Leave it to Woozi to do wonders for the color red. As the Seventeen member perhaps most known for his work behind the scenes as the group’s main producer, songwriter, and vocal unit leader, it was only a matter of time until he put his musical chops toward stepping into the spotlight all on his own.

With “Ruby,” his first official solo release, he does just that, showcasing a fiery, red-hot persona that’s finally had the chance to burst out of its shell.

Although “Ruby” is written and produced by Woozi himself, as with almost all other Seventeen tracks, it’s a stark departure from the whimsical, energetic melodies that he’s previously trademarked as part of the group’s signature sound. What’s more: it’s also an all-English track, another first for the songwriter — and includes co-writing credits from fellow Pledis labelmate and former Pristin member Shannon Bae (also known as Sungyeon). 

Led by a swoon-worthy orchestral intro, “Ruby” takes a sudden turn when it launches into a blazing pop-rock melody led by a biting electric guitar riff and drum beat.

Unlike most other Seventeen tracks, where Woozi’s dazzling vocals and stellar adlibs shine at both the forefront and in the background, his voice is surprisingly subdued on “Ruby.” Instead, it’s often masked by a vocoder effect to match the song’s grungier instrumentals. Fittingly, “Ruby” is also brazen and bold with its lyrics, comparing the fiery red colors of a ruby jewel to the feelings and excitement that come with a newfound intense and undeniable attraction towards a certain someone:

Baby girl you’re making me a beautiful jewel
Every time I look at you, I keep turning red
I’m not going back, go color me like you
My forbidden fruit, she got the ruby lips

The MV aptly amplifies these impassioned feelings of infatuation through a series of vivid and stunning visuals that showcase an often unseen side of Woozi’s own brash and undeniable charisma. Known to be a quieter member amongst the rest of Seventeen’s louder, more boisterous personalities, Woozi commands the screen to an insurmountable agree, making his presence known in every shot and scene.

Throughout the MV, Woozi becomes the undeniable center of attention, thanks to fitting staging and camerawork. To set the scene, the MV begins with a close-up shot of the singer under sultry red lighting, peering downward with his eyes cast away from the camera, followed by a shot of him gazing at his own reflection in a mirror.

Woozi then finds himself surrounded by a circling group of female models wearing dark makeup and clothing as he stands in the center of them — appropriately, in a ruby red suit. At one point, he stands in a sunken-in portion of the stage, appearing beneath the models. Later, he stands above them, maintaining a striking and dominating presence that only accentuates his sizzling magnetism. 

Theres’s no doubt that Woozi can hold his own when performing solo, but it’s the MV’s camera techniques that take his mesmerizing, self-asserting demeanor to the next level. There are few still shots in this MV; instead, the camera continuously follows Woozi around, sometimes in a handheld format and other times in swift and steady rotating movements, to capture his every move and expression regardless or whether or not he’s facing or looking directly into the lens.

During the chorus scenes, the camera zooms in and out as Woozi sings along to the lyrics, practically booming in tandem with the track’s pulsing beat. In other instances, it captures him from a low angle, picking up his movements with jagged twists and turns to emphasize his dominating onscreen presence. During the verses and pre-chorus, the camera’s movements slow down as the song’s tempo comes back down to earth, trailing over or past him in various settings (including the classic musty old bathtub). All of these movements serve to accentuate an audacious type of sensuality previously unseen from Woozi, but that certainly fits with the rock-infused vibes “Ruby” emits. 

Along with the MV’s camerawork, its staging and sets also further this point. Between Woozi’s passionate cries from the dirty bathtub and shower combo and his cheeky reference to his drink of choice (Coke Zero) from a red and dimly-lit backstage set, “Ruby” oozes an overtly indiscreet kind of sex-appeal that’s half shocking and half-expected from the idol.

Woozi could be sitting in a folding chair, singing in a room full of half-life-sized chess pieces, or finding himself swarmed by an attractive group of models (all of which occur in the MV), but throughout, he keeps a cool demeanor that only adds to his newfound provocative persona. 

With “Ruby,” Woozi turns himself into the fiery, red-hot jewel he so cleverly uses as a metaphor to describe the attraction he feels toward the subject of his interest. For a first official solo mixtape release, it’s a welcome start for what’s to come from the songwriter-producer, and perhaps the group he’s so remarkably helped build since before his debut. 

(YouTube. Lyrics via Genius. Images via HYBE Labels.)