Last year, my favorite Seventeen song wasn’t a Korean title track at all. It was their first original Japanese single, Call Call Call, which harnessed the guitar-fueled dance pop sound that I love most from the group. Because of this, anticipation was high for new J-pop track Happy Ending. It’s been exactly a year since Call’s release. Could this song possibly measure up?
In short, the answer is no. Seventeen have been moving toward moodier territory of late, cashing in on boy group trends rather than further exploring the trademark style that brought them attention in the first place. Evolution is fine, but it feels like their music is starting to blend in with everyone else. Happy Ending is also fine, but its overly repetitive hook and needlessly angst-filled delivery feels like a step back.
I like that Ending preserves the guitar from Call Call Call, but I could do without the trap beats sprinkled throughout the track. The production never gathers the kind of strength I’m used to from Seventeen. Instead of building to a dynamic climax, the song just kind of spins its wheels within the same mid-tempo territory. The guys sound great, especially on the verses. The arrangement knows how to use layering to its advantage, ebbing and flowing with strength. The shout-rap segments feel unnecessary and uncharacteristic, but I guess the J-pop market is a place to try new things. Let’s hope this is a one-time experiment, and that Seventeen will be back to their buoyant selves next time they come back in Korea. For now, Happy Ending is forgettable filler in an otherwise stellar singles run.