Starting up as an SM trainee in 2007, she worked alongside the likes of Sulli and Krystal from f(x). Soon thereafter, Seulgi gained public recognition first as an SM Rookie, in particular for her and Irene’s version of ‘Be Natural’ and then, for her collaborations with Henry, acting in the music video ‘Fantastic’ and singing on his track ‘Butterfly’. Her vocal talent has earned her the nickname ‘The 2nd Taeyeon’ and on top of this, she speaks fluent Japanese and plays guitar.
The beloved maknae and lead rapper of Red Velvet, Park Sooyoung, or Joy was born on September 3rd, 1996. As the only non-Rookie member, she joined the company via a Global Audition in Seoul during 2012. It was at this time, when she earned the nickname “Doongdoongie” and developed a close friendship with Super Junior’s Eunhyuk, who frequently assisted her in training as a dancer.
Though still in their early days, Red Velvet appear to be a force to be reckoned with as they continue to evolve in quite an extreme manner, remaining unpredictable and a wholly exciting group of performers. It is difficult not to feel restless as we await their first album, because in less than three months, their two releases are of such a contrast that it is extremely difficult to guess what their next move is.
A good group should be difficult to define clearly. If you can easily put your finger down on what makes them impressive, then the likelihood is that they will repeat themselves, which soon becomes dull…
Dull. The word doesn’t even make sense in the context of Red Velvet. They probably don’t even know what it means. They are too busy dancing around purple lemons, chairs and that pink bear to be able to tell you the definition of that word.