K-pop is all about trends, and it’s easy to spot the trends of a season. Whether it’s incorporating tropical house, infusing literary references into MVs, or publishing extensive information prior to the actual comeback, trends are something that groups use to entice viewers and fans to pay attention.
One such trend are the ‘project’ releases where, instead of just releasing the album, a group builds hype through promotional singles. An example of this is KARD, whose project consisted of three singles before their official debut. Other examples include BtoB‘s Piece of BtoB project, and Day6‘s EveryDay6. In this vein, Seventeen‘s hip hop team — comprised of Mingyu, Vernon, S.coups, and Wonwoo — have released the track “Trauma” as part of the group’s 2017 Seventeen Project.
“Trauma” is a surprising track for those, like me, unacquainted with Seventeen’s music. The rappers all deliver an excellent flow and the song is exceptionally personal, though that may be expected for a group known for their self production. The main point of “Trauma” is that, while at first the video seems simple, it actually ties pretty well to the lyrics.
Take, for instance, Mingyu’s hook/chorus. Mingyu’s trauma takes the form of not being able to forget, and in his scenes we see a lot of ropes of varying sizes. Some are small and hanging from the ceiling while larger ones wrap around the furniture, and Mingyu himself at points. Negative thoughts can strangle a person unless they can learn to let go, and though his parts are small they are able to convey this message well.
Wonwoo takes on a different but still striking approach. In his room, a large window takes up a whole wall, giving a spotlight effect on the only thing in the room — Wonwoo sitting on a chair. Throughout his scenes he’s shaking his head, beating himself up, trying to force the dark thoughts away. It’s slightly disturbing because he seems so truly taken in by whatever has caused his trauma.
My mind is sickened and it’s going deeper to the ground on its own
Even more deeper more deeper it can’t find it by myself
I don’t know where this trauma will end up until I need a hand to hold
What makes it even worse is that he acknowledges that he needs help but there’s no way in or out of the room or any way to ask for help. We watch him suffer alone and it’s truly heartbreaking.
Two best parts, visually, are the transitions and the scenes of each member rapping in the mirrors. It sends a powerful message seeing them talk about their issues while staring themselves in the face: these shots say the best way to fix a problem is to acknowledge you have one. As for the transitions, it’s just a cool way to be done. To me it feels as though each throw away is wiping one person’s slate clean so that we can move on to the next person.
The song itself, without looking into symbolism or anything like that is the definition of a banger. If I had any complaint, it would be the use of autotune of Vernon’s verse. It doesn’t add anything to his rapping and is just really unnecessary in the overall scope of the song. However, the song will definitely bring in new fans because it has a groovy and addictive beat.
“Trauma” is an excellent prequel as part of the 2017 Seventeen Project because it’s done exactly what Pledis wanted it to do– hype up Seventeen, promote their talents, and get people excited for what they will release next. If “Trauma” is an indication for their upcoming comeback then they’ve gained a new listener already.