Seventeen's first compilation album takes a hard look at its past — and its future

Seventeen poses for the camera during a press conference for the boy band's first compilation album "17 is Right Here," held at the Conrad Seoul hotel in Yeongdeungpo District, western Seoul ahead of its 6 p.m. release. [PLEDIS ENTERTAINMENT]

Seventeen is almost 10 years into its career — and shows no sign of slowing down.

The band dropped its first compilation album, “17 is Right Here” on Monday, sold out Korea's second-largest stadium over the weekend and is preparing for yet another music release and an upcoming tour with stops in the United States.

While its profile has exploded over the course of the decade, the members have worked to maintain many of the original qualities that made the band unique. That has undoubtedly been a factor in its astronomic success — but it comes with its own challenges.

“Our very first challenge started when we decided to debut as a large group of 13,” Seventeen’s leader, S.Coups, said with a laugh during a news conference for “17 is Right Here” at Conrad Seoul in Yeongdeungpo District, western Seoul, ahead of its 6 p.m. release.

Seventeen poses for the camera during a press conference for the boy band's first compilation album ″17 is Right Here,″ held at the Conrad Seoul hotel in Yeongdeungpo District, western Seoul ahead of its 6 p.m. release. [DANIELA GONZALEZ PEREZ]

“It was also a challenge to go for a ‘self-producing’ idol,” the leader added; band member Woozi produced Seventeen songs from the start.

Those challenges persist, S.Coups said, as the band remains a group of 13 to this day, and Woozi is still producing basically all of its tracks.

Nevertheless, the new album also aims to showcase ways in which the band has grown beyond those origins. “We’ve been constantly challenging ourselves in trying out new things,” Woozi said. “We are always trying to ‘be Seventeen’ at all times.” Nevertheless, “as we get older, the color of our albums will change, and we are going with the flow.”

“17 is Right Here” thusly wraps up a nine-year discography — but also opens a new chapter for the band.

“The album contains everything, the very best of Seventeen. We are wrapping up the journeys we've had so far and are also announcing our new start,” Mingyu said. The album, Jeonghan added, is produced with the “best quality,” befitting of the title “Best Album.”

The compilation album features 33 total tracks, including four brand-new songs: “Maestro,” “Lalali,” “Spell” and “Cheers to Youth,” followed by 20 Korean lead tracks, eight Korean versions of the band’s Japanese lead tracks and the instrumental of “Adore U.”

The four new tracks, “Maestro,” “Lalali,” “Spell” and “Cheers to Youth” grant listeners a glimpse into Seventeen’s future music, according to the members.

Seventeen performs at the boy band's ″'Follow Again' in Seoul' encore concert held Saturday at the Seoul World Cup Stadium in Mapo District, western Seoul. [PLEDIS ENTERTAINMENT]

Lead track “Maestro” is a dance and R&B score with a strong piano intro that encourages fans to “conduct the world.” That theme, while somewhat abstract on paper, is shown concretely on stage, where Seventeen brandishes conductors' batons throughout its choreography. Hoshi explained that the band uses one baton stick, handed down to other members “in secret” to shift the focus to subsequent members.

“We didn’t want to give the impression that Seventeen is satisfied with the status quo,” Woozi explained.

“Maestro,” as the lead track of a compilation album, also offers an Easter egg for keen-eared listeners: It draws from the band's seven previous lead tracks including “Aju Nice,” “Oh My!” “Fear,” “Rock with you,” “Cheers” and “Super.”

The track's music video, on another note entirely, showcases Seventeen’s thoughts and fears of a modern world where “everything is created through AI and new technologies.”

“Instead of complaining about upcoming technological advancements, I’ve decided to practice using them,” said Woozi, who has tried writing and composing with the help of AI himself. The member tried to find the “downside of using AI while picking out the advantages of using it” throughout the production process.

“I’ve been thinking every day to see how we can keep Seventeen’s identity in such a rapidly advancing society.”

Seventeen’s three distinct units are also represented in the album: Its hip-hop, performance and vocal teams each have a new song. “Lalali” is sung by performance team S.Coups, Wonwoo, Mingyu and Vernon; “Spell” is the work of hip-hop team Jun, Hoshi, The 8 and Dino; and “Cheers to youth” is credited to the vocal team of Jeonghan, Joshua, Woozi, DK and Seungkwan.

Following the release of “17 is Right Here,” the boy band will be playing the Osaka Yanmar Stadium Nagai and Kanagawa’s Nissan Stadium in May. The latter is Japan’s largest performance venue, seating around 70,000.

Seventeen will also join the Glastonbury Festival in June and Chicago's Lollapalooza in September. But that's not all. The band also plans to release a new album — making two this year — and to kick off another tour in the fall, which will bring them to the United States for the first time in the two year.

“Our vibe, our temperatures are still very high. We are overflowing with the desire to perform in more destinations, bigger halls, even when we are nine years in,” Woozi said.

“We want to go around every single stadium in the world,” S.Coups added. “We want to perform in Europe, in the United States, and more. We still have a lot of fans that we haven’t met yet.”