Back in 2011, K-Pop was blowing up in Japan and was how I became introduced to it’s wonderfully wacky world. Artists like Girls’ Generation and KARA were leading the K-Pop invasion and no matter where you went in Japan, you couldn’t escape it. Fast forward 7 years later and a new era of K-Pop acts are leading the charge in taking over Japan once again. And one of them is Red Velvet who recently released their debut mini album ‘#Cookie Jar’. Will Red Velvet make the same waves as their fellow idols in the land of the rising sun?
‘#CookieJar’ contains 6 tracks with 3 of them being Japanese versions of hit singles from previous Korean albums. The album opens with the lead single and title track which for many fans will be a love or hate track. And chances are that their opinion will flip as mine certainly did. When I first heard ‘Cookie Jar’, I almost instantly took a dislike to it. I liked the verses and the bridge was super cute and catchy but it was the chorus that killed it for me. It sounded far too juvenile and childish for Red Velvet. It sounded like something that belonged on their not so good ‘Rookie‘ album. As time has progressed, I’ve come to not only love the song but developed a bit of an obsession with it. Sometimes songs just take time to click.
‘Aitai-Tai’ is easily the best track on the album. Opening with some gorgeous vocals before exploding with pop energy, ‘Aitai-Tai’ is a brilliant confection of synths and hooks. It’s incredibly instant with the biggest toe-tapping chorus I think I’ve heard this year. I have listened to this track on loop for hours and still haven’t tired of it. And the song just gets better as it progresses with both Wendy and Seulgi killing it vocally.
‘Cause It’s You’ is the only ballad on the album and even at that, it’s pretty mid-tempo. It’s a very cute and breezy mid-tempo ditty that has a wonderful sing along chorus. It feels a little lost in the context of this album which is packed with amazing upbeat numbers. It probably would have worked a lot better as the album closer. Each member sounds great vocally and the harmonies in the chorus are gorgeous.
‘Dumb Dumb’ is the first of the remake tracks and if I’m honest, it’s difficult to judge these as I’m so used to the Korean versions. I always prefer a song in the first language I hear it in while hating any other language versions. Some songs just don’t work in another language. Dumb Dumb does work to an extent but I feel like it’s a lost a little of the energy in the chorus. ‘Russian Roulette’ sounds great and still remains their best song to date (see my ‘Best Red Velvet tracks‘ post for more) while ‘Red Flavor’ retains it’s summery pop flavour. I underrated this song way too much when it was released last year.
As their first official release in Japan, Red Velvet have done a pretty stellar job of introducing them to the Japanese market. The 3 new tracks all have their own distinct feel and flavour while the 3 Korean tracks re-recorded in Japanese are 3 of their best singles. This may be their first Japanese release but they are already well on their way to being the K-Pop queens of Japan for this generation.