K-pop: The musical evolution of Seventeen

Jaehwa Bernardo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 04 2020 06:07 AM | Updated as of Feb 04 2020 08:22 AM

Korean boy band Seventeen will hit Manila for a concert on February 8. Photo from the band’s official Facebook page

MANILA — Four years since debut, Seventeen have proven themselves to be one of the most commercially and critically successful acts in South Korea’s pop music scene. Despite this, the boy band’s growing popularity outside the East Asian nation shows no signs of slowing down.

Last month, the band wrapped up the North American leg of their “Ode to You” world tour. They are set to make a stopover in Manila on February 8, which will be their fourth concert in the country.

SEVENTEEN WHO?

Seventeen is a multinational boy band that debuted under Pledis Entertainment, one of the relatively popular K-pop companies. The band’s name was taken from the sum of three numbers significant to the group — 13 members in three “sub-units” (or smaller groups within an act, in K-pop jargon) that come together to form one team.

For those who are not into K-pop, a 13-piece act may seem like a dizzying concept. Seventeen, however, have used their number to their advantage. Each member offers something unique to the team.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by SEVENTEEN (@saythename_17) on

Seventeen also take in pride in being a “self-producing” group, with the members largely involved in the production of their music and stage performances.

In their early years, Seventeen won fans’ hearts with their brass-heavy, upbeat tunes and boyish image. In 2017, however, the band shifted to a more mature sound and image through the EDM track “Don't Wanna Cry.” Since then, the group have continued to explore various genres, with each new song serving as a testament to the act’s versatility.

Last year, Seventeen released “An Ode,” which sold over half a million copies in its first week, bagged a “daesang” (grand prize) for Album of the Year in the Asia Artist Award, and was named K-pop album of the year by critics from music publication Billboard.

With at least a dozen singles to date, Seventeen’s discography is teeming with memorable songs that set them apart from other male acts. Here, we look at the ones that stand out from the group’s catalog:

“Adore U”

Seventeen debuted in May 2015 with “Adore U,” a funky pop song oozing with youthful playfulness. Lyrically, the song is about a teenage boy’s puppy love.

“Mansae”

In September 2015, the band released “Mansae,” which exudes the same vigor as “Adore U.” The song, however, is more intricate, seamlessly switching between hip-hop and pop.

“Pretty U”

After bursting with energy in “Adore U” and “Mansae,” Seventeen took it down a notch with “Pretty U,” which offers a more subtle approach to the band’s funk-inspired sound. The song also gave the act its first win on a Korean music chart show.

“Very Nice”

Released in 2016, “Very Nice” is one of the band’s easily recognizable songs. Powerful from the get-go, the song maintains an electrifying kind of energy throughout its three-minute run with its rich instrumentation and addictive beat.

“Don’t Wanna Cry”

“Don’t Wanna Cry,” released in May 2017, saw Seventeen’s departure from the funk-inspired sound that pervaded their earlier tunes. The song is an emotive track heavily influenced by EDM.

“Clap”

After shifting to a more mature sound with “Don’t Wanna Cry,” the band switched things up again with “Clap,” a rock-esque track driven by powerful electric guitar riffs. The clapping sounds and stompy refrain make the song a palatable earworm.

“Thanks”

Similar to “Don’t Wanna Cry,” “Thanks” is an emotionally-charged song that constantly shifts in tempo and goes into numerous peaks throughout its run. The track, which leans toward the EDM and future bass genres, also showcases a strong performance by the band’s vocalists.

“Getting Closer”

The group may have taken on a “dark” concept but still managed to shine in “Getting Closer,” a gripping hip-hop song with heavy bass and EDM elements.

“Home”

Seventeen slowed things down in “Home,” an R&B/ future bass track where the members show off their heartfelt singing. The song, according to the description from the music video, “expresses the desire to present comfort to a loved one who has brightened the day when one was still in darkness.”

“Hit”

“Hit,” released last August, may be boisterous but it’s the kind of noise that’s magnetic and rouses energy. The track features clapping beats, vibrant synths, and an explosive chorus. The song may leave listeners a bit exhausted by the end but it will also make them crave for more.

The Manila show of Seventeen’s “Ode to You” tour was produced by PULP Live World and Pledis Entertainment.