Seventeen’s special digital track Getting Closer (숨이 차) is a tricky one for me to review, because it’s not at all the musical direction I hope to see the guys take. Yet at the same time, I kind of dig the song itself.
One of my biggest pet peeves with K-pop fandom is the constant desire for boy groups to go “dark.” Lighter fare is almost always dismissed, as if it’s a phase a group may go through on the way to something more “mature.” A bright and melodic sound is often perceived as unsustainable and below a group’s eventual potential. But with so many upbeat acts going darker this year, everyone’s starting to sound the same. There’s a way to mature without resorting to the same clatter trap beats and blustering electronics.
Getting Closer was pitched as a year-end hype track to build interest in the group’s upcoming 2019 music. With this in mind, the song’s intense hip-hop sound is probably a one-off — at least when it comes to their title tracks. As much as I could complain about the vocal effects that open the track and the Monsta X-esque synths that follow, Seventeen once again prove that they can upgrade a tired formula. Despite its worst instincts, Getting Closer pops with life.
We don’t get to hear all that much from the group’s vocal line this time around. Pop melody is replaced by a staccato sing-talk style that lets the guys try on the bad boy posture so many have been clamoring for. This obviously benefits the rappers, but Closer’s best moments are the hooky interjections that run through the song. An early throwback to 2016 single Boom Boom is fun, and the breakneck pre-chorus is even better. Even at its noisiest moments, Getting Closer’s brash confidence helps compensate for its lack of melody. It’s sharply performed and surprisingly powerful for a track that is essentially made up of nothing beyond percussion and vocals.
Here’s to a strong 2019 for Seventeen. This is clearly a group that can pull off any style, so I’m cautiously optimistic.
The fact that they debuted this on a live stage (MAMA) instead of as an MV/digital release has me thinking (hoping?) this is moreso a performance piece in the vein of NCT’s Black on Black than a taste of their 2019 main course. The choreo certainly looks the part–I’d go so far as to say it’s the sharpest and showiest routine they’ve had since debut. If they do end up fully committing to this sound, I’ll at least take some comfort in that.
Despite the heavy rap focus, I think DK and Seungkwan were used really well here. The lack of melodic content lent their ad-libs and small bursts of Melody more gravity than usual. Overall my sentiments are pretty much identical to yours–I have reservations and some degree of dread about their creative direction, but the song itself is hard to fault.
Probably not a complete change in their musical direction as they keep on using different genres while maintaining their boyish charm. Loved the song and choreo to bits!
I really hope this was just an special song created for awards performances. Even if they managed to approach this so-called “dark” concept in a slightly different way than the rest of groups going for that same image, I still think pretty cliché way of “maturing” their sound. And honestly, never thought I would use that word to describe Seventeen’s music.
I have this problem everytime Seventeen goes to the “darker” side of kpop as a Pledis group: they lose their color.
Maybe it’s cause of their main producer is also involved in the rest of Pledis’ groups music (of course they’re bound to share similar stylistics and production choices) but whenever it’s this type of “concept” it seems there’s just one way of musically approaching it for them and that is the famous trap/hip hop sound. It bored me the second the song started.
Maybe it’s just me cause I don’t find this “we’re tough and badass” image appealing but I can’t help but feeling a bit disappointed this time.
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