Tuesday, September 29th, 2015

Red Velvet – Dumb Dumb

Minus 5 points for not being a Rachel Stevens cover.


Iain Mew: “Dumb dumb dumb dumb” rhymes with “Rum Pum Pum Pum” and it’s very much the equivalent — ebullient, confident, naggingly catchy, and barely a hint at the heights of the accompanying album.

Maxwell Cavaseno: I just don’t know; the brashy speed-run soul embellishments on the verses remind me of the worst parts of “Problem,” the chorus with its almost Andrews Sisters-like earworm has some staying power, but then we end up with that ABYSMAL Michael Jackson-themed rap and the pointless EDM-beatswitch. A lot of this just feels undercooked compared to the debut EP’s rock solid singles. Hard to say what’s going wrong, but I doubt Red Velvet will suffer too much in the long run.

Thomas Inskeep: Horn-y, hyper-caffeinated K-pop spiced liberally with schoolyard chants but, unfortunately, little else. 

Jonathan Bogart: Not dumb enough.

Patrick St. Michel: Add “Dumb Dumb” to the pantheon of K-Pop songs highlighting the general smartness of the industry. It’s clearly inspired by “Bang Bang” — down to the monosyllabic title — but taken in a bunch of exciting new directions over the course of its run time, like nobody in the production meeting could decide on one idea and just stuck them all in. As scatterbrained as it gets, though, the end result is a really catchy song…which is how you could describe a lot of pop out of Korea over the last few years. It would almost be a bit predictable if it weren’t for moments of genuine wonder, like the rap interlude made up of nothing but Michael Jackson puns.

Alfred Soto: Those giddy ascending vocal parts! And video game sonics to match! More more more!

Will Adams: Despite its best efforts to sneak up on me in the middle of the day and drill right into my brain, “Bang Bang” never won me over. “Dumb Dumb” takes the same kitchen sink approach but distributes its pyrotechnics more evenly between vocals and music, which is the only way I can explain away the six random measures of trance in the bridge. Each listen, I can’t decide whether the song’s fascinating or annoying.

Brad Shoup: Constant scales and rises, goosed with sax excerpts (some Meghan Trainor, some “GDFR”). It ran me so ragged I could barely appreciate the MJ section.

Mo Kim: The verses are all escalating action, rising pitches and woozy 808 beats and “baby-baby-baby-baaaaaabes” drawled out Valley Girl style. The chorus mashes its disparate elements together into prime traffic jam pop: SM has been experimenting with how many cooks they can get away with employing in the same kitchen, and this may be the agency’s high point to date, synthesizing the brashness of f(x) with the cohesion of SHINEE and the sweetness of Girls’ Generation. Songs about being dumbstruck by love are rarely composed with such intelligence, nor are they embodied as playfully as Red Velvet manage here.

Reader average: [9] (20 votes)

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8 Responses to “Red Velvet – Dumb Dumb”

  1. The song hits a sweet spot when played in the background. It looks/sounds much flimsier when paid attention to, but man I bliss out when giving my primary focus to other things. It feels a bit like trying the “vocals as instrumentation, syncopations of melody” tricks that worked so well for Shinee’s View, applied to an entirely different genre. (And other than the trance bridge, SM didn’t insert a more melody-heavy chorus like they did with Red Light.)

    Quoting myself from elsewhere:
    “Dumb Dumb is all hooks, and not even straight repetitions of them, but permutations. (which separates it from Lady Marmalade or Bang Bang) In that sense, it is a song truly of its time, reflecting the ways in which internet culture generates memes, and then mutates them, at breakneck turnaround. It’s not enough to put a solid hook song out anymore. Instead, you skip the obvious choruses in favor of variations just familiar enough to recall the original…or you might just stumble upon a mutant form for your first exposure, bewildered as to what the hell this feudal lord breadstick thing is. ”

    All that, and I can always appreciate a banger that abhors the downbeat.

  2. I’m pretty shocked at the score, if nothing else I’d’ve rated this higher for the high-pitched unison chorus.

  3. easy 9

  4. I’m surprised by the low score too. If I had remembered to blurb I’d have given it a [6] but I expected to come across as a hater for that.

  5. not that a 5+ is low but it’s certainly lower than I thought

  6. This song is great bar that terrible MJ rap section. Like AG said, it’s just one hook after another, always escalating and screaming and catchy, and thus all incredible.

    But seriously, what’s with that MJ rap? It’s so shoehorned it’s painful.

  7. Apparently RV would call it “Michael Jackson Bad”

    *takes pie directly to face, side of head, shoulder, chest, and continuously until I fall on my back*

  8. ughhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh