Red Velvet is an all-female South Korean girl group formed by SM Entertainment. Originally composed of four members – Irene, Seulgi, Wendy, and Joy – the group debuted on August 1, 2014 with the digital single “Happiness”. In March 2015, Yeri was added as the fifth member. The group has enjoyed commercial success since their debut with some of the members also branching out into other activities.
Among the five members of Red Velvet, Seulgi was the first to become a trainee when she was cast by SM Entertainment in 2007 through an audition. Irene was cast in 2009, while Yeri was cast in 2011. Wendy and Joy both became trainees for the agency in 2012 through the SM Global Auditions in Canada and Seoul.
Seulgi, Irene, and Wendy were the first three to be introduce by SM Entertainment to the public as part of its pre-debut team called SM Rookies in 2013 and 2014. The three were also rumored to debut as a group, which was then confirmed by the label. With Joy being added to the group as the fourth member, SM Entertainment announced that the group will debut in 2014 as Red Velvet, the agency’s first girl group to debut since f(X) in 2009.
2014: Official debut, new member, Ice Cream Cake EP
Red Velvet made their official debut on August 1, 2014 through the music show “Music Bank”, while their debut single, “Happiness”, was released on August 4. The song, described as an “urban Europop song with a strong synth sound and an African tribal beat,” was written by SM Entertainment’s Yoo Young Jin, and composed by Will Simms, Chad Huge of The Neptunes, Chris Holsten, and Anne Judith Wik of Dsign Music.
Within 24 hours after its release, the official music video for “Happiness” reached over 2 million views on YouTube before it was removed by the platform due to issues with the background images in the video. It was then re-uploaded as an edited version and became the second-most viewed K-pop music video for the month of August.
On October 13, Red Velvet released their second digital single “Be Natural”, a remake of the 2000 song by SM Entertainment’s first girl group, S.E.S., which includes a rap verse by labelmate Taeyong of the group NCT. The music video for the song, which was released on the same day of its digital release, was directed by Kwon Soon Wook and Shim Jae Won, choreographed by Kyle Hanagami, and features original choreography performed by Irene and Seulgi during their time with SM Rookies. The group began promotions for “Be Natural” on October 9, marking their first appearance on the show M Countdown. The song peaked at number 33 on the Gaon Digital Chart and at number 6 on Billboard’s World Digital Songs chart.
2015: First mini album
On March 11, 2015, Yeri, who was also part of SM Rookies, was added to the group as the fifth member. A few days later on March 15, they released their first mini album, Ice Cream Cake, and started promotions for the lead singles “Ice Cream Cake” and “Automatic”.
On March 19, Red Velvet held a mini showcase on Ice Cream TV, a web program streamed through Naver Music and hosted by fellow SM Entertainment artist Minho of SHINee.
The group won their very first music show trophy on Music Bank on March 27. Ice Cream Cake went on to become the best-selling album by a girl group in South Korea for the first half of 2015 based on data from Hanteo Chart.
In August 2015, Red Velvet held their first performance in the United States at the annual KCON held in Los Angeles, California.
The group released their full-length album, The Red, on September 9, 2015, including the title track “Dumb Dumb” and 9 other songs. The album was an instant hit and was positively received by critics.
The Red debuted at number 1 on South Korea’s Gaon Album Chart and Billboard’s World Albums Chart, and also made it to Billboard’s list of the “10 Best K-pop Albums in 2015”. “Dumb Dumb” peaked at number 3 on the Billboard World Digital Songs chart. It also topped the list of the “Top 20 K-pop Tracks of 2015” by Dazed. The music video of “Dumb Dumb” also made it to the Rolling Stone’s “10 Best Music Videos of 2015”.
On December 18, Red Velvet participated in SM Entertainment’s special winter project, Winter Garden, and released the digital single “Wish Tree” alongside labelmates BoA and f(x).
The group won their first major accolades at various year-end award shows including New Artist Award at the Golden Disk Awards and Seoul Music Awards, and Best Dance Performance for “Ice Cream Cake” at the Melon Music Awards and Mnet Asian Music Awards.
2016: The Velvet and Russian Roulette
On March 16, 2016, Red Velvet was set to release their second mini album, The Velvet, alongside the music video for the title track, “One of These Nights”. However, 10 minutes before its official release, SM Entertainment announced that the music video for the song will be delayed “to guarantee a high quality of work”. Instead, The Velvet and “One of These Nights” were simultaneously released on the following day.
In May of the same year, several news sites in South Korea reported that the group is preparing for a summer album. However, the release of the said album was postponed numerous times until Red Velvet officially released their extended play (EP), Russian Roulette on September 7. The album consists of seven tracks, including the lead single of the same title. Red Velvet their first music show trophy for Russian Roulette on September 13, on The Show. The song peaked at number 2 on the Gaon Digital Chart and Billboard’s World Digital Songs chart, the group’s highest rankings in both charts.
At the close of 2016, Red Velvet once again took home several year-end awards including Hot Performance of the Year at the Gaon Chart Awards, and Digital Bonsang Awards at Golden Disk Awards and Seoul Music Awards. They also won Best Music Video for Russian Roulette and was included in the Top 10 artists of the year at the Melon Music Awards.
2017: Rising popularity, three more albums, and first solo concert
Red Velvet continued their activities in 2017 with the release of their fourth mini album, Rookie, on February 1, 2017. The EP contains a total of 6 tracks including the lead single “Rookie” and a solo track by Wendy titled “Last Love”. Rookie topped the Weekly Gaon Album Chart and the Billboard World Albums Chart. And once again, Red Velvet won their first music show trophy for “Rookie” on The Show on February 7, followed by wins on Show Champion, M Countdown, Music Bank, and Inkigayo.
On March 31, they released their first single for SM Station 2, titled “Would U”.
On July 9, Red Velvet their fifth EP, The Red Summer, with the title track “Red Flavor”, marking the group’s first summer release. The Red Summer was considered a commercial success and topped the Gaon Album Chart as well as the Billboard World Albums Chart. This feat was the group’s third number 1 release and also set the record for most number 1 albums on the chart by a K-pop girl group. “Red Flavor” debuted at number 1 on the Gaon Digital Chart and Gaon Download Chart, while the other four songs in the album charted in the Top 50 of the Digital Chart.
To further boost their group promotions, Red Velvet starred in their first reality television program, Level Up Project, from July 24 to September 10. The program showed footages of the group’s trip to Thailand and lasted for 23 episodes. However, it was filmed sans member Joy as she was busy shooting for her drama The Liar and His Lover at the time.
On August 18 to 20, Red Velvet held their first solo concert titled “Red Room” in front of 11,000 spectators. “Red Room” was initially planned to be a two-day concert, but another date was added due to demand.
Following the group’s continuous success, SM Entertainment announced through their Japanese website that Red Velvet would have their first showcase in Japan. Titled “Red Velvet Premium Showcase F’U’N Room Reveluv-Baby Party”, the event took place at the Yebisu The Garden Hall in Tokyo on November 6. During the showcase, the group performed the Japanese versions of their songs “Dumb Dumb” and “Red Flavor” for the first time. After the showcase, it was also officially announced that Red Velvet will be taking their “Red Room” concert to Japan in 2018.
On November 17, Red Velvet went back to their “velvet” image with the release of their second full-length album, Perfect Velvet, along with the title track “Peek-a-Boo”. The album peaked at number 1 on Billboard’s World Album Chart, while “Peek-a-Boo” replicated the achievement of their 2016 single “Russian Roulette” and peaked at number 2 on Billboard’s World Digital Songs chart. Domestically, Perfect Velvet and “Peek-a-Boo” charted at number 2 on the Gaon Album Chart and Gaon Digital Chart.
Red Velvet achieved “top girl group” status in South Korea with the release of Rookie, The Red Summer, and Perfect Velvet, alongside the extreme popularity of their single “Red Flavor” and the overseas success of their albums. This feat was further cemented when Perfect Velvet sold more than 100,000 copies and “Peek-a-Boo” won on the music show Inkigayo on the last day of their promotions.
By the end of 2017, the group was once again among the Top 10 Artists recognized at the Melon Music Awards. They also won two more Bonsang Awards at the Seoul Music Awards and Soribada Best K-Music Awards, the Best Female Group at the Mnet Asian Music Awards.
2018: First repackaged album
Red Velvet welcomed 2018 with Bonsang Awards at the Golden Disk Awards and Seoul Music Awards, followed by the release of their first repackaged album, The Perfect Red Velvet, on January 29. The album includes all the tracks from Perfect Velvet with the addition of 3 new tracks, including the lead single “Bad Boy”.
The album immediately topped the Gaon Album Chart upon its release while “Bad Boy” at number 1 on Gaon’s Download Chart and at number 2 on the Gaon Digital Chart. On international charts, The Perfect Red Velvet charted at number 3 on Billboard’s World Albums chart while “Bad Boy” debuted at number 2 on Billboard’s World Digital Songs chart. The group promoted the song on various music shows in South Korea and won their music program trophy on Show Champion on February 8.
The group is scheduled to take their “Red Room” concert to Japan on March 28 and 29. The two-day concert will be held at the Musashino Forest Sports Plaza, a venue with a 10,000 seating capacity which is also slated to be used for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Fun Fact: The Maknae is the youngest member of the band.