20160704_seoulbeats_17The thirteen boys of Seventeen are back again with a repackage of their Love & Letter album and an MV for new track “Very Nice.”

To be quite honest, Seventeen has pretty much been on fire since they debuted. Their songs and dances are unique, they excel at variety, their talent is unmistakable, and this most recent MV got over 1 million views in the first day (cumulative on their official channel and 1theK). It hasn’t been the instant fame that comes with being from a big company, but rather a fame that is built up over time. Considering that the group just performed at KCON NY, it seems like the only way for them to continue to go is up, up, up!

One of the reasons they’ve been so successful is the consistency of their branding. As a group, Seventeen has managed their image extremely effectively and has stuck with concepts that fit their age and abilities. They’re the epitome of youthful exuberance and role-models for every hard-working teen, but they’re also idols, and they manage to balance their air of wholesomeness with a tinge of sex appeal that goes along with their stage presence. “Very Nice” is a prime example of that balance. The lyrics, choreography, and dramatic scenes create layers of nuance that allow the viewer to draw multiple meanings from the MV and experience the different sides of Seventeen in the process.

There’s a fine line being played with here between teenage love and teenage lust; but isn’t that the way it is in reality too? The lyrics are standard pop music — you’re pretty, I like you, lets date – but they also talk about getting an itchy or tingly feeling – not uncommon feelings associated with and used to portray both love and lust. The video seems to imply that they like this girl so much that they feel like they’re going to explode when around her, once again using a reference with more than one type of meaning. In the video itself, the members of Seventeen each have their hearts explode, bursting from their chest in a shower of white confetti when the girl looks at them – and perhaps that color choice wasn’t an accident either.

20160704_seoulbeats_17hairAdditionally, the choreography provides a juxtaposition to the seemingly innocent love of the lyrics and dramatic scenes. A heavy focus on thrusting and hip-work have made their way into the dance for this song which speaks more to the lust side of the story.

If this song and video were as innocent as they seem on first watch, the dance could easily have been as fun and innocent as “Pretty U,” for example, so whether it really was or not, the use of sexy choreography seems like a purposeful choice to emphasize those feelings. The two sides of the story can be read as a representation of the adolescent experience; the drama sequences representing the shyness of reality, and the dance representing the inner feelings that are much more energetic and lustful.

The visual stylings in the MV don’t warrant particular focus beyond the fact that all of the members of Seventeen look handsome and no particularly horrible fashion faux pas has been made. The pastels are something we’ve come to expect this time of year – though in this MV they are nicely dispersed with more primary colors – and the sight of a large boy group in suspenders is hardly something new – but always satisfying in my opinion. Considering the fashion risks SM Entertainment is taking with NCT U, I think we should all just be happy that Seventeen looks good even if they didn’t create anything new or innovative in terms of style.

20160704_seoulbeats_17joshuaMy only major complaint is the female actress. Did they ask this girl to look as unhappy as possible? Her expression ranges from bored, to blank stare, to possible distaste, and only once or twice does she look mildly interested in a member of Seventeen. If the company was going for the biggest lack of chemistry possible they succeeded.

At least they won’t have to deal with jealous fans because the interactions between Seventeen and that girl could hardly be more sterile. If you’re expecting me to believe that a girl is worth having your heart explode for, she better actually have more personality than a cardboard standee.

In the end, combining a sense of innocence with a sense of possible sexual desire is perhaps the best concept for a group like Seventeen. It fits their age and it fits the industry they’re in. The expectation that they have some sex appeal will rear its ugly head sooner or later, so while they’re still young it’s best to acknowledge the reality of a young person’s experience of balancing the purity of first love with the unavoidable experience of lust. Maybe someday Seventeen will become beast-dols and take off their shirts, but for now I think they’re perfectly suited to the concept they’re selling.

MV Rating: 3.75/5

(SEVENTEEN YouTube, photos via Pledis Entertainment)