SEVENTEEN Convey Different Facets of Love Through 8th Mini Album “Your Choice” — In Depth Review
In this ungodly day and age, there are few things that keep you sane, and Kpop boy group ‘SEVENTEEN’ knows this well. While Seventeen have always aimed at comforting and healing fans and specifically those who are struggling through youth, they took that approach and this time aimed at a wider audience. Unveiled with a 2021 concept trailer, Seventeen announced their “Power of ‘Love’” project that will take place throughout the year with various releases — displaying all forms of love, such as first loves, friendships, family, and pets. It’s clear that for Seventeen, they have realized what has kept them grounded through unprecedented times has been the love they received from those around them. While they previously released the digital single “Bittersweet” by members Mingyu and Wonwoo as the first part of “Power of ‘Love’”, Seventeen have come back as a full group with their 8th Mini Album “Your Choice”.
The title track single released along with “Your Choice”, is the song “Ready to love”. The delicate emotion behind the song’s message of confessing romantic feelings to a friend is introduced with the opening of vocal unit Joshua’s soft voice lightly singing with some sparse guitar and synths in the background. The song gains energy by adding in the prominent thumping drums and buzzing bass. The blaring dirty bass that takes center stage in the choruses is without a doubt the highlight of the whole track. While the classic sounding pop melody along with the darker style instrumental makes for an objectively good basic pop song, that’s also part of it’s problem.
While Seventeen have tried a multitude of different concepts throughout their career and nailed them all, “Ready to love” lacks the group’s distinctive heart. Something to note is that “Ready to love” is the self-producing group’s title track with the most outside involvement; Bang Sihyuk, the CEO of HYBE (company of BTS who recently acquired Seventeen’s company, Pledis Entertainment) helped write, compose, and arrange the song, along with a list of various new (to Seventeen) producers and of course the well known duo of Seventeen member Woozi and long time producer Bumzu. While pop music isn’t the most technically intricate, “Ready to Love” lacks noticeable dynamics in both the vocal melodies and instrumental that is typically present in all their title tracks. While I also understand the heavy amount of English lyrics came from the desire to promote in America, it doesn’t make up for the fact that Woozi’s beautiful metaphorical storytelling writing is completely lost. In previous songs, and even other songs part of this album for instance, Seventeen express love gracefully with lines such as “Small flowers falling through the sky / In the middle of the desert (Your gift to me)” from “Anyone” and “I want to pick and gather all / The pretty words for you” from “Pretty U”. Even with their previous use of English lyrics, it’s usually cleverly intertwined in a rap part or part or still expresses distinct emotion, like the line “…I’m poison / I know I can’t take it no more” from Fear. A small detail that sums up the writing of this song for me, is the post-chorus line, “You give me purpose”, that sticks out like a sore thumb as it’s just completely random for a surface level confession song. The accompaniment of the visually lacking music video and the unmatching energy of the choreography also adds to its weakness.
Thankfully, the rest of the album is Seventeen continuing to raise the musical bar for themselves. The opening track “Heaven’s Cloud” is another delightful iteration of classic ‘freshteen’. The light bouncy synth beats throughout the song perfectly pair with such warm harmonies that make the song feel like you’re floating on one of the fluffy clouds you’d find in a blue summer sky. The refreshing and sweet sound paired with the lyrics that speak about there always being a place for a pair of lovers to share together makes this song impossible to not smile while listening to it. While there’s plenty of lovely melodies that are complemented by the beautiful harmonies, the “Give me your give me your / Give me your Give me your / Love love cloud” is the catchiest part that you’ll find yourself softly singing along to. This kind of track is the ideal refreshing summer song that honestly is very title track worthy.
The next track “Anyone” sees Seventeen embrace more of the rock vibe that they’ve dabbled in previously. With the main motif of the melodic guitar like high synth throughout the song along with the brooding bass, it creates a darker, mysterious atmosphere; it’s the perfect backdrop for the lyrical content of being in an unforgiving setting where their love is forbidden and yet promising to not let outside forces stop them. The structure makes sure to keep the listener engaged as the chorus reverses drops with just their voice, a dirty sounding guitar, and snaps before it brings back the melodic instrumental motif with a more full, satisfying mix. The second verse even plays with some new percussion and a new vocal melody. The bridge builds with their voices and strong beats before the final chorus, before the song fades out with the same brooding bass as the intro.
Something that can’t be forgotten about are the classic (hip hop, performance, vocal) unit songs that appear in the majority of Seventeen’s albums. Starting off with a bang, is the hip hop unit with the song titled “GAM3 BO1”. Quite possibly as the first hyperpop song by a Kpop artist, it’s no surprise that hip hop unit member Vernon — who has cited listening to hyperpop stars like Charli XCX and 100 gecs — helped compose the song. Besides the signature heavy autotune throughout, there are also lots of vocal and electronic glitches that make sense with the theme of the song. The hip hop unit captures the timelessness of platonic love with a contemporary take explaining how they stay connected with friends through the internet during these physically socially distant times. Just like the addictiveness of gaming and the internet, the song is incredibly addictive, but specifically the repeated lines “I don’t need new buddies” and “GAM3 (x13) BO1” stick to you like glue. It maintains high energy without any breaks — even during the short spoken interlude during the breakdown by Wonwoo, who actually says to make sure to remember to stretch after sitting for a long time. While each rappers’ verses stick to the theme, Vernon makes this song a direct time capsule of 2020–2021 by referencing bitcoin, the video game Cyberpunk 2077, Zoom, and NFTs. Overall, this song will get you more hype than any energy drink and be warned — yes, it will always be permanently lodged in the back of your brain.
If there’s one thing the performance unit is going to do, it’s that they’re going to make a club banger. While they’re no strangers to bass-forward sensual sounding tracks, “Wave” has a sense of upper-class luxury to it. It’s as if you can hear it being played in a scene at a top level penthouse with a glass wall that overlooks the city skyline, still wearing your work suit after a hard day with a bubbly alcoholic drink in hand. There’s something about the instrumental that entrances you, as melodic singing lines take the back seat and instead compliments the enticing instrumental. However, the symbolic lyrical content of being swept up in the “sea inside your heart” really lets you be taken along that journey with this song. The freedom of being swept into a certain mood of “blue illusion” thanks to music is entirely captured. The bass guitar line during the verses and the house-like bumping bass drive the song. A sparkly synth beautifully transitions the verses and the subtle synth that fades in and out throughout completes the mood. The breathtaking bridge cuts out the heavy bass for some subtle synths along with echoey phrases to form a more hazy ambiance, before the final chorus comes in with a high synth going off in the background resembling a guitar solo.
“Same dream, same mind, same night” by the vocal unit could not be a more heavenly closer. As soon as the song opens, you would think you were listening to an r&b boy band ballad straight from the early 2000s; you’re greeted with main vocal DK’s soft high note and a full layer of enriching, dreamy harmonies. The light synth beats and percussion with hints of electric guitar in the background perfectly flatter the ever so smooth vocals that sing about deep, committed love. While the vocal unit have done songs ranging from acoustic to tropical pop to piano ballads, all their voices shine in a new light by going for a full r&b track for the first time. While vocal unit leader Woozi tenderly emotes, and the main vocalists DK and Seungkwan stunningly hit gorgeous high notes (especially noting towards the last chorus), to me, the sub-vocalists Joshua and Jeonghan’s delicate and unique vocal colors really sound as beautiful as ever.
Something that Seventeen never fail to do with each new release they put out is grow. Whether that be exploring new emotional topics, dance styles, or music genre, they will always push for something new and improved. They will always keep you on their toes by changing it up however they please while never abandoning their roots. This mini album represents how well Seventeen have mastered the long game in a fast paced industry; both longtime loyal fans and ever growing new fans enjoy the classic light-hearted freshness that became the group’s signature, while also reveling in the new sounds and deeper messages of their experiments. While Seventeen have described the meaning of the title “Your Choice” as “your choice is more important than mine”, it’s nice to see the mature consideration, but CARATs (their fan name) choice will always be SEVENTEEN.
“Heaven’s Cloud” — 10/10
“Ready to love” — 7/10
“Anyone” — 8.5/10
“GAM3 BO1” — 10/10
“Wave” — 9/10
“Same dream, same mind, same night” — 10/10