Review

Song Review: BTS – Outro: Ego (J-Hope solo)

BTS often previews new albums with the release of intro or outro tracks. This current era kicked off last month with Suga’s Shadow, which felt too short to write a full review on. It painted a dark, angstier style that honestly gave me pause. I was a huge fan of the group’s 2019 Persona release, mostly because it opted for a lighter, more pop-informed sound. Thankfully, that energy is found again with J-Hope’s outro track Ego.

J-Hope often delivers more upbeat fare, so this is no big surprise. Ego opens with a hodgepodge of retro hip-hop elements before settling into an Afrobeat groove that feels both laid-back and galvanizing. It’s the perfect match for J-Hope’s charms, and allows him to play with the rhythm in an organic way. There’s still a bit too much vocal processing for my taste, but the effects dial down as the song grows.

Rather than a full-fledged chorus, Ego is anchored by a bright synth line reminiscent of some of the tracks from ONF’s 2017 debut album. It also reminds me of C-pop group Oner’s excellent Attack, which was one of last year’s most underrated (and under-known) tracks. J-Hope throws a bit of melody of the top, though it’s closer to a chant than a full-fledged refrain. This approach works well for Ego, which is more about energy than complex song structure. If anything, the track feels a bit too short. Its most exciting element pops up right at the end, when powerful female vocals join the fray to give the song a 90’s club feel. I would have loved to hear this expanded upon further. It adds an unexpected texture that compliments J-Hope’s tone and makes for a fun mashing of genres. Hopefully the upcoming album will bear more surprises like this.

 Hooks 8
 Production 9
 Longevity 8
 Bias 8
 RATING 8.25

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12 thoughts on “Song Review: BTS – Outro: Ego (J-Hope solo)

  1. Nick, are you sure you don’t like current western pop? Because things like this and Levanter are typical EDM/pop releases during the summer. And I don’t really care for those releases so I don’t really care for this. I find it really boring and it isn’t at all catchy so that it can stick with me.
    Shadow was good, especially the last 30 seconds, Black Swan, although bare bones and essentially a more melodic trap track, was catchy. This? Eh… 5/10.

    I hope this isn’t what RM meant when he said the album was harder… This wasn’t hard or catchy at all.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I thought the entire album was amazing. I wish more people liked this song…
      Namjoon was right, the album WAS harder. Especially since there was a lot of meaning behind the lyrics and they helped make the songs. Also, this gets stuck in my head ALL THE TIME. Like, almost every day. And it isn’t boring either? It’s such a fun song I don’t see how it’s boring at all.
      I wish more people could appreciate their work but I’m sure I can’t change your opinion on it at all.

      Like

      • When I say it’s boring I don’t mean it isn’t fun, I just mean it’s been done a lot of times. Maybe not in kpop but in western pop music it has. I definitely like the song more now after a few months, maybe a 6.5 or 7. However this is probably the softest BTS album to date. A lot of subdued songs and even the lyrics aren’t hard. Sure they might not be entirely cookie cutter, generic lyrics but they are mostly soft except for a few songs. I didn’t expect BTS to go super deep and real because at the end of the day they are a kpop group and there is an image associated with kpop, especially within korea. However when RM said that it was harder than ever I imagined something much more real and about their hardships. Not this fan pandering type of lyricism. It’s fine when it’s a song once in a blue moon but not when they do this for every album. For a group that is constantly put on the “deep” and “not like others” side of pop, they’ve come to get really complacent with their music as a group.
        I know I come off really critical of BTS but it’s mostly because I was a big fan of them and although I’m still a fan and I still enjoy their music, I find the whole fandom approach to them ridiculous and exaggerated to what they are actually bringing to the table right now. RM’s last album/mixtape/playlist was a great package sonically and lyrically and felt pretty genuine. However as a group, things haven’t been working as well as solo. I find their older songs (not all) to be more lyrically genuine and vulnerable than now (there are a few exception, obviously). Kpop isn’t lyrically great but current day BTS isn’t even on western pop level of lyricism (which isn’t that deep either) and yet they get painted like they are the best lyricists of the planet and fans make BTS’ music all about that when it could be just good and fun pop music.

        I wrote a lot and it’s kind of a mess but I hope I don’t piss you off because that wasn’t the point. If I did, I’m really sorry. This all comes from a place of disappointment with the fandom rather than hate. I really really liked BTS but as things stand right now, it’s unbearable.

        Like

      • I think more than enough people appreciate their work. They’re the biggest band on the planet, after all. They certainly don’t need my praise!

        With that said, you’ll find that, more often than not, my reviews of BTS songs have been pretty glowing — especially their pre-2017 material.

        Like

  2. I dont usually actually watch the video the first time, or read the review until after, so that I can hear the song itself. Without the visual, I swear it sounds like zico or block b. Playful zico, like “boys and girls” and “artist”.
    I have only listened so far on my phone speaker, and it sounds busy and a tad frantic. I’ll comment again later after better cans.

    Like

    • Oh my god it gets worse with real best earbuds. It’s all tinny right in the middle of the range, there are 4 or 5 synth lines plus the autotune whine, and then a synth tin horn sample on top, and eyyyyiiiiiii I find the mix painful to listen to. Is there no bass line?
      I recalibrated with a few songs I know with real bass and real high (and something called “Fate” by a kpopera group called Paradise autoplayed which was fantastic), and my kids did not crap out my best earbuds so it is the Song Itself.
      I did dont think I will listen again. That was painful.

      Like

      • I don’t understand why some of y’all don’t like it. I didn’t think it was frantic at all. It was very far from painful. I love listening to it, it makes me feel better.

        Like

        • Its not the song per se, because as I said it is a playful song. It is the audio mixing that is the problem.

          Back in the day, the audio engineers only had to worry about speakers from vinyl record players for a purchased record. (Also from radio, but half the sound quality for that was due to the reception and tuning.) There was a physicality to a speaker, those cones and woofer things. It also the same reason why Imax sounds so good, the physicality of the speakers.

          Then came tapes and 8-track tapes, and tapes in car speakers, and tapes on Sony Walkman, and tapes on boom boxes, and CD’s in all of the above, all of which presented other expected speaker set-ups to tune the released product to. It is an urban legend that bands would take a tape version of a fresh recording out to the car and drive around to hear how it sounded because that became a dominant way to listen to music.

          Then the world went digital in the 90’s sometime, so the mp3 format was created. The mp3 is a highly imperfect compression of the audio to fit a reasonably sized file space. There is an urban legend that the engineers used Suzanne Vega “Tom’s Diner” as the model song, which I happen to have bought on vinyl back when. On top of that, all the speakers got smaller and smaller to tiny earbud size, so naturally more tones were lost because the resonating cone is physically smaller. There is no physicality anymore. And then there are cell phone speakers, computer speakers, those fancy branded headphones, those BOSE set-ups, home wide screen tv speakers, etc etc. (Those padded all ear-encompassing headphones btw are called “cans”.) The audio engineers have to pick and choose how the audience for a song is going to listen to it, where, when, how, and they won’t make everyone happy about it all the time.

          For me, this song sounds very tinny on my computer speaker, my best earbuds, my second best earbuds, and my phone speaker. Painfully tinny. Sometimes this is also called being “noisy”. It isn’t uncommon though for pop music these days to sound this way because of the mp3 compression problem and inherent earbud limitations. But for old people like myself who grew up with better sounding options and still have them around, the noisiness is just too much.

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  3. My favourite type of k-pop is the club-ready one and this one fits perfectly well!

    I like the synth used in the chorus, it’s like hearing the ost of a movie with happy ending where the characters are having a party and are all dancing together

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I am in love with this song.
    I don’t know anything technical or the musical terms..but this song just makes me groove to it.
    And Jhope does full justice with it

    Liked by 1 person

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