Red Velvet (Hangul: 레드벨벳) is a South Korean girl group formed by S.M. Entertainment. The group debuted on August 1, 2014, with their digital single “Happiness” and with four members: Irene, Seulgi, Wendy and Joy. In March 2015, fifth member Yeri was added to the group.
Since their debut, Red Velvet has experienced notable success and recognition. Their first EP, Ice Cream Cake which was released in March 2015, topped the Gaon Album Chart on the 12th week of 2015 and in September 2015, the group’s first full-length album, The Red, also topped the Gaon Album Chart and the Billboard World Albums Chart. Red Velvet has received a total of thirteen music awards, including two awards for choreography; Best Dance – Female and Best Dance Performance – Female Group, as well as three new artist awards.
Seulgi was the first member to be cast as an S.M. Entertainment trainee through an audition in 2007, while Irene was cast in 2009, and Yeri in 2011. In 2012, Wendy and Joy were cast through the S.M. Global Auditions in Canada and Seoul respectively. Irene, Seulgi and Wendy were rumored to debut as a group in July, which was then confirmed by S.M. Entertainment. With the addition of member Joy, the four-member group would debut as Red Velvet, S.M. Entertainment’s first girl group in five years since f(x).
2014–2015: Debut, New member Yeri, Ice Cream Cake and The Red
On August 1, 2014, Red Velvet made their official debut stage on the music program Music Bank. Their debut single, “Happiness”, was digitally released on August 4. The song was penned by Yoo Young-jin and composed by Will Simms, Chad Hugo (The Neptunes), Chris Holsten, and Anne Judith Wik (Dsign Music). It was described as an urban Europop song with a strong synth sound and an African tribal beat. The original music video for “Happiness” gained more than 2 million views on YouTube in its first 24 hours of release before being removed due to controversy over problematic background images and replaced with an edited version. “Happiness” was the second-most viewed K-pop music video worldwide for the month of August.
Red Velvet released their second digital single “Be Natural” and its music video on October 13, 2014. The song, which includes a rap verse by NCT member Taeyong, is a remake of the 2000 song by S.E.S., S.M. Entertainment’s first girl group. The music video for the song was directed by Kwon Soon-wook and Shim Jae-won, choreographed by Kyle Hanagami, and features original choreography seen in a pre-debut teaser of Irene and Seulgi, which they performed as part of S.M. Rookies. The group started their promotions on October 9, making their first appearance on the music program, M Countdown.
On March 11, 2015, former S.M. Rookies member Yeri was officially announced as part of the group. On March 15, the group’s first mini-album Ice Cream Cake was released. The group promoted with double lead singles “Automatic” and “Ice Cream Cake” for which the music videos were released on March 14 and 15. On March 19. the group held their album showcase on Ice Cream TV, a program streamed through Naver Music and hosted by SHINee‘s Minho. On March 27, they won their first music show trophy on KBS‘s Music Bank. The album went on to become the best selling album by a girl group in South Korea for the first half of 2015 on the Hanteo Chart. In August 2015, Red Velvet held their first U.S. performance during the annual KCON convention and music festival in Los Angeles, California.
Red Velvet’s first full-length album, The Red, was released on September 9, 2015, with a total of ten tracks including the lead single “Dumb Dumb”. The album was an immediate success which was received positively by critics: Billboard‘s Jeff Benjamin called The Red “an impressive, solid debut album”, stating that it “indicates big things for the act that needs to follow in the footsteps of their beloved female label mates Girls’ Generation and f(x).” The Red debuted at #1 on Billboard’s World Albums Chart and South Korea’s Gaon Album Chart, and also appeared in Billboard’s list of the “10 Best K-Pop Albums of 2015”, which described the album as “one of the year’s most enjoyable and experimental pop LPs.” “Dumb Dumb” peaked at number three on Billboard World Digital Songs chart, making it the best-selling K-pop song in America of the week. The single also topped the list of the “Top 20 K-pop Tracks of 2015” by Dazed, which stated that the group has “surpassed their idol competitors” and “marked a monumental, career-crowning musical tornado”. The music video for “Dumb Dumb” was included as the only non-English language entry in Rolling Stone’s “10 Best Music Videos of 2015”. On December 18, the group took part in S.M. Entertainment’s special winter project Winter Garden, alongside label-mates f(x) and BoA, releasing a digital single titled “Wish Tree”.
2016–present: The Velvet, Russian Roulette and Rookie
Red Velvet’s second mini album The Velvet was intended to be released on March 16, 2016, but ten minutes before its scheduled release, S.M. Entertainment announced that the music video and album’s release would be delayed “to guarantee a high quality of work”. The album and its title track “One of These Nights” (Korean title: 7월 7일) was released on March 17, 2016. The album showcases the smooth R&B-influenced “velvet” side of the group’s concept and is a direct follow-up album to The Red, which highlighted the group’s bright and bold “red” persona.
Red Velvet released their third extended play Russian Roulette on September 7. The album contains seven tracks, with the lead single titled “Russian Roulette”. On September 13, 2016, Red Velvet took home their first music show win for Russian Roulette on The Show.
On January 20, 2017 SM Entertainment announced that Red Velvet will have a comeback in February. On January 24, the group’s comeback was confirmed with the release of their fourth mini album Rookie, on February 1. The EP contains new six tracks, with the title track “Rookie” and a solo song of Wendy entitled “Last Love” (마지막 사랑). The album topped the Weekly Gaon Album Chart and also become their next album to topped the Billboard World Albums Chart. Red Velvet took home their first music show win for “Rookie” on The Show on February 7, followed by a wins on the Show Champion, M Countdown, Music Bank, and SBS‘s Inkigayo. On March 31, 2017, the group released the first single for SM Station 2, titled “Would U”.