The international emergence of K-Pop in western markets, as a genre that excites listeners, sparks arena-sized sing-alongs, and promotes interest in cross-cultural trends, has led to more than just an influx of new bands and songs in western mainstream dialogue. The blending of fanbases across continents and countries has inspired many K-Pop bands to explore bold new ways of bolstering their already well-loved style of group-oriented pop music and choreographed entertainment.
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SEVENTEEN is no stranger to this ever-evolving goal. A major mainstay of K-Pop that recently joined the roster of Big Hit Entertainment – the home of other mega groups like TOMORROW X TOGETHER and BTS – the multi-faceted, 13 member group isn’t resting its creative momentum on the laurels of existing success from recognition with Billboard, staggering stream numbers, or recent feature collaborations with artists like Pink Sweat$. Despite adversity the music and entertainment industries have faced during this year, SEVENTEEN has persevered and is ready today to unveil their latest special album titled ; [Semicolon].
A six track effort, this special album not only boasts SEVENTEEN’s beloved hip-hop, vocal, and performance versatility but also a concept of equal versatility. While straightforward in its emphasis on youth, ; [Semicolon] is also wide-reaching in its acknowledgment of how different generations each uniquely experience and characterize that time in their lives. These ideas have been summed up by SEVENTEEN through a variety of engaging teasers, thematic imagery, and most notably, an assortment of musical styles.
SEVENTEEN spoke with American Songwriter about the worldwide release of ; [Semicolon] about undertaking such a stylistically diverse project, the band’s own perception of youth, how they see this album impacting their fans, and more:
American Songwriter: As a group of more than a dozen unique individuals yourselves, what do you all think of when reflecting on the concept of “youth” and what it feels like to make one’s way through that time in your lives?
S.COUPS: We made this album, ; [Semicolon], to give youth who are constantly on the move a chance to “take a brief moment to breathe” and “laugh and let loose.” Therefore, our goal for this album is to provide a short yet powerful resting place for today’s youth who are always doing their best. I have a feeling it will become an “Album for Youth” that can comfort and connect young people. When looking back from the future, I hope SEVENTEEN’s ; [Semicolon] is remembered as an album that exudes the scent and unpredictability of youth.
JUN: I think it’s the best concept to express ourselves with, since we are also members of youth. Everyone has that period in their lives, so I hope they can relate with us.
MINGYU: For me, I think the meaning of youth is to keep moving forward and work hard to accomplish something. Therefore, I think SEVENTEEN is youth itself.
THE 8: For me, youth means having a dream. I think I’m living my youth as a member of SEVENTEEN.
AS: Given the group’s decision to work in brand new mixed unit configurations for this album, what were some of the most surprising aspects of this approach that arose while writing Semi-colon’s songs?
HOSHI: Different styles of music came out of the new units and it was a fun collaborative process. We were able to reflect our individuality, which can be harder to do in our group tracks. So I think even more attractive songs were created from this experience. We formed four mix units to show SEVENTEEN’s charms and different sides of ourselves through this special album. It’s the first time we’ve divided units by age groups to showcase new music, so I’m excited to see how CARATS will like it.
WOOZI: The new units are essentially groups of same-aged friends, so the work process was quite fun and interesting. We exchanged a lot of ideas and had a good time working with each other.
DK: Forming age-based units was enjoyable and led us to come up with fresh ideas.
DINO: The unit for “Do Re Mi” was such a new combination that it was a fun experience in itself.
AS: How do you all discern and find time for the values of taking a break and living in the moment, during a time when SEVENTEEN is probably its most well known to date, its most busy, and its most engaged with its fanbase?
SEUNGKWAN: I ride my bike or listen to music while taking a walk. These days I’ve been going for a drive with the members or my friends.
VERNON: These days I read comic books or solve a Rubik’s cube.
AS: Where did each of you find musical inspiration when writing for the varying genres of [Semi-colon’s] songs – particularly tracks like “Light a Flame” and “AH! LOVE,” which highlight less-commonly heard sub-genres like bossanova and acid jazz?
JEONGHAN: We just got together and brainstormed a lot.
JOSHUA: We got a lot of inspiration from all of our members, but especially WOOZI and our friend BUMZU.
WONWOO: I listened to the theme and genre of the song and wrote a drama scenario in my head to directly reflect it into the lyrics.
Photo credit: PLEDIS Entertainment