Reviewing GOT7's 'Flight Log' Journey: From 'Departure' to 'Turbulence' to 'Arrival'
With the release of Flight Log: Arrival this week, GOT7 completes their year-spanning trilogy of Flight Log projects that spotlighted three very different sides of the boy band.
The septet began their adventure with the Flight Log: Departure EP in March 2016, which led to the full-length Flight Log: Turbulence album in September, and finishes off this month with their Arrival EP. Departure was the third-biggest selling K-pop album in America last year with Arrival looking poised to make a splash on next week's charts.
Before that, though, let's journey through GOT7's Flight Log and explore the versatile sonic, visual and musical elements to see how the boy band grew and changed throughout its ambitious project.
March 21, 2016 -- Flight Log: Departure EP
Chart performance: No. 1 on World Albums, No. 2 on Heatseekers Albums, No. 15 on World Albums 2016 Year-End Chart
Singles: "Fly" (No. 2 on World Digital Song Sales) and follow-up single "Home Run" (No. 3)
U.S. sales: 3,000
Standout songs: "Beggin on My Knees," "Fly," "Can't"
Member involvement: GOT7 members contributed on lyrics and production to six out of eight songs
For the initial ascent for Flight Log, GOT7 honed in on a modern R&B sound. Lead single "Fly" brought a blend of cool synthesizers and glitchy electronica to back the guys' falsetto-led chorus, while tracks like "Can't" and "Beggin on My Knees" went harder with percussive and hip-hop elements for a sweet balance of sounds. While Departure seemed to indicate a more mature turning point for the band, there were growing pains, namely on a track like "Fish" with the boys delivering a slightly ridiculous metaphor of falling into a lover's "fish tank" in the silly chorus.
The accompanying video to "Fly" saw the band dancing on an open airstrip, which perhaps indicating all the possible ways their Flight Log could take them. Member Jinyoung -- who, at the time, was known by his stage name Jr. -- opens the video standing at the top of a tall building and closing his eyes. At one point, he takes a leap of faith, jumping off the building and begins floating down to the ground, only to fall by his band members with a single tear leaving his eye as he drifts farther past them into a cloudy abyss. The video ends with the singer in a bed staring at the camera with his eyes half open.
September 27, 2016 -- Flight Log: Turbulence
Single: "Hard Carry" (No. 3 on World Digital Song Sales)
Chart performance: No. 1 on World Albums, No. 7 on Heatseekers Albums
U.S. sales: 2,000
Standout songs: "Boom X3," "Hey," "Who's That," "Dreamin'"
Member involvement: Members wrote on 10 of the 13 tracks, while contributing on the production of eight songs
GOT7 shook things up for the midway point of their journey with Turbulence perhaps being a bit too perfect of a name. The band experimented with different sounds here, taking a much more aggressive and electronic/hip-hop route with lead single "Hard Carry." Never before had we heard GOT7 bring such a forceful tone to their music and it felt a bit too much like other hip-hop-focused boy bands that were also topping the charts. But there were some highlights to the creative push, "Mayday" dipped GOT7's their signature boy-band croons deep into experimental EDM while "Who's That" mixed acoustic guitar strums with bouncy synth beats and breezy melodies for a cut that felt mature but still captured GOT7's youthful charm. The septet were sure to prove they hadn't lost their signature charm with standout "Hey" sounding like an upgraded version of 2015 single "A."
A zoomed-in shot of Jinyoung opens the "Hard Carry" visual, but this time the 22-year-old has a mischievous smirk. Jinyoung is once again the member in distress as we see him drowning in a pool with his band mates rushing to save him, but no ultimate indication of where he's headed next. There's a chaotic feel to the video as we see Jackson and BamBam rap through a plane that with its emergency oxygen masks deployed while the entire band performs group choreography in front of a burning, crashed airplane. The group choreography is slightly more in-sync than it was in "Fly," but there is still work to be done here as many times members are offbeat from one another and the dancing does not look cohesive.
March 13, 2017 -- Flight Log: Arrival EP
Single: "Never Ever"
Chart performance: TBD
U.S. sales to date: TBD
Standout songs: "Never Ever," "Paradise," "Q," "Out"
Member involvement: Members wrote and produced on every track except lead single "Never Ever"
To end their journey, GOT7 went in an unexpected route towards electronic-house for the Arrival EP. "Never Ever" is a statement of a single, opening with slinky, synth beats before moving into the explosively glitchy chorus of wonky bloops and bleeps, ominous synthesizers and masculine chants. It's somewhat similar to the technique used in the chorus of "Fly," but feels more polished and thought out here. The group delivers more exciting experimentation in the electronic world with the exotic, house cut "Paradise" -- that could have been a contender for lead single -- and "Out," which has the aggressive feel of some Turbulence tracks but still has its lush and quiet moments, letting the production pave the way.
The "Never Ever" video feels like GOT7 putting together what they learned in the past videos for a slick clip that sees them utilizing the start-and-stop feel of the song to make captivating jump cuts from group choreography to action-heavy scenes. The choreography seems much more in-sync with the guys nailing nearly every beat drop and big move. Jinyoung does not open the "Never Ever" video, but his importance is seen as the loose ends of "Hard Carry" are tied up as we see the drowning singer rescued and put in a medical examining room. At the very end, Jinyoung wakes up and looks around exasperated yet seemingly thrilled. Has he finally woken up from the trance he was in during "Fly"? Has he realized himself a better, stronger person and musician? Was this all just a dream and GOT7 will go back to the sounds we heard earlier in their career? No matter what the closing scene of the final Flight Log video represents, GOT7 can certainly be proud of the hard work put into such a wide-ranging project that proved their versatility and sharpened them as musicians to make any future accolades certainly earned.