Seventeen have always been known for their bright, refreshing music and concepts ever since their debut with “Adore U” in 2015 (Carats, their fans, sometimes even dub them “Freshteen”). Six years later, the 13-member group leans right back into their bread and butter on their new title track “Ready To Love” off the mini album Your Choice.
With Seventeen now a part of the HYBE company umbrella, “Ready To Love” marks the first collaboration between the group’s usual in-house producing and songwriting team of Bumzu and Woozi (plus writing credits from members S.Coups and Mingyu) and HYBE CEO Bang Si-hyuk. A dance-pop track with a chugging beat, “Ready To Love” is surely a departure from some of the group’s recent title tracks like “Home;run” and “Left & Right.” However, it still hones in on a genre that Seventeen clearly owns: upbeat and poppy, yet sentimental and nostalgic music with an unfaltering freshness. Bang PD gives the group a boost here, but Seventeen’s own expertise in this genre is especially thanks to each member’s unique strengths and charms.
The track, along with Your Choice, is the next installment in the group’s “Power of Love” project and follows the recent single “Bittersweet” from members Mingyu and Wonwoo. It covers the subject of love in one of its many forms, this time detailing meeting someone as friends but wanting more. Both the production and lyrics of “Ready To Love” showcase the group’s obvious maturation since their first musical trilogy of “Adore U,” “Mansae,” and “Pretty U” — each of which highlighted their own stories of navigating youthful puppy love.
On their own, the song’s lyrics vividly convey this lustful desire for more than just friendship. In the first pre-chorus, members Hoshi and S.Coups sing:
First time feeling my heart race
Never thought it’d beat so fast
All I wanna do is run away
Cause you are my escape, baby
Love has no limit, I want an answer, ay
If “Ready To Love” easily expresses these feelings through just its lyrics, melodies, and steady beat, its MV adds an unexpected layer of nostalgia and melancholy to further enhance and reveal the song’s meaning.
To kick off the video, member Joshua walks towards a pink and blue building similar in color to Seventeen’s official colors (rose quartz and serenity) and reminiscent of the bright pastel buildings in their “Very Nice” MV. The front of the building reads “I dream of love,” and above it sits a large white cat (perhaps a nod to the group’s many cat-loving members). The scene sets the MV’s nostalgic mood, serving as a visual call back to the group’s early days and tangible proof of their growth since then.
Several other visual elements also add to the MV’s air of nostalgia. Between dreamlike shots of the members surrounded by flower arrangements sprawling from a lavender bus and other bright pastel backdrops, the MV’s imagery evokes a sentimental portrait reminiscent of a younger Seventeen. As a bonus, flowers are also a recurring motif throughout Seventeen’s discography (re: “Flower,” “Fallin’ Flower,” and “Smile Flower“). Combined, these visual tidbits paint an evocative picture of the group’s past, and now their future, without ever feeling trite.
Although the MV doesn’t follow a distinct plot, its visuals refreshingly and implicitly tell the song’s overarching “story” of an eagerness to move beyond friendship and into love. In one scene, members Wonwoo and Mingyu sing “My feelings grew after I met you / Just friends that’s not enough for me.” As they utter these lyrics, their expressions are melancholic as they look onto two phone booths — one green with a sign that reads “Friends” and the other pink with a sign that reads “Lovers.”
Aside from the obvious image of the phone booths to show that “Ready To Love” is about a desire to be lovers instead of friends, the members’ nuanced facial expressions also add a deeper layer to the song’s meaning and mood. From its lyrics and sound alone, “Ready To Love” seems cheery and bright. But, when the members’ own visuals enter the mix, the song has an air of uncertainty and bittersweetness to it. Yes, Seventeen is “ready to love,” but how will the subject of their love receive their feelings? In a fresh twist, the answer to that question is left up to interpretation.
The MV leans further into indicating these feelings of wistfulness in its chorus scenes, which also feature the song’s choreography. The chorus’s choreography begins with the members’ arms positioned as if they’re hugging another person, leading into synchronized movements reminiscent of various forms of love. Per usual, Seventeen avoids any gimmicks in their interpretation of the song, maintaining the MV’s freshness and heavy-hearted undertones.
The difference in setting between the three main chorus scenes in the MV is also worth noting, as these changes add more visual breadth and novelty to the track. The first chorus scene takes place in broad daylight, while the second takes place at night. In the third and final chorus scene, the members are suddenly dancing in the pouring rain, more powerfully than before. The difference in these settings indicates the growing intensity of emotions and feelings of love expressed over the course of the song, reaching their peak in the culminating rain scene.
There are other tacit visual elements too, like slowed, blurry shots of the members as they sing of wanting to “run away,” and a floating orange sphere to represent long-held feelings of love. With all of these ingredients combined, Seventeen subtly but firmly reveal that they’ve outgrown the puppy love of their “Adore U” days and are, in a more mature sense, “Ready To Love.” The MV is nostalgic “Freshteen” at its finest, and sets the standard high for whatever stories of love the group has to tell next.
(YouTube: . Twitter. Lyrics via Genius. Images via HYBE Labels.)