There's a reason why I've refrained from talking about idols on this blog. Never ever have I done a review of an album or song by an idol. In some ways, I've been ashamed to talk about idol music and how much I listen to it. (We're talking on the daily, here). Truth be told, idol music makes up a sizeable block of my library and yet I've never written a review on this blog before.
That's because I still feel there is a stigma for the label "idol" along with the stereotype that idol music is music without "artistic integrity".
What the heck is artistic integrity anyways? In my eyes, it's when an artist creates what they set out to create. Whether that be a radio-friendly bop or a hardcore political anthem or a powerhouse love ballad. If we set aside prejudices for idols and their music. If we could enjoy a song for what it is and what it supposed to be, new worlds of music are available to explore. It's something I came to an understanding recently. Which is why I'm not limiting my review choices anymore. Starting with Hope World.
Hope World is the first mixtape from Jung Hoseok, better known as j-hope. As a member of the worldwide famous group BTS, there's a lot of pressure and expectations for the 24 year old's first heavily solo-produced mixtape.
But the world has spoken. The mixtape's been well received. Even charting #1 on Itunes in 75 countries, breaking records faster that you can slip into a daydream. This is incredible given the fact that the mixtape is completely free. Which means people love the artist enough to support them. And that feat is something only a few can achieve.
Hope World is an interesting collection. The track, Hope World, is a merry-go-round of feel-good groove and auto-tuned choruses. Reflective of the cover art, the song is colourful and eye-catching -or shall I say ear-catching?
P.O.P (Piece of Peace) pt. 1 is the song I have been waiting for. Yes, the melody is amazingly catchy and the production is top notch. More than that, I've been longing for an artist to put out a song specifically addressing how their music can bring a little bit of hope and peace to their audience. I can't wait for pt 2.
Daydream, the title track with its own mv, is a psychedelic bop exploring the blissful feeling of daydreams and precipitous realities of fantasizing. j-hope dabbles into experimental synths and unconventional verses but some parts fall flat and fail to maintain my interest. Largely, it was a matter of taste with the instrumental.
I loved the mixing and production in Bass Line. Harsh vocals and growls can stay. Unpredictable cymbals and panning techniques, more of that please. Distracting main instrumental, tone that down for the love of all things good in the world. The repetitiveness is what got to me in both Bass Line and HANGSANG. Even the amazing adlibs couldn't save the song for me. On the flip side, Airplane had the opposite issue. I really liked the instrumental but wasn't feeling the vocals.
Blue Side is my favourite track. It's an outro that balances both his nasally rapping and raspy singing abilities. With the muffled sound effect, it feels like the audience is looking in behind a glass. Gazing at the underwater world, where waves of wind chimes sway and coral bounces in synchronised rhythms. Where synth cords echo into the seemingly never ending vast ocean. And where the world just seems a little more blue.
This mixtape is an interesting, long awaited introduction to j-hope's own style of music. I enjoyed getting to know him and the messages he wanted to convey. This mixtape must have been a challenge for j-hope, to authentically present himself in the form of music and to articulately describe a tiny chunk of what goes in his mind. He succeeded in that aspect.
Idols may bring dreams to many, Hope World brought a small piece of hope into mine.