Whether you’re sitting in traffic or simply looking for a fresh song with an old-school groove, Rush Hour by Crush feat. j-hope was a welcome surprise for ARMY and Crush fans alike when it dropped last week. Filled with funk and old-school hip hop beats and a smooth choreography, the catchy song continues to complicate themes of success and adversity highlighted in prior BTS works such as Jack In The Box and Map of the Soul: 7.
The countdown to Rush Hour was swift, with lead singer Crush announcing the collaboration less than a week before the music video premiere. However, fans wasted no time in promoting the song, achieving 35 #1’s on iTunes and making a debut at #4 on Spotify’s Top Song Debut and Billboard’s Hot Trending Songs charts. The accompanying retro, car-filled music video also gathered over 8 million views in 24 hours. In a change of pace from the dance-free Jack In The Box, Rush Hour sports both new TikTok trend-worthy choreography for the song’s chorus and an homage to dance steps featured in several BTS tracks during j-hope’s verse.
Like most BTS projects, the song also goes beyond a good tune and impeccable performance to deliver a deeper message. The fundamental metaphor that drives the song’s title is the comparison of success itself to a crowded rush hour. Crush first uses the rush hour metaphor to discuss the obstacles preventing him from creating music. He explains that even though he’s traveled great metaphorical and literal distances, he’s “held my tongue for way too long” after being “stuck in traffic” for “two whole years.” This is likely a reference to Crush’s comeback after eighteen months of compulsory military service, but could also refer to other personal and professional obstacles that have impeded his work.
As j-hope discusses in Crush’s carpool karaoke-style talk show “Crush의 BLACKVOX,” his verse then “interpret[s] many cars on the road as people,” mentioning that “I get stuck or overwhelmed by interpersonal relationships for various reasons.” j-hope also sings about “붐비는 People, 마치 Traffic 기분 / Crowds of people, feels like a traffic jam” that follow him “wherever I go now, it's a red carpet feel.” This message is echoed in the chorus, where Crush and j-hope invite the listeners to “follow me” and “gather around as if [it’s a] traffic jam,” transforming a rush hour into a “crush hour” by the end of the song.
The sense of volume created by individual objects that accompanies sitting in endless cars during a traffic jam is further underscored by repetition in the lyrics of both the chorus and each verse. Most of these repetitions are onomatopoeia, from the “hibihibihop,” “땍땍” [the sound of thudding, as in feet or applause], and the “clap clap” of the chorus to the “ 삐걱삐걱 [honking]” of Crush’s car horn and the “찰칵찰칵” (click click) of people taking pictures (“사진….찍어 찍어”) in j-hope’s verse. These short words add a fun texture to the song’s overall sound while underscoring the lyrical message itself.
Like in SUGA’s Interlude: Shadow and his own Arson, j-hope expresses that rush hour-like success feels “uninsured [보험마저 없는],” much like how traffic patterns can change in the blink of an eye. BTS’ honesty in acknowledging the precarity of success despite (or perhaps because of) their current status at the top of the industry is a hallmark of their more recent work. It demonstrates their dedication to authenticity and genuine reflection in their lyrics.
We all know that the future can be complicated and uncertain. However, it’s clear that if whatever is “yet to come” in BTS’ Chapter Two is anything like Rush Hour, Bangtan will deliver work that showcases new individual styles and skills while maintaining the dual pillars of performance and substance that make BTS so globally revered.
Written by: Mariko
Edited by: Lisa K
Designed by: ThornToHisRose
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