In order to grasp how far Monsta X has come since their fire debut with “Trespass,” I took some time to rewatch some of their past works — the key comebacks that pushed them to become who they are now, with years of experience and stories under their belts. A lot of growth, experimentation, and even comebacks for the Western stage continued to boost their career since 2015, as we witnessed these young idols mature into the men we know today. With Western advancement, OST’s, music show wins, and a long list of awards and nominations, the future seemed to promise exponential growth.

Things did take a turn for the group since 2019, with what unfolded for Wonho and Shownu. Right on the cusp of their successful, jam-packed “Follow” comeback, we saw the group alter in semi-permanent ways — while Shownu survived his own share of scandals, Wonho has now gone solo since fall 2019. Fast forward to July of this year, we’ve seen Shownu enlisted into the military after “Gambler” and One of a Kind, leaving the remaining five members to promote together for now.

Fortunately, despite these changes, both Monsta X and Wonho have pushed subsequent releases that prove their respective careers are far from over. While their situation may have seemed unsteady at first, given some time they’ve been able to showcase new concepts and colors of themselves that further define their discography. As a casual Monbebe, it’s been an endearing ride seeing both teams push on, and this includes Monsta X’s most recent comeback with “Rush Hour.” 

As aforementioned in the title, “Rush Hour” is a very new comeback for the group. While it does harken memories of “Hero,” “Rush,” and a sprinkle of “Trespass,” it is altogether another “fresh face” for the group, in more ways than one. Starting with the obvious, the difference in member numbers has lent itself to vocal surprises — it was pleasant to hear Minhyuk and Hyungwon sing more alongside Kihyun throughout the song, altogether creating a refreshing combo. While Kihyun did take up majority portion, the track definitely lent itself to providing a longer spotlight to the remaining members. Hearing their voices weave in and out in newer ways was both experimental and successful. Joohoney’s powerful rap-combined-vocals frequenting the song were also just as impactful as his hairstyles, which proves there’s no end to his own surprises. 

Overall, this particular track does a good job of meshing the old with the new for the group. It’s not too far-fetched to the point where it’s unfamiliar for the group, yet it still keeps things fresh for those who have consistently tuned in so far. It’s strong, boisterous, and full of frenzy, meshed with each member’s signature voices that makes the song solely theirs. If anything, this track truly marks their seventh year, highlighting their journey of maturation thus far.

Moreover, each member received more charismatic camera time, which the MV production utilized very aesthetically. The visual variety and creativity of every set and camera angle kept our senses alert, even without a storyline to back things up. Plotline was replaced with a strong emphasis on bold colors, specifically hues of red and blue. To squeeze in a bit of color symbolism, a combo of red and blue is the perfect set of hues for a headstrong image. Red signifies “energy, passion, and love” while darker shades of blue entail “depth and power,” if not “trust and intelligence.” All suitable colors for the energy that they give off from start to finish.

Without as much symbolism or motifs, this production in particular was heavily performance-based: always a welcome surprise for these boys, whose choreography remains stylish and sharp. What is noticeable from their choreo are the signature moves that add “oomph” to every MV: simple, yet the cherry on top for their concepts. Monsta X’s performances are always something to look forward to, and maybe the group wanted to further prove their abilities even as five. Not to mention, highlighting their skills only serves to amplify the song’s message of power and conquer.

Concept-wise, “Rush Hour” harkened to the leather styling of race car drivers: bold, fully clad in shiny leather, and definitely not shy. Yet, this was balanced with dark and suave Western attires donned while out in the desert, as the group coolly exits a large Chevy one by one to take center stage. This contrast was ideal considering the opposites in set and color theme, as it helps the eyes focus on the points that they’re led to see. Ultimately, the members fully embody the concept of being above rush hour, and being at the top of the scene despite their many hurdles. From sound to style, choreo to aesthetic, Monsta X has come back full force and has not held back in proving it. 

Altogether, if any Monbebe’s have been curious as to the group dynamic (musically or visually), they may surprise themselves with seeing a newer version of Monsta X (which may continue to shift through further enlistments). “Rush Hour” is a perfect, high quality combination of debut and current Monsta X, mixing in the old with the new to remind us fans that they’re still here to stay no matter the changes that may come forth.

(YouTube, 99designs; images via Starship Entertainment)