Produce 101 hasn’t even been off the air for a month and we already have groups moving to capitalize on its success. Of course, this is exactly what these mid-to-lower tier acts should be doing, given the potential upside of being pulled into Produce 101’s orbit. The fact that Hotshot can count one of their actual members as part of the show’s final Wanna One group makes them even more ripe for a breakthrough. Ha Sung Woon is unfortunately barred from working with the guys until his stint in Wanna One is finished, but Hotshot manage to underplay his absence with a sleek dance track that mixes old trends with new.
When I heard that Jelly (젤리) was composed by production team Devine Channel, I was less than thrilled. Everyone has their biases, and I’ve had a hard time getting into most of Devine Channel’s more future bass inspired work. But though Jelly shares some of those stylistic traits, its overall structure is far more propulsive and melodic than I expected. The squiggly synth refrain at its core flirts with tropical house, but the undulous, rubbery bass feels much more indebted to 90’s dance music. The instrumental plays like a darker take on Shinee‘s View — less party-starting than it is confrontational.
For Hotshot’s part, they sell this style even if it’s far from the more hip-hop oriented material they produced in 2014 and 2015. The verses move with a polished fluidity, casting smooth vocals beside a jerkier rap verse. Though the chorus itself could be more melodically satisfying, it’s arranged with such force that it really does come off as a worthy centerpiece. Welcome back, Hotshot. I think you’ve finally found your lane.