Red Velvet's Amazing 'Ice Cream Cake' Comeback Proves f(x) Is Replaceable
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Up until Red Velvet‘s new mini-album Ice Cream Cake, I was unsure if the group was supposed to be a next-gen f(x) or a throwback to turn-of-the-millennium SM stars like S.E.S. and BoA.

It turns out, the answer is both.

Just like how EXO is supposed to be a test tube baby made from the stem cells and hair fibres of Super Junior, TVXQ, and SHINee, Red Velvet is SM’s stab at creating a new female super group using the knowledge they’ve obtained over years of manufacturing genetically modified pop acts.

The quintet’s new single, “Ice Cream Cake,” is like taking f(x) into the local SM dealership and trading in for a younger, prettier model. It’s “Red Light” with sugar and sexual innuendo on top.

“Ice Cream Cake” is a big bonkers SM record in all the best ways possible, with children’s nursery rhymes and confectionery jingles paired against whomping production that fizzles and explodes like Pop Rocks and soda. It’s fun and sometimes unpredictable, with choruses that start a few seconds before your brain is programmed to expect them and some other experimentation that nudges the envelope without ever descending into the channel surfing craziness of “I Got a Boy.”

The lyrics follow classic teen pop clichés with thinly-veiled sexual metaphors à la Christina Aguilera’s “Genie In a Bottle” or Mandy Moore’s “Candy,” but you can also take it as Red Velvet’s promise to get us all hooked on their various musical flavours. (Which they’ve definitely succeeded in doing.)

Speaking of different flavours: “Automatic.”

While “Ice Cream Cake” was Red Velvet’s f(x) side, “Automatic” is their S.E.S. “Be Natural” throwback–and possibly my favourite K-pop single of the year. It’s slinky and soft, with nothing but sensual whispers and a low-key beat of synths and R&B that might just be the most subtle thing an SM girl group has done in aeons.

I wasn’t going to comment on the visuals because it’s a given that SM artists will have spectacular art direction that trumps everything and everyone, but I should give Red Velvet credit for getting beautiful, creative MVs instead instead of the dance-in-a-box fare that so many SM artists are stuck with.

There’s really no flaw to be found with this comeback. Even the Ice Cream Cake mini-album is pretty great, with one perfect track “Somethin’ Kinda Crazy” (which is going to be my new “Airplane” or “Express 999”), and some lovely cutsie filler stuff that you’ll enjoy if you like corny old SNSD b-sides.

My main takeaway from this whole thing though is just how replaceable K-pop artists are. Red Velvet’s obviously the cuter, sweeter answer to the increasingly dark f(x), but in five years time Red Velvet will probably be doing the 2020 equivalent of “Red Light” while the next young rookie group will be performing “Ice Cream Cake” and “Automatic” knock-offs.

It makes me respect SHINee and TVXQ more, who still haven’t been successfully cloned or bettered no matter how hard people have tried. But I digress. This is about Red Velvet, and Red Velvet are amazing and my faith in SM has been completely restored after EXO made me wonder if K-pop’s biggest agency had finally lost its mojo.

P.S. My biases are Joy and Yeri because they’re the prettiest. I originally stanned Wendy but then I found out she’s the best singer which makes her the Luna of Red Velvet so I had to stop.

  • Wendy is prettier than Luna so I don’t think there’s any shame in biasing her.

  • James Smith III

    As much as I love F(x), feel like Red Velvet has showed the concept in a better light.

  • lildarien

    “Automatic” is giving me Spice Girl vibes in a nice way. These two MV’s are great, I hope they signal a better quality all around for SM.

    • filler ballad “candy” also throws some spice girls vibe sometimes! listen to it closely, it feels like a cross between “2 become 1” and “mama” sometimes… it’s so cute!

  • MIKEE

    It pains me to admit this but you’re right. The once almighty f(x) is 100% replaceable and they have just been replaced. Red Velvet slays. They’re gorgeous, talented, chameleons that will only get better from here.

    My bias is Irene cuz SHE is the prettiest and I’m obsessed with her bitch face. Joy fucking slayed this comeback tho omfg!

    • I actually stan Irene too. The only one I don’t stan is Seulgi coz she’s the obvious next trend visual like Krystal or Yoona so I’m protesting her by not stanning her.

      • MIKEE

        Omg same here. She’s obviously being billed the main and I never stan the main, I refuse.

      • I didn’t want to like Seulgi originally either, but she seems to have more of a personality compared to those two duds. Honestly, I was surprised at how I have turned.

      • Isabelle

        Irene is actually becoming the trend visual, she’s been offered so many CF’s man

    • Xxvxx

      YAAAAAAS

      LET US ALL BASK IN THE GLORY OF SM’S NEW QUEEN OF PRETTY FACES : IRENE BAE

  • William Love

    There’s a rumor out there that red velvet was supposed to be a nine member group but they rushed out Wendy, Joy, Irene, and Seulgi as a quartet because of all the EXO clusterfucks last year. If this means that we get a new clone for each comeback, I’m into it. Also Stupid Cupid is THE JAM

    • Vivienne Greatly Disapproves

      I heard it was actully fifteen members. I have a hunch they’re doing what After School did where they gradually add more members as they go along

  • Vivienne Greatly Disapproves

    Fucking called it. When f(x) fans were having a cry that Sulli responded badly to their relentless cyber-bullying I told them that f(x)’s music will retain itself regardless of what happens to the group as SM still has access to the same songwriters. But no, they all insisted that f(x) was some transgressive, musical messiah and no one could even come close to doing what they did. Unfourtunatley f(x) has four memorable members whereas RV, whilst pretty, are all forgettable, so f(x) is still one point ahead.

    • Tetramorium jedi

      SM and RV K-fans better keep that creep away from the girls. Everything about this comeback and this group slays. I love them so much.

    • Fantasy of Weirdness

      Lol messiah of music. I mean as an f(x) Stan/Meu, I would think that in my eyes, but if course there are many other messiah of music, probably better than f(x). I know it but as a stan I wouldn’t fully admit it.

  • Obsessed with the clones! Especially since this is one of the few times (maybe only time) that the music videos trump the concept photos. RV are the most perfectly formed kpop girl group; there does not seem to be a weak link between them. That said, Joy and Seulgi are my biases. Joy has already prove she can slay a stage, and Seulgi knows how to serve face as well.

  • KingBeaArthur

    1) Seulgi: all day, ‘err day

    2) “It makes me respect SHINee and TVXQ more, who still haven’t been successfully cloned or bettered no matter how hard people have tried.” – never have truer words been written.

    3) The new f(x) 100%. Sorry *insert f(x) fan name here* oh wait…

    I LOVE that ICC is playful and sexual (and that SM have no problems making them their de facto ‘sexy’ group), but the star of this era for me is “Automatic”! It’s what I wanted “Be Natural” -a song I loved but quickly tired of- to be. Smooth as silk and nostalgic, with SM’s best mv since “Spellbound”.

  • GAAAAAAAH FINALLY mr. peterson! i anticipated this review, so much i got into a stupid and useless imbroglio with asian junkie’s IATFB… anyways i was looking forward to this post.

    the sly foxes at SM entertainment haven’t even been trying to disguise their desire to get rid of f(x) ASAP. not that i dislike f(x), but i’d feel the same before the gargantual mess and drama-magnet this group has become.

    as for red velvet… i’m still pressed that i can’t recognize any of those bitches, except for yeri, so i guess she’s my bias now lol…

    but ICC?! FUCKING FLAWLESS, the whole ep. the song made me think of “i got a boy” without the rough edges and transitions, i love its abruptness because it got more polished and it never blatantly feels like many songs mashed together. back in 2013 everybody intially hated on IGAB only to see it influence many many girl group singles along the year… ICC is its best evolution in my opinion.

    but wait, before it there was the orgastic and beautiful “automatic”! uhg you’ve managed to express my exact feelings about this track so i’ll just bicker on how everyone said it was boring.

    it’s ridiculous how people dismiss anything that doesn’t have them banging their heads on walls or causing eardrum explosion. it’s like those dumb heads who think good sex is banging, thrusting and knocking… when actually the nice, slow and sweaty will take you there better and longer.

    in terms of sex metaphors, “automatic” is like marvin gaye.

  • Marhaebwa

    ALL PRAISE BABY JOY!

    Never get her wrong, my boo. She has no GWANSHIM in the bag.

    She is – and will always – be your fave, and there is nothing you can do about it.

    Something Kinda Crazy >> Automatic > The rest of the Album > HYOYEON’S LIFE AND RECENT SHINE >>>> Gain’s Hawwah >>>>>>>> all other recent comebacks in the past four weeks >>>>>>>>>>>>>>> EVERYTHING K-POP IN THE PAST YEAR

    • JOY! i love her too!

      i have this fantasy in which they’re all evil serial murderers and she looks like the cruelest of them.

      • Marhaebwa

        Naturally

      • They are our clone masters who are behind the eerie exodus promos. Don’t you see that Yeri is just a clone of Boa with genetic enhancements? The end is nigh.

    • ta3woon

      “gwanshim in the bag” omglolol

      probably the greatest line in kpop ever

  • I still think that f(x) would have pulled this off better *shrug*. I guess I have to let it go at some point…

    RIP f(x)
    2009-2014

  • HavokWWE

    I honestly hated Red Velvet until this album.

    Automatic & Candy are probably my favorite songs while Ice Cream Cake is enjoyable due to the random raps at the end!

    I believe Red Velvet is a copy clone of f(x) however.

    Wendy – Luna
    Seulgi – Krystal (they both even have that “why am I even alive” look sometimes)
    Joy – Sulli
    Irene – Amber (I guess)
    Yeri – Victoria (both a little useless as far as a vocalist)

    I adore them now, Yeri is my bias because she’s like 10 years old and sounds it lol.

    • Marshmellow

      Yeri is def. Sulli with her innocence and aegyo.
      Joy has to be Victoria … cant explain why… they just have that same hotness about them.
      And i think we can all agree its best if we just called Irene .. Irene :)

  • Leonardo Henrique

    i think ICC its atrocious, they have a “Macarena” beat on the middle that made my cringe, BUT, i LIVE for Irene’s rap, for a second i thought that they were covering Boss Ass Bitch Minaj version and i was gaaaaagging. Automatic on the other hand, its a FUCKING JAM, the choreo is FLAWLESS (ICC too)

  • Fantasy of Weirdness

    Yes I believe that SM is trying to somewhat replace f(x), but doesn’t mean they are replaceable in reality, it just means the company WANTS to replace them. RV and f(x) are not the same except for the quirky styles that actually sound dope. And the people trying to compare them in the comments can’t really do that because it’s a bit impossible. Each member isn’t assigned to another. Seulgi is similar to Krystal because they are great singers and dancers and Wendy to Luna, but Luna is also the lead dancer, which Wendy is not. You couldn’t put Irene and Amber together because even though they both are main rappers, Amber is also a sub-vocal. You cannot make an analogy with each members to another for the fact that not each member with the same position is exact like the polar. And now it is 2017 and RV HAS changed quite a bit since 2015. So yes, RV is replacing f(x) sadly, but that doesn’t mean they are the same, maybe a bit similar, but RV and f(x) are very different and even in the future they will still be. The company just wants to replace them to reach the goal: money.

  • Fantasy of Weirdness

    Honestly I shouldn’t be too offended by the comments cause this was 2 years ago before the amazing 4 Walls album so I’m not that angered now realizing.

  • Fantasy of Weirdness

    I LOVE AND STAN BOTH RV AND F(X) THOUGH.