Song Review: J-Hope (BTS) – Arson

J-Hope - ArsonBTS’s J-Hope pre-released More at the beginning of this month, and somehow my regular review occurred quite a discussion in the comments section! (That is, if you define “discussion” as unrelated character attacks with a vicious plot twist.) So let me humbly begin this review by admitting that I do not understand art. I’m too fat-headed to see the grand plan behind BTS’s ventures. The symbolism is lost on me. And apparently I am also unemployed.

Now that it’s out of the way, we can start discussing the actual music and my opinion on new single Arson (방화). True, I hear the same strengths and weaknesses that I noted with More. This is clearly a passion project for J-Hope, and it is a very welcome development after the company’s brilliance Dynamite/Butter/ Permission To Dance era. He deserves a little artistic catharsis, and the indulgent character of songs like Arson gives listeners plenty to chew on. This is a straight-up hip-hop banger without much concession to pop elements as sung chorus.

In order for this approach to hit with full potential, I listen for a fantastic beat and / or a dynamic flow that captures and retains my attention. Arson has elements of both but never completely closes the deal. The rough – almost industrial – production has a cold, mechanical appeal. Distorted synth adds amazing texture that feels ripped right from the early 90s. J-Hope’s performance tracks the repetition of the beat, and delivers a combative flow from the start. This never gives up or changes so much, and highlights emotion and energy above all else. This – combined with Arson‘s relatively short playing time – makes the song feel more like an evocative intro than a lead single. Arson and More is probably best experienced in tandem, or as pieces of a larger whole. For me, More‘s grungy guitar gives it a slight advantage.

Hooks 7
Production 8
Long life 8
Bias 7

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