Monday, October 22nd, 2018

S.H.E – Seventeen

And 17 years into their career, as well…


Crystal Leww: S.H.E are legends of Mandopop, forever given the good will to release whatever they want and have it not totally flop. “Seventeen” sounds like the mandarin version of what Spice Girls would release if they ever did a comeback single. Honestly, it’s not even the best song called “Seventeen” released in the last 12 months. But we still stan enough to appreciate the saccharine and nostalgia they’ve leaned into here. S.H.E has done more than their share for melody and harmonies in a different pop sphere to earn themselves another spin.

Joshua Minsoo Kim: S.H.E’s explored a handful of different musical styles throughout their long career, but it’s the strength of their quieter, least trend-chasing songs that have made them memorable. Unsurprising, then, that “Seventeen” manages to be the rare anniversary ballad that’s both thoughtful and moving. The vocal melodies are strong enough to make this stand out, but it’s the absolute lack of pretension — from the “la la la” melodies to the homely guitar strums to the sudden use of harmonica — that makes it feel soothing.

Iain Mew: S.H.E approach their comeback ballad with understated charm, and the space given to the harmonica and wobbling scenery synths is delightful. Sometimes when you’re big enough it lets you do the small things.

Will Adams: A ballad that stretches past the five-minute mark seems frightening in theory, but the unexpected choices in instrumentation on “Seventeen” — the opening fiddle, the bright electric guitar accents, the harmonica in the bridge — add enough dimension to carry my interest to the finish line.

Alfred Soto: Whoa — where did that harmonica come from? Evoking adolescence comes more naturally to S.H.E. than it does to Troye Sivan and Charli XCX, despite the string section. 

Taylor Alatorre: Advice songs to a younger listener always run the risk of being devolving into platitudes or out-and-out condescension, so it’s nice to hear one that treats its intended audience with respect, neither sugarcoating the post-teenage years nor discounting the potential for meaningful growth. Ultimately, “Seventeen” succeeds not because its message comes from a place of all-knowing wisdom, but because its 30-something performers sound like they’re still in the process of figuring out that message for themselves. It unfurls slowly but builds up steadily, as befitting a song about journeys with unknown destinations. The last two lines alluding to death feel a bit outside the proper scope, yet they don’t feel entirely unearned — we’re all just at different points on “time’s long river,” anyway.

Anna Suiter: Retrospectives depend on sentimentality, and Seventeen is no exception. The difference is that you don’t need a lot of context around S.H.E.’s career arc (or even any understanding of Chinese) to feel affected by the song and video. While it’s maybe a little heavy handed, and possibly cloying too, it’s hard to say no to any song that can make you feel a little misty.

Reader average: [5] (2 votes)

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2 Responses to “S.H.E – Seventeen”

  1. can I add Troye Sivan’s “Seventeen” into the “great songs titled ‘Seventeen’ released in the past 12 months” canon

  2. Yes, good call.