While the landscape of Korean entertainment can be vast and wondrous, it’s often the little things that make us fall in love, inspire awe, evoke secondhand embarrassment, or sometimes…break our hearts. In this segment, we ask our writers: Among the many things vying for your attention this week, what won and made your heart beat?
[Idols/Variety] Rewatching Going Seventeen
I’ve been a fan of Seventeen’s ongoing content series Going Seventeen for a few years now. The group seems determined to show that every member is an all-rounder. From variety to performance to musical prowess, Seventeen’s got it all. The current season of the peek-behind-the-scenes turned <sponsored> variety show maintains the trajectory of highlighting the things fans love about the team (each character’s personality, competitiveness, and group camaraderie) with production antics designed to test their mettle. As I watch the newest episodes, I am revisiting some of my favourite episodes from my favourite season: Going Seventeen 2020.
The second season established some of the most accessible and memorable episode formats of the series. The first iteration of Don’t Lie remains one of the most entertaining k-pop Mafia games ever recorded. I love watching Mafia games because they can simultaneously reveal individual strategies of communication and group dynamics.
Seventeen, as a collective, are deeply committed to the project of entertaining their audience. They openly discuss the tensions between their desires to win assigned games and the overarching intention of filming: to fill a time frame with something interesting to watch.If Seventeen was playing the Mafia Game without a camera crew, Mingyu self-sabotaging at a critical moment because Hoshi refused to abandon his wounded, double-crossed Mafioso persona would probably never have happened. We would not have the unforgettable “night” where Hoshi, Vito Corleone-style, lords his status over the cowering citizens.
All of this would not matter if the group also had no allegiance to the fundamentals of the game. While they intend to amuse, there is still a push-and-pull between that desire and the competitive spirit. Characters like Seungkwan, who openly want to succeed while complying with the rules, keep them from totally jumping the shark. The audience cares about the outcome of the game because the participants care and remind us how much it matters to them. Revisiting the second season, where the elaborations on familiar games don’t feel needlessly complicated (I’m looking at you Catch Stock), is a real joy.
[Idols] Woodz: Only Lovers Left, Live
It’s hard to believe that an idol like Woodz (AKA Cho Seung-youn) still has yet to hold a major concert in front of a live, in-person audience (as a solo artist, that is). During his music show performances and other one-off performances that I can scrounge up on the Internet (including those on his YouTube channel), his charisma and stage presence, plus his flawless vocals, practically ooze through the screen. I’m a huge fan of the studio recordings of every song he’s released, but there’s something to be said about the live versions of his songs — especially those from his latest EP, Only Lovers Left.
For each of Woodz’s comebacks, he’s been generous enough to release live clips of a select grouping of songs, including his equally addicting b-sides. Since reviewing the MV for his new title track, “Waiting,” last week, I’ve kept the rest of Only Lovers Left strictly on repeat since then, and this week was pleasantly surprised to find live versions of “Waiting,” plus b-sides “Kiss of fire” and “Chaser.” I found this particular comeback to be really interesting and different from his others in that it felt less focused on the performance and choreography aspect and more geared toward showcasing Woodz’s sharp, crisp, and emotional vocals — and these clips surely blew it out of the water on that front.
The live version of “Kiss of fire” has been my particular go-to since its release earlier this week. Aside from an impeccable vocal performance, Woodz’s styling (an all black suit, red mic, and long, black hair) and the setting of the video (a dark parking lot lit only by a single overhead spotlight and barrels fittingly filled with fire) completely round out the vibe he set to emulate with Only Lovers Left overall. Woodz recently teased his plans for a solo concert sometime later this year, which I can only hope is the case. It’s about time his fans see him put on a show — and hit those crazy high notes — IRL.