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Red Velvet, 'BYE BYE'

The members of K-pop group Red Velvet — Irene, Seulgi, Wendy, Joy and Yeri — wield their voices like daggers on the single "BYE BYE," one highlight from a recent mini-album, The ReVe Festival 2022 — Birthday. In line with their recent sampling of classical music, it features a skewed interpolation of "Für Elise" with a mischievous, malevolent tone; when Wendy sneers "I only had love for you," her emphatic, repeated delivery underlines the pent-up anger. The song's confessions — from one or multiple scorned, broken hearts — all trace the same type of turbulent unraveling. The little details intuit the drama: "We're dumb-dumb" is playfully sung just before a cheeky synth mirrors its melody, as if indicating the exact moment one realizes a past relationship was absurd. In the chorus, Red Velvet swears to never fall in love again, with a straight-faced delivery underlined by ferocity and pain. As multifaceted as their best works, Red Velvet's "BYE BYE" is both a sinister kiss-off and an accounting of recovery.

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Joshua Minsoo Kim