Review

Debut Re-Evaluation: Seventeen – Adore U

Seventeen - Adore UK-Pop debuts can be tricky things. At times, they’re the best song a group delivers. Sometimes, they’re the only song a group delivers!

But, debuts can also be huge wtf moments in an artist’s career. In this feature, I’ll be looking back at debut songs through the prism of time, re-evaluating how well they hold up and how representative they are of an artist’s eventual singles run.


Debut Date: May 29, 2015

Review:

I remember eagerly watching Seventeen’s pre-debut reality series and being so excited because of its heavily-featured theme song. Shining Diamond ended up being an album opener rather than a title track and – believe or not – I initially found Adore U (아낀다) slightly underwhelming when cast in its shadow. It was one of the few K-pop title tracks I stayed up late for – something like 2am in my time zone? So, maybe I was just too tired on first listen.

Regardless of first impressions, Adore U has gone on to become its own diamond in the group’s discography. It arrived as a funky statement of intent, crystallizing Seventeen’s charms right off the bat. At the time, there weren’t many groups with such a large formation, and some of the initial thrill behind Seventeen were the intricate stages they could create with so many members. It’s hard to believe it now, but Adore U is also the product of a struggling agency. By all accounts, Pledis Entertainment was on its last legs. Seventeen single-handedly reversed those fortunes, and the initial success of Adore U played a huge part.

The song itself is pure energy. It’s got rhythm inside of rhythm, and bounds forward with youthful zeal that still sounds refreshing today. Its verses are sticky and sly, but it’s that whopper of a chorus that really establishes the track. The whole thing is so darn playful, constantly shifting direction without ever feeling aimless or overthought. And when we build toward a blissful, vocal-centric climax just before the final chorus, it’s as if the gates of K-pop heaven have burst open.

Adore U is just short of legendary status for me (Seventeen would quickly claim that with its follow-up Mansae), but all the ingredients for a stellar discography are here from the very beginning.


Does the song hold up?
Definitely!

Is the song stronger or weaker than most of the artist’s title tracks?
The group has a few stronger titles, but this sits comfortably in their top ten. Probably top five.

Does the song represent the artist’s music going forward?
It represents an era of their music up until about 2017, but elements of Adore U have never fully left their repertoire.

 Hooks 9
 Production 9
 Longevity 10
 Bias 10
 RATING 9.5

Grade: A


~

21 thoughts on “Debut Re-Evaluation: Seventeen – Adore U

  1. Yassss, this song is great. If it were released today, we would still be all fangirly boyoy over it.

    This is also where they debut there innovative take on dance formations with punchy stylish moves. How to move 13 people around while, still hitting all the expected pyramid formation. It is so refreshing to see their dances.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I know there are people who disagree, but I think SEVENTEEN was one of the initial marks of the new generation of KPOP — right from the start. Unfortunately, all companies took was “people enjoy self-produced groups and big members and crazy dancing”. After the first years, not many groups took inspiration from svt’s greatest asset: the MUSIC. Up until this day I still don’t see groups taking advantage of having lots of members with different styles in the same way Seventeen did.
    It’s also crazy to think that Pledis could go bankrupt, like, the next month if Svt hadn’t been the hit they were from the get-go. This is Seventeen at their “lowest”, and there are groups out there who don’t deliver this level of greatness even at their best.

    Seventeen was the second group I properly stanned, and this debut marked my childhood, so I’m a bit biased about how I feel about it. But Gosh, listening to it again after all these years and it’s still just as great.

    Now that I’ve talked about it, I even think it could be The best debut of all time. Or maybe the second, after SNSD’s.

    Liked by 6 people

    • I could talk for ages about how well Seventeen takes advantage of their amount of members – glad somebody brought it up because it’ s such an important aspect of their music and performance.

      Like

  3. This was an EXCELLENT debut and one few groups matched up to imo. Glad it’s finally featured as a review! I remember trying to find one for adore you when I first learnt of this site and feeling crushed that the earliest one for seventeen was pretty u lmao (which is still good, but not as up my alley compared to mansae and adore u)

    Liked by 2 people

    • I know many do not agree, but it’s one of the best looking MVs for how shoe-string budget it clearly is IMO. The “vaporwave” aesthetics and color grading was super trendy but it also still holds up, and the little framing touches like the “diamond” edges of the video and the gilded in-portraits of the members make it really unique. This is how to make a cheap K-pop video work, if you ask me

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Ooh, I wasn’t expecting this! Come to think of it, it seems like it’s been a while since the last debut re-evaluation feature here? I’ve been hoping Adore U would get a shoutout ever since this began and I’m so happy it’s here!

    My ‘hot’ take has always been Mansae > Adore U > Pretty U. I know I know, Pretty U is widely beloved and IMO flawless in its own right, but something about Adore U is so much more instantly engaging and funky to me. I love the energy of the raps, the creativity and charm in the performances (especially the way they’d switch things up to keep it fresh!), and just overall the feel of getting invited along on a thrilling musical ride with a really satisfactory payoff at the bridge and final chorus. The part-switch up version they did for this is also exceedingly hilarious. (Bring back the part switches, Pledis!)

    The only reason I think Mansae is slightly more perfect is because of the fact that Jeonghan actually has lines in the studio recording there lol. But I love the studio version of Adore U anyway and I love the performances, and I feel it should get more credit than it already does for having set the tone for something that’s bright but not necessarily ‘cute’ – which has served them so well up till now because they continue to perform the heck out of their freshteen songs. Your line about this no longer being their ‘main’ style of music, but still present in their discography, encapsulates what I feel about their current music – it’s changed over the years, and one could well prefer their earlier stuff to their more recent ones (for the most part I do, too, though they remain my favourite group to this day) – but it still has that heart and endearing charm that first made Adore U standout.

    Liked by 1 person

    • ‘ Heart’ is it. It’ s full of heart. Cute but with so much meat on its’ musical bones. Mansae for me is a bit too repetitive to be better than Adore U, but I’ d say Adore U > Mansae > Pretty U. All songs are such highlights though that I almost cannot believe a single group produced three such perfect pop songs.
      I also prefer their early stuff 🙂

      Like

  5. also sidenote the teaser photos for their debut always make me ctfu like they got them in full edgy 2nd gen bg garb—heavy eyeliner studded black clothing and all—like they were gonna give us a dramatic “if this girl rejects me i will actually off myself” jam a la infinite……..only for them to give us ADORE U

    Liked by 1 person

  6. god just inject this song into my veins its so good. the dance practice for this was amazing at the time. i never seen a group love each other? love performing? love having fun? so much!!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This is (according to my taste) the best k-Pop debut of all time. I cannot look at it objectively, but that is my firm opinion.

    Though I joined the fandom later, Seventeen is the group I have been connected to in the most personal way, outlasting and eclipsing any of my other bias groups (yes, even EXO. yes, even Golcha. etc.). A lot of their members are the same age as me, and I matured at the same time as they did. Early Seventeen evokes so many feelings of nostalgia and simpler times for me that it almost hurts. Man, I hope the boys are doing well and enjoying their success after working so hard. I still adore them.

    Like

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