From the bouncy young boys in “Very Nice” to the reflective young men in “Home”, Seventeen manages to constantly construct relatable content. Their growth and progression over the years is evident in their music and performances. They consistently present themselves evolving through their sound in different genres. As a group they do not shy away from voicing their current state of mind with their fans.
In their last title track “Poison: Fear”, the boy group opened up about their worries as stars and as young men. In the broody and dark Ode To You album release, fans were brought along the emotional turbulence Seventeen experiences and how they face it.
This is further developed in their Hit the Road YouTube docu-series in which the members spoke openly about their struggles as idols. The series showed the scale of emotional and physical toll it took on the global stars. It also gave fans an intimate and candid side to the group as they spoke of the comfort they find in each other.
Fortunately, after a period of soul searching, the group has come out of their doubts and inhibitions. Their title track “Left & Right” is the answer to the fears and worries they previously expressed. Having learned a lot over the years, their 7th EP Henggarae — released on 22nd June — is an unapologetic celebration of their youth.
In a playful and bright approach, the track and MV intend to give a reassuring message to youth: that you can always carve your own path and succeed at your own pace, even when met with crossroads that limit you to take left or right.
The title track is rhythmic with a return to their bright and bouncy hip-hop vibe. It is the kind of track that keeps anyone moving to its catchy hook long after it has ended. Seventeen has commented that the track is a nod to hip-hop of the early 2000s. Retranslated to the current hip-hop genre, with an extra blast of energy by Woozi, Vernon and their production team.
Likewise, the MV has an almost subtle late 90’s and early 2000’s feel. The reinterpretation of past and present themes is well translated. With its the graffiti brick wall sets, the car models, the tracksuit heavy styling and VHS glitch effects. The aesthetics blend well with the contemporary styling without feeling overwhelming, With that said and given the title of the song, most scenes bombard you with signs directing left or right in an attempt to drive the message through.
Looking deeper into the MV, there are a few points that hold significant connotations to the narrative. Allowing it to balance between effectively delivering a message and entertaining the fans.
The subtle progression of the to the MV is one of its strengths. Not only shown in the narrative itself but by the members’ facial expressions too.
Their expressions are noticeably drained and almost fed up in the opening scenes. Twisting their heads side to side to the chorus to mimic the constant tugging feeling of life. The MV builds from the insecurities of being drawn left or right to the members overcoming their hurdles and adjusting accordingly. The delivery is not easy as it seems to be addressing heavy issues while grooving to a funky track. Yet, Seventeen manage to do it seamlessly using witty approaches.
Seungkwan comically leaving to run alone whilst the others break into dance is a prime example. By choosing not to join him, however, the scene reiterates the idea of carving alternative routes against expectations. Not particularly as a form of rebellion, but rather a way of self-acceptance.
The MV builds further when Seungkwan is stopped by commonly heard metaphors like “The early bird catches the bird” on large billboards. It addresses the pressure and expectations of being young adults, and how doubly distressing it can be in the limelight.
Even if we run run run
When can we get ahead
Running itself is tough tough yeah
Then what should we do
Not running is an answer too
Who cares what we do yeah yeah
Although said with good intention, the advice conflicts with the reality of their experience. Seungkwan and Wonwoo’s verse directly communicates the struggles of “Damned if I do, damned if I don’t” experienced in youths.
With a “We’ll do it our way!” attitude, the “How to …” books and trophies are burned in an effort to reclaim their voice. Although it may look like giving up, it is a lesson in positively ridding our selves of our limitations. Looking straight at the camera as it pans out, Seventeen invite the fans not to become confined by these binaries either.
The turning point in the MV is undoubtedly Joshua taking matters into his own hands. It becomes a moment of clarity for the group; the signs that usually guide and ease the pressure are not definitive but adjustable. Instead, we should value growth and progression against our own standards.
“Left & Right” MV takes a grand message of reassurance and self-confidence and reinforces it in a bright and comical manner. It’s effective at delivering a serious message without having to stick to a dark motif.
The comical elements to the MV is emphasised by the simple yet instinctive choreography. Seventeen is well known for their intense and detailed choreographies within the K-pop sphere. However, this track has an inviting quality to dance without being too complicated. It gives the MV a familiar Tik Tok-esque mode as fans move to the easy to follow steps.
This naturally has launched a dance challenge lead by the members. Fans and fellow idols have responded with their own takes of the track sparking a growing phenomenon via the app Tik Tok.
During the showcase conference rapper, Wonwoo reconfirmed that the track is a reminder not to worry too much. As a way of encouragement to fans — and themselves — that you are doing well, and you are where you are meant to be.
Indeed, this highly anticipated summer comeback did not disappoint. It comes packed with a catchy hook, a bouncy MV and an uplifting message. Calling on a bright era of self-acceptance and celebration of their accomplishments Seventeen remind fans that they may crash a few times like S.coup’s car, but they will get up and keep grooving like S.coups. From now on, Carats can expect Seventeen to do their best, but maybe not sometimes.
(YouTube [I]. Images via Pledis Entertainment.)