Ok, sure. “Umpah Umpah” may not necessarily be my favorite Red Velvet release, but she gave us Seulgi in a raincoat. For that alone, I am eternally grateful.
Release date: August 20, 2019
Total Runtime: 00:03:45
Recommended for: This track just screams ‘Red’; those who prefer Red Velvet’s brighter image will probably love this track.
NOT Recommended for: As always, “Bad Boy” stans are never welcome to any discussion regarding Red songs…they just ruin it for everyone else; Ironically, this might put off some ‘Red’ fans too, as those looking for a more vibrant track in the likes of “Dumb Dumb” and “Red Flavor” will be left wanting more.
TRACK REVIEW: “Umpah Umpah”
I absolutely adore this music video. It feels like the first MV that actually showcased Red Velvet’s personalities. It successfully did away with the overly manufactured image that some SM releases tend to have. Unlike Zimzalabim’s rather ambitious video, “Umpah Umpah” is more laid-back. It is just as colorful, but it focuses on the members more than it does the chaos around them. The girls were able to have fun and put forth aspects of their individual images that fans would appreciate. For example, Seulgi losing the game of rock-paper-scissors is so on point with who she is in person. Not to mention, Raincoat-Seulgi on the roof is still the cutest thing I have seen all year.
I do appreciate that the disco influences in this track are a bit understated not so prominent. However, I could also understand those who say that the production is a little too safe for their tastes. Unlike the bombastic summer hit that was “Red Flavor”, “Umpah Umpah” may not leave much of a strong impression on the listener. It lacks a certain je ne sais quoi that the group’s bubblier songs tend to have. There really isn’t a part of “Umpah Umpah” that takes my breath away.
However – “VOCALS!”. The vocals absolutely make this song. The standout performances, unsurprisingly, are given by the three vocalists: Wendy, Joy, and Seulgi. For the first time in Red Velvet history, we have a title track with multiple high notes, and to make things better, each vocalist gets to tackle one. I mostly want to focus on Joy here since she remains to be the group’s underrated member. I am particularly impressed with her on this track as she has gone above and beyond. Joy’s high note at the end of the second verse was such a sweet surprise and made her the standout for me.
So in case you didn’t know, “Umpah Umpah” has a dance practice now. I really like the choreography. It’s not my favorite, but it’s quite clever in how it manages to cram a lot of swimming motifs without being cringy. It’s also easy to follow and is not as chaotic as “Zimzalabim” was. Also, Irene snapped… but let’s not get into that. The live performances are also good resources to view the choreo as they tend to focus on the individual members’ key points.
I liked “Umpah Umpah” from first listen but I still feel that SM could have done better. “Zimzalabim” – as divisive as it was – felt more definitive as a summer song than “Umpah Umpah” does. I have been waiting for SM to churn out a summer track that will compete with the pure magic that was “Red Flavor” but that has not happened yet. In any case, I do think that this track works as a part of the whole Reve Festival cog and I do think that it is a more cohesive and complete song than its predecessor. Still, it lacks a certain zing that I hope the finale brings.
SO WHAT ABOUT THE ALBUM?
I was originally going to review the entire album but decided against it. It’s not that I don’t like it, but this album does not have an “OMG! That’s it!” song for me. Not in the way that TRVF Day1 had “Bing Bing” and “LP” or even in the way that RBB was stacked with absolute bangers. I would never ever say that TRVF Day 2 is a bad album, but it is a little ‘meh’ by Red Velvet standards.
They are some pretty good songs here – “Love is The Way” and “Jumping” were the standouts – but they ultimately do not compare to the rest of Red Velvet’s discography. However, would I recommend this album? Definitely! The whole thing feels like a giant throwback to some of Red Velvet’s older albums (see Russian Roulette), so there is something nostalgic about it that fans would appreciate.
The Reve Festival Day 2 is a cute album, but I can’t escape the feeling that it’s just not as fun as Summer Magic or as majestic and unique as The Red Summer was. I would certainly say that it is the weakest of the Reve Festival series so far. Nonetheless, it is still highly enjoyable and is a much-needed addition to a rather uneventful K-pop summer.
"Umpah Umpah" does not make me scratch my head like "Power Up" did, but it also does not blow my mind à la "Red Flavor". It's a firmly middle-of-the-pack type of track. Maybe that's what SM intended. Maybe not. Either way, this track is still a fun listen in any type of weather. I would call that an absolute win!
- The chorus is absolutely amazing. It is catchy without being redundant or repetitive. I love that vocal line gets to belt some high notes.
- The choreography is well thought out and perfectly captures the motif of swimming and breathing under water.
- "Umpah Umpah" won't make much of an impression on the casual listener, but at least it will not induce a visceral reaction. It might be safe, but it's not boring.