This UVERworld song presents an interesting dilemma…should a single trying to be something mammoth get points for effort when in the end it still sorta comes off as just another J-Pop track? “NO.1” wants you to leave thinking you’ve just listened to an epic production, a five-part play stuffed into six minutes. UVERworld cram a string section, a guitar-and-synth blitzkrieg chorus and a forlorn acoustic bit into this…and that fails to account for everything else going on here. This may be the closest mainstream rock in Japan comes to a prog rock jam, UVERworld imitating Muse and Green Day in equal parts.
Yet for all its ambition…and does “NO.1” ooze it…the end product still resembles something very formulaic for pop music. UVERworld certainly go for broke here, but also cycle through all these segments enough to make it feel familiar. So…bouncy verse followed by a hectic chorus leading into a string-backed transition back to the verse. Do it again until they throw in a soft bridge out. Despite trying to sound like an opera-ish performance, it really isn’t.
In the end though…I ultimately like what UVERworld try to do with “NO.1.” It’s over-the-top rock that never feels like math homework, all while keeping a pop feel that probably guarantees it will place somewhere within the Oricon charts top five sometime soon. Ambition alone won’t make a great song…but sometimes it can push a good one a little further.
Girls’ Generation “GENIE”
The very idea of a “guilty pleasure” in 2010 seems ridiculous, right? I’d like to think we live in a world, divided into niches like it is to the point the McRib being back seems noteworthy, where if you like a song or artist, you shouldn’t be embarrassed to admit it. Wishful thinking probably…especially since I consider Girls’ Generation’s “Gee” as my biggest “guilty pleasure” as of late. Despite coming from a group hugely popular in two economically strong nations capable of filling a stadium at a moment’s notice, something about “Gee’s” absurd pop-ness makes me hesitant to embrace it. Or maybe I’m just too insecure to liking something 4,000-strong folks dislike on YouTube (aside: isn’t the last thing the Internet needs is another way of shitting on people without having to explain why you are doing so?).
Though, the real reason might be because every other Girls’ Generation song I’ve heard uniformly sucks. “Oh!,” best known in America as the “South Korean pop video inexplicably featuring an Iowa Hawkeye’s helmet,” comes off as annoying as chewed gum rubbed into hair. Japanese single “Genie,” though, offends the senses even more by biting moves from the Pussycat Dolls. I mean…talk about begging for scraps. It’s this type of sound that makes praising “Gee” a private affair.
I had a conversation with a friend over the weekend…spurred by chillwave of all things…about why I listen to so much music I don’t like. Fair question, especially since I’m currently writing a weekly article where I end up hating the majority of songs I spend time with. For the most part, it’s because there exists a very real chance I’ll find something great…like, if I didn’t do this thing I might never have to be exposed to Hey! Say! JUMP but I’d also have never heard Kaela Kimura or “Gee.” Sure I end up not liking a lot of tunes…but the best stuff really sticks out.
JUJU’s new single isn’t such a song, instead being a typical J-Ballad that oh-so-often clog these articles. I’ve started to dismiss them through force of habit now, so I thought I’d spice things up with that paragraph.
Tackey & Tsubasa “愛はタカラモノ”
Always a treat when a Johnny’s group you didn’t know existed creeps out of the shadows to sound exactly like every other outfit this talent agency has farted out into the world. Tackey & Tsubasa’s gimmick appears to be the fact they are just a duo…or maybe it’s that one of them is noted for his appearances in dramas and the other for being a good dancer. I admire the honesty in not crowning either as a gifted singer/musician because this song feels like something the Johnny’s assembly line spit out in a hurry, the inspectors deciding not to saddle Arashi or KAT-TUN with its shabbiness and instead summoned these two out of the break room. Horns, though! If you’re going to subject yourself to this sort of flat pop, at least run with one of the top groups.
Kana Nishino “君って”
Covered this one two weeks ago. No new revelations fourteen days later, still just a solid example of Nishino’s R&Ballad.
Becky “冬空のLove Song”
Becky, once the “idol I saw on every TV commercial and ad on my way to work who made bad music” who eventually morphed into basically the same thing capable of being tied to solid J-Pop, returns to the musical spotlight with “冬空のLove Song.” A pretty typical ballad and….zzzzzzzzzt I’ve run out of snarky barbs to say about these types of songs. Becky can carry a track like this well…she has a good voice capable of hitting all the notes that make a ballad a ballad, and the chorus on this song is one of the better J-Ballad hooks of…at least the past month. Still, not a really exciting song to dissect but hey at least Becky can carry herself right?
Winner Of The Week: UVERworld’s ambition.