Seventeen’s fourth full album was preceded by their first English-language single Darl+ing, released last month. That song felt very much like a placeholder, as many pre-releases tend to be. Now that anticipation has been built, it’s time for the main course. With Hot, the guys are back with a harder-edged hip-hop track (what else is new in K-pop boybandom?) and they make it work despite fighting some polarizing production choices.
We’ve had our share of obnoxious clanger-bangers this year, and most of them play within an identical sonic palette. It’s not the raucousness that does them in. It’s the sheer tediousness that comes from hearing these same sounds regurgitated in the exact same way. Hot recycles plenty from K-pop’s recent past, but the group manages to imbue the track with more character than most. This comes in spite of a seemingly limitless supply of autotune — the likes of which will fuel many fan debates, I’m sure. Surprisingly, it doesn’t bother me too much on this song. But with vocalists as strong as Seventeen’s, these kind of effects tend to distract rather than enhance.
Hot careens through its verses with plenty of madcap energy, powered by spaghetti western guitar and an annoying electro-chirp that feels like a mosquito you just can’t slap away. The pre-chorus offers the sense of heft that characterizes the best Seventeen performances. It’s a shame that the first half of Hot’s TikTok-ready chorus is so underdeveloped. The monotonous repetition brings nothing of note to the track. Yes, it’s catchy – but in the easiest, most uneventful way. Given a stronger centerpiece, Hot could have been a real anthem. But even as it self-sabotages, the song is still quite successful. I wouldn’t call that a glowing review, but I’ll be bopping along with a side-eye and a sigh. That’s more than I can say about many big-name boy group releases this year!