Dissecting SEVENTEEN’s Song and Album Titles
A guide to many of the details in SEVENTEEN’s song and album titles that are more intentional and impactful than they seem at first glance
If this essay series seeks to bring home any message, it is that SEVENTEEN pay attention to every aspect of their work. They recognize the power of even the smallest details to leave a big impact on audiences, and they therefore make even the most subtle choices with intent and the bigger picture in mind. Below are just some of the many examples of times when the finishing touches on their song and album titles have been anything but random.
As SEVENTEEN have matured, their song lyrics have become bolder and less apologetic. However, old habits die hard, and lingering insecurities remain as they try to break out of their shells. This could explain why SEVENTEEN’s more recent releases, containing more forthright expressions of their emotions than their older music, leave letters lowercase. “Ready to love” and “Rock with you” express a newfound confidence in their ability to profess their affection for someone, but that confidence is not absolute. The use of lowercase letters in these song titles could represent the insecurities they still face. After all, it would give off a much different impression if the songs had been titled “READY TO LOVE” and “ROCK WITH YOU”!
Other song titles consist entirely of capital letters to represent an uncontained, intense emotion. “PANG!” compares crushing on someone to feeling like a balloon is swelling inside that is about to pop. “HOME;RUN” encourages listeners to go for the gold and treat life like a nonstop celebration. “CALL CALL CALL!” stresses the desire for loved ones to reach out the second they are in trouble. Then there is “VERY NICE,” which is capitalized not so much to dramatize the title, but more so to stress how much one feeling can surpass all others. In this case, “VERY NICE” is about how their nerves pale in comparison to the ecstatic, lovestruck state in which they find themselves. In short, the members’ fears of rejection are surpassed by love.
Using exclamation points obviously expresses excitement, but it can also express shock and nervousness, like with “AH! LOVE.” “Ah, love!” has a different connotation than “AH! LOVE.” The former indicates a sense of seeing the love one has been waiting for, whereas the latter (which is their song title) indicates more surprise and satisfaction. “AH! LOVE” is a “Eureka!” moment, as they sing “I love you… Ah! Love is you” (emphasis added).
There are several types of punctuation worth considering at a deeper level. One is the use of periods, indicating a firm declaration on which there is no going back. That is the case in the “Your Choice” concept trailer, where most phrases are concluded with a period, including “I dream of love.” and “We used to be friends.” This finality is also affirmed with the slogan of the Semicolon era:
“Work hard. Play hard. Rest hard. Take a break, there’s a long journey ahead of you.”
Each sentence in that slogan is given equal importance.
Second of all, apostrophes are used in place of finishing words in “g” when SEVENTEEN wish to give those words dual meanings. They have previously confirmed they named “Fallin’ Flower” with that spelling to mean both “Fallin’” and “Fall in;” they sing about falling in love with someone (“I’m fallin’ to you”), but they also admit it can feel lonely when sinking into those uncontrollable feelings (“To falling petals / No one reaches their hand”).
It is reasonable to infer the reason for the spelling in “Thinkin’ about You” is the same. The members sing about both thinking (“Each flower petal, each memory of ours / I haven’t forgotten any of them”) and thinking in a certain way (“Time became drops and kept falling and falling / I was pushed and was falling deeper and deeper”).
Third of all, commas and semicolons are used to represent pauses. One of SEVENTEEN’s album titles is Teen, Age, rather than Teenage, and choosing to separate parts of the word “teenage” represents their desire to not treat them as one and the same. They seek to treat being a “teen” as not requiring a certain “age.” This interpretation is additionally supported by their decision to title the album’s outro “Incompletion,” as well as their continuation of this theme in “Kidult” years later:
“... we’re together / Just the way you are / Like a grown-up child… Sometimes you can waste your time / Even if you’re immature… Tomorrow I’ll live like a child.”
SEVENTEEN wish to grow up at their own pace, rather than feel pressured to age according to arbitrary standards. What their youth looks like and how long it lasts are determinations they wish to leave entirely up to themselves. They continue this theme of choosing their own pace on Semicolon. Vernon explains the meaning of that album title as follows:
“The semicolon is a symbol you use when you interrupt a sentence and then you keep going. [The album] is a message for young people who are working very hard, sometimes struggling, that it’s okay to take a break… Just like the semicolon is used to mark a resting place in a sentence, this album will give listeners the chance to breathe.”
This message is repeated through the weaving kit included in every Semicolon album copy; SEVENTEEN have ensured the message of the album is internalized in listeners' daily lives as listeners try to slow down and take a break from their work to do arts and crafts.
The use of a semicolon in the “HOME;RUN” song title appears to have a dual meaning. It symbolizes a pause between their “Home” and “Run” concepts, two frequently revisited themes throughout their discography, and their contentment with continuing to keep their music in the shared space between both themes. Also, it symbolizes the unanswered questions their songs keep asking: if the goal is to “run home,” or to feel lucky as if one has hit a “home run,” where is home? Where does one run to, and how does one get there? Is running home even the ideal goal? If it is, would that have been represented by naming the song “HOME; RUN.”? Whether zoning in on the lack of a period at the end or the semicolon’s placement, this title leaves much to interpretation. What is clear, though, is SEVENTEEN’s desire to group the concepts of “run” and “home” together.
Attacca serves as an interesting contrast to Semicolon: the definition of “attacca” is to attack at that very moment, to not pause, to not allow for a transitional rest period. Perhaps the break SEVENTEEN take on Semicolon is meant to be seen as a way they recharge and become newly energized to seize the day. Ironically, their use of the word “attacca” represents the importance of taking a break, to ensure the longevity of one’s motivation. To SEVENTEEN, Attacca represents the necessity of taking breaks!
Previously, SEVENTEEN have expressed a sense of incompleteness without their lover. In “BOOMBOOM,” for example, they say “Me without you is zero.” Years later, their outlook has changed, and they can feel like one whole person with or without a partner. “2 MINUS 1” is a breakup song attesting to that:
“I’m doing great myself / Hope you know I am… I don’t need you anymore.”
On the other hand, they switch back to their old way of thinking at the very end:
“Don’t need you anymore / I need you.”
This sudden reversal brings home how SEVENTEEN’s goals and outlooks continue to be conflicting. Also, just because they now sing about feeling complete on their own does not mean they no longer want to have a loved one by their side. This could explain why the Face the Sun pre-release single, “Darl+ing,” is spelled that way. The plus sign represents their desire to “add” a loved one into their lives, and adding the “ing” specifically is a way to represent how that desire is in the present tense. Vernon has confirmed the song “Darl+ing” is technically spelled that way to represent the ongoing nature of SEVENTEEN’s relationship to their fans, Carats, but these interpretations are not mutually exclusive. As they showed with the craft project, they hope to make their relationship with Carats and impact on Carats’ lives ongoing.
There are many other examples of times when minor details alter the entire tone of a SEVENTEEN song or album, including small word changes between “partner songs” (such as “Fear” and “Fearless” and “Oh My!” and “My My”), pointing out how a picture is worth a thousand words (like in DK’s “Smile Emoji” Face the Sun teaser), and using numbers in place of letters (for example, the album Al1 is intended to be pronounced as both “All” and “All one”). Regardless of which examples are focused on, the central takeaway is that SEVENTEEN’s usage of grammar, punctuation, numbers, and other details add yet another dimension to their remarkable storytelling. At times intentional and at times perhaps not, the ways in which tiny details make a big difference and emphasize their music’s themes are impressive and worth taking time to appreciate.
This is part of an ongoing series of essays about SEVENTEEN’s discography, layer by layer. Read past installments below, subscribe to not miss the next installment, and catch up on SEVENTEEN-themed podcast episodes here!