Of the 13 members of SEVENTEEN, Woozi has always shone through as the group’s producer, having been at the forefront of an overwhelming majority of the band’s discography as both a composer and lyricist since their debut. After nearly seven years of honing his skills, Woozi’s first official step into the limelight on his own is ‘Ruby’, a bold opening gambit on his endeavour to establish himself as a solo musician.
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The 25-year-old is definitely no stranger to trying his hand at solo material – past songs such as 2016’s ‘Simple’ and 2018’s ‘What Kind Of Future’ have proven to be blueprints of who Woozi could be as an artist. Both songs featured instrumentals that lean toward wistful tones with a focus on soaring vocals, a musical style not unlike the emotive catalogue of SEVENTEEN’s Vocal Unit, of which Woozi is the leader of.
However, the musician begins his foray as a soloist by veering away from this familiarity and dipping his toes in something edgier than we’ve ever seen from him – yet still produced, arranged and written by Woozi himself. Here, he encompasses the experience of having a romantic attraction to the smouldering hues of a ruby gemstone, aptly representing this emotion by starting off with a commanding orchestra, before bursting into punchy pop rock.
The guitars and drums continue to chug and thrash, elevating the song to floaty highs while remaining careful to never subdue its main focus: Woozi’s voice. The song also surprises with backing vocals from Shannon Bae – better known as Sungyeon from the now-disbanded girl group PRISTIN, also Woozi’s co-writer on ‘Ruby’ and a Pledis Entertainment labelmate – atop the searing, closing electric guitar solo.riffs.
The rock influences on ‘Ruby’ clearly come from the same family as some of SEVENTEEN more recent releases, such as ‘Rock With You’ and ‘Ready To Love’ (and also 2017’s ‘Clap’). However, where ‘Ruby’ distinguishes itself in its intrinsic and unabashedly sultry nature – a dimension to the idol we’re only seen glimpses of so far, such as on 2020’s ‘Light A Flame’.
The lyrics of ‘Ruby’, penned and sung completely in English, go further to unravel the layers of Woozi’s seductive side. “Baby girl you’re making me a beautiful jewel / Every time I look at you, I keep turning red,” he growls on the chorus. “I’m not going back, go colour me like you / My forbidden fruit, she got the ruby lips.”
Woozi has been and continues to be the backbone of SEVENTEEN’s musical identity, but he clearly has a little more on his mind than usual with the release of ‘Ruby’. It’s a galvanising rock-influenced anthem that packs a powerful punch that, despite an unfortunately short runtime, aptly introduces the first of many as-yet-undiscovered sides of the singer.