"An Ode" is still a really good pop record, though.
SEVENTEEN wants you to know they've grown up.
[M/V] SEVENTEEN(세븐틴) - HIT www.youtube.com
They're no longer the charismatic lovesick teens depicted in "Oh My!," and they no longer have the relentless optimism of "Call Call Call." Ok, they're still charismatic as hell, but it's more complicated now. Summer is over, and Seventeen has been on an absolute tear in the K-pop scene since they began. "I want a new level," the hip hop unit raps on "Hit," their latest comeback single and intro to the boy band's third album An Ode. "We're so hot," the vocal unit sings on the refrain, (the 13 members are divided into three separate units: vocal, rap and performance.) The members of the K-pop ensemble are painfully aware of how talented they are; every release since their debut in 2015 has shot them further and further into the stratosphere of superstardom. But they want a new challenge. They're bored with how easy it is to make good pop songs. "Hit, hit, hit, hit, hit sound," they sing on the chorus.
It's hard to hear An Ode's "Hit" as anything but satirical considering the "wow, wow, wows," the autotune, the abrasive EDM instrumental, and the rap unit stating blatantly that "this is a hit."
It becomes difficult to distinguish whether the boys are genuinely pushing "HIT" as their big crossover smash, or if they're just making fun of the formulaic ease with which popular music is made. While impeccably well-choreographed, the music video is a mish-mash of classic western pop archetypes, like aggressive rain-dancing. Right before the chorus takes hold, the ensemble calls out, "From this day forth, we're free, jump!" which is a melody that sounds eerily similar to the way the Backstreet Boys chanted, "Backstreet's back, alright!"
Regardless, the "Carats," as their fans are called, are eating it up. To point out the formulaic nature of their music is not to say that SEVENTEEN doesn't deserve the same acclaim as other K-pop groups. Their music, while thematically much more focused on the stresses that fame brings, is melodically primed for western radio. "Network Love" is a tight, tropical house-infused pop song that shows the vocal unit in their prime. "247" is a fantastic R&B slow jam, and "Snap Shot" sounds like Chance The Rapper and The Jonas Brothers made a musical baby.
An Ode is a compelling pop record that paints a more complicated narrative than your average K-pop group. In fact, it seems painfully easy for SEVENTEEN to make radio hits, which isn't exactly a bad problem for a boy band hoping to find international fame.
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As Black Lives Matter protests have rightfully taken the world by storm over the past couple of months, we're long overdue for thorough evaluations of just how often aspects of Black heritage have been co-opted by white audiences.
It should be obvious that much of fashion and music as we know it today was invented by Black people. We (hopefully) all know by now that we can no longer accept Blackface and use of the n-word by non-Black people as the norm—and Internet users have tried "canceling" offenders in the public eye, with varying degrees of success.