Red Velvet – “Russian Roulette” Review

Red Velvet – Russian Roulette (Music Video)

Red Velvet – Russian Roulette (Live Performance)

Red Velvet – Russian
Roulette

Reviewed
on September 23, 2016

In other words, it is the
catchiness to “Russian Roulette” that arguably covers its actual stale sound.
After all, robotic or not, the “b-b-b-beat” is delightful to listen to; very
few can help but admire how sweet and swift those catchy phrases sound. Yet,
that is—from my personal argument—a faulty reason to use for persuading someone
that “Russian Roulette” is a stronger song.

Personal Message:
Edit: This review was essentially written before the prior
one
and thus, a lot of the references may seem “out-of-date.”

Although it has not been too long
since the last review, I still want to apologize for not having a more
consistent schedule and for how reviews are now extremely brief. Again, with
university work I am incredibly busy and more so as many of my classes are
rather rigorous this semester. Unfortunately, though, I am now running into a
paradoxical situation: I avoid reviews so that I have sufficient time for work,
but now I am becoming rather stressed as reviews tend to be my stress-relieving
outlet and yet if I write reviews I will also be stressed for not having enough
time. Now what is the point of this rant? To share university life with
readers.

On a more serious note and for
technical updates, despite how busy I am I still very much expect this month to
reach the goal of six to eight reviews. How this will be possible is, despite
my own philosophy of thoroughly deconstructing songs, reviews will now be very
concise and focus moreover on critical points I find. In other words, although
recent reviews became much more brief (and rightfully so) than older reviews, I
still did attempt to cover the breadth of a song via analyzing all of its
categories (lyrics, vocals, etc.); the change, then, was I had a more
appropriate and modest amount of depth. But with my strict school schedule now,
I have little choice but to remove breadth and instead go for depth (in its
current degree) in terms of whatever I deem appropriate.

For example, in GFriend’s “Navillera” review (and indeed this song is very much
my all-time favorite), while the depth has been far reduced from past reviews,
I still covered breadth in terms of how I covered all of the categories. Now,
if I were to re-write that review, I would actually dismiss discussing certain
categories such as the lyrics. This is not to say I will remove the categories
I do not write about; the scoring will remain as is, instead it is merely a
change in discussion and writing. And so what will be the predicted result of
this change? Besides nearly drifting away from a systematic writing of reviews,
reviews might only be two to three paragraphs versus the usual seven or eight.
Most desirable from this is all would be that reviews are a lot more common; after
all, if I only need to discuss what I find are “controversial” points in a song,
I can go in depth on that and then proceed to the next. The only time reviews
would be lengthy, then, is that there are multiple points that require
discussion or that there is a social tangent that would be necessary to
discuss—an example being Hyuna’s “How’s This?” as musically and socially, my
words may be rather controversial. (And yes, it is the next review.)

Clarifications aside, let us dive
into Red Velvet’s latest comeback: “Russian Roulette.” In truth, I am surprised
that this will be the first review on the ladies as they are extremely popular,
and furthermore, that their prior comebacks would have been enticing reviews in
the sense of them causing controversy. Admittedly, I have found many of Red
Velvet’s song to be weaker, but rather than being deterred from reviewing them,
this reason would have provided motivation. After all, the point of my reviews
is to instill critical discussions, and indeed giving a song a lower rating
would, hopefully, cause a level of deeper engagement. Specifically focusing on
“Russian Roulette,” though, many might now be curious on my take to it—both
serious and personal. On a personal level, as mentioned before, this is the
first song by Red Velvet that I enjoy. However, when it comes to a more
critical approach, although the overall score is decent, there are some
overarching flaws that exist. That said, with a lethal game of chance
(referring to Russian Roulette—it is not just a song name), let us take a look
at where Red Velvet gets shot, and of course, where they avoid that fate.

_______________________________________________________

Song Score: 5/10
(5.25/10 raw score) – “Average”


Vocals: 5/10


Sections: 5/10
(4.50/10 raw score)

Introduction, Verse,
Pre-Chorus, Chorus, Verse, Pre-Chorus, Chorus, Bridge, Chorus, Conclusion

1.     Introduction:
5/10

2.     Verse: 5/10

3.     Pre-Chorus: 5/10

4.     Chorus: 5/10

5.     Bridge: 4/10

6.     Conclusion: 3/10


Instrumental: 6/10


Lyrics: 5/10

La-la-la-la-la

Surrounded by a sharp secret
Behind a veil
Deeper and deeper, h-h-hush
Aiming for your heart now
This place is the color of a dark night
Even the shadows get lost

Oh you’re always like, “love is game”
You say it’s light and easily enjoyed
Why do you keep saying these bad things
Trying to avoid me?

Growing heart b-b-beat
It’s getting faster
Not like you, heart b-b-b-beat
Whenever you see me
Until the very last moment
It comes closer and closer, crazy
The risky aim, Russian Roulette
Ah-ah-ah-yeah
La-la-la-la-la
(You’re already)
Heart b-b-b-beat
Until the very last moment
You’ll have to trust me
I’m your sweet Russian Roulette

A dazzling secret
You can’t turn away from it anymore
I’ll p-p-push your button
Accept it now
So your heart can be filled with me
You’ll look for me even when you’re dreaming

Oh you still say, “love is game”
You tell me but your voice is shaking
Past the playful eyes
I see you, not knowing what to do

Growing heart b-b-beat
It’s getting faster
Not like you, heart b-b-b-beat
Whenever you see me
Until the very last moment
It comes closer and closer, crazy
The risky aim, Russian Roulette
Ah-ah-ah-yeah
La-la-la-la-la
(You’re already)
Heart b-b-b-beat
Until the very last moment
You’ll have to trust me
I’m your sweet Russian Roulette

You never had this deep of a dream before
My heart and this night makes this game flicker
You can’t control-l-l-l-l

Growing heart b-b-beat
It’s getting faster
About to explode, heart b-b-b-beat
I’ll hold onto the key
Until the very last moment
It comes closer and closer, crazy
The risky aim, Russian Roulette
Ah-ah-ah-yeah
La-la-la-la-la
(You’re already)
Heart b-b-b-beat
It’s already engraved in you, can’t take it out
Deeper in your heart
I’m your sweet Russian Roulette

Growing heart b-b-beat
It’s getting faster
La-la-la-la-la
Growing heart b-b-beat
It’s getting faster
La-la-la-la-la
Heart b-b-b-beat

_______________________________________________________

Analysis: This
is completely off-topic, but after truly watching the music video and not just
purely focusing on the audio, the music video is a rather brutal one to put
simply. Perhaps the saying of “last woman standing” resonates here—or that
competition can kill friendships. Literally. Nonetheless, I personally find the
music video very witty and creative.

On
topic and onto the song review, first
to clarify, this song is certainly far from “bad”; a simple glance at the
overall rating reveals a five—average. However, I predict many readers disagreeing:
“Russian Roulette” should be rated much higher. After all, supposedly it is the
group’s best release and it has extremely catchy vocals, instrumental,
sections, and so forth. That said, and for where I wish to guide this review, I
disagree on a specific premise: using “catchiness” as a positive trait. It is
this assumption—the assumption that “catchiness” is a strength to songs—that I
will challenge, and with doing so, I hope it reveals that—while indeed the song
is the “catchiest” I have heard—“Russian Roulette” is merely average.

Beginning
with the vocals, on the surface it appears enticing: the melody is playful and
highly dynamic; there is variety when considering the changing tunes, pacing,
and intensity; and overall, that the repetitions of “b-b-b-beat” and others are
simply “catchy.” However, although the vocals are indeed diverse mechanically,
I will argue that the sound of the
vocals is not. The reason for that is in an earlier idea: catchiness. The parts
that are catchy are the moments that tend to repeat fun, light sounds, but on a
more critical view, one should realize the sound involved: robotic, simpler
ones. This, unfortunately, spans across the song in its entirety and is why the
vocals (and others) are rated at average. Yes, with the vocals, I applaud the
variety used mechanically—the various melodies, pacing, intensity—but overall,
there is a noticeable robotic sound to the vocals. Even with different tunes
such as comparing how the choruses sound different from the verses, the main
sound is still reminiscent of a robotic-like one. All this, though, is for the
purpose of catchiness; indeed, it is hard to deny that the vocals and
instrumental are not fun and enjoyable. But, if we strip away from that and
look in a more overarching yet deeper scale, the sounds are reduced to nothing
spectacular.

That
very notion is why I find “Russian Roulette,” while not necessarily bad, not
necessarily strong. The vocals, even if diverse, still contain a robotic and
dull sound. Equally at fault, the instrumental follows suit: solid in
accommodating the vocals and shifting intensities, but ultimately still lacking
as it is, perhaps quite literally, sounds of beeps and boops—sounds of a robot.
And as such, with considering how the sections play out, the song in whole may
retain an extremely fun and upbeat nature, but overall the sections lack
sonically due to the stale vocals and instrumental, and that the sections’
individual structures are nothing distinctive.

In
other words, it is the catchiness to “Russian Roulette” that arguably covers
its actual stale sound. After all, robotic or not, the “b-b-b-beat” is
delightful to listen to; very few can help but admire how sweet and swift those
catchy phrases sound. Yet, that is—from my personal argument—a faulty reason to
use for persuading someone that “Russian Roulette” is a stronger song.
Catchiness is, after all and boldly said, much easier to replicate and
captivate with than other song qualities that should be respected. Of course,
though, this is not to say Red Velvet themselves lack skills or that, once
again, “Russian Roulette” is a bad song. The ladies are very much skilled
singers and with their recent song, the argument I propose is that it is
seemingly a better song than it genuinely is. In other words, “Russian
Roulette” has a mask one: on the superficial level, it appears to be a very
well composed song, but underneath, I argue that it is only average if we are
more critical of its use of “catchiness.” Nevertheless, to end on a positive
note, while “Russian Roulette” is an average song, I still agree with those who
say it is Red Velvet’s best release as of yet and I look forward to their
future releases.

_______________________________________________________

Before
housekeeping news is delivered, I do apologize for being slower than usual. As
one can tell, I am extremely busy with university. For the upcoming reviews, three
male groups are planned and if I am dedicated I hope to write two of those
reviews by today. (I expect needing only one paragraph to review two of those
groups.) Afterwards, Hyuna and MAMAMOO will receive spotlight. And yes, a
social digression will occur with Hyuna’s review as it is germane to both the review
and many current discussions. As per usual, I will focus on complexities of the
topic rather than necessarily persuading readers—though I will clarify some misunderstandings that
occur within the topic. What exactly is the topic? Next week is when I plan to
write the review so look forward to it then.

Thank
you to all for being patient and reading this review in any form. 2PM and
Infinite are the next reviewed groups. Until then, “You’ll have to trust me / I’m
your sweet Russian Roulette.” And no, do not interpret this as a threat through chance.