Whether they’re writing about finding strength during challenging times or overcoming their greatest fears, SEVENTEEN always tries to create music that fans can relate to. In 2021, they’re keeping that energy alive with a new project that explores various forms of love. Called “Power of ‘Love,” fans will be able to see the theme throughout the group’s releases this year, including SEVENTEEN’s upcoming mini-album, Your Choice, which drops on June 18. But MINGYU and WONWOO are starting the initiative early with their first-ever sub-unit collaboration, “Bittersweet,” featuring LEE HI, on Friday, May 28. Like the title implies, the track is about the mixed emotions that come when friends find themselves in a love triangle. The stars have performed as part of SEVENTEEN’s hip-hop sub-unit since 2015, so MINGYU and WONWOO's raw, new ballad reveals a side to the duo fans are not used to.
Fans got a first look at “Bittersweet”’s storyline in SEVENTEEN’s May 17 “Power of ‘Love’” concept trailer. The animated clip shows two friends playing basketball when they see a beautiful girl pass by, which causes them both to look at her with admiration. It was an innocent portrayal of the love triangle trope, but MINGYU and WONWOO’s “Bittersweet” music video tells a more heartbreaking side of the story. “For ‘Bittersweet,’ we thought a lot about all the various types and stories of love out there and decided to explore the mixed emotions that accompany friendship, love, and everything in between,” WONWOO tells Elite Daily. “Love is the overarching theme for SEVENTEEN throughout 2021, and we’ll continue to unpack this broad topic and various storylines in our ‘Power of ‘Love’ project throughout the year.”
SEVENTEEN consists of 13 members, and although they often explore their individual skills through three sub-units — vocal, performance, and hip-hop — MINGYU says working with just one other person allowed even more creative freedom. “When we’re working as a part of SEVENTEEN, everyone actively shares their opinions and ideas, so there’s a balancing act necessary where we have to take many viewpoints into consideration,” MINGYU says. “But with just two people, it’s much easier to directly incorporate our own personal thoughts and emotions into the song,” he says.
Out of all their bandmates, MINGYU and WONWOO chose to collaborate because they felt their voices would create something incredibly unique. “I thought our CARATs would really like the synergistic effect of our combined vocal,” MINGYU says. “Especially because we have somewhat of a similar vocal color, but at the same time, a charm and vibe that’s quite distinctive of each other.”
While fans often hear them rapping with SEVENTEEN, “Bittersweet” sees MINGYU and WONWOO show off their singing voices. “We were able to demonstrate our vocals in a way that we haven’t before. During the recording process, we went through several revisions and re-recordings, and all this helped me become a more solid vocalist,” WONWOO says.
The mid-tempo pop ballad, backed by guitar riffs, is packed with emotion and is unlike the group’s harder hip-hop songs. “Given that ‘Bittersweet’ is a style of music completely different from what we’ve done before, the [recording] process itself was a new challenge for me. If you sense that the song is different, I think it’s a testimony that we’ve completed our mission to some extent,” he says, adding he would love to continue working closely with WONWOO. “He’s a member I would like to collaborate with more often in the future.”
Considering the song’s storyline involves an emotional love triangle, it made sense to have three artists on the track. That’s why MINGYU and WONWOO invited LEE HI to feature. “We knew we wanted an additional voice in ‘Bittersweet’ from the very beginning; a voice that would bring something new that had not been heard in SEVENTEEN’s music before,” MINGYU says. “We thought LEE HI would be the perfect fit for the groovy yet soulful ambiance. She really brought the song together and upped the overall quality of the track.”
MINGYU and WONWOO feel confident experimenting with new concepts thanks to the support of their fans, who they call CARATs. “We’re able to create our music without getting tired or discouraged because we have you cheering us on,” WONWOON says. MINGYU adds, “What we can do to repay our CARATs who have shown us such great love is to share more music and amazing performances that’ll touch your heart and tap into your emotions. We’ll continue to knock at your heart, so please leave the door open for us!’”