Seventeen's new single "Hit" embodies the word all ways. The hard-hitting, electro/hip-hop not only landed the band their highest-charting World hit in more than a year, but marks a dynamic shift to an image the act's only hinted to in the past.
The K-pop group's first release as a stand-alone digital single, "Hit" seems to be testing the waters for a powerful, in-your-face image embraced in the 2018's banging buzz track "Getting Closer" and a "Dark Seventeen" concept first teased in late 2016. Seventeen has only briefly touched on these sides, often opting for softer or feel-good songs as singles, seen when "Getting Closer" was included in the otherwise chill You Made My Dawn EP from earlier this year. Notably in America, "Getting Closer" outsold Dawn's lead single "Home" in its first week out, indicating this style could connect the 13-member boy band deeper inside America's burgeoning K-pop scene.
In their first interview after announcing their third full-length project would drop on Sept. 16, Seventeen emphasize a "new color" and a feeling of "liberation" in their forthcoming album. After "Hit" debuted on the World Digital Song Sales chart at No. 4 (selling 1,000 copies in its first week out, according to Nielsen Music) and a headlining performance to close out KCON Los Angeles, Seventeen's next step will be all-the-more important with their world tour looming and more U.S. opportunities become available.
While the guys remained tight-lipped not to reveal any spoilers, a new chapter is undoubtedly in the works for a band and they say clues are all around fans to find in the month ahead of the release. Check out what the band had to say in a group interview with additional comments from English-speaking members Vernon and Joshua.
Billboard: Congratulations on the release of "Hit." How is everyone feeling with the response of the single so far?
S.Coups: I'd like to thank everyone first. We've worked hard on trying to show a new color and image, and we're incredibly grateful for all the positive responses.
Vernon: We're so satisfied with the song and the choreo[graphy]. Now, we just have to show that energy.
What goals do you have with this single?
Woozi: Whenever we work on our music, we always ask ourselves, "What suits us best?" and that becomes the foundation. We try to focus on the message Seventeen wants to send to the listeners, so, we hope our voices can be heard clearly this time also.
Joshua: And for this single, our concept is quite different from our usual, so we wanted to show another part of Seventeen. Also, we hope people can focus on our choreography, as we've put a lot of strength into our performance this time (Laughs).
Vernon: And compared to past songs, I guess you could say it's similar to "Getting Closer" but the overall message is really to show a different side of us.
Seungkwan: I wanted to hear people say, "This is Seventeen," as in something that you say when you have expectations about someone and when that expectation is satisfied. So, even though we've shown a new color, it would be great to hear something like Seventeen still manages to pull it off.
This is the first time Seventeen is making a full comeback with a standalone digital single. Was there any particular reason for that?
Vernon: It's a new beginning and we wanted to start it out different, a digital-single comeback was a way to do that.
Woozi: Since it's an EDM-genre track, it goes well with the summer. But instead of just being a "fun" track, it would be great if the listeners can search for the message within. I hope many people will look forward to our upcoming activities after this release also.
Tell us about preparing the choreography.
Vernon: This digital single is like the introduction to our upcoming activities, so we wanted to put more strength into the performance. As the message in the track states — "liberation from those that oppress us" — the choreography is much more powerful than our previous releases. It's like our top three most intense choreos, definitely, along with "Getting Closer" and "Call Call Call!"
Joshua: One of the main things we focused on while making the choreography is that we didn't want to let down our fans. We wanted to mature our choreography too and I guess that's why it came out so intense.
Mingyu: We went through many difficulties during the preparation.
At first listen, I actually had a feeling this was going to be a powerful performance, but watching your first live performance, I thought, "Wow, this is the song Seventeen needs to perform on American TV."
Vernon: Yes! That's exactly what we were saying. Even when we first heard the song, our first reaction was that and then our next reaction right after, "Well, the choreo would have be top-notch intense and so powerful to match."
Joshua: One thing I've noticed is that we're getting a lot more positive feedback from our fans overseas than before so we're really happy about that.
Before announcing "Hit," you shared the mysterious "[Prologue] An Ode 1 : Unchained Melody" video. There are a lot of theories of what you’re trying to show in that video. Can you explain anything more?
S.Coups: There are a lot of meanings within the video, but we've added a message that displays the direction Seventeen will be going toward in the future. "Unchained Melody" suggests a song of freedom; it connects with the idea of searching for liberation and the upcoming stories of Seventeen.
Vernon: And if "Unchained Melody" suggests freedom, how that connects to "Hit" is that we're breaking our boundaries and going on another level.
Mingyu: You can see in the epilogue video, which we revealed on the 12th, we will be releasing our new full album on Sept. 16, so you can try to search for the hidden meanings within and, in the meantime, wait for our comeback (Laughs). Hope you all look forward to it.
Have you finished the album? Can you tell us anything at all more about it?
Vernon: It's all prepared, I don't want to spoil the surprise, but…
Joshua: …it's going to be very different.
Vernon: Even with our title track [first single], I think you'll sense the maturity.
I keep hearing maturity from you guys, how exactly does the idea to show this more mature side come about exactly?
Vernon: We discuss first as a team and kind of plan our way and how we want to approach the listeners this time. We've grown and we've matured so, naturally, that's resulted in "Hit."
Joshua: Like always, we want the music to match the image that we have right now.
On a completely different note, Seventeen made some appearances on Tobi Lou's debut album Live on Ice, with your song "Holiday" sampled on "17cg" and Vernon dropping a verse on "Looped Up." Congrats on that feature, Vernon.
Vernon: Thank you. Last year, when I met Tobi in L.A. last year, we were just chilling all day really. He took me here and there, a taco place, and at the end of the day to his studio. We just exchanged each other's our music, gave each other feedback, talked about a lot of stuff. But we really just chilled that day. I actually heard that song on his Instagram Story and I messaged him, "Yo, this hook's fire" and he said, "Yo, you wanna jump on this?" He sent me the track and, yeah, that happened.
Joshua: "17cg" is so fire. Vernon turned on the song and it sounded so familiar, I was like "How do I know this song, how do I know this song?" and I asked Vernon and he's like "Yeah, dude, Tobi sampled 'Holiday.'" Like, what the heck!?! That's literally how we found out.
Vernon: When Tobi heard "Holiday," he was so hooked to that melody [sings a bit of the pre-chorus melody] he was just so hooked that he wanted to sample it and make into another song. And, voila! It's probably one of the best songs on the album. All the members love it.
What else is coming that we need to know?
Hoshi: We have our upcoming concert in Seoul titled "Ode to You." We’re practicing a lot for this concert to show new sides of ourselves, so I hope everyone is excited as much as we are.
Joshua: We're going to be able to meet more Carats overseas too with our upcoming world tour.
Vernon: That's the main goal. We're routing through the tour right now actually.