Song Review: Seventeen – Darl+ing

Seventeen - Darl+ingIt seems every big K-pop group must have their English-language single these days — or at minimum a song directly targeted toward international markets. This is an exciting development for many, but it comes with its own challenges. I don’t begrudge K-pop artists’ global success. I just hope they find it on their own terms rather than sacrifice individuality for mass appeal.

HYBE has a way of literally shaving the individuality off its artists with heavy-handed vocal mixes, but thus far Seventeen have remained mostly exempt from this assembly line processing. Their first English-language single Darl+ing is composed by the usual suspects (Woozi, Bumzu) and pulls Bias List favorite Hwang Hyun into their orbit as well. So far, so good! And… by and large, Darl+ing sounds like a Seventeen song. This is also good. However, it’s not a particularly great Seventeen song.

Hmm… not so good.

Darl+ing boasts a few stunning moments. Its pre-chorus is all sorts of dynamic, emulating the shot of drama that made tracks like Don’t Wanna Cry such durable classics. I’m willing to bet Hwang Hyun had direct influence on this section, as the theatrical synth textures feel like missing pieces of a great ONF song. It’s sad how quickly this excitement gets ripped away, replaced by one of those awful anti-drop choruses that opt for chill vibes over anything remotely compelling. At least seventy-five percent of Darl+ing succumbs to this strummy groove, resulting in an inert hook and forgettable verses. We know Seventeen can bring more to a song than this – pre-release or not.

I don’t get the sense Darl+ing is meant to kick off a massive Western push. After all, Seventeen already have tons of global appeal. It feels more like a gift to their existing fan base. Still, I can’t imagine a track this vanilla acting as an engaging entry point for anyone curious about the group. Hopefully their upcoming album delivers a bolder statement and fuller showcase of their considerable talent.

Hooks 7
 Production 8
 Longevity 8
 Bias 7


36 thoughts on “Song Review: Seventeen – Darl+ing

  1. I HATE the anti-drop here. It’s so particularly unsatisfying, I almost screamed when I listened to this earlier. I mean, I kinda expected it given the song started with the chorus, but wow the build in the pre-chorus and then we get….that.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Speaking of ‘engaging entry point for anyone curious about the group’ does actual music quality even play a role nowadays??

    Seventeen is a favourite group,but I won’t be going back to this song much .

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Agree, this is a very tame meh/it’s fine song for Seventeen. I’ve been looking forward to this as a Carat but mostly for the MV and photos, not so much the song. I do really like the chorus synths since I enjoy repetitive hook,, so I won’t skip it if it comes on shuffle (cough, Ai no Chikara…) but it’s very uninventive and it spends too much time dawdling about? The guitar shred at the end is also out of left field, though I guess it’s hinting at the title for the full comeback or something.


  4. I think the problem here is that there are moments that really stand out, but it doesn’t flow as well as I’m used to hearing with Seventeen songs. The anti-drop by itself is fine, but I think it comes in way too late and doesn’t build off the momentum of that incredible pre-chorus. And a final chorus that felt grander, used that guitar from the bridge, would have wrapped this up even better. I have the same feeling here as I did with Ready to Love – that was aggressive and this is mellow, but both are lacking the sense of smooth build-up and climax that Seventeen are so good at.

    That said, it’s cool that they have something that’s more just for easy listening. I agree that this doesn’t feel like it’s meant to be a big splash in a new market (anyway Seventeen have been popular with their Korean releases alone, so this does feel more like a gift for their existing fanbase – and this is exactly what the members said recently too). This is no Call Call Call! But as a b-side, I think this works as another experiment for them – this is just testing the waters, I feel. My hopes and wishes are centred around the fourth studio album that’s coming up in May, and I’m looking forward to seeing what direction they take that album in.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I’m really curious as to what their intentions are with this English single, as it seems pretty unfriendly to the Western gp, yet they have that deal with Apple. It sounds like them, yet underwhelming at the same time. At least no one can accuse them of using Western songwriters and producers. Not sure I’ll be listening to this a lot but I’ll definitely be rewatching the MV.


    • it’s a pre-release for their upcoming comeback, i doubt they’ll even promote it. it’s just a way for them to connect to their international fans, nothing more.


      • Then why make the lyrics in English, especially if they’re not so great? Oh well, probably overthinking it and should enjoy it for what it is.


        • “it’s just a way for them to connect to their //international// fans” and the lyrics are co-written by woozi. i’m not a fan of the lyrics either but the sentiment is definitely there.


  6. it’s a pre-release, not a real comeback. in fact, i believe it’s moreso meant to introduce whatever lore rigend has made up for them. it’s a good b-side and comes with a fun music video, so i’m not mad at it.

    the only thing i dislike about it are the lyrics. they’re terrible even for kpop standards.


    • I’m very curious though, how would you rate these lyrics on your English Lyrics Rating Scale? On the surface it sounds fine, but some of the lines have me going “….???”


      • Ha! Oh the nostalgia is strong! Its been so long since I pulled out the scale, I had to go Way Back and find it.

        As a reminder, the scale is:
        Intelligible English good lyrics that rhyme
        Intelligible English good lyrics
        Unintelligible English of any quality lyrics
        A single lyric line that is so craptastic it is great
        Mispronounced but decent lyrics
        Cringey but campy lyrics
        Oh so bland lyrics
        Really, What does that mean lyrics
        A single word said over over like that will make it mean something
        Well-pronounced lousy lyrics

        Song does not rhyme
        English is Intelligible
        and, well, oh bosh, it is so dull isn’t it, the whole song.
        I give it an “Oh So Bland” ranking. 3 points out of 10.

        (But the really funny thing, between you and me because no one else will find this. Next to the copy I copied of the ranking above was a draft of another j-hope song, which I also thought was one note on repeat just like yesterday’s j-hope song.)

        Liked by 1 person

        • Right?? It came to my mind again when I found an old draft review of my own that had a copy of this ranking in it, haha! I can’t agree about the song being dull though – I’ve actually fallen in love with it over multiple listens. The prechorus just pulls on my heartstrings so much (and the beat drop grew on me). I can agree with most of the lyrics being bland – but a lot of them could also fall into “what does that mean” lyrics (If you know this, I want to know our problem, blood type or dna??? Friends see my feed and worry?? Is this about instagram?)

          Liked by 1 person

  7. as a carat, i’ve been so frustated for years, their songs just dont have proper climax, its nice but underwhelming
    also i hate the anti drop here, unlike “home” the anti drop here isnt followed by a proper drop, I NEED CLOSURE:(((((


  8. Big eh from me, but I’m not their biggest fan. But the stylist and video crew who turned them into the living embodiment of Easter candy and rainbow sherbet needs a raise. Very pleasing video.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Yeah it’s extremely vanilla but at least it’s listenable. The song and MV give off lighthearted pastel vibes, which is very fitting since Easter is around the corner so I’m not 100% disappointed. At least it’s not Permission to Dance that’s the only thing I’m grateful for…

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I’m catching up on Seventeen’s discography so I’m here almost a year too late.
    This song’s flaw is that it cannot decide what it wants to be. Adorable and mellow bop for fan edits or sweeping, lush love song that follows the style of Seventeens prior work? I wish they had picked one, because this song has gorgeous little moments that are undercut in a jarring way by the drop.

    If frustration was a song, this would be it. That said, I still like listening to it and I’ll appreciate it for it’s different pretty moments.


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