For a group so far into their career (they just celebrated their seventh anniversary since their debut), Seventeen’s latest title track, “Hot,” has a lot of firsts going for it. It is the first title track from the group’s first full-length album in nearly three years and since collectively renewing their contracts with Pledis, their first venture into a Western-inspired concept, and most importantly, their first step into a new era as an even more mature and seasoned veteran group. “Hot” is also the second single, following “Darling,” from their new album, fittingly titled Face the Sun

Despite the 13-member group’s venture down the road less traveled when it comes to their typical musical canon — as Seventeen is primarily known for their “Freshteen” personas and brighter, more buoyant title tracks — “Hot” doesn’t stray far from what makes Seventeen Seventeen. Like “Hit,” “Fear,” “Getting Closer,” and even “Rock with You,” “Hot” may come off as beyond Seventeen’s conceptual range upon first glance or listen. However, it is an especially apt display of one of their best qualities as a group: their ability to do something different with each and every MV, comeback, and song, and show a new side to themselves, while still remaining firmly who they are and who they have always been. While “Hot” couldn’t be more different from any of their other MV releases, perhaps only coming close to “Hit” in terms of vibe, this release is a natural progression in the group’s journey to showcase their growing maturity and skill. 

Taken on its own, “Hot” as a song is probably the last thing fans expected as a follow-up to Face the Sun’s pre-release single, “Darling” — a gentle, springy track in which Seventeen proclaims their love for Carats (their fans) completely in English. However, as hinted at toward the end of the “Darling” MV, “Hot” is, instead, the polar opposite — dark, intense, in-your-face, and of course, flaming hot. It is also Seventeen’s loudest, edgiest, and most complex track production-wise yet. 

On its surface, the “noisiness” of “Hot” is what may deter some upon the first listen. However, make no mistake, because the track’s complex layers of vocals, instrumentals, and even autotune ultimately enhance its power and effect. Musically, and like its MV, “Hot” has subtle Western influences, first marked by a Western-inspired guitar riff that kicks off the track and serves as a quiet but still prevalent anchor for much of its remainder. Throughout the rest of the track, an almost siren-like whistle along with an intense dance beat also maintain much of its heightened ferocity and tenacity. Paired with fast-paced, auto-tuned laden verses, a vocally strong pre-chorus, an addictively repetitive chorus, and an explosive post-chorus, “Hot” is a recipe for a solid, successful title track — and one that not many can pull off.

However, where “Hot” reaches its true potential is when it is paired with its MV. Opinions on the song aside, it is hard to deny that the MV for “Hot” does its due diligence in ensuring that all thirteen of Seventeen’s members, and not one less, shine in every scene they are in. For large groups, it is often rare that each member has a scene-stealing moment or truly suits the concept that they are put in. However, “Hot” is the exception to that rule. The MV team’s ability to ensure that each member stands out and feels right for a concept that is outside what Seventeen normally tackle is a testament to their creativity and technical skill in editing, camera work, and styling to ensure that each member has their moment.  

Some of the MV’s most striking features are its camera work and editing tactics, which take the track’s energy and intensity to even greater heights. For starters, each scene in the MV happens at such a fast pace, either due to quick cuts or mostly manual, speedy camera zoom-ins and zoom-outs, that some of the most astonishing transitions and visual moments fly by at a “blink-and-you’ll-miss-it” pace. Transitions from one scene to the next, while almost too fast for the human eye to catch and fully process when played at normal speed, are meticulously planned and executed to weave an object or member from one scene into the next using a mix of clever editing tactics, CGI, and camera work. 

For example, the MV opens on a barren desert landscape. Quickly and unassumingly, the sand appears as though it is being suctioned up into the sky by way of post-processing editing techniques added on top of the image. The camera then quickly pans downward and lands on Wonwoo, who the camera follows in the form of an aerial tracking shot as he runs through the sand until it cuts to Mingyu in perhaps one of the only simple cuts and transitions in the entire MV. The MV then speedily spirals into a mix of fast-moving scenes featuring CGI objects, scribbled words and cartoon-like artwork and embellishments superimposed on top of the shot, elaborate sets relating to the name of the album (Face the Sun), unique editing moments, Western-inspired tropes and camera techniques, and detailed styling to match the overall vibe and aura of “Hot.” 

While there are too many creative and unique editing, camera, and CGI moments to count and take note of throughout “Hot” (a testament to the production and post-production teams’ innovation and technical skill), there are a few that especially stand out. 

One of those is the standoff scene between Wonwoo and Jun, a nod to a common visual trope in the Western film and TV genre. While “Hot” is not classified as wholly Western-inspired in terms of concept, there are several prominent influences from the film genre throughout, as notably seen here. This scene does not use a basic shot to illustrate that Jun and Wonwoo are in a standoff and, therefore, standing at a distance from each other while facing each other. Rather, it utilizes the camera trope of filming the person’s opponent through their legs, and then again vice versa from the other person’s perspective, again through their legs. The editors even go so far as to overlay comic book-inspired artwork, plus the word “Pioneer,” over Wonwoo’s legs in the first part of this sequence, which enhances the intense but cartoon-like nature of the scene. 

There are several other notable editing moments through “Hot,” particularly when it comes to creative and striking transitions. One includes when The8 kicks a CGI coin into the air, which quite literally flies into the next shot and explodes into fireworks, which Seungkwan then grabs out of the air in the next frame in the form of a sparkler. At another moment, Mingyu shoots a bullet, which then visibly flies from Mingyu’s frame into the next and hits a CGI spinning sun. Electricity sparks then fly off the sun and become even more pronounced and almost cartoon-like, and in the next shot Hoshi pops up in front of the spinning sunset, surrounded by the sparks from the last shot as he begins the first post-chorus. Lastly, in a moment during the second verse, after S.Coups smears what appears to be blood across his face, the still shot of him transforms into a tarp, which then tears apart in half to reveal Hoshi and the members behind it on a new set at the start of the next pre-chorus. 

While the MV’s sharp editing moments certainly bring up its heat and intensity, they would not be nearly as impactful without the visually compelling sets and styling moments that ultimately bring the world of “Hot” to life. As mentioned previously, concepts that stray further outside the box of what a group normally adheres to can be a hit or miss, especially for one with thirteen members who each have their own distinct styles and personalities both on and off camera. But Seventeen have never failed to bring an outside-their-box concept to life, and “Hot” is no exception. 

As in “Rock with You,” each member’s outfit, hair, makeup, and accessories fit the necessarily edgy (albeit this time Western-inspired) vibe that the song conveys to a tee, while also going beyond the obvious. Yes, S.Coups dons long hair and a cowboy hat, but the members also mostly have gelled hair and edgy makeup, and wear a mix of leather, mesh, chains, sneakers, denim, corduroy, and baggy ‘90s-inspired construction pants that fall along a spectrum of black to bright, intense hues. The8’s styling is a particular standout throughout the MV, as his bright red hair, pale-colored contacts, dark eyeliner, heavy silver chains, and mesh shirt all go beyond what is initially expected of the overall styling in “Hot” to bolster its creativity and originality. 

The “Westernness” of the MV’s concept, while still subtle, is also brought to life through imaginative and fitting props and sets that give each member ample room to transform into their “Hot” personas. The sets are elaborate and to theme, but are also everchanging to match the developing vibe of the MV, like when the industrial spinning sunset becomes dark and apocalyptic toward the end. On the props side, Hoshi and Jun both dance with a skeleton figure, which enhances the MV’s still playful and cheeky nature. Woozi’s long-barrelled gun looks straight out of a Western. Meanwhile, Vernon holds the smoking bullet from that same gun in his mouth during several scenes. Joshua and DK both enhance the MV’s dark, edgy vibe when they smash a neon-lit electric guitar and spiky bat, respectively. Jeonghan also brings a bit of symbolism to the MV and Face the Sun concept as he drags the broken half of his angel wing scrapped from metal across the desert ground, perhaps in a nod to the Greek mythology character Icarus, who notoriously flew too close to the sun.

Finally, and perhaps most necessary to note, the MV also especially excels in its performance. As with the styling and editing, “Hot” simply would not be as hot as it is without a powerful dance performance by Seventeen to elevate the MV’s visuals and ferocity. With Seventeen, there is almost always a guarantee of unique choreography with passionate and technically-skilled execution, and in “Hot,” they bring it to the next level. One standout scene is when Jun follows Woozi’s choreography on the ground while at his feet, mimicking his moves as if he is his shadow (a reference to a concept also explored in both the “Darling” MV and the track on Face the Sun of the same name, “Shadow”).

On top of that, the post-chorus scenes are also some of the MV’s most intense and impactful thanks to the members’ performance of the choreography. In the first post-chorus, Hoshi and the performance unit lead the group in a tenacious execution of the sharp, charged dance. Dino leads the group during the last, at which point the visuals become even more explosive (the spinning sun behind the members practically explodes into sparks), ultimately setting up “Hot” to have a lasting impact on viewers, and perhaps an urge to revisit time and time again.

Perhaps because it is Seventeen’s turn to Face the Sun, the thirteen-member group is unequivocally hotter than ever in their MV for “Hot.” Even if bright and fresh concepts are the name of their game, Seventeen still shine bright under the heat of the sun, and under the guise of a darker and quite literally hotter concept than they have ever traversed before. It is a welcome change of pace and an even more welcome start to a new era for a group that thankfully has even more to come.

[NME. YouTube. Images via Pledis Entertainment/HYBE Labels.]