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Article. Myungseok Kang, Haein Yoon, Wonyoung Na(pop music critic)
Design. Yurim Jeon
How to love as much as you can 

Myungseok Kang: SEVENTEEN’s performance of “Rock with You,” the lead single from their new album Attacca, offers the most intricately detailed choreography to date out of many that are known to be difficult. The performance opens with the formation of a diamond – the symbol of their fandom “CARAT.” The members spread out to create a bigger formation, then divide into three groups, each dancing in turn at the center, left, and right. While moving extensively around the entire stage in a manner that seems almost impossible to record with ordinary music program cameras, the members dance constantly to practically every beat of the song. During the chorus, they pop up to the front, moving their lower bodies, then dance fiercely with their upper bodies, followed by two members positioned at the very front as the points of the formation, delivering a 3-D effect to the screen, all with effortless transitions too. Surprisingly yet befittingly for SEVENTEEN, all members dance with extreme precision and near-perfect timing. VERNON and DINO have different physiques and dance styles. However, their differences – VERNON making his body look bigger with big shoulder movements and DINO’s swift turns – are hardly noticeable until the chorus, when they pop out to draw attention to themselves. Except when performing their individual parts, the members of SEVENTEEN dance like a single organism. 

 

It takes constant and repetitive practice for the 13 members to pull off their intricate, fascinating, and intense dance moves so exactly in sync. In order to achieve synchronized movements despite the different lengths of their arms and legs as well as the organic connection of movements from member to member, they have to spend as much time together as possible in the practice studio. In that sense, SEVENTEEN’s performance belongs to the realm of sincerity, rather than mastery. The “Rock with You” performance ends with WONWOO flopping down out of exhaustion, calling to mind their actual practice process, with the dancers short of breath and the dance floor slippery from sweat. On top of that, the members have to share their ideas and understand one another to fine-tune their choreography. All these efforts lead up to the moment when even the sounds of the 13 members’ shoes squeaking on the floor are in sync. In “Rock with You” the group sings “you who shaped me become this song” and “without you, I am nothing.” The lyrics are specifically for the fans who waited with bated breath for them to take the stage, not for some unspecified person. Welcomed by the screaming adulation from their fans, the members of SEVENTEEN, who moved as one organism, run around separately on the stage instead of dancing, and all shake their heads together. Seven years into their debut, the team still practices to the point of exhaustion and runs about with glee when they’re satisfied with their on-point performance. “Rock with You” incorporated the elements of SEVENTEEN’s practice room vibes into a performance, which now has become CARAT’s pride and joy. In this regard, the performance of “Rock with You” looks like a sequence from a musical about SEVENTEEN themselves. From WONWOO’s ending in “Pretty U” five years ago till he takes charge of the ending of "Rock with You,” they still practice like their lives depend on it to bring their performance to another level. That allows the leader S.COUPS to sing with his soft voice leading up to the climax of this intense rock-based song: “Nothing can be taken for granted, because you’re the only one I got.” The entire team, seven years into their career, renewed their contracts with their agency ahead of the expiration and declared that the love they receive is not to be taken for granted. This is the mark of an idol group. 

Love without hesitation 

Haein Yoon: SEVENTEEN’s new album Attacca sings about love from beginning to end. The first track "To You” (Korean title literally translated as “swirl”) expresses gratitude to "you” who helps cope with hectic everyday life and find warmth in it. That gratitude leads to the confidence that "If there’s eternal love,” it is "you.” The title track "Rock with You” portrays the energy and excitement unleashed through love with a bold low voice mixed with powerful high notes, saying they want to share everything with you anywhere: "Every moment is directed / only to you.” Along with "Crush” that sings of not being able to stop falling in love with you, intuitively depicting attraction toward someone, the first half of the album describes in detail the emotional manifestation of love that often goes unnoticed, such as energy, positivity, beauty, and racing hearts brought on by love. 

 

The same goes for the second half of the album that captures the full scope of a love affair, from the moment of falling in love to breaking up. "PANG!” by the performance unit likens a balloon to growing love, saying “Don’t come!” as it is "nerve-racking to see it pop,” though they don’t mean it, shortly after that expressing excitement without reserve, saying, "Just come.” “Imperfect Love” by none other than SEVENTEEN’s vocal unit expresses hope of staying together for a long time even if the love “is not perfect yet.” The tune demonstrates determination and happiness that can be delivered to the loved one, while fully accepting the imperfections that inevitably come about in the course of love. When you reach the last track, “I Can’t Run Away” by the hip-hop unit, the feeling of longing after a breakup emerges. However, they focus on expressing how “beautiful because it was us” in lieu of regrets or denial and allowing enough time to process one’s feelings (“Sadness might seep out sometimes / but I still can call it love”). Unlike their past song where they sang they “don’t wanna cry,” they now say “I won’t run away” and intend to confront difficult feelings. Each unit puts its own colors into depicting various moments of love, and at the same time, fully embraces and displays authentic feelings one has to go through in each moment. That viewpoint is maintained consistently throughout the album. 

 

Love is not only a relationship between people but also a way to examine and express the feelings of ourselves and others; therefore, it becomes the viewpoint that naturally shows a person’s inner growth. SEVENTEEN’s members have evolved to express their genuine feelings in a straightforward and intuitive manner. That also leads to inner strength and maturity that enables them to face up to the ending of the relationship, as illustrated in “I Can’t Run Away”. SEVENTEEN’s healthy and uncomplicated approach to facing their authentic feelings head-on replaces the helpless sensations of butterflies and impatience in the course of love with SEVENTEEN’s refreshingly laid back and distinctive energy. Like the meaning of “Attacca” – to begin the next movement in music without pause – their love has no hesitation.  

Begin the next movement without pause 

Wonyoung Na (pop music critic): In July 2021, all members of SEVENTEEN signed an early renewal of their contracts with their agency. They beat the odds of the seven-year curse of K-POP unscathed, which indicates the dawn of a new era for the group. As “seven years” may feel heavy on their shoulders for many, the news brings on mixed feelings of relief and concern. Along with the contract renewal, their “Power of ‘Love’” project this year led to “Attacca,” a direction in music to begin the next movement without pause, which appears to be a testament of the attitude of one of the few idol teams that have been persistent inside and out. The prime example would be the year 2020 after the album An Ode that contained substantial B-side tracks covering a broad spectrum, from the single “Fear” that unveiled the darkest side of the group to the pre-release track “HIT” that realized “LET ME DROP THE EUMAK (music)” with the hardest-hitting drop. SEVENTEEN’s consistency can be found in their one-of-a-kind quirky sense of humor, when they presented the neat variations of their cheerful energy during their debut days in title tracks (“Left & Right”), as well as the transformation of that energy into distinct sounds that added an intriguing twist (“HOME;RUN”), 

 

 “Rock with You” did not go through a transformation, like the previous year that was fairly filled with groovy sounds, from “Ready to Love,” which emphasizes the steady repetition of backbeat and heavy bass sounds. The song runs a long distance on an even tempo, rather than at a sprint, and the electric guitar sounds are blended with the harmony with soaring high notes in the chorus in a charming way; however, there is not a drastic shift within the song. Aside from a sample of the squeaking bed sound (Trillville “Some Cut”), frequented by future bass genre, deliciously permeating the track, the most striking feature is the slick rock sound, which bears resemblance to Your Choice as well as Attacca. The question here: what is it that ‘continues’ to exist in it? Compared to the previous album featuring “GAM3 BO1,” with a prominent chiptune on top of the heavy use of auto-tuned vocals, or “Same Dream, Same Mind, Same Night” that proved the group can effortlessly pull off a Korean-style R&B ballad than Western pop style, the album Attacca puts SEVENTEEN on a trajectory in the overall direction of “Rock with You.” “To you” adopted the lyrical drop that keenly shone in the title songs before and after their second studio album, while “PANG!” excitedly took in the emotions associated with first love with the bright and playful energy from their early career. The two tracks fight the urge to rush and slow down to find a balance. Traces of SEVENTEEN’s bright and dynamic vibes are still present in the group today, and the command to “continue” might be associated, in the short term, with the year 2021 that SEVENTEEN is gliding through. But in the long term, it means the continuation of many of their quintessential traits they have fostered over the past seven years. In their EPs, released this year, where they skillfully warmed up and relaxed from a new starting point, clues from their past sound can be pieced together like a jigsaw puzzle. While the “Power of ‘Love’” project that drove SEVENTEEN in 2021 reminds us of “first love” from their debut days, “Imperfect Love” proves to be quite a genuine confession using somewhat ordinary words: “you” and “my love.” In that manner, the EP addresses the ever-changing group SEVENTEEN’s unchanging features in stride, pushing them onwards consistently to outdo themselves in the future. That is how their next chapter begins – without pause. 

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