(ATTN: UPDATES with more details in paras 15, 17-18)
By Chang Dong-woo
SEOUL, June 22 (Yonhap) -- It's natural for youth to torment themselves at life's pivotal moments, like potentially life-changing career decisions, all the way to the most mundane choices, such as what to have for dinner.
For today's youth, who face constant uncertainties, K-pop boy band Seventeen on Monday presented a dose of comfort and encouragement via the group's latest EP album "Heng:Garae," advising them to free themselves of anxieties when pursuing dreams and pushing toward challenges.
"We tried to fill the album with encouraging messages for today's youth who are pursuing their dreams," Woozi, vocalist and songwriter of Seventeen, said at a media showcase for its seventh EP album at the Intercontinental Seoul Coex Hotel in southern Seoul.
Woozi added, "For those feeling lost during their coming-of-age period, when we try to find answers to our worries, we wanted to suggest there is always a way up forward, as in the term Henggarae."
Henggarae is a Korean word meaning tossing up someone in celebration.
"Heng:Garae," Seventeen's first new record in nine months, contains six songs. It is fronted by "Left & Right," a funky rhythmic dance pop track that moves along hard piano bass lines paired with twangy rhythm guitars.
Other songs, mostly bright and inspirational, include "Fearless," "My My" and "Kidult." Concept-wise, "Heng:Garae" represents a stark departure from the band's previous album, which explored darker topics.
"When I first heard 'Left & Right,' I found myself humming and moving along with the song. I could envision us being on stage performing," main singer Seungkwan said.
Hoshi, Seventeen's main dancer, explained that he initially had reservations about "Left & Right" but later became hooked.
"I wasn't exactly sure when I listened to the song for the first time. It wasn't a genre that we had tried in the past. But when hearing it for the second time, I had goosebumps," Hoshi said.
He added, "I thought 'now this is a what a title song sounds like.' I knew that Seventeen could try something that we haven't tried before."
The band, which debuted in 2015, is currently in its sixth year. Hence, according to singer DK, the band put in a lot of efforts in producing the album, constantly revising and re-recording the album.
"We sought out many details during the recording process. The theme of the album was youth, hence we tried to include a sound that suited the concept. We revised and tweaked a lot during the production," DK said.
The album is already poised to become a massive commercial success, having secured more than 1.06 million copies of retail pre-orders in South Korea. Nonetheless, the band is focused on receptions from fans and critics.
The record is also the band's first release after Pledis Entertainment, the group's label-management agency, was acquired by Big Hit Entertainment, the company behind K-pop powerhouse BTS.
"We just hope that the album is received well. Sales numbers are important too but our goal is for the album to be received well by fans," said group leader S.Coups.
During the media event, member Mingyu publicly apologized for his visit to a restaurant with fellow K-pop stars in Itaewon, Seoul, in late April. South Korea saw a spike in the number of new daily infections after a 29-year-old man tested positive following visits to five clubs and bars in Itaewon in early May.
"I want to apologize to fans for disappointing them over my misbehavior. I will work hard to not disappoint our fans who give us great support," Mingyu said.