It’s a tall order to follow-up a song as well received (and well-delivered) as Mansae. For me, it was one of 2015’s best singles, and established Seventeen as the top rookie group of the year. It also raised expectations almost impossibly high for their follow-up.
Both Adore U and Mansae shared similar styles, opting for a constant barrage of dynamic aural punches and counter-punches that kept the listener constantly off guard. Pretty U is a completely different beast — much more streamlined and subtle in its approach. As a song, it doesn’t hit you over the head as quickly as I’d hoped, relying instead on repeated listens to unlock its charms. That familiarity teases out the track’s indelible melodic turns, particularly notable in the bridge and chorus. From the beginning, Pretty U races forward at a light, sprightly pace. The nimble bass line and touches of electric guitar give it a classic pop sheen that opts for longevity rather than trendiness. This is a hallmark of Seventeen’s music, and a testament to the composing skills on display. The chorus is reliably sticky, utilizing some nice vocal syncopation to give a youthful, summery vibe.
However, Pretty U is missing that one unforgettable hook that made Seventeen’s previous singles so instantly catchy. It feels as if the track could have done with an extra refrain to break up what’s essentially a very fixed, and hurried, song structure. The rap verses don’t work as well as they have in the past, sounding a bit out of place with the candy-coated melody of the chorus, but at least they provide a needed sense of variety. Still, it’s an interesting sidestep for the guys, and one that I suspect will age incredibly well.
**On a related note, I recommend that you click on the album version of Pretty U, as the audio in the music video is terribly mixed and sounds like it was recorded underwater. I’m hoping for a reupload of the video, or at least a fan-edited version that uses the album’s audio instead.