K-pop is the trend that is sweeping the nation. Korean pop music has been listened to in the U.S. for years but, since the release of Psy’s viral phenomenon, “Gangnam Style,” American listeners have slowly been growing fonder of the international genre. Along the way, more and more groups with different assets and abilities have been popping up.
But K-pop is more than just a trend: it’s the amalgamation of years of intense practice and preparation for Korean idols in order for them to bring forward the best content possible, at least from the perspective of the companies producing music.
One of the best examples of a K-pop group working hard for its audience is boyband Seventeen. The group is comprised of 13 male members, and debuted in 2015 with the short album “17 Carat.” Since then, Seventeen has garnered worldwide fame, and it’s even speculated that the group’s success saved their failing company, Pledis Entertainment.
Lauded with the distinguished title of “self-producing” idols — which basically means they have a heavy hand in creating songs, dances and concepts for themselves — Seventeen faces a lot of pressure to perform well, and they’ve really outdone themselves. Each of their albums has a different vibe and theme, from teen angst to fluffy first love.
So, why not end your summer listening to some of the best warm-weather songs by Seventeen?
1. “Adore U”
The Prince-esque title says it all: the song, from the 2015 EP “17 Carat,” is in fact about adoring someone. And, after a couple of listens, you might adore it as well.
“Adore U” combines a funky synth bass with little kicks of guitar and the members’ varied vocals. Listening to this song can be best described as using a cloud as a trampoline — it’s cute, warm and bubbly. The beat is easy to get wrapped up in, and the English lyrics are memorable.
With such a bubblegum-pop kind of sound, “Adore U” gives any easy summer night a little energy without making you want to jump out of your seat. The song creates a stupendous blend of easy-listening and toe-tapping essence.
If the sound isn’t enough to get you going, checking out the music video is a must. Since it is one of Seventeen’s first videos, it isn’t any kind of amazing high-quality production. However, the video for “Adore U” — and many of the group’s other videos — show a different side of K-pop.
The music video shows the boys goofing off in different locations, basically. There is some dancing, but most of the video shows a sort of dreamlike montage of places and things. Each member gets his personality showcased a little, and the whole thing is fun to watch. It’s lighthearted and a little amateurish, but in an endearing way.
From desert neon signs to a graffiti-wall birthday party, “Adore U” has a little bit of something for everyone to enjoy.
2. “Love Letter”
If you want to take things a little slower, then you should consider turning up the volume on “Love Letter,” a track on the 2016 album “Love & Letter.”
The song, intended to double as a general love song and a love song to fans, is literally a love letter in the way it dotes on and talks about appreciating the recipient. Different from “Adore U,” “Love Letter” is a mellower tune, with a gentle snare beat throughout. If “Adore U” is hopping around on clouds, then “Love Letter” is lying in a grassy field and watching clouds from below.
The song does a good job of combining the continuous beat with sections of rapping — more along the lines of sing-talking — and actual singing. The vocals on the track are silky, with lots of adlibs that soften any harshness of the sing-talking. And, let me just say, the harmonies are to die for.
Plus, the music video is another pretty original concept. While most K-pop music videos are theme-driven dances and short films, the video for “Love Letter” is more cinema vérité with the members going about their (fictional) days. They write love letters and play around at a carnival, living out what would be the perfect summer day for many.
After a long day of end-of-summer induced stress, watching such a carefree and adorable video can be just what you need to relax a little and remind yourself of any sweet summer feelings you had these past few months.
If that’s still not enough, the music video also features a dog.
Boppy and bouncing, “Mansae” is not a song to wind-down to, nor is it a song to nod your head to. No — when “Mansae” plays, you have to dance.
In Korean, “mansae” is basically a cheer. Since the chorus of the song is “mansae” over and over again, you might assume that the track is all about the excitement of being in love. You would be right.
To capture the joy that accompanies young love, Seventeen uses lots of twangy sounds in the music, and the vocals are high-energy. The chorus, as I mentioned, is just the group cheering “mansae” over and over again, altogether, like some kind of over-the-top sporting event.
All of this makes the song the best pick to encourage you on lazy summer days; play it to motivate you in finishing your to-do list, or just to get you away from Netflix for a few minutes. Truthfully, when this song comes on, I can’t sit still, and you probably won’t be able to either.
The video for “Mansae” is the most professional looking, and also happens to fall in line with the more mainstream K-pop video formula. Seventeen’s members wear high school uniforms and dance on a basketball court when they aren’t picking on each other and trying to impress girls. The atmosphere of the video is colorful and upbeat, which lends itself well to the track.
Perhaps the most memorable part of the entire video is the chorus dance: every member puts their hands in the air and sways back and forth to the chorus. The song came out in 2016, and still, two years later, I can’t help put sway back and forth when I hear that part.
Overall, summer can be a great time for exploring new music genres, and the end of summer is no different. With these three Seventeen songs, made by the exuberant “self-producing” idols, you’re sure to kick off the fall season with a great start. Whether you want to feel warm and fuzzy inside, take it slow on a road trip or build up some high school style energy, Seventeen has the song for you.