Seventeen have been consistent with their J-pop releases, crafting original material in addition to re-recording existing songs in Japanese. And rather than outsource the creative process, new single Not Alone (ひとりじゃない) is again composed by Woozi and Bumzu. Even so, this doesn’t come across as a leftover K-pop track pitched to the Japanese market. There’s something distinctly J-pop about Not Alone’s surging, lyrical melody.
Not Alone has that “snowballing” effect I often write about, with the song constantly gathering steam as if rolling down a hill. Each element – from the emotive rap verse to the post-chorus instrumental hook – contributes to this sense of velocity. Its various segments blend in and build off each other. That might make the chorus feel less impactful, but the approach works well for this style of song.
Not Alone opens with a catchy, wordless vocal riff. I wish this re-appeared later in the track, because I love the melody. But, it sets the stage for the synth line that’s to come. The instrumental’s rock-meets-EDM sound makes for an excellent backbone to Seventeen’s emotional performance. I especially love the strumming guitar in the chorus, which joins clap-along percussion for a rousing centerpiece that carries a surprising level of tension and texture. This perfectly sets up the instrumental drop, which plays like a welcome exhalation after the breathless build before it. Not Alone closes with a blend of these two pieces, as the chirpy synth joins the group’s vocals and the track ends on a high. Both the build-up and pay-off are executed with polish, making this a highlight in Seventeen’s Japanese discography.