Station To Station: Music Station For May 21, 2010 Featuring KAT-TUN, Kana Nishino And RIZE with 隼人

Ikimono-gakari “Arigato”

The first time I wrote about “Arigato” I focused mostly on the overly long track’s negatives. Though I’d still prefer to see Cheech Marin shoot bad guys while dressed as a priest three times, my imaginary therapist advised me to be a bit more positive about Ikimono-gakari’s latest. As long as we view “Arigato” exclusively through the lens of J-Pop ballads, it’s not hard to laud it. I doled out praise for the lead singing last time around, and confronted with the daunting task of having to think of more to say about this track I’ll instead retreat and reiterate…the lead singer lady has a heck of a voice. Seriously, a good J-ballad needs a great, sappy chorus and Ikimono-gakari bring it on “Arigato.”

The video above shows a recent TV performance of “Arigato,” wherein the once six-minute-long slog gets trimmed down to a more reasonable and more enjoyable three minutes. It’s far superior to the recorded version…which has vanished off YouTube…and serves as a great argument for editing yourself down.

KAT-TUN “Going!”

We’ve reached week four of KAT-TUN’s occupation of Music Station and any goodwill they created back in April when they first performed “Going!” has been snuffed out by pretty-boy medleys and a media onslaught guaranteeing I hear their latest single once per hour when watching TV. Though I’d prefer to never see KAT-TUN again, I’ll stick to my guns and argue “Going!” still manages to be a great single. It’s a big sidestep from the usual chicken-in-a-can pop Johnny’s constructs, simply by ripping off Perfume and generally just being fidgety. New observations…the more I listen to “Going!” the more I get a P. Diddy and/or Will Smith vibe from it. I have no idea what to make of it.

Now get out of my life KAT-TUN.

JASMINE “Dreamin'”

An inspirational Facebook status update set to dramatic music. The type of message one should be wary to write in the new, Openbook world.

Kana Nishino “会いたくて 会いたくて”

On its own, soft serve ice cream tastes like an OK if not bit bland dessert item. Ignoring the otherworldly vanilla-chocolate mixed variety, soft serve alone isn’t all that special. Put the right toppings on the treat, though, and suddenly the situation gets exciting. Sprinkles, chocolate syrup, walnuts…these additions add some scrumptious character to the ice cream. Then there are the rare toppings…I’m talking ground up Butterfinger powder, Oreo cookie bits, pieces of strawberry…that transform soft serve into a revelation. These flourishes make an otherwise so-so item into something great.

“会いたくて 会いたくて” is the J-Pop equivalent of soft serve. It’s the sort of generic pop song taking ballad elements and adding an actual beat to the proceedings. Everything builds up to a solid chorus, and by itself this song would stand as a massive improvement over previous single “Best Friend.” Yet someone decided to glaze some caramel on this and make it a lot better than it has any right to be. The track jumps from sad sappy stuff to more upbeat periods almost randomly, and the strings going off in the back of the chorus help keep the whole affair from being to maudlin. The highlight of this popstuff, though, has to be the wobbly synth line popping up during the song’s first half. It’s the most interesting individual detail here, and one regrettably pushed deeper into the mix during the second half. Even with limited face time, it’s enough to make this an above-average J-Pop sweet.

RIZE with 隼人 “Laugh It Out”

A perfectly catchy if unremarkable bit of Green Day inspired pop-punk. Fun for the few minutes it plays, but nothing that’ll stick around in your head afterwards. I originally planned on writing about the conflicting nature of Green Day, but ehhhhhh maybe some other time just enjoy this song.

Winner Of The Week – “会いたくて 会いたくて” thanks to some pitch shifted synth. I’m an easy critic to impress.

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