Album Review – FML by Seventeen


Emily Duong, Contributor

Welcome, my friends, to Emily’s tradition of a yearly kpop album review, the finale before she graduates from high school. For those unfamiliar with kpop, full name Korean pop, it is a music genre from South Korea that incorporates various other genres and styles, from pop to R&B to EDM, into unique sounds that, if you dig deep enough, can fit almost any music taste. Some current popular groups you may be familiar with include BTS, Blackpink, and NCT, or you may know the previous groups that I’ve done reviews for: Tomorrow X Together, ATEEZ, and Stray Kids. This review is for the album FML by Seventeen, which was released on April 24, 2023.

Seventeen, stylized as SEVENTEEN and sometimes abbreviated as SVT, is a 13-member Korean boy group under Pledis Entertainment, which also houses artists fromis_9 and BUMZU. The meaning behind the group’s name is that 13 members, plus three subunits (hip-hop, vocal, and performance), plus one team, equals seventeen. This group is known for its unique and versatile sound, as well as complex and intricate choreography. They were initially introduced as an upcoming 17-member group in 2012 during the show Seventeen TV, however, due to debut delays, four of the group’s trainees left before debut. Then, the remaining trainees participated in the survival show Seventeen Project: Debut Big Plan, where, rather than the best ones surviving and becoming a new group, the trainees had to work together to debut as one team. The members are S.Coups, Jeonghan, Joshua, Jun, Hoshi, Wonwoo, Woozi, DK, Mingyu, The8, Seungkwan, Vernon, and Dino. They are a self-producing group, where the members partake in the making of their releases. Though all the members are heavily involved, in particular, Woozi is the group’s main producer, and the group’s rappers (S.Coups, Wonwoo, Mingyu, and Vernon) pen their own raps. They debuted on May 26, 2015, with the album 17 Carat and its title track “Adore U.” Their fandom name is CARAT, with fans known as Carats, where they are the diamonds that are the reason Seventeen shine.

FML is Seventeen’s tenth EP, coming after their previous full album Sector 17 from July 2022 (the repackage of May 2022’s Face the Sun), and is their first EP since their album Attaca in October 2021. FML in this case can stand for two different phrases: “F–k My Life,” but also “Find My Life,” which is the message Seventeen hopes to convey with this album. The album contains three songs by their subunits, where some of the members in each song partook in songwriting, some even in production. In the album as a whole, Woozi was involved in all songwriting and production. Let’s dive in! (listen to the audio by clicking the titles)

​​(Note: In all lyric translations used in the article, bold=English.)


Track 1: F*ck My Life

Yes, you read that correctly. The namesake of this album is one of the two title tracks, and as the name suggests, the group sings about their frustration at their mundane lives. In the pre-chorus, “Crying on the way home / I want to cry, keep crying / My disappearing self, I just want to find it again / … / Is there anyone who can exchange hearts with me for just one day?” Its melody is chill yet wistful, utilizing bass and drums to give almost an indie vibe to the song. The track hopes to give comfort to those simply tired of life, saying that even when life is bleak, just holding on and fighting for your life is enough. In the chorus, “I’m the only fool,” but “From now on, fight for my life / Fight for my life for me / In a world where you’re used to getting used to it / Now I want to find myself.”


Track 2: 손오공 (Super)

손오공, romanized as “so-no-gong,” is the second title track of the album. 손오공 refers to Sun Wukong, known as the “Monkey King” in Chinese mythology and the 16th-century Chinese novel Journey to the West. Known for his impatience and fiery resilience, his name symbolizes his “spiritual journey from an ignorant, short-tempered monkey to a benevolent, enlightened being.” With that, “Super” boasts Seventeen’s hard work thanks to their unbreaking resilience, urging others to never give up until they make it. They reference Sun Wukong several times in the lyrics, for instance, the group mentions riding on clouds to reach for the sky, referencing Sun Wukong’s main way of moving around. Wonwoo raps in the first verse, “I looked at the ground and kept going to the top and / Faced everything, like I’m so proud, I always win / It’s key that you got a strong will.” This strong, energetic dance track utilizes modern and traditional sounds, and in the music video, the group adorns two outfits: one resembling the clothes of a fighter, and the second being traditional gold-lined Korean clothing. Their performance is nothing short of grand, with over 200 backup dancers, fire, and epic camera angles. “We’ll never rest, every day, make it, make it,” Vernon says in the chorus, “Don’t break till we make it / Feels like I turned into sonogong,” as Hoshi belts, “I luv my team, I luv my crew / We already made it this far.”


Track 3:Fire

This is the first subunit song on the album, done by Seventeen’s hip-hop team, which consists of the group’s rappers: S.Coups, Wonwoo, Mingyu, and Vernon. With its catchy hook, experimental sound, and, of course, notes of hip-hop, they boast their success, regardless of the hate and struggles thrown at them. “Take off your mask now / Release it now / It’s time to dance now,” Vernon raps, “We’ve been touring domes now / Haven’t you heard it now? / Stadium tours now / … / Denial of injustice, victory, yes, I can now.” Others may attempt to discredit their accomplishments or tear down what they have achieved, but Seventeen have each other’s backs and will just keep winning, as, after all, they “got the fire,” and no one can tame their passion. “Passion is a bonus on the main dish, dessert is the goal,” Wonwoo says, “Creative on the plate rises every year, the price tag rises / … / Even if I go back ten years ago, I have the confidence to rise again my way.”


Track 4:I Don’t Understand But I Luv U

The second subunit track is by the performance team, composed of the group’s main dancers: Hoshi, Jun, The8, and Dino. This song is about a relationship that transcends words, and that the connection between them and their lover, though unexplainable, is as strong as it ever could be. Hoshi sings, “Even though I don’t understand, I can know you / The language barrier is just an illusion,” as Dino adds, “You know that I also don’t believe me / But you still believed in me / Only inside of you / I’m a blooming flower, spread the fire.” Electric guitar riffs combined with a slow, yet dynamic beat give the song a passionate, almost seductive feel. “All the words that exist in the world / It’s enough for just the two of us to know,” the chorus sings, “with all my desire / With the growing wave of emotion / You know, there are more important things than words between us, right? / I don’t understand but I love, but I love you.”


Track 5: 먼지 (Dust)

먼지 is romanized as “meon-ji.” This is the final subunit song and is performed by the vocal team– Jeonghan, Joshua, Woozi, DK, and Seungkwan– composed of the group’s, well, main vocalists. Various synths ramp up this retro-sounding song as the members reminisce about an old lover, and how the dust that builds up upon their memories with them never faded, but rather builds up and stings their hearts with every passing day. “I say thе lie that deep memories are childish,” Jeonghan sings, “I want to be deceived even though I know / The saying that time heals everything is a fake day after day.” No matter how hard they try to throw away their hurt, or forget about their pain, it always blows back and fills up their heart again. The chorus says, “The dust of stinging and better longing / That is stained by your scent / They don’t float away / They just stack up in my heart / They get tangled up and rolling around / No matter how much I throw away.”


Track 6:April shower

The final song in this album very much suits the season, with its upbeat, uplifting pop melody. In this track, Seventeen correlates April showers with growth, and as the rain falls on them, rather than the gloom tearing them down, it only helps them bloom greater. “When the April shower falls in late spring / Put down your umbrella and walk in the rain,” they sing, “We are like flowers that bloom in May / We go from waiting to bеauty / We will go bloom more, more, morе / Rain drop on me, on me.” The rain sets a scene that allows them to renew themselves in its shower, and the group wishes to help others see rain in a different light. “I wanna rock with you in this rain,” Joshua sings, referencing Seventeen’s song “Rock With You” from 2021, “A drop fallin’ onto us / I’m fallin’ towards you,” as Seungkwan adds on, “To the splashing rhythm / Dance with me in a better mood.”