Rightly or wrongly, I’ve always regarded mixtapes as stream-of-conscious endeavors, dedicated to offering a glimpse at an artist’s persona rather than delivering what we might think of as a traditional hit. Even if an individual song is given a music video, it still doesn’t necessarily feel like a “real” single. But if anyone is going to craft a more populist mixtape track, it’s BTS’s J-Hope. He’s been a bright energy within the group ever since debut, and that gregariousness informs much of Daydream (백일몽).
Right from the start, Daydream takes a funky approach with playful jolts of bass and a variety of percussive elements that give the beat an organically retro feel. Stylistically, it shares a bit of ground with 2016’s solo track Mama, but J-Hope brings a greater sense of energy here. Without his members to play off of, he delivers a wide spectrum of tones on his own. We know that his flow is compelling, but the track’s breezy sing-song chorus is a pleasant surprise. Daydream‘s playful verses, hushed pre-chorus and drowsy hook feel almost like works from three different artists, and that’s a testament to J-Hope’s versatility as a performer. Tying everything together is a sense of unbothered, offhand coolness. This isn’t a particularly ambitious work, but its relaxed groove works as an asset.
Most importantly, Daydream doesn’t feel like it’s solely a passion project. The song sets its appeals wide, incorporating elements from pop and hip-hop to form a final product that could easily stand beside title tracks being performed on the weekly music shows. For as wildly successful as BTS have become, we haven’t seen much in the way of promotions for solos or sub-units. Daydream offers convincing evidence that J-Hope may just be the member to kick off that trend.