Feel the Rhythm of Summertime Bliss with Red Velvet's 'Umpah Umpah'

By Justine Shaffer

Red Velvet in recent years has solidified themselves as the new “queens of summer” within K-pop, and their newest title track “Umpah Umpah” further serves this well-earned title. 

“Umpah Umpah” is the second installment of The ReVe Festival series by the SM Entertainment group; with a sound that’s a twist back to the summertime pop perfection vibes found in previous title tracks, such as “Red Flavor” and “Power Up.” 

Starting and ending with high energy bass and repetition of the hook line, “umpah umpah,” the song’s verses don’t skip a single beat, leading the listener with a funky bassline and off-beat syncopation. The smooth, feel-good melody of the pre-chorus is full of classic Red Velvet harmonies that build seamlessly to the chorus. The girls ask you to “feel the rhythm” and the chorus does just that, creating the most danceable portion of the song that truly sounds like summertime bliss. 

The lyrics of “Umpah Umpah” are, of course, about falling in love, depicting the group asking their crush to not try too hard and simply “feel the rhythm;” perfectly on brand for a Red Velvet title track. Clever, long-time fans will also be able to pick up on a few callbacks to previous iconic titles within the lyrics. Irene and Joy’s rap after the first chorus says, Keep being Dumb dumb Wait Curious? This r-red flavor / Happiness is nearby like ice cream cake!”; including three names of Red Velvet’s most popular songs, “Dumb Dumb,” “Red Flavor,” and “Ice Cream Cake.”

A glimmering music video perfectly complements the summery feel of the song as the girls go on vacation together. Released on August 20th KST, the video includes all the staples of summertime adventures, including the trip immediately being ruined by a bad storm. Red Velvet plays whimsical characters as they encounter numerous issues: Joy acts as a weather forecaster stuck inside their TV, and Seulgi pouts when she loses a bet and has to go on the roof to fix the satellite during the storm. All the while, the music video cuts to scenes of the girls dancing in front of fun and colorful sets, like a city backdrop with moving set pieces and a faux beach setup. 

Red Velvet once again proves their visuals were made to rock the summer! Everything from their multicolor gingham performance outfits in the dance breaks to their shimmering eyeshadow and Yeri’s coral eyeliner perfectly fits their image. The outfits and makeup styling is quite reminiscent of their previous looks in tracks “Power Up” and “Russian Roulette.” 

“Umpah Umpah” is certainly not the last we’ll hear from Red Velvet in 2019; the press conference for The ReVe Festival: Day 1 confirmed that there will be a third and final installment of the trilogy later in the year, titled The ReVe Festival: Finale.

Red Velvet has yet to flex the “Velvet” side of their concept this year, so for the third installment, we may be anticipating a sugary sweet ballad to end the year on a hard-hitting, yet soft, note.

Cover Image: Red Velvet (SM Entertainment)
Written by Justine Shaffer

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