SEVENTEEN has stepped up, and here they stand

Myungseok Kang:
Thirteen members, three units, one team. The name SEVENTEEN reflects the group’s composition and identity, and it’s from their identity that Your Choice, their new album, first stems. The album has songs from the whole group, as well as from SEVENTEEN’s three hip hop, vocal and performance units. A video entitled “Moments Of Falling In Love, and Get ‘Ready to love’ With Us?” released in the lead-up to the album features music videos of the group’s early songs “Adore U,” “MANSAE” and “Pretty U.” SEVENTEEN used to express their feelings toward someone they like with words like “adore,” but they now sing about their love with confidence in their new single “Ready to love”: With a voice that contains all the excitement and anxiety that come along with a confession of love, JOSHUA, part of the vocal unit, sings lyrics in the intro that are simultaneously upbeat and sad (“Tell me, can we stay together”); performance unit member HOSHI keeps his feelings direct (“This is a first / I never knew my heart could beat this fast”); in the hip hop unit, S.COUPS brings some heat to the emotion of the song (“I want an answer.”) This resolve leads to the climax from vocal unit members DK and SEUNGKWAN, who speak their minds without resorting to any particularly elaborate technique.

“Ready to love” draws on hip hop and rock but, rather than use the melody to emphasize elements of the genres, SEVENTEEN focuses on conveying the complex but passionate emotions of the person confessing their love by exploiting the roles each unit and member can play in the song. The album’s opening track, “Heaven’s Cloud,” is an EDM number that uses a trap beat in part of its melody that the group provides a unique freshness to. The dreamy, spacious sound of the introduction and chorus of “Anyone” is a familiar trend in pop worldwide, but the climax eliminates any sense of space as the members break out with their powerful, robust voices: “You teach me all my reasons / I say ‘you’ all throughout the world.” SEVENTEEN’s “Ready to love” performance showcases their unique strengths through the group’s distinctively elaborate moves and formations —a performance in which 12 members create the mise en scène for a 13th who sings. SEVENTEEN combines their music and performances honed in “Adore U,” “MANSAE” and “Pretty U” with new sounds in “Ready to love.” The result is an exquisite harmony of 2020s pop sensibilities without missing a beat of complex emotion in their passionate declaration of love.

Your Choice transitions from group tracks to unit songs with “GAM3 BO1,” a song from the hip hop unit with a prominent chiptune edge reminiscent of retro video games. The mood of the album shifts with this song from the hip hop unit, who are known for their tracks that feature sensuous beats, and the performance unit’s song that follows, “Wave,” raises tensions further. The vocal unit puts a lyrical wrap on the album with “Same dream, same mind, same night,” a 2000s-era, Korean-style R&B-influenced track in the vein of Brown Eyed Soul. It’s clear what the units and their members are doing in each song; the roles in the team and of each unit connect the album organically. Now the identity of SEVENTEEN, who have historically identified as “self-made,” is musically complete. SEVENTEEN could have produced albums with better songs on them, but as one complete work, Your Choice is the best .
SEVENTEEN’s story of love is complete

Randy Suh(Music Writer):
It’s already been six years since their debut in 2015. Looking back on the music SEVENTEEN has released into the world, it seems to be a look into the life of someone who’s grown up right. “Self-made idols” tend to carry with them the image of rough, less polished performers—unlike the sleek production quality of those with professional backing—because they’re more likely to experience the trial and error less readily associated with highly experienced professionals. But SEVENTEEN never come across as second-rate, even in the early days of their career or during periods of change. And the same is true now. It’s safe to say that elements like lyrics with dazzling wit and the composition of their choreography were more sharp than they were rough—a personality that stood out brilliantly immediately after debut even amidst numerous other idol music . For their music, the big picture—long drawn by member WOOZI and SEVENTEEN’s co- producer BUMZU—was an extension of SEVENTEEN’s growth, even with the occasional trial and error. The narrative shows a process of thesis, antithesis and synthesis: a boy, shy in a moment of confession, learns through the separation and frustration behind him how cold the world can be, and realizes the importance of the relationships and grows up to be a mature adult capable of bringing immense comfort to others. What we’re listening to now is the synthesis of SEVENTEEN.

“Ready to love,” the lead single from their new album, Your Choice, is a relatively modest song next to their previous single “HOME;RUN,” which was more like a Broadway musical. The steadily pounding four-beat bass drum pushes the song forward in long strides. While it has the same four-beat rhythm as house music, it reaches beyond indoor dancing to a vast open space somewhere far away from here. Guitar and drum fills punctuating the song add to it a nuance akin to the pop rock numbers on Japanese anime OSTs. On top of this simple, unadorned mood, they’ve overlayed strong lyrics; the speaker in the songs feels assured in his connection with another: “Run away from the world / Take my hand / Don’t stop, run away / Trust me now.” The speaker’s unconditional love doesn’t have to say too much. But there’s something romantic in that pure conviction, some solace in the thought itself, of running away from that suffocating place clasping the hand of someone they trust. And the sense of liberation that dashes away the feeling of having to live in four inescapable walls against your will for over a year due to the pandemic tastes sweet. It hits different from the consolation found in “Home,” “Left & Right” or “HOME;RUN.”

I’m looking forward to seeing how their narrative continues from here. I can’t help but wonder how much the young people in these songs will grow as time goes by. The synthesis we see now could even be the thesis that starts their next cycle.
I give my heart to you

Haein Yoon:
SEVENTEEN released a video titled “Moments Of Falling In Love” before their comeback, which replayed the music videos from their debut song “Adore U,” plus “MANSAE” and “Pretty U,” one after the other. “Ready to love,” the lead single off their new album, Your Choice, appears at the end. The song puts love at the forefront with a straightforward message from the singer to the listener: that “it’s not enough for us to just be friends,” and that he wants to be lovers. In the past, the boys sang, “My heart only races when I’m close to you / So I’m sorry that I get so clumsy” (“Adore U”), but now they “never knew my heart could beat this fast.” Soon after, however, they say there’s no limit to love, and ask if they can’t be together while reaching out their hand. With so many “things I wanna say,” they asked that “someone say them for me” hesitatingly (“MANSAE”), and while they couldn’t say “the words on the tip of my tongue” back then (“Pretty U”), now they’ve started to say “I’m ready to love you” right from the beginning of the song. Just as their heart keeps growing “as it keeps piling up day by day,” SEVENTEEN pours their hearts out through their prominent vocals right from the opening of the track. In “Ready to love,” the group doesn’t replace the feeling of love with any metaphor, choosing instead to convey it for exactly what it is. The poetic opening track is titled “Heaven’s Cloud,” an allusion to the thrill of falling in love, where they sing “you’re a world without sadness to me” with resolve, while the third song, “Anyone,” takes a more direct approach to describing love, where “you” are “my reasons.” Here, the group shows an attitude of conviction that leads them to respect another’s choice as is, without having to weigh in on or guess what the other is thinking.

Now we see why it’s so important that the entire album falls under the title Your Choice. The singer tries his best to express his feelings for the object of his affection with all his heart, waiting for them to “tell me” something, and telling them “you’re the only one who needs to get ready” as the speaker has saved room for them. The boys, who poured their uncontainable hearts out with their glowing voices, are now able to shake off their hardships at work with “claps”; they pulled out all the stops for “HIT” (“Let's sing this song for us”) but have now reached the point where they can allow themselves some rest (they “can take a break for today”). Your Choice sees SEVENTEEN being honest with themselves, returning after a long period of exploring their hearts to the moment they fell in love. And just like that, between the seasons of “spring, SEVENTEEN, autumn, winter,” SEVENTEEN has come back.
Article. Myungseok Kang, Randy Suh(Music Writer), Haein Yoon
Design. Yurim Jeon
Photo Credit. PLEDIS Entertainment