13-membered K-pop boy group, SEVENTEEN, released their tenth mini album “FML” —featuring double tracks “F*ck My Life” and “Super” — on April 24.
The mini album follows a similar structure to SEVENTEEN’s previous mini albums, consisting of six tracks in total. Three of these tracks are performed by one of the group’s three sub-units — Vocal Unit, Hip Hop Unit and Performance Unit — while the other three are sung by the entire group.
This album surprisingly has two title tracks. During their March fanmeeting, Caratland, leader S. Coups surprised fans by announcing that the group would be “coming back twice” in April. This sparked some confusion because while SEVENTEEN has promoted B-sides alongside title tracks in the past, they have never named two songs as the title.
Vocalist and producer Woozi took to the fan communication app Weverse to describe the utmost confidence that the group had in this mini album, saying that despite the risks of promoting two songs instead of focusing all their energy on one, both tracks were worthy of their status as title songs. This simultaneously built hype and subtly foreshadowed the tone of the music to come.
On April 13, SEVENTEEN posted an album trailer titled “F*ck My Life : Life in a minute,” featuring member Vernon monologuing over clips of the members who — as Vernon puts it — are “[breaking] free from the perfectly unhappy world.” The video features several scenes that parallel “The Truman Show,” a movie about a man who is unaware that his entire life is an elaborate broadcast watched by viewers around the world. Vocalist DK smashes a lamp with a baseball bat revealing a camera hidden inside, people on the subway stare at rapper Wonwoo as he walks through an empty station, and the entire group is shown running away on a boat — like Truman — at the end of the teaser.
SEVENTEEN also puts their own spin on a poster from “The Truman Show” that depicts a plane being struck by lightning. In the movie, this picture is captioned, “It could happen to you!” and meant to discourage Truman from wanting to travel. In SEVENTEEN’s teaser, this picture is captioned “F*CK OR FIGHT” and meant to encourage the viewer with two different methods of handling the mundanity of everyday life – through sighing heartily and cursing the world or through taking initiative and fighting for your own happiness.
Both the song and the music video pick up exactly where the trailer left off, as “F*ck My Life” opens with the ending line in the trailer: S. Coup’s “이런 빌어먹을 세상” / “This damned world.” The music video sees the SEVENTEEN members escaping their individual struggles by boarding a boat together to escape their manufactured world. The song repeatedly expresses the group’s weariness with life, singing poignant lines such as “I’m getting tired of the dream I’m dreaming alone / I’m so tired of it, I want to quit” and “Crying on the way home / I want to cry, keep crying, woah-oh-oh, oh.” The song’s melody repeats itself and seems to be propelled by sheer willpower alone. It is only the members’ voices that seem to cut through the repetitiveness of both the instrumentals they’re singing over and the life that they’re singing about. Despite it all, the song is positive, putting a new spin on the acronym “FML” by reinterpreting it as “find my life” at the end of each chorus.
The second title track, “Super,” is an intense, frenzied epic in both sound and dance. Drawing from the myth of the impulsive, chaos-creating monkey king Sun Wukong, SEVENTEEN compares their journey to the top of the music industry to Sun Wukong’s string of military triumphs in “Journey to the West.” The song has a character that only SEVENTEEN can pull off, with its high-scale choreography extending their famous knife-sharp synchronization beyond the 13 members and to a group of 200 back-up dancers meant to represent Sun Wukong’s monkey clones. The choreography also references the anime “Dragon Ball Z”, as its protagonist’s – Son Goku’s – story is loosely based on “Journey to the West.” During the chorus, the members press two fingers to their temples, referencing the motion that Goku does before teleporting. The song ends with a high-energy outro, in which Woozi sings “This is a cartoon’s ending song,” letting the song ascend into its stadium chant vocal loop and pounding percussion while SEVENTEEN shake off their backup dancers, gathering as 13 for one final hurrah.
The other songs on “FML” add new colors to SEVENTEEN’s musical repertoire. The Hip-Hop Unit’s “Fire” builds on a looped sample of the word “Fire,” with the group’s rappers slithering over sparse beats in between bass booms that hit and expand like bursts of flames. The Performance Unit’s “I Don’t Understand But I Luv U” calls back to the R&B sensibility of “247” and the unabashed sensuality of “Lilili Yabbay,” as they turn a fan’s comment on a livestream into a catchy hook, crooning it over synths that blend into each other like waves hitting the shore.
Finally, the Vocal Unit’s “Dust” is deceptively upbeat. Its bright synths and catchy vocal melodies are tinged with melancholy as they sing, “No matter how much I throw away / The memories along the flower road / They rеturned back like dust / And fills up my heart.” The mini album’s closing track, “April shower,” has pulses that synth like raindrops hitting the ground, symbolizingSEVENTEEN ending the album enjoying the rain and awaiting the flowers to come.
The group’s passion was well-received by fans and the public alike, as they broke the record for highest amount of sales on the day of release with nearly 4 million copies. In addition, the group hit #1 on Billboard’s Artist 100 chart and ranked #2 on the Billboard Top 200, just under country music giant Morgan Wallen.
“FML” is a showcase of SEVENTEEN’s unwavering passion, as they are still finding — or rather creating — new challenges to take on nine years into their career. From double title tracks to performing with 200 backup dancers, the group is reaching new heights and rising up to the sky just like Sun Wukong. This mini album not only exceeds current expectations, but builds even more excitement for what is to come from the group, as they show no sign of slowing down.
Teresa Pham is an Arts & Entertainment Staff Writer. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.