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Back with 'Birthday,' Red Velvet sets career high in ninth year

Group returns with new music for first time in eight months

Red Velvet members pose for a picture during the press conference for its new album
Red Velvet members pose for a picture during the press conference for its new album "The ReVe Festival 2022 - Birthday" in Seoul on Monday. (SM Entertainment)

Nine years into its career, K-pop act Red Velvet continues to set new records with every music release, this time, with their new album "The ReVe Festival 2022 - Birthday."

On Monday, the quintet returned to the music scene with the new EP "Birthday." The release is the latest from the act's musical series "The ReVe Festival 2022," which kicked off in March with album "Feel My Rhythm."

Ahead of dropping "Birthday," Red Velvet members -- Irene, Wendy, Seulgi, Joy and Yeri -- conducted an online media showcase on Monday afternoon.

"Birthday" had racked up 712,187 in sales as of Sunday, which is the highest pre-order sales marked by a Red Velvet album in the act's nine-year career.

"We were so surprised. We're grateful that we're receiving much love with every comeback. We'll continue to work hard with the love and support from ReVeluv," Joy said during the press event, referring to their official fandom.

Yunho of group TVXQ, Red Velvet's label-mate of SM Entertainment, emceed Monday's event.

The new collection continues Red Velvet's novel attempt at integrating K-pop and classical music, this time, with the album's lead single "Birthday" sampling the jazz-infused "Rhapsody in Blue" by pianist George Gershwin. The act's "Feel My Rhythm" had sampled Bach's "Air on the G String."

Wendy described the new title track "Birthday" as "a pop-dance track based on trap beats infused with rhythmical drums and clear synth sounds," with the lyrics singing about presenting an unforgettable birthday for her lover.

The five-song package also includes four B-side tracks "Bye Bye," "On A Ride," Zoom" and "Celebrate."

"The keywords threading this album were 'imagination' and 'time travel.' We aimed to portray a story about time travel in the overall album and also convey the message that all our dreams and imaginations will come true," Irene said.

"'Feel My Rhythm' and 'Birthday' had both sampled classic songs, and Red Velvet's song connecting the past and present can be considered a medium for the imagination."

Although the two songs are alike in their classical inspirations, the overall moods are completely different, Seulgi said.

"If 'Feel My Rhythm' had boasted a more graceful, traditional mood, we tried to exude a more kitsch and perky aura with 'Birthday.' We focused on such aspect both vocally and visually as we prepared," Seulgi explained.

Ahead of dropping the new album, the act unveiled the comic "SMCU : Red Velvet - The Story of ReVe," which gives a closer look into the behind-the-scenes story of the birth and growth of “ReVe,” a helper in Red Velvet's imaginary world, based on the group's various concepts.

"All the concepts she had shown until now had a fairytalelike side to them, and following a comic that caught such side of our music, it was fun and it also helped in connecting the different stories. I also felt proud to look back on all the different concepts we've managed and I came to root for ReVe after seeing the nine years of albums in one story," Joy said.

On expressing the topic of love through the various concepts and genres, Yeri noted, "There are various shapes of love, and we try to bring out the strange, and sometimes spooky, feeling to add the fun. I think our songs stand out in its genuine and unconventional depiction of emotions."

Red Velvet debuted under SM Entertainment in August 2014 with its first digital single "Happiness." The band has since released a stream of hits including "Psycho," "Russian Roulette," "Peek-A-Boo" and "Queendom."

With "Feel My Rhythm," the act was No. 1 in local music charts and topped iTunes' top albums chart in 41 countries around the world, proving their unwavering position in the K-pop scene. The album garnered the act's record-high first-day sales of 320,000 units and went on to rack up a total of 443,900 sales in the first week. It was the second highest initial-week sales by an album dropped by a K-pop girl group.

Looking back on 2022, Irene said, "It was a year of many new attempts. It was truly like a festival."

By Choi Ji-won (
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Korea Herald daum