Song Review: J-Hope (BTS) – Arson

J-Hope - ArsonBTS’s J-Hope pre-released More at the start of this month and somehow my even-keeled review spawned quite a discussion in the comments section! (That is, if you define “discussion” as unhinged character attacks with a wicked plot twist.) So, let me humbly begin this review by admitting that I don’t understand art. I’m too thick-headed to see the grand plan behind BTS’s ventures. Symbolism is lost on me. And apparently, I’m jobless as well.

Now that that’s out of the way, we can get down to discussing the actual music and my opinion regarding new single Arson (방화). Truthfully, I hear the same strengths and shortcomings I noted with More. This is clearly a passion project for J-Hope, and that’s a very welcome development after the corporate sheen of the Dynamite/Butter/Permission To Dance era. He deserves a little artistic catharsis, and the indulgent nature of songs like Arson gives listeners plenty to chew on. This is a straight-up hip-hop banger without much concession to poppier elements like sung choruses.

For this approach to hit with full potential, I listen for a fantastic beat and/or a dynamic flow that grabs and keeps my attention. Arson has elements of both, but never quite seals the deal. The gritty – almost industrial – production has a cold, mechanical appeal. Distorted synth adds great texture that feels ripped straight from the early 90’s. J-Hope’s performance traces the repetition of the beat, delivering a combative flow from the start. This never lets up or changes all that much, highlighting emotion and energy over all else. This – coupled with Arson’s relatively short running time – makes the song feel more like a mood-setting intro than a lead single. Arson and More are probably best experienced in tandem, or as pieces of a bigger whole. For me, More‘s grungy guitar gives it a slight advantage.

 Hooks 7
 Production 8
 Longevity 8
 Bias 7


42 thoughts on “Song Review: J-Hope (BTS) – Arson

  1. With all these light and chill releases, this was a breath of fresh air for me.
    It doesn’t quite reach the heights I’m hoping for, a common trait in all contemporary releases, but it’s still a damn fine song.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Unrelated to the song but it was cool seeing all the people that showed up to J-hope listening party yesterday. Would’ve never thought i see someone like SoYoon with a BTS member or even Lil Cherry for that matter.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I initially thought this was an odd choice for a lead single, but after listening to the album, I don’t know if any of the songs really fit into a lead single type mold? Not necessarily a bad thing; I actually quite enjoyed the album.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. I respect the hell outta J-hope for putting out the music that he wants to make rather than putting out music that he thinks others want him to make. I personally am a fan of hip-hop and I think the beat plus his rapping are a hit. I already put it on my playlist. I do however, prefer his previous solo work and Daydream more than Arson. Is that a bad thing? No because people can have preferences. But as a fan I’m happy to see an artist I like grow and try new things even if its not my favorite of their overall work.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Honestly, when More released i was BEYOND dissapointed. i mean, i am all up for the dark and grungy vibes but the chorus lacks of i dont know, cohesiveness? it feels like i’ve been listening to the song for SO LONG even though the song is only 3 minute. but with ARSON, i feel like J-Hope has redeemed himself from going downhill more. im loving every single second of this song. especially the guitar just elevates this song to a whole new level.

    a totally enjoyable solo for me. definitely going to listen to the whole album because the title track convince me to do so.


  6. I really think J-Hope has the potential to do something really great. I really do. But he has to gather some *concrete* ideas for his lyrics. (Not saying he does not know how to write lyrics; I’m just saying he should write other stuff that’s not about money, awards or fame or hard work.)

    How about writing lyrics about some two rival gangs fighting, like:

    Or a psycho killer like:

    Also, the whole album is short as heck. When I began to enjoy Equal Sign, it ended just like that. The whole track is only 1 min 55 secs ?! Wow…..


    • I don’t intend this in a mean way, but as for the lyrical content, it seems like he wants to get his unvarnished feelings out… but unfortunately, when you become a celebrity at a young age, money and fame practically IS your entire life experience.

      Just my thoughts, but I don’t think he needs to change the “story” or themes he is tackling lyrically. What I do think he needs to do is convey those feelings in a way that is relatable to their millions or non-celebrity fans. Talking about personal experience is great and all, but somehow with Arson he struck a very awkward balance. The personal experiences aren’t detailed or literal enough to feel like you are getting to know him better as a person or seeing him grow as an artist, but at the same time, he doesn’t use enough imagery or seem to connect enough with the emotions (I think) he is trying to convey to listener… to be fair, that’s a hard feat in a song that is more like a snapshot of how someone feels at one moment in life rather than being indicative of the journey.

      I haven’t listened to the whole album yet, but from the few songs I have, I get the feeling that less importance was placed on having a few big singles and rather the album as a whole from start to finish as a single body of work. Unfortunately for the album artists, K-Pop and streaming services are more interested in the big single types. I look forward to hearing the whole thing and seeing if it tracks. Sonically, I know it isn’t exactly something that I gravitate toward, but I both want to see and hear the artistry…. not to mention it’s great to hear a BTS member’s voice without a pound of polish and corporate sheen.

      Liked by 5 people

      • Agree about the themes. It’s been the same with many of BTS’ recent songs. They go on and on about how they miss doing a concert or seeing the fans, or they’re depressed because they couldn’t perform — concerns that not relatable. Would love them to write about real-world and regular-life things like love and anger and sadness (noit related to concerts or fans). But I guess, as they said, their world is totally different from ours now, so IMO there is that huge gap between the loyal fan base and them. Majority of the fans will accept anything, but some of us would like some other material besides the woes of being a celebrity idol.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I think that’s what Yoongi/Sugar/Agust D does really well. Even though he raps about basically the same topics, he is really good at making his emotions relatable, at least for me. Maybe it is the way he delivers, which is by far the more emotional of the three rappers, or the way he layers sounds in some of his songs as if filled with discordant voices, but his songs deliver a feeling of ambition and overwhelmedness (???? Madehup, but I can’t think of a better way to put it) that I personally feel like I can relate to.

          Liked by 2 people

    • I am pleased to see someone else has commented on the lack of lyrical substance. It’s not “meaty”, as I usually say. I did not learn anything about him from this album. Dark sides of him? I didn’t see/hear any.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. let’s just hope that “lee suho” dude or dudette doesn’t come back and start whining at us for not looking into the lyrics and how artistic they are

    like we get it, the lyrics and symbolism are great. does it change our opinion on the rest of the song? no!

    Liked by 4 people

    • HELPPPPPPP I still remember that epic battle you did with that lee suho guy that was pure comedy i remember when you praise the song satirically lol . i do like this song though, not “MORE” and i actually just listened to the album and i had enough expectations after listening to Arson but the whole album just felt so underwhelmiing.

      this track is a solid 8 for me, but the rest of the album just..

      lets just say jack in the box, now its time to close the box..

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I am happy that J-hope gets to do vanity projects. From their commercial choices over the past few years, the army in me is glad that the members get to be creative the way they want. With that said, I prefer J-hope’s work on his older album or Ego better. Ego was a dance bop and I could do more of that. This isn’t for me but the beauty of music is you get to sift through the material and find what works for you. I’m going to skip this and wait for the other members’ release! Exciting times ahead…


  9. I appreciate J-Hope and am glad he has a chance to do this but both songs feel undercooked to me. More has a tantalizing blend of grunge and rap that doesn’t quite meld (and the vocal mixing in the chorus hardly helps); Arson just feels kind of repetitive and doesn’t really build up to anything particularly exciting. This one especially feels like an odd single choice.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. update on my quest on finding that one twieet calling nick “anti-black”

    i’ve finally found it, one of the dumbest tweets ever read

    Liked by 2 people

  11. When a song is centered on one note, it is all for tension. The important part is to pivot in the background around that note to build and break tension. This song’s one note instead is repeated with a conventional hip hop dark background. The beat is so common that even someone like myself who doesn’t often listen to this genre can quote other examples (Bizzy Tiger Yoon Mirae “MFBTY” came to mind).

    Since the instrumental is ordinary, the tension must come from the lyrics and delivery. Lyrics are of the conventional artists at their top who want to run away from it all type as if that is shocking anymore. Delivery has two levels of intensity: first half of verse and second half of verse. He talks about burning it all down with levels of growl, but at what point, what lyric, what line does he really break at and scream. He doesn’t.

    For me, it is just dull coddled navel gazing. Meh. Rating is about right, maybe low 7’s for me.


  12. I f’ing love this. It’s cold, coiled anger. It’s not pop, but it’s a strong personal statement. Hypnotic. I could slot this next to Gwanjil Jo on a playlist and it would fit.

    Liked by 3 people

  13. Okay I love this, it’s what I have been wanting from J-Hope since 1 Verse.

    “The gritty – almost industrial – production has a cold, mechanical appeal” this is the biggest part of the appeal to me. I love industrial sounds. I love how he sounds like he has restrained anger and tension.

    Makes me actually want to listen to the album, and I haven’t been able to say that about a BTS related release in a loooooooooong time.

    Liked by 1 person

    • May I recommend Depeche Mode to augment your listening?
      “People are People” is a good start for the industrial flair, but really all their singles are good.

      Liked by 2 people

  14. Hearing the album, it feels… short? I mean, it is basically just like 20 minutes. I think it works best as a medley, but then songs like Safety Zone kind of wreck the feel. Either way, nice project that is best enjoyed in full. Between this and Epik High is Here, K-Hip-Hope has had some strong albums this year. Don’t get me wrong though, Epik High is Here is still my favorite hip-hop record of the year by far!


  15. Hopefully those parasocial (yet entertaining) fans will stay out of the comments section this time. They make me feel embarrassed of liking K-Pop

    Liked by 1 person

  16. The album interests me. I never liked rap at all until I started listening to Kpop during COVID and ran into RM, Suga, and Jhope and the rap lines in other groups. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the rapping. So, new world for me. I think Arson is pretty sonically interesting when I listen on Spotify (I never seem to hear the detsils on mvs).

    Liked by 2 people

  17. J-Hope IS emotion and energy and JitB was a good representation of these two things. His entire world for the last 10 years has been the structured, filtered, rigid kpop idol lifestyle so he’s expressing what he knows and what he feels. While I’m not, of course, a part of that system, the basic theme resonates. If I were to substitute annoying coworkers for fame, I truly get it, Hobi! And we all live in a world where perfection in every way seems to be demanded by people around us, which is exactly what his lyrics and emotions expressed to me.

    Absolutely loved More but I’m an old rock fan and I felt the crescendo reached an acceptable peak. Arson was really good and it’s also been added to a couple of playlists but it was too short. It teased but didn’t deliver the intensity you could feel in the restrained passion. The album was definitely meant to be consumed as a whole as it tells a story. Some of the songs hit, some not as much…same as any other artist…yet more hit than not.

    Speaking as J-Hope biased army, I think he would truly enjoy reading the review and the comments as he stated in a recent interview that he wanted constructive feedback even if it was negative. He seems to sincerely want to break away from the commercialism, which I wholeheartedly applaud!

    So the reviewer exhibited “jobless” behavior, huh? Damn. Bet you’ve never “touched grass” either!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Totally agree with the critique. There are so many great beats in the album, but somehow I feel like the overall songs (more and arson) don’t hit the spot. Like they were clips instead of each song having a full narrative arc.
    I think with More I wanted the chorus to his even harder, like the muffled the drop.
    I enjoy arson more, but do find myself missing some of the variety and changeups we heard in hope world.

    Still… I love the older hip hop sounds, and sampling Ol’Dirty Bastard?! Amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I didn’t like it, but I haven’t listened to the whole album yet maybe I’ll like some other songs since I liked More.


  20. So… If I rated this song I would rate it 8 or 8-/10. However, that is if I rate it in a more typical style. In your style of rating I would give this 9.25

    This is a more horrorcore like approach to hiphop that J-hope is going for and, even though the production is immaculate, the cherry on top is how well his delivery plays into the overall tone of the song. He never feels the need to add lyrics for the sake of musicality and flow. What he instead does is let the lines that pass linger and when he actually speeds up he raps with aggression. I think maybe his pitch in the song sometimes feels a tinsy bit odd but otherwise absolute solid Kpop rap song.

    (Heck even theneedledrop loved it. That’s one hell of an accomplishment)


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