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The prospect of trying to learn the names of 13 members of any band can seem like a daunting task. But the moment you learn about Seventeen’s charms and talents, it won’t be hard to become a fan for life.
Case in point: Seventeen has been breaking major records this year.
Eight years since making their debut in 2015, the K-pop group recently charted at #2 on the Billboard 200 with their latest 11th mini-album Seventeenth Heaven, which was released on Oct. 23. This achievement marks the group’s fourth Top 10 entry on the music chart. It’s also the most pre-ordered K-pop album in history, at 5.2 million.
Their other albums to have made the Billboard 200 list include Face the Sun, which peaked at #7 in 2022, their repackaged album Sector 17 (which landed at #4) and this year’s FML which also landed at #2.
These records are a testament to a group with humble beginnings. The band spent years training as performers in a small neon green basement and rooming together in a modest dorm. But beyond that, Seventeen were billed as a self-producing idol group who played a heavy hand at everything from songwriting, music production to choreography.
While more and more bands are now playing a role in getting involved in the process of writing and producing their songs, K-pop companies have often maintained tighter control over performers’ images, concepts and songs. It was rare for a group like Seventeen to have so much creative freedom back when they came onto the scene in 2015. It was an ambitious concept at the time, but the hard work over the years has proven to be a big success. They are often labelled as “Performance Kings” and the “Theatre Kids of K-pop” for their flawless synchronized performances and strong vocals.
Below is a beginner’s guide to what you need to know about Seventeen.
Who is Seventeen?
Seventeen debuted as a group on May 26, 2015, and is made up of 13 members: S.Coups, Jeonghan, Joshua, Jun, Hoshi, Wonwoo, Woozi, DK, Mingyu, The8, Seungkwan, Vernon and Dino.
The group’s name is the sum of 13 members that are made up of three teams who perform as one group (13 + 3 + 1 = 17). The three sub-units are vocal, performance and hip hop. Members within each team play a role in writing songs, and producing and creating concepts for their individual performances. Each sub-unit also has a leader to guide their team. (Hoshi for performance, Woozi for vocal and S. Coups for hip-hop).
While the group has three official units, Seventeen has been known to switch things up and make things interesting for their fans by changing up performance line-ups. In 2022, leaders Hoshi, S.Coups and Woozi teamed up on the hip-hop/trap inspired viral hit “Cheers”.
In 2018, members DK, Hoshi and Seungkwan also debuted as a group called BSS with the track “Just Do It,” and released their first EP Second Wind earlier this year. BSS’s lead single “Fighting ft. Lee Young-ji” was an instant hit for its witty lyrics and lively performances.
Seventeen also has a dedicated fandom known as Carats, which is based on their 2015 song “Shining Diamond.” The fandom is called Carats because they help the group shine.
8 songs to get to know Seventeen:
“Left and Right”
Seventeen is often known for their songs of encouragement, putting their upbeat personalities into their tracks. “Left and Right” is one such example, and has become one their most iconic singles to date. The song itself describes youth going “left and right, not knowing what path to take,” and was written as a message to young people to pursue their dreams. “Left and Right” also features really energetic choreography that makes you want to join in on the fun.
“Don’t Wanna Cry”
“Don’t Wanna Cry ” marked a more mature phase for Seventeen when the song was released in 2017. Before that, the group were more known for their lighthearted and happier music. “Don’t Wanna Cry” is an electropop and EDM song that describes feelings of loneliness following a break-up. As moving as the song’s message is, what really makes this track shine is the intricate choreography. While Seventeen’s dance style has often been influenced by hip hop, “Don’t Wanna Cry ” has the boys exploring elements of lyrical dance that is so satisfying to watch when all 13 members are in sync.
This is a song that not only packs an emotional punch, but truly lets the Seventeen members’ vocals shine. The ballad’s overall message is about embracing what it means to be an adult, while missing the days of childhood innocence. Seventeen leader S.Coups also said in an interview that he purposely wrote “Kidult” to be challenging to sing for vocalists DK and Seungkwan. The duo’s impressive vocal runs and harmonies is what makes this song hit so hard, and it’s hard not to become a well of tears every time I hear it play.
“Hot” ushered in a new era for Seventeen, who not only revealed a sexier, more mature side to the group but also solidified them as veterans in the K-pop industry. Set to the theme of Western-style guitar riffs with car alarm samples, “Hot” is the ultimate hype song. One only needs to see this track being performed live to understand why it’s truly special. That’s because the Seventeen boys give something new every time and fans are never prepared for it. Who can forget Hoshi lifting his shirt to show off his abs? Or DK’s powerful vocal break at the Asia Artist Awards? “Hot” sets the tone for what’s to come every time: an unforgettable performance.
While an exuberant and joyful track, what makes “Very Nice” (or “Aju Nice” in Korean) one of the most iconic songs in Seventeen’s discography is because it’s played during every encore of the band’s concerts. However, it comes with a twist.
Famously known as the “Never ending Aju Nice”, Seventeen will play the song on repeat before leaving the stage for good. To hilarious effect, Seventeen will often take their staff by surprise by how many times they play the track. In fact, they’ll even say their farewells and leave the stage just to come back before the curtain closes. During the concerts I’ve attended, Seventeen will play the song up to nine times (sometimes more), encouraging fans to sing along and jump around with them. All of that excitement is exhausting, but partying with Seventeen makes it all worth it.
“I Don’t Understand But I Luv U” – Performance unit
Set to the tune of an ‘80s-style electric guitar solo, the performance unit has never been sexier! “I Don’t Understand But I Luv U” expresses feelings of love towards someone, even if the person does not speak the same language or have the same background.
The stage choreography for this track is also what elevates the song for me, especially as members Hoshi, The8, Jun and Dino come out on stage loosening their ties and unbuttoning their shirts. It is hot! And I’m not quite sure I’ve moved on ever since I first watched a livestreamed performance of the song in July.
“Imperfect Love” – Vocal Unit
While the performance unit is often known for heating things up, the vocal team is more of a soothing palate cleanser. “Imperfect Love” is a mid-tempo ballad that is sure to make you feel warm and fuzzy inside, especially as it is a track about unconditional love. Paired with the vocal team’s harmonies and heartfelt lyrics, this is the song I gravitate towards whenever I want to be comforted. It is simply therapy for the ears.
“Back It Up” – Hip Hop Unit
Set to a groovy, thumping synth track, “Back It Up” will surely get your heart racing. The song itself is one where the hip hop team (S.Coups, Mingyu, Wonwoo and Vernon) confidently rap about winning trophies and awards. After all, the group can quite literally back up their words through their longevity and success as a group. Full of swag and attitude, “Back It Up” is a track meant to be heard live in a concert setting. It’s the ultimate hype song, and it gets more and more addictive with each and every listen.