A New Discovery in 2017
In order to commemorate the passing of 2017, I'd like to discuss one of my biggest discoveries of the year: K-pop.
Before the end of this year, the extent of my experience with asian media has only been anime and manga. That was until I watched a Fine Bros video on YouTube with people reacting to K-pop songs. It was a BTS reaction video and I remember seeing music videos like Not Today, Dope, and Blood, Sweat, Tears and thinking to myself "What have I missed out on all my life?"
Thus sprouted my ever-present love for the genre. Now I've grown into a fan of multiple groups (Seventeen, BTS, CLC, NCT, SF9, just to name a few) and have added tons of these groups' music to my Spotify playlist to the point where one of my Daily Mixes contain only K-pop tracks. I've learned the facets of the fanbase--biases and all.
And while I feel I've unearthed audible diamonds this year, no one I know wants to share the fortune. All my friends, family, and acquaintances at least show some interest in the music I show them but ultimately no one's ever drawn into a permanent liking and following these bands.
A variety of reasons are given to me as to why others don't like it or "can't get into it."
Can't understand the lyrics, especially the rap
It's all over Twitter
It's pop music
So I've turned to the keyboard in order to express how talented some of the artists I've been listening to are. With many of them also being pretty young, around their early and mid twenties, and to have accomplished so much, I can't help but appreciate these idols and their work.
One of the more talented and well-rounded groups out there that I've come across during my K-pop ventures is Seventeen. If you've never heard of Seventeen, I know what one of your first thoughts were, and no, there are not seventeen members.
There's thirteen hard working members and the group will occasionally break down in different sub-units: Hip-Hop, Vocal, and Performance. They are from the company Pledis but Seventeen has a huge part in producing their own work.
Woozi (Lee Jihun), one of Seventeen's members, produces records for the group; he's a talented composer. Some creative lyrics that I've recently encountered with the group derive from their song Clap: "Things get all tangled up like earphones in your pocket." Woozi is also an amazing vocalist and I recently saw a video Seventeen posted to their Instagram of Woozi playing the drums. I'm beginning to wonder if there is anything he can't do.
When looking at all the other members of Seventeen, all are multi-talented. Jun (Wen Junhui) can play the piano, act, dance, speak Chinese and Korean and sing beautifully in falsetto. He's also great at hosting television shows and interviews.
Hoshi (Kwon Soonyoung), another member choreographs dances for the group, dances better than I could ever manage with my poor cardiovascular fitness and fawn legs, and raps in a flow languid yet sharp enough to challenge the Raging Rapids as shown through a song recently released in Seventeen's 2017 album Teenage, titled Bring It or Shoot Me Before You Go.
With those three it's really just scraping the surface but this post will never end if I continue on. However just from those three members the versitality in Seventeen's skills cannot be denied.
While I'm joining the Seventeen fandom pretty late, it's during a good time as 2017 was a great year for them. They won the award for Best Dance Performance Male Group and Worldwide Favorite Artist at MAMA and were nominated for many others.
Their recent album, Teenage, is exemplary. Barely any of the tracks are a dud. A dud, for me, being a track that lacks originality, intricacy, or good vocal quality. I can check off all of those boxes for most of the songs on Seventeen's recent album.
It's almost hard to choose a favorite song--a great problem to have. Everyone sounds vocally strong and confident on the tracks. There were various mixtures and collaborations between the thirteen members leading to refreshing results.
The song Flower has an interesting amalgamation of members, two from each sub-unit. One member, The8 (Xu Minghao), raps although he mostly does vocals in songs.
One interesting collaboration that I, or any carat or fan of Seventeen, should have seen coming is a collaboration between members Joshua and Vernon in Rocket. Both members fluently speak English; Joshua is from L.A. and Vernon is from New York. Rocket also contains a heavy amount of English even if it is a K-pop song, making it a tune that I can sing without frequently butchering the Korean language.
Then there's also the songs that are accompanied by great dancing such as their song Clap and Lilili Yabbay. Lilili Yabbay is a song from the Performance sub-unit and the four members perform a contemporary dance in public, in front of a building, in these ethereal white ensembles. Small little beats and melodies in the song are always highlighted by the dance movies, a trait of Seventeen's choreography I adore.
It's no doubt that we'll continue to see great things from Seventeen. I can only expect great things as they seem to get stronger and stronger with each album. The fact that these men also work so hard on the music, the dancing, the concerts, and other elements that are required of an artist in the K-pop industry, is inspiring.
Part of why I listen to K-pop and have admiration for these artists is because I can see how tirelessly they work. While one should pace themselves and not overwork, all should work hard to attain their goals and dreams--live with passion. And that's what I find all throughout the K-pop industry--passion.
Listening to K-pop only stirs my own passions and reminds me of why I still chug on, why I must continue to write, plan, and build my future. Thus I've ended 2017 with more dreams, more heart, more goals than I had entered the year with. I've found the light at the end of the dark tunnel that was 2017.
Find your own through the work of other passionate artists, writers, entrepreneurs whoever, but be enlightened by others who put 120% in all they do so that you feel motivated and inspired to do the same.
If you listen frequently to Seventeen's music or are just coming across it, what songs do you like? My current favorites are Flower, Lilili Yabbay, and Clap, but let me know what has been drawing you in.
Until next time dear readers, saranghae!
More Songs by Seventeen