What matters most in the world of entertainment is the impact it brings to the audience, and the power it holds to spread that impact.
On July 15, 2022, BTS J-Hope finally released his new solo album, Jack in the Box through HYBE Labels, four years after he released his first mixtape, Hope World! I went crazy listening to his new album! I already love this album even before the Lollapalooza, but after watching J-Hope’s jaw-dropping performances, I loved it even more!
In practically all of his interviews, J-Hope expressed that he was very much involved in the making of his album and really gave himself a challenge by reinventing himself and showing the true artist that he is. Just like the album title itself which pretty much describes how J-Hope came out to show his new music to the world, he popped out of the box and surprised ARMYs with a different side of him that we don’t normally see. If J-Hope's first mixtape album Hope World had a bright and energetic feel to it, this new album shows another side of him that people did not expect - a darker side.
The intro opens the doors to "Jack in the Box" with a narration of how “hope” came about. J-Hope wanted it to feel like a fairytale and a fantasy, which is why he decided to go with a narration instead of a song.
2. Pandora's Box
Pandora’s Box talks about how the name J-Hope came about. Back then, before BTS debuted and they were contemplating on Jung Hoseok's stage name with RM and Producer Bang, he expressed that he wanted to retain the letter "j" in his surname, and the "ho" in his first name. Then, after some brainstorming, they decided to use J-Hope because it gives a positive vibe and at the time, that was what J-Hope was aiming for in his life's trajectory. Coincidentally, in the greek mythology, there was a pandora's box that was opened and all of the many disasters flew out, but the last one that remained was hope. This gave more depth to the name, “hope” in Hobi's stage name. The song also talks about how the name, "Hope" changed who Jung Hoseok is, and how it influenced him and allowed him to share his stories. With its fantastical elements where it isn't too bright nor too much of a fictional story, the music uses a very intense beat to paint J-Hope's story.
My favorite lines: “We need hope whether it’s a lot or just a little. Benjamin Button, we aren’t afraid to walk backward.”
More is the pre-lease track in the album. J-Hope wanted something that could pique people's interest and the title More served that purpose. In an interview, Hobi said that he'd been working on the song for a long time. He started working on it in 2020 and it's the track that triggered him to start working on his new album. The song expresses how he wants more, so it's a powerful song where his ambitions are reflected.
My favorite lines: “Fame, money’s not everything. I already know it. My work makes me breathe, so I want more.”
STOP has a very powerful theme because it touches on something delicate and J-Hope was a little fearful about writing it. It's a song that reflects a lot of his own thought and how he views other people. He wants to share his story and if people who listen to it feel even a bit of the same emotions as he does, then that's more than enough for him.
My favorite line: “These days the world is smarter, but filled with things that aren’t smart.”
5. = (Equal Sign)
Equal Sign has a brighter beat than the rest of the songs in the album. It's a song that mellows down the intensity of the album because it's very chill. Although the beat is relaxing, the song sends a very deep message that talks about equality. That regardless of color, culture, nationality, or social status, everyone deserves to be on equal footing. That no one should be above anyone else. The reason why J-Hope sang the refrain in English even if he's not that good in that language is because it was one way to express equality through music. In addition, J-Hope thinks of this song as part two of P.O.P from his first mixtape album, Hope World. It's a song that has a special place in his heart.
My favorite lines: “Hate’ll paralyze your mind. Gotta see the other side. It costs ya nothin’ to be kind.”
6. Music Box: Reflection
Music Box: Reflection is a track that brings an important change to the flow of the album. The song and title came about because the orgul that plays when you open a box is called a "music box" which relates to "Jack in the Box" being a concept of boxes that fell into place like fate.
7. What if...
The title, What If explains exactly what the song is about. What if there was no hope, no passion, no dream inside of J-Hope? The song tackles his curiosity about what could have been if he weren't the J-Hope now. If he can share his stories even if he didn't have the things he has now.
My favorite lines: “Money, glory, fortune, even followed by people you like. Can you still tell people to love oneself and have hope if it means all of those things will be taken from you.”
8. Safety Zone
Out of all the songs in this album, Safety Zone is a bit sad and painful to hear from J-Hope because in the song, he's asking if there is a place in his life where he can just set everything down and just relax. This is something that I can truly feel is weighing him down because it's also how I feel when I am so drained of life's responsibilities. I'm sure that every person has that one moment in time where you want to slow down, but the countless responsibilities wouldn't let us do that because life isn't that easy.
My favorite lines: “Where is the ray of light for relief in the dark? A peaceful home? Or is it a distant blue? Where’s my safe zone?”
As the title says, Future talks about J-Hope's future. It talks about J-Hope as a person, regardless of whatever may come his way. It's a retro sound that evokes a lot of his childhood memories.
My favorite lines: “I can just decide on my own. Something that cannot be decided (Future). The closer you get, the scarier it gets.”
Arson is the title track and the last track in the album. J-Hope personally thinks that it's a sensational song and I'm sure every ARMY in the whole world would agree. He put this song as the last song in the album because it really cemented his message and wrapped things up well. The song talks about J-Hope's passion that has been burning ablaze and burning bright. That he’s contemplating whether to put out the fire or keep the fire burning; it’s about being at a crossroads.
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