Thursday, August 31st, 2017

Hotshot – Jelly

Time to find out if we’re ready for this…


Madeleine Lee: “Jelly” is Hotshot’s first release in two years, in an attempt to hold on to the attention gained from two of their members’ participation in the messy, massive second season of Produce 101. One, Ha Sungwoon, made it to the final 11; the other, Noh Taehyun, became known for his tight choreography to a remix of “Shape Of You,” which was one of the show’s most successful moments. Another success was “Never,” the “deep house” concept song written by Hui of Pentagon and Triple H, and “Jelly” is looking to ride that same wave. It has a great beat, and its steady structure resists the temptation of random melodic shifts or tempo changes that would interfere with that great beat — a rare show of restraint from producers Devine Channel, who wrote the show’s cluttered “future EDM” concept song “Open Up.” But the beat is what dominates. Hotshot’s vocals are passable but lack personality or conviction, and it doesn’t help that the final 11 group, Wanna One, has released a better, more charismatic K-pop house track written by Hui. It may be that Hotshot’s obscurity comes from more than a lack of opportunity.

Patrick St. Michel: A lot of Korean pop in 2017 feels like a makeover of the 2009-2012 breakout period, except with better optics. Hearing “Jelly” initially made me think the high times of “View” and “4 Walls” were about to get the same treatment, but Hotshot’s latest is really just a continuation of a corner of the industry enamored with future-leaning electronic sounds, “Fly” maybe being the best comparison. It lacks a payoff, but “Jelly” ultimately sounds shiny and catchy. If anything, it could benefit from looking back and seeing how similar works delivered something big besides house-pop sheen. 

Olivia Rafferty: It’s like Caribou’s “Odessa” and SHINee’s “View” got together and had a beautiful, beautiful baby. “Jelly” has an unmistakable pulse that permeates and pushes through everything in the song, so by the time you’ve bopped around your bedroom to the first chorus, that “baby please don’t go” coming round the second time will jump out your throat before even asking permission.

David Moore: A K-pop “My Boo” with Futurama bell flourishes sounds pretty surefire to me. 

Nortey Dowuona: Nice synth bass, mildly tolerable 2011 synthesizers and disembodied shrieks. And the Auto-Tuned singing and rapping is really good.

Thomas Inskeep: At first you fear that it’s gonna be just another good-not-great EDM/K-pop single, but then the verse kicks in and it’s got a deep house tinge to it. And the tinge is actually a bit more than a tinge, and it endures for the entirety of the song. I’m not saying anyone’s gonna mistake this for Masters at Work, but it goes in a different direction than a lot of Hotshot’s contemporaries are currently going. Also, it’s dreamily romantic, and I’m still a sucker for that.

William John: Hotshot make use of what appears to be the very same ghostly, twitching preset employed by yesterday’s Jukebox subjects Fifth Harmony, but instead frame it in a manner far more athletic and dancefloor-ready. The beautiful sound design is offset by intermittent and superfluous English interjections, which break the spell somewhat.

Ryo Miyauchi: Hotshot skips out on trading precious words for a soothing beat drop, opting instead for a metronome pulse of a bass line. Though it certainly differentiates “Jelly” out of the pack, the decision comes with a consequence: while their peers seem relieved come the chorus, Hotshot seethes without an opportunity to let it all out. By the climax, “tell me what you want” sounds far from a sweet invitation; it’s now a desperate demand.

Adaora Ede: “Jelly” might not hold the surprise of a typical lead single of idol pop but falls sort of in line with K-pop’s 2015 house resurgence. Though its bass-rooted synth pop reminds me even more of T-ara’s deliberate EDM, but less baroscopic in tone. It’s not even that edgy, but outside of the short super cool robotic techno rap verse, most of the vocal performance doesn’t feel well-suited for the genre. The track falls out of Hotshot’s range; perhaps the whole group dynamic doesn’t work with a disco divo throwaway.

Joshua Minsoo Kim: For most of this decade, I’ve known Devine Channel as the production team behind numerous uninspired K-pop b-sides. While I’ve enjoyed some songs, I never considered them to be particularly noteworthy producers. That changed recently, and one particular reason was “Open Up,” an ambitious song written for Produce 101 that felt like a noteworthy addition to Korea’s collection of creative UK Garageindebted tracks. “Jelly” may be Hotshot’s best single to date, but it’s hard not to see it as a disappointment in light of Devine Channel becoming more adventurous behind the boards. The vocal melodies don’t work in conjunction with the beat to provide a sense of propulsion, so the result is a song that ends up feeling noticeably hollow. From progenitor “View” to Devine Channel-written “Shangri-La” to Hotshot-affiliated “Energetic,” there are a lot of great, straightforward dance tracks to go around. Why settle for less?

Reader average: [4.5] (4 votes)

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8 Responses to “Hotshot – Jelly”

  1. huh, did not expect to be the only sub-6 rating.

  2. “Hotshot’s best single to date” … lol, that kind of hurts, wew. I guess it’s their most cohesive but a lot of their older stuff has a lot most color.

  3. *more color … whatever, it’s 2PM on the Thursday before a long weekend. My fav recent Devine Channel offering was “I Don’t Like Your Girlfriend”, though, if only because it sounded nothing like anything else they were producing recently.

  4. Oh, IDLYG was mentioned. OK, fine, I’ll say that the.the.the is very much in the same wheelhouse as this, though. And that it’s hard to say anything other than the fact that their label is at the best just dirt poor and at worst close to scam territory.

    Now I’ll shut up.

  5. @Anna, it’s kind of tricky for me because I have the same complaint about every Hotshot song re: the vocals/melodies… they just seem so deflated.

    IDLYG is one of my absolute favorite K-pop songs of the year! Love it to bits though I understand why so many people dislike it. I’m kind of indifferent on the.the.the but I like it more than Jelly. Also, please don’t feel like you need to shut up/comment less… would love if these comment sections were more active TBH.

  6. anna please keep commenting

  7. Ah yeah, I just meant commenting three times in a row and also getting self-conscious about the fact that I only ever have something to say about K-Pop releases…

    There’s two things that are kind of sad about Hotshot besides the fact that their promotion is incredibly poor … one is that their strongest point is absolutely in dance which doesn’t really translate to good sales or reception (obviously) (especially when their MVs are lit so poorly that you can barely see them), and the other is that they lost their strongest vocalist to Wanna One and his voice wasn’t even utilized that well in their old stuff. That said, I still maintain that their best song is their one song that was never promoted (Rain on Me).

    I really like I Don’t Like Your Girlfriend despite its weirdness, my only issue is that the vocal arrangement pretty much makes it Yoojung/Doyeon and friends which is understandable from a marketing perspective since they’re both so popular but it’s disappointing anyways.

  8. @Anna, definitely don’t feel self-conscious about only commenting on K-pop! I definitely like to talk about K-pop more than most other things.

    The lighting in their music videos is so dire… definitely feel you there. It honestly turns me off from even watching their videos (when writing my blurb for this, I specifically stopped watching the video and just listened via Spotify lol). And Rain on Me would be my pick for favorite Hotshot song, yes, if only because the titular line has actually been stuck in my head.

    Also, agreed re: line distribution on IDLYG.