We Red Velvet fans have been waiting for Wendy’s solo debut for a long time, and it’s finally here! It’s an extra special moment for her, since this effectively serves as her definitive return to the music industry after her terrible accident at the end of 2019. (While she did a few activities and recorded several songs over the past year, this is most certainly her biggest project post-recovery.) I’m a huge Red Velvet fan and have been following all of them closely for years, so I knew that I’d be a mess while watching this particular music video. And yet I was still somehow unprepared for such an emotional experience.
Since this column is supposed to be about my initial unfiltered reaction, I have to be honest: I barely even processed how “Like Water” sounded the first time I watched the music video. It definitely took a backseat to me getting caught up in the moment and fighting the urge to cry. (A battle which I lost, by the way.) You know the sad or sentimental parts in movies where the background music is really doing the most to get the tears flowing? It was a lot like that. So while I was aware of the song and responded to it instinctively, it was more of a reaction to the atmosphere and the mood the music was evoking. I wasn’t really focusing enough to pick up the melody or the finer details.
Truthfully, I get super emotional whenever I see Wendy these days. I think it’s because I’m honestly so impressed by how she has persevered through everything. Her accident was so serious that it left her hospitalized for months, and the recovery must have been such a long process. When I look at her, I can tell she must have gone through so much to get to this point, both physically and mentally. But at the same time, it somehow seems like nothing ever happened – and she’s not acting like that in a “stiff upper lip,” “keeping up appearances,” or “smiling through the pain” kind of way. You can truly sense that she’s happy to sing and share her music with us again, and she’s just moving forward one step at a time. That kind of positivity is incredibly inspiring, especially to someone who’s very “glass half-empty” like I am.
So basically, I spent the entire music video crying over how Wendy looked so happy and healthy, how her voice sounded so beautiful and crystal clear, and so on and so forth. Typical fangirl stuff. And then I watched it a second time with subtitles so I could see the lyrics, and I teared up ALL OVER AGAIN. “Like Water” is a sweet and touching song where Wendy sings about the healing powers of love. The English subtitles for the chorus read, “My love is like water filling your sore spots / It covers the deep wounds and embraces you tightly / It makes you rise again.” What’s really nice about this song is that could be about any kind of love: romantic, platonic, familial, or any kind of situation. The focus is on a relationship where there’s kindness and support, which is someone everyone needs and should have. And the context of recent events in Wendy’s own life make the whole song even more sentimental and meaningful.
Me watching “Like Water.”
Even if I try to leave all my emotions aside for a moment, it’s a little hard for me to talk about “Like Water” as a song because it’s a ballad. And as you might know, that’s not really my area of expertise. There are only like three or four K-pop ballads that I listen to regularly, and I’m sure you can figure out which particular male idol had a hand in composing them. What I can say about “Like Water” is that I think it’s perfect for spring and the change of the seasons. I enjoy how it has more mellow vibes with the acoustic guitar, but there are also some swelling strings that nicely accompany the high points of the song. And like I said before, Wendy’s voice clearly carries a lot of emotion and personal experience.
MY OVERALL INTEREST LEVEL
(NOTE: My options for each category are “Love,” “Like,” “Neutral,” “Not My Style,” or “Dislike.” But I rarely dislike anything, so I’ll mostly be using the other four.)
I always make the disclaimer that my Knee Jerk Reaction column is more about my instinctive first reaction rather than a full-on analysis, but I feel like this is the first time I’ve actually gone on a more stream of consciousness type ramble. I debated even posting about “Like Water” in the first place, since it’s not really the type of music I listen to and I don’t have much to say from that standpoint. But I ultimately decided to go ahead with it, because I’m truly so proud of Wendy and I wanted to acknowledge what a triumphant moment this is for her. I know I probably won’t listen to “Like Water” too much going forward – unless I want to get in touch with my feelings and/or have a good cry – but it’s a still a special song that I’ll treasure as a Red Velvet fan for a long time.
(“Knee Jerk Reaction” is a column I created to talk about comebacks or debuts when I don’t have a lot of time to write in-depth reviews. A knee jerk reaction is like an automatic response, so it’s a post about my initial thoughts on the song, the music video, and the performance if it’s available. Compared to my reviews, everything is more stream of consciousness and less analytical. And everything is 100% my own opinion!)
SOURCES: Music video and featured image belong to SM Entertainment.