Though perfectly serviceable and quite pleasant, Seventeen’s Darl+ing didn’t last as long as would have expected on my playlist. It’s promising instrumental shifts excited initially but became more and more tiresome as the listens added up. As such, I didn’t quite know what to expect from new single HOT. SEVENTEEN’s music has become much more scattershot since 2020, sometimes giving us instant classics like Rock With You or Home;Run and other times giving us the likes of Left & Right. And for better or worse, HOT feels like an encapsulation of my current thoughts about the group into a rowdy little package.
Now let me get my biggest gripe with HOT out of the way first. The damn autotune. It’s absolutely slathered throughout the track, lending much of it a rather unpleasant soundscape that grates on first listen and barely improves on repeats. It strips away so much of the personality and innate charisma that the boys have and replaces it with moments that feel uncharacteristic and bland. Two things that I never thought I would say about SEVENTEEN. It’s not the worst example of this effect and personality does bleed through at moments thanks to the sheer number of varied vocal tones present within the groups many performers. The simplistic chorus is similarly out of place, slotting in nicely with the rest of the track but feeling anticlimactic in the context of what should be a thrilling hype track. It’s an approach that worked for songs like Bang Bang Bang but has been done so much since that it’s lost much of its shimmer. Even the hooks just don’t land, coming off as a number of disjointed catchphrases over something substantial.
The rambunctious backing track on the other hand is actually quite great. I love the rock-rap infused production and the searing guitars and heavy percussion that punctuate much of the track lend a real sense of immensity to the final product. At times it even sounds like something that you would hear from EXILE Tribe’s slate of music. The pre-chorus helps hint at just how thrilling a more melodic backbone could have been had it been extended into the hook. It’s dramatic, exciting and unfortunately, short-lived. The same thing that could be said for HOT as a whole. A fun, little detour that is moderately enjoyable on first listen but fails to really do anything else.
Final Rating: 7.5 / 10