At the turn of the new millennium, British garage – a genre that had been bubbling underground for nearly a decade – went mainstream. Pirate radio sellers became platinum sellers, and artists outside the scene began to take influence from the style’s percussive, syncopated beats on their own hits. Over 20 years later, another revival is entering a similar moment – last year Interplanetary Criminal hit the top spot with the Eliza Rose collaboration ‘BOTA (Baddest Of Them All)’ and are now a member of the world’s biggest pop group. to exploit the sound for his official solo debut.
Jungkook diving into the garage for ‘Seven’ may come as something of a surprise, as much of his solo work, whether on BTS albums or low-key Soundcloud releases, has descended into softer, more sentimental sounds. His 2020 anthem ‘Still With You’ watered down melancholic jazz pop and ‘Map Of The Soul: 7’ entry ‘My Time’ served up melodic R&B, while even his ‘Love Yourself’ solo ‘Euphoria’ floated on future warm bass-tinged pop. But by embracing something more choppy and beat-driven, the singer is finding new uses for his voice.
Where his acclaimed vocals on previous releases have complemented and matched the music he sang over, here opposites attract. As fragments of acoustic guitar loop between erratic rhythms, Jungkook is an anchor, his smooth voice – gliding and dipping between polished midrange and honeyed falsetto – tempering the more jagged nature of the sound here. It’s a combination that works brilliantly.
Lyrically, ‘Seven’ also recalls – whether on purpose or not – one of the players in UK garage’s first mainstream breakthrough. After scoring a number 1 single with ‘Fill Me In’ in 2000, Craig David followed up that success with the R&B-leaning ‘7 Days’, which chronicles a week of love. Where David described a lust-filled week-long encounter, Jungkook’s single is however rooted much deeper in romance. The BTS star’s rundown of the days feels less like a reading of a single week and more like a commitment to cycle through the calendar together forever; not only “seven days a week” but four weeks a month, 12 months a year – or, as he puts it in the song, “every hour, every minute, every second”.
The surprises on ‘Seven’ don’t stop with the choice of sonics. After weeks of rumors that the song would feature the likes of Justin Bieber, comes a guest appearance from someone no one guessed would be involved – Latto, one of the female rappers taking hip-hop in fresh new directions. Here she glides effortlessly into the song and mirrors Jung Kook’s 360 degree devotion with a little more attitude. “You make Mondays feel like weekends / I make him never think about cheating,” she raps coolly. “If you can skip work and meetings, let’s sleep in.”
Arguably one of the BTS members with the widest mainstream, commercial appeal, ‘Seven’ sets the bar pretty high for Jungkook’s solo era. A summer-ready bop that also adds new facets to the singer’s artistry? We’ll take that any day of the week.