SEVENTEEN‘s 5th anniversary since their debut on May 26, 2015 is fast approaching, and with it comes a lot of reflection and looking back on their careers so far. Recently, the boys spoke with i-D about how it feels to be nearly five years into their career, and how things have changed since they debuted.
Joshua mentioned how the time has flow, saying, “It’s gone by really quickly, we’ve been so busy with releases and preparing for concerts!” In this time, SEVENTEEN has become known as one of the most successful self-produced groups in K-Pop, with member Woozi and Pledis Entertainment producer Bumzu having written and produced all of their songs to date. Woozi himself has gone from being a sort of apprentice, to now acting more like Bumzu’s equal.
The group is also known for continually trying new things, not sticking to any one style of music and constantly pushing the limits on what they try to create. With songs ranging in style from pop and funk to hip-hop and house, it seems that their talent for making good music has no boundaries! “We don’t see it as taking risks, but as embracing change,” said Mingyu about them constantly challenging themselves.
There are some songs, however, that they feel have really helped shape their career and have propelled them into further success. Here are the 5 songs they think were most important for their development so far.
1. “Adore U” (May 2015)
“Adore U” came out in 2015, during a time when the trends in K-Pop were more edgy and EDM-heavy. SEVENTEEN’s debut song, on the other hand, had a bright, cheerful, bubblegum-pop sound that completely contrasted against this, making it really stand out among other songs at the time. Not only that, but, as Woozi stated,“’Adore U’ was SEVENTEEN, it expressed us best at that time.”
While it might have been a risky choice during such an era, it clearly worked out for the group, and is still a song that they enjoy performing to this day even after so many years. It also helped to really cement their chaotic and lovable personalities that many fans got to know during their pre-debut reality shows.
2. “아주 Nice (Very Nice)” (July 2016)
SEVENTEEN’s first three singles — “Adore U”, “Mansae”, and “Pretty U” — can be seen as a trilogy, though “Very Nice” can also fit into the “story” that the first three tell. While the group focuses more on their musical growth than solid story-telling through their songs, they all progress naturally along a story line about first love and the happiness that follows.
While Woozi initially planned on “Very Nice” being the lead single for their debut album Love & Letter, he stated that, “Of course there was a sense of calculation behind its making — I was trying to create a very energetic sound. But songs usually happen in a coincidental manner, almost like destiny, and I have to say this was fate.” The sounds of the previous three songs built up to the brassy, energetic “Very Nice” in a very pleasing and satisfying finish. To this day, it’s still one of their most-covered dances and is their second most-watched music video.
3. “Getting Closer” (December 2018)
After a long run of lighter, emotive songs such as “Don’t Wanna Cry” and “Thanks”, “Getting Closer” hit fans with a shocking dark and edgy concept that SEVENTEEN hadn’t experimented with before. DK enjoyed getting to show a more mature side of the group, while Jun speaks of how it really allowed SEVENTEEN to show off their incredible performance skills.
While finding inspiration for the song wasn’t difficult, Woozi said that production was a challenge, and that imagining it as a performance rather than just a song helped to get through the process. Overall, “Getting Closer” allowed SEVENTEEN to broaden their already expansive musical collection and show fans another side of themselves.
4. “Hit” (August 2019)
Yet another new direction for the group, “Hit” was highly popular with some of the performance unit members of the group, namely Hoshi and Jun, the latter of whom said, “It’s so fun, I just want to dance to it. I guess I was one of the members who was most into it because the performance and overall song fits my style.” This “club banger” is a huge shift in direction from SEVENTEEN’s earlier sounds, but they once again succeeded in making an incredibly powerful, hard-hitting song.
Not only was the sound of the song important for their development, but the symbology and lyrical story as well. “Hit” speaks about being freed in the lyrics, with the image of Jeonghan being freed from ropes an important message in the music video. “Because our music and performances fit what we want, that itself can be defined as freedom for us,” said Joshua.
5. “Fear” (September 2019)
“Fear” is all about the emotions of SEVENTEEN’s members, with the lyrics openly discussing their fears of the future, such as how long SEVENTEEN will succeed as well as the fear of disappointing fans who may have an elevated image of the members beyond who they actually are. Woozi opened up by saying, “We had doubts because we were showing a totally different side of ourselves, concept-wise. The direction we should pursue, our position and future — they were just a few of the pressures we were dealing with. We were always going forward, breaking down walls, but we never really stopped to look up at an unbreakable wall in fear. I feel this inner struggle was something that people didn’t really associate with us, but it’s a definite part of our identity.”
The choreography went a new direction for the group a well, mimicking the drinking of poison and tearing at their chests to express their inner turmoil. With all the uncertainty that came with creating “Fear”, however, the results turned out amazing. “We were able to perform with more edge, and I could move past my worry of whether this concept suited us,” DK was able to say of the song. And, finishing off the interview, Mingyu stated, “It was one of our biggest changes. And I can say with a bit of confidence that it was quite successful.”