After informing the world about his limitless ambitions as a lover, BTS‘s Jungkook returns with his second solo single “3D”. Written and produced by the hitmaker team BloodPop® and David Stewart, the song features American rapper Jack Harlow. Anticipation for “3D” was sky high, considering that Jungkook scored the biggest debut among his group members. This, however, came as no surprise as his debut solo offering was fully in English, extremely radio-friendly, and he had always been poised to hold the biggest potential as a soloist. As the main vocalist, lead dancer and center of the world’s biggest group, Jungkook is often referred to as the “Golden Maknae” by fans and media for his incredible artistic talents.

In recent years, Jungkook has found his own style, spotting an arm sleeve tattoo, several piercings, and bold fashion choices. In his recent interview with Vogue, he highlighted his desire to have a tough and strong image. This ambition is also evident on “3D”, both musically and conceptually. Unlike “Seven”, “3D” is built around a smooth and groovy beat, highlighting Jungkook’s maturity by (once again) using explicit lyrics. While “Seven” drew heavy inspiration from Craig David, “3D” immediately recalls the early 2000s works of Justin Timberlake, in particular his second studio album FutureSex/LoveSounds. The song’s structure and beat go well with Jungkook’s airy vocals. The post-chorus and adlibs towards the end are distinctly outstanding.

The lyrics of “3D” revolve around one’s desire to overcome borders and experience love physically and most notably consensually. The accompanying MV, directed by Drew Kirsch (director of “Left and Right”) picks up on this notion and introduces two dimensions, each represented by Jungkook and Jack Harlow. Consensual sex and intimacy (represented by Jungkook) are contrasted with viewing women solely as objects of sexual desire (represented by Harlow). In this context, Harlow represents the trite stereotypes of toxic masculinity, while Jungkook mirrors the ideal and better version.

This contrast is highlighted through different symbols, most notably the black and white hair of the young man, who appears early in the MV and puts on a device that makes Jungkook appear in the ideal world. This simultaneously marks the start of the battle between the two artists.

In a key scene, Jungkook leaps towards the camera with several hands trying to grab him, insinuating his popularity. But this moment also presents his version of masculinity and sexuality, which implicates joy and consent as suggested by the lyrics: “So if you’re ready and if you’ll let me”.

The clash of dimensions is further underlined by the chess game between the two artists and the recurring phone. Both Jungkook and Harlow try to get a connection, but the former ends up winning the chess game, thus his healthy perspective triumphs over Harlow’s version. The female dancers coming out of the van, pushing Jungkook, and making him dance to their rhythm is another indicator of the men adapting to the women.

A central motif is the white stairs that Jungkook climbs up and sings on throughout the MV. Considering the song and lyric’s sexual nature, this possibly alludes to the human sexual response cycle, a four stage phase which peaks at sexual stimulation. The model develops steadily before climaxing at the third stage and dropping strikingly in the last stage. This corresponds with Jungkook reaching the top of the stairs, only to make a leap from the peak.

While the execution of the MV is per se creative and sends a strong message, “3D” has one major flaw: Jack Harlow’s verse. If this song had been released without an MV, the lyrics would have arguably led to an uproar; even now, they are already being met with rather mixed reactions by fans. In his portion, Harlow uses terms such as “ABG“–an abbreviation of “Asian Baby Girl”, a pejorative stereotype of young Asian American women–and brags about dating several women at the same time and more.

On music platforms, the song was released both with and without a feature by Jack Harlow, which already speaks volumes. Even if his part had been well written, it would not have enriched the song in any way. While Latto‘s verse on “Seven” felt playful and cheeky, “3D” could have easily gone without a featured artist, as Jungkook carries the song well enough by himself.

“3D” once again accentuates Jungkook’s ambitions as a soloist, and encapsulates the artistic color that makes him special in the first place. Its 2000s-inspired beat and chorus are irrefutably infectious, and will help to raise anticipation for his upcoming solo album, which will reportedly drop later this year. However, the song works perfectly fine without a featured artist, something that both HYBE and Jungkook should keep in mind for his impending solo debut album.

(HYBE Labels, Vogue, Images via HYBE Labels, lyrics via Genius)