Kpop News
Se7en performs at Highlands in Hollywood
by | May 3, 2008 | 45 Comments

First off, huge thanks to Luv, who, aside from making me fantastic headers for this site, is responsible for the photos above and the first clip below — which is remarkable for its fairly clear audio given how loud it was in the club. Thanks also to happyroach at soompi.com for her awesome close-up photos of the event.

Onward.

American-crossover hopeful Se7en held his album preview party last night at the Hollywood club Highlands, where he performed three songs from his upcoming debut album.

In a nutshell? If you’re a Se7en fan, the event was probably a success because you got to see him performing up close and personal in a relatively small club atmosphere. No way you’d get this close in a performance in Korea, or Asia. Promotion-wise, the party was packed and people were screaming with excitement when Se7en took the stage, so another plus there.

If you’re me, though, neither a Se7en fan nor hater, merely curious to see the atmosphere and wishing him well despite being rather dubious to his crossover appeal, the event was a mixed bag.

 
Clip: Se7en performing the second song of the night, “Money Can’t Buy Me Love”:

 

The scene:

Highlands is probably the perfect venue for an event like this; it’s a well-known and popular nightclub — though I wouldn’t exactly call it “world-famous” — and although there’s a decent Asian population amongst its clubgoers, it’s definitely not an “Asian-targeted” club (although you wouldn’t have been able to tell from the turnout last night). It also boasts equal parts swank (read: overpriced, watered-down drinks) and Hollywood pretentiousness (trendy, dolled-up patrons) to make it a high-profile event.

The attendees were, as expected, largely of Asian descent, and while a fair chunk of those were Koreans, I’d guess that a sizable percentage were not. Most attendees were from the LA and OC area, although there were some die-hards who flew in across the country to make the night. If the party was indeed sold out — and it seemed so, what with the crowding and the super-strict guest list control — there were approximately 2,000 in attendance, going off the club’s listed capacity.

Thanks to my awesome host, I had a great vantage point of the show from an elevated table with an unobstructed view of the stage.

The performances:

The biggest detractor was that entire night was super short. For an event that was promoted as certain to sell out and running from 10pm – 3am, all the action was crammed into less than one hour in the middle. Far East Movement took the stage at 11:50 and performed for about ten to fifteen minutes; Three 6 Mafia took over for a mere ten minutes. Se7en performed at 12:15; granted, it was a preview showcase, but for all the hype, it seemed pretty anticlimactic when everything was over by 12:30.

First, Se7en performed his first song of the night, “You Got Me Now,” with Three 6 Mafia (clip below).

Second was the song posted above, “Money Can’t Buy Me Love,” written by Teddy of onetime popular kpop group 1TYM. Se7en’s vocals came across the most in this song, as you can hear for yourself; it’s also the most melodically strong track (and the one I liked best).

Last was the song “Girls,” produced by “Darkchild” Rodney Jerkins, which was probably the weakest performance of the night. Sure, it’s to his credit that Se7en danced and sang live, but the backing vocal track was so predominant in “Girls” that it was more like he was performing karaoke over the recorded track. Most of his contribution to the song was a few breathy “Girls, girls” sung over the chorus while he gyrated with some dancers. When he sang, he sounded pretty decent; unfortunately, the last song — his intended first single — was performed more with an emphasis on his sexed-up pimpin’ image than on the song itself.

 
Overall impression:

As everyone will undoubtedly point out, the man is damn good-looking in person. Pictures don’t really do him justice. It’s true I don’t really dig his music — it’s listenable and energetic, but kind of generic club fare; not quite fresh or hook-y enough (in my opinion) to capture the attentions of the disinterested masses who are not already predisposed to like him. He needs a breakout hit, something that offers a hint of something new, unique, intriguing, that makes someone perk up their ears and wonder who this new guy is. Based on the performance, I don’t think he has it yet. His songs just sound so familiar. But he’s got good presence, and has always come across as a decent guy who works extremely hard.

I wasn’t particularly impressed with the performance, but I think he did a good job for what it was. He’s got the skills, but a lot of the uphill climb he’s facing now is not contingent on skills. Some things are out of his hands, which no amount of hard work or language lessons or rehearsing can control.

Good luck, Se7en. Really, I do hope you succeed. I also hope you’re not crushed if you don’t. Plenty of people will love you regardless.

 
Hear his song “Girls,” the last song performed at the party, here: http://www.myspace.com/OFFICIALSE7EN.
Below is “You Got Me Now,” performed with Three 6 Mafia:

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45 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. k-obsessed

    Yayyy!!! First comment! I luv Se7en, I wish I was there, up close and personal! ^_^
    Well, I kind of agree that his songs are not as eye catching but his voice is most strongly suited to ballads because of his sweet and gentle voice

  2. mei

    I liked “Girls” when i heard the fuzzy recorded version from his first release party but now hearing the official version..it’s really lacking. i’m kind of disappointed. Darkchild usually comes up with hot beats and song but i have to say that this isn’t my favorite. I prefer the track produced by Teddy as a debut single. you’re right about his songs being things that we’ve already heard. i was thinking that too. but they’re not bad either. good luck to se7en!

  3. Serom

    For a lot of Se7en’s songs I thought there was something unique or catchy about them. But these that he performed sound very reused from the mainstream American hiphop style. It’s pretty disappointing because I was hoping he would bring some of the Korean pop style to his American debut music. But who knows what the rest of the album will be like. I will definitely look out for his debut album and give it a chance.

    And I lol’ed when I saw that there was being money thrown out to the crowd. Definitely made them all go crazy. Can’t buy him love, but can buy him a crowd? Haha.

  4. StarCrystal

    Thanks so much for the objective review, Javabeans~! I agree a lot with the things you pointed as well.

  5. Illdielaughing

    Thank you for your review and the pictures were awesome.

  6. cool

    wow not bad performance or turn out. nice review too. ya i was wondering about the falling money too. is that a usual thing for that club? lol.
    i hope succeeds. i really like his voice

  7. Nice from Thailand

    I personally like “Money Can’t Buy Me Love” more than “Girls” too.

  8. Kat

    I’m sad Them Girls is first too. It’s sort of forgettable. Maybe he can snag a deal with a phone company so people will have to hear it on commercials or something. I liked the 3 six mafia one best. Great coverage by DramaBeans though. Good luck Se7en.

  9. Kat

    Ps. Holy COW his English is good now!

  10. 10 Song

    oh, i wish i was there, i live in the united states too. and i could have been up close to him. sucks. thank you for posting this , i am a huge se7en fan and am glad that at least he was successful if you would put it like that, it’s a huge start for him. and performing with 3 six mafia, awesome!

  11. 11 Blake

    i’ve thought of something brilliant: what if Se7en teams up with Se7en Jeans? heh…

    or gets sued by them…? (not so brilliant)

  12. 12 Rock On!!

    i loveeeeeeee them girls! especially the hook. i mean yeah it lacks substance but come on most no.1 hits on billboard are songs with a catchy beat and a sick hook…unfortunaely thats how the American industry is right now.

    i feel like if he comes out with a slow song nobody is going to pay attention..their gonna be like OH OK but if he comes out with something more uptempo and has a nice video w/ dancing then people will take notice.

  13. 13 tomo

    Thax soooo muchi!
    I’m Japanese fan!

  14. 14 choram

    Uuuuu…..someone WENT CLUBBING! :) ….take me with you next time. lol.

    Thanks for the review and pictures. From the clips, I wholeheartedly agree with your assessment. I wish him the best of luck though!

  15. 15 Michelle @ ShenYuePop

    wah!! you were so lucky to go and get that close for pics and videos!!
    the songs, pics, and videos were hot!! and so was se7en of course ^^

    thanks for the great review and everything ^^
    i’m gonna link my post to this site :D

  16. 16 mare

    nice post!
    i agree w/ everything you said ha ha ha :D

  17. 17 JGirl4You

    seeing this makes me happy, really truely happy. He is still keeping to his style with no lip-syncing and still putting out great dancing. I really hope he does well here because he will truely stand out. There arent too many artists anymore in the states and I hope he has alot of success here

  18. 18 stargazer377

    yay for se7en’s debut! i was wondering what happened to him. its too bad his music does sound similar to the last album.
    but his english improved so much!
    good luck se7en!!!

  19. 19 Jane

    I think I’m right with you on dubiousness. I also feel that if Se7en wants to break into the American market he’s going to need something that really stands out. Right now he’s pretty much sitting in a sort of Usher/ Kanye West spot, and considering the market I don’t think he’s likely to beat either of them at their own game.

    On a side note I despise the outfits of the female dancers. They look tacky and cheap, and they are hardly a current style. They look like something from an offensive 90′s rap video, and they don’t even correspond with his clothing.

  20. 20 soyboy

    Thanks for your amazing review! I feel like there is a glimmer of hope…although his songs are mainstream and a bit trite, his moves are still Korean. His live performances are great. Most of Se7en’s songs are good when you SEE them, not listen to them. How ironic…

  21. 21 Vivian

    HOMG. Whoever went to that performance was freakin’ lucky!! *.* I love Se7en and his music and I’m so glad there’s more clips of it!

    Money Can’t Buy Me Love sounds pretty cool. I like his vocals.
    You Got Me Now didn’t hook me. I could barely hear him.

    When I first heard Them Girls, I LOVED it, but now that I hear its “finished” version… it SUCKS. I actually liked the muffled version better. =( That weird sounding computer thing that starts at the beginning and continues throughout the whole song KILLED it. They need to take that track back into the studio and fix it cause it does NOT go with the song. –

    Hopefully Se7en’s still putting some finishing touches on his music. Once it’s out, I’m gonna get it. Best of luck to him! *I hope he doesn’t get brainwashed over here. XS

  22. 22 its_trish

    I like the Them Girls song.. it’s not unique or spectacular but it would definitely get radio or mp3 player play — know that Usher song ‘in the club’ ? yaaa I hear that so much but it’s addictive – too bad the lyrics are lacking.. Usher could do so much better sigh
    love how he pronounces ‘accessory’ haha
    so jealous that you got to hit it up
    thanks for sharing!!! ^^
    *ps I love 1TYM

  23. 23 Mauve

    Thanks for your posting. Actually I called in to get a reservation for Se7en’s show but it was fully sold, and to think I was waiting for him in LA all this time.

    Anyway, this is not a real concert, it was just a promo to introduce his album (and Se7en himself for those who have not heard of him yet in the U.S.), hence, I will reserve my judgment when the album is out. I heard many singers and songs here sang outside of the album, and I tell you, the quality is way par below the album, which is understandable.

    I have a very strong feeling that Se7en will succeed in the U.S. Already, those who’ve seen him in the 2008 Asian Excellence Awards are curious about this guy.

    Good luck Se7en. Go for it, no matter what.Aafter all, this is America where anything goes.

  24. 24 Blu3suNfLowEr

    very lucky!
    i envy u.
    i agree wit u.
    now he only needs a hit song
    se7en fighting

  25. 25 Yu Mei

    thanks javabeans!!!I do hope that he will suceed in the states,,You indeed are very lucky bcos there’s certainly no chance in hell we will be able to see him so up close if he is performing in Korea or ASIA. But if he doesn’t succeed he still got thousands and thousands of fans waiting for him in ASIA..

  26. 26 Michelle

    hi, thanks for the insightful review. you were not bias and i really appreciate that. i hope he will succeed as well. also, thanks for all the photos and videos. great review by the way.

  27. 27 marcel

    i’m also neither a se7en fan nor hater but was curious about the preview party.. thought it would be fun to see him perform here in LA but i see it was probably sold out..

    i’m on the fence about his likely success here.. kinda disappointed by “Girls”.. but crossing my fingers waiting for him to burst onto the american music scene… it would be interesting to see an asian & especially korean artist actually make it here.. come on over boa, bi & lim jung hee… show us whatcha got!

    meanwhile there’s a fight on popseoul about se7en’s lame comment boycotting american beef.. too funny :D

  28. 28 waygook namja

    Wow there were so many hot chicks there last night. *sigh* they were all there for se7en. I should have become a korean pop star….xD

  29. 29 Kristen

    I kind of agree with what you’re saying about Se7en needing a break-out hit, something that hooks people. I feel like even with his Asian music, there isn’t that thing that immediately attracts me (personally, though I’m sure many beg to differ). But I do have most of his albums, and they are pretty good to listen to. The guy has a good voice, good face, good moves… I just want that freakishly catchy song to come out of him lol. I hope the best for him in his American debut. I think it won’t be immediate success, but if he keeps at it, he could make a breakthrough.

    I’m happy to hear that the Money song was written by Teddy. He is incredibly talented when it comes to writing and producing music. I am anticipating the album version!

  30. 30 kpopit

    So were most people in the club Koreans? Or does he have American fans too. I think he’s way better looking than Rain!

  31. 31 Mel

    I liked the song! :D

  32. 32 fighting...

    good luck…wish him all the best…its going to b tough being such a big star in Asia/Korea then have to come here in the States and start from the bottom all over again…just keeping working at it…
    …i was sad though that he did appear on the Asian Excellance Awards 2008 but had a 3 sec air time..ahh wanted to see more of him…anyway its going to be interesting 2 see who makes a greater impact in the States between him and Rain who has Speed Racer coming out soon…
    …asian invasion in 2008 thats all i have to say…! : )

  33. 33 ML

    If Se7en had some of his own original songs, he might make it here in the U.S. Money Can’t Buy Me Love was performed by The Beatles in 1964 and their version is much better.

  34. 34 Anonymous

    I liked Girls, but I do think ome of the songs he performed were kind of lacking, but I’m not sure tho. ‘Girls’ was really good for his first attempt :)

    good luck to Se73n!!

  35. 35 Ck

    Se7en was so sexy! It was a great show! I though the se7en dollar bills they threw out were a good touch! I touched Se7en! LOL Sorry but he makes me feel like I am in highschool again ha ha. I think he can make it here in America! I was the only part korean in my group. The rest of my friends were non asian and they all loved him! It was like Three 6 who? LOL

  36. 36 ay_link

    Hey Sarah babe… check out RQM’s website! haha.. your entry is posted in there! (or did u already know about it? *unsure*)

    So cool!! haha.. congrats!

  37. 37 E

    Just some points of clearity…

    - The club, Highlands is a “Asian” Nightclub on Friday nights, which is promoted by Visionshock Entertainment, currently the hottest and largest Asian American club promoters on the west coast, if you want more info, its at http://www.visionshock.com

    - The tickets were not sold out since we did not sell any pre sale tickets, all the tickets were bought at the door…Over 2200+ got in and saw Se7en and one amazing show…Highlands actually fits well over 2500 people.

    - It was not a Concert event per say, it was a Album Preview Party, which is why the overall performance was limited to an hour tops

  38. 38 Anna

    I’m a fan, but I still think he’s not going to go off that well in the US, because he keeps adopting strand hand gestures, funny caps…Asian pimps? that’s not attractive at all! And the short preformances that keep popping up everywhere now and again don’t really show off his ‘passion’ for making it – he’s focusing alot on the asian fans he already has rather than focusing on the american fans that haven’t heard of him and translating his korean image onto the American market – that will make him different, right now he just seems to be imitating other artists, and following that generic wave of an r’n’b artist, which disheartens me because i really want him to do well.

    …I hope his first debut single isn’t set in stone yet, because it is really not the ‘IT’ song that would make him extremely popular.

  39. 39 aigoo..

    Even though I’m a se7en’s fan.., it doesn’t seems right for me to see se7en dancing with the girls and all his American’s style fashion.. . I prefer Korea’s se7en. But, Hey, still … wish se7en the best.. because I know se7en is really really a hard worker.. :D

  40. 40 Linda

    when will his album be out?
    it used to be released 7/7
    but its alreade the 10th
    whats wrong? i cant wait
    anyllonger the track
    “money cant buy me love”
    is the best of all his previous!
    hope his album gonna be
    published in germany too
    he has god many fans there.
    maaaaaaaan i want
    his album noooooooow

  41. 41 Jae

    I was there, and like many, I’m not a big fan, nor a hater. Actually I was dragged into the club, wasn’t planning on being there. Anyways, I only like 1 of his songs, but it’s an oldie. Aigoo’s got a funny point: where were his korean backup dancers? Anyways, I thought the performance was ok, bordering weak. But props for coming out to USA, especially LA with huge kpop fanbase. Hope to see more Korean performances here.
    Dr J

  42. 42 my take

    i am not a fan of his either, but i wish him success. having said that i don;t care to much for him transforming himself into the american look. he looks different!! (takes away some of the appeal for me). however, if i read correctly he did say he wanted a career in america hip hop. leaves me puzzled because what got my interest was the difference between East and West hip hop, r & b singers. i stopped liking american artist and start loving the korean sound. i’m sorry he’s changing. i won’t buy his music because i’ll just be hearing a repetition of what’s already out there.

  43. 43 Cheery

    is is weird that i only read this article now?! Okay, Javabeans, what you said was right! Se7en didn’t make in the US, and no, he’s not crushed even though it was a disappointment to all LuckySe7en like me ;(

    Anyway, Wish our Dongwookie luck&success, always.

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