Review

Song Review: Monsta X – Rush Hour

Monsta X - No LimitMonsta X’s Gambler made a very good case for increasing creative control in idol comebacks. Co-composed and arranged by member Joohoney, the song felt like a genuine expansion of the group’s sound. New single Rush Hour pulls a few more producers into the mix, and comes across as an amped up version of Monsta X’s debut-era singles.

From the album preview alone, I knew I’d enjoy Rush Hour’s beat. It carries the same boisterous bluster as so many Monsta X tracks, but also has a great snap that feels funky and forward-moving. Perched upon a distorted riff, the production never loses steam. Its single-mindedness is quite thrilling, and I love how gargantuan the instrumental sounds. Rush Hour nails its post-chorus/second verse transition, briefly segueing into an anthemic stomp. My old frenemy “the whistle” makes a prominent appearance here, but it’s not overplayed in the way we’ve heard from some recent tracks (*cough*… *NCT*). I appreciate its place as a part of the overall mix rather than a focal point.

As far as the actual songwriting goes, Rush Hour isn’t quite as tightly constructed as Gambler. The first part of its chorus is fantastic. The way the energy speeds and swerves here is effective and illustrative of the concept. But, the hook loses focus halfway through, leaning on generic sing-talk phrases rather than expanding on the promise of its opening lines. There’s enough frenzied fury pumping through this segment to compensate for its predictability, but I still long for a more satisfying payoff. The pre-choruses are equally generic, though they’re performed with aplomb. Meanwhile, Rush Hour’s rap-heavy verses are quintessential Monsta X. I’m not always in the mood for their shouty, swaggy approach, but I think it works pretty well here. They certainly bring the intensity.

 Hooks 8
 Production 9
 Longevity 9
 Bias 8
 RATING 8.5

15 thoughts on “Song Review: Monsta X – Rush Hour

  1. Gambler still remains as one of my favorites this year, quite possibly my favorite. It was dramatic, hard-hitting and it had ELECTRIC GUITAR…the best element to use in any k-pop song. In contrast…Rush Hour is not as good. It’s just as disorienting and messy but lacks a certain quality that made Gambler so darn ear-licking good.

    I really hope November picks up the slack from here, GHOST9’s teaser has me disappointed…But! There is still hope. We have Bang Yongkuk displaying the reason why he should’ve still stuck with JUST B and the SF9 teasers hints to a song which sounds MASSIVE.

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  2. Hmm, how to say it, the last few comebacks I just can’t get the right direction they are going with the concepts and sound maybe it feels rushed? I keep going back to their older albums than the recent ones. Maybe I am an oldie but the newer songs ain’t for me.

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  3. I like Rush Hour SO much more than Gambler. While Gambler does have some great moments, I can’t get over its lack of a proper chorus. (I also think its the most underutilized Kihyun has ever been & that doesn’t do it any favors in terms of my opinion.)

    I think the opening instrumental hook is really catchy, & I love the wild west whistle. Pairing it with the marching snares in verse 2 is something really cool that I haven’t heard before. Even as someone who prefers vocal only songs, Jooheon & IM always impress me with their lines. I love that you barely notice the transition between sections because they flow together so well. The only thing I’m not a fan of is the stylistic change in the beginning of the bridge. I don’t think the autotune fits well with the rest of the song. (I also wish Kihyun had more ad libs, but that’s something I wish for in basically every Monsta X song.)

    One Of A Kind was my least favorite album Monsta X has ever released, so I’m happy to be back to loving their new music! I like the whole album, but Ride With U is definitely my buried treasure. I was speechless after the comeback performance I loved it so much!

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  4. For what it is, being the nth version this year of moto jackets all shouty bravado with a western movie whistle hook, it is well done. I think they succeed in taking all the popular contemporary motifs of this year, with a generous soupcon from the NCT – SuperM ouevre, and craft something that still matches the Monsta X look feel sound and delivery and isn’t a simple copy. Also, sung chorus!

    As a plus, they are seasoned enough performers to pull it off credibly.

    But am I going to buy it? One has to be in a mood for this. These days, this week, I have enough stress without being shouted at from another direction. For me, its not a shouty uplifting song like “We go Hundred!”, or further back like Metallica “Battery”. This feels more shouting at the world =at me=, rather than shouting at the world =with me=. Maybe I will reconsider and relent in a week or three.

    Metallica, playing “Battery” live recently. (So much energy at nearly 60 years old!) Y’all electric guitar lovers, go listen to this one.
    ‘https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-E1OhrLhKL8

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  5. I am happy to see and hear this. It’s not the sort of thing that will end up in my regular listening but I sure do get kick out of it.

    I really think the Monsta X boys just have that musical charisma. There are’t many groups I will enjoy screamy yelly rap heavy tracks from, but Monsta X just sell it. They really know how to perform masculinity.
    I always think about the rooftop video of “Hero,” and I like they’ve never let go of that intensity.

    The guitar beat is fresh and the song is very impressive. I love the synth chords that come in the chorus.
    I understand some of the critiques but I think this may commercially perform better than “Gambler.” anyway I feel like Monsta x is pretty recharged these day. I feel like not doing Kingdom, they’re making Kingdom-type songs better than the groups on the show, if you know what I mean. Performance-oriented bombast that works.

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  6. Gambler was damn near perfect. It was hard-hitting and had a groove that didn’t quit. I am a sucker for any whistle, and loved it. I wanted to go all out and push it in a spaghetti Western direction. This stop/starts too much. I actually wished it had a different chorus because the ad-libs, the electric guitar, the pre-chorus, and yes, that whistle slap.

    But DAMN that styling in the video with Joohoney with devil kitten ear-buns is something else. I imagine this might grow on me on repeated viewings due to my personal leather pants agenda. I mean even Gas Pedal did.

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  7. I first listened to the EP yesterday on the bus at 8am, probably not a good time to hear Kihyun do high notes about being in chains lmao.

    But all in all, I find the MX brand of bravado to be charming. I hate most posturing, aggressive boy group tropes, but I think that when MX do it, it is very quintessentially (holy fuck I spelt that right first time) them and doesn’t feel like some generic yell fest. It helps that they are just as vocally strong as they are rap strong.

    I like Gambler a lot more, but I like this too.

    Also Changkyun is an extremely attractive man, I just need everyone to know this.

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  8. I love this. Love love love love. I’m genuinely surprised it didn’t get a 6 rating, because it’s obnoxious and shouty and there’s a whistle and I love it. I will blast it loud in the car the very next chance I get. I may invent a reason to run an errand today just for that purpose.

    I love “Autobahn” and “Ride With You” too and was ready to say this was my favorite BG EP of the month, but the back half slowed down too much on me, and I was reminded that the reason MONSTA X are hit and miss for me is that I’m just not as enraptured by their rappers or vocalists as many people seem to be. They’re good for sure, just not always my style unless the right song comes along. “Mercy” surprised me with some of that spacy electronic sound I got from ATEEZ’ “Deja Vu”, so 4/7 playlisted.

    I haven’t looked up the translated lyrics, but from the English alone, it seems they’re sticking to a strong theme of how much they love… cars. And driving… cars. And riding… horses? Cars? Whatever. It’s cheesy, but the enthusiasm works. These guys could pull off “I’m back in the game, son” for sure.

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    • Also, this is the second song I’ve heard recently where the English actually rhymes – if that’s intentional pandering to the Western market I will take it and more of the same. Reality/quality/ability/duality is a pretty respectable verse.

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