(Sorry about cropping most of Seungkwan out of the profile picture – this was the only comeback-related photo that somewhat fit my blog’s required dimensions ^^”’) I’ve always found myself in a bit of a strange place with SEVENTEEN. I like them a lot and I always check in on their comebacks, but I just don’t click with their music as much as I do with my favorite boy groups. It feels like half the time I really enjoy their songs, and half the time I think they’re nice but not really my thing. This push and pull has been going on for YEARS – I thought things would change when I got obsessed with “Left & Right,” but then I wasn’t into “Home Run” and ended up right back where I started. So, I was wondering which reaction I’d have to “Ready to Love.”
“Ready to Love” is an emotional piece that contemplates confessing to a friend you’ve fallen in love with. There’s a nice contrast between the members’ smooth sincere vocals and the arrangement’s strong and steady tempo. It’s still a pop dance track that’s easy to enjoy on the surface level, but there are also a lot of layers and interesting elements to discover if you really want to dive deep. It’s quite different from most of SEVENTEEN’s title tracks, and it occurs to me that this is probably the most mature concept I’ve ever seen from them. (Based on their feel-good music, I tend to think of them as fun and lovable.) But at the same time, I feel like it folds nicely into the rest of their discography.
While I think “Ready to Love” is objectively great, I must confess I currently have trouble remembering what it sounds like. It just doesn’t seem to make a strong impression on me, and I’m not really used to that with SEVENTEEN since their music usually has such distinctive melodies. I’m sure it will become more memorable over time, and it might even grow on me. But in this moment, I’m slightly perplexed because I always have a clear opinion of SEVENTEEN songs after the first listen – and I’m not sure exactly where I stand with this one. (Interestingly enough, I had a similar feeling about Monsta X’s comeback a few weeks ago.)
Though I’m on the fence about “Ready to Love” as a song, I absolutely adore all of its visual aspects – particularly the performance. Regardless of how I feel about SEVENTEEN’s title tracks, I always love their choreographies. Part of it is the eye-catching formations they make, but it’s mostly because of their skill and their ability to completely captivate their audience. (The level of synchronization they have is insane.) They’re unquestionably high-level dancers, but they can easily draw you in with the simplest of movements. While the choreography for “Ready to Love” doesn’t have as many standout moves as some of SEVENTEEN’s other dances, it paints a beautiful picture that really personifies the song and brings it to life. It also perfectly emulates the music’s slightly angsty nature, which I enjoy because I’m all about the angst.
The music video is also stunningly beautiful. Though there are only glimpses of a potential love interest, it still feels very romantic with all the flowers and pastel colors and the members of SEVENTEEN looking like ideal boyfriends. (Side note: I am thrilled that Jeonghan’s longish hair is making a comeback.) I also like how the sets are also covered in sentences like “I dream of love” and “You are my escape.” It’s a tad cheesy, but they nicely express the song’s subtext. And there’s one part that really stands out to me: when Mingyu walks up to two telephone booths labeled “Friend” and “Lover,” and he deliberately steps into the latter and makes a call. It’s a fantastic visual metaphor for crossing that line from friendship to maybe more – and the risk involved in confessing your feelings – and I think that one moment perfectly embodies the entire essence of the song.
MY OVERALL INTEREST LEVEL
(NOTE: My options for each category are “Love,” “Like,” “Neutral,” “Not My Style,” or “Dislike.” But I rarely dislike anything, so I’ll mostly be using the other four.)
While I’m incredibly impressed by the visual and aesthetic elements of “Ready to Love,” I’m slightly less enthusiastic about the song itself. Unfortunately, these days I’m so busy that I mostly consume K-pop through listening to music (rather than watching videos)… so my opinion of the song tends to count more than how I feel about dance or the music video. And since I don’t love the song as much, I don’t see my feelings about SEVENTEEN shifting any time soon. So I guess I’ll stay in that weird place of liking but not loving them for now, but I still think they’ve done an amazing job as always. “Ready to Love” is strong evidence of why they’re such a mainstay of the industry, and its mature vibes give us a good idea of what their veteran years will be like.
(“Knee Jerk Reaction” is a column I created to talk about comebacks or debuts when I don’t have a lot of time to write in-depth reviews. A knee jerk reaction is like an automatic response, so it’s a post about my initial thoughts on the song, the music video, and the performance if it’s available. Compared to my reviews, everything is more stream of consciousness and less analytical. And everything is 100% my own opinion!)
SOURCES: Featured image and music video belong to Pledis Entertainment. Music video distributed by HYBE Labels.