Hideki Matsui…still mashing ‘taters over in America. Onward to J-Pop!
Arashi “Your Eyes”
“Your Eyes” apparently touches on the theme of “light and dark” – I’m quoting Tokyohive on this one – yet all I can pick up on is grey. Not “grey” in some ambiguous, The Wire way in which casting something as purely “good” or “bad” ends up being a fool’s errand due to complex development. From Arashi? God no. I mean grey as in the almost-center color hexagons of Microsoft Powerpoint. Grey as in a cloudy day with no chance of even sprinkles. Grey like this Google Image search I just did.
What I’m trying to say here is Arashi’s latest is really boring, and the fact they even bother to clip a vague theme like “light and dark”…what, they graduate from “happy and sad” all of sudden?…seems like such a waste to whatever poor soul has to put together those press releases.
Sekai No Owari “Nemurihimi”
To me, this will always be the band featuring a member always wearing a clown mask because I’ve seen this band’s photo every time I wander into a Tower Records yet have never taken the two minutes necessary to listen to their music to render an opinion beyond “huh, that mask is kinda creepy.” Yeah, lazy on my part, but it’s not like Sekai No Owari didn’t bring it on themselves by having a dude dressed as a clown – it’s a transparent grab at creating SOMETHING people can identify them with, like AKB48’s school-girl garb or that guy from EXILE’s sunglasses. So…clown guy.
Turns out that wasn’t a bad idea, because if this song represents anything, Sekai No Owari are a ball-less bunch. This single – translates to “Sleeping Beauty” which just lobs up the potential for “tired” jokes – attempts to showcase the group’s songwriting smarts with various passages. Problem is, the song never actually transitions into anything – the music speeds up or stops for a second, but it then retreats back to the main rhythm, too cowardly to try anything within a safe radius of what the label probably told them what to do. Clown guy seemingly handles the drum beats if the video can be trusted…which, note, features the most interesting angle here, a kinda-sorta gender inverse of Sleeping Beauty, though even that was probably done in the 60’s or something…and I take it the lack of real drums is supposed to make Sekai No Owari more “electronic,” more “experimental.” Don’t fall for it – this is Sakanaction stripped of everything great and given a botched vasectomy.
Nishino Kana “Watashitachi”
Nishino Kana tends to always avoid the puddles messing up other J-Pop artists. While so many others embrace gooey-crud ballads, Kana takes those mopers and speeds them up into catchy R&B, leaving the drama intact but allowing the music to not be a complete drag. Alas, “Watashitachi” is a misstep, trudging number complete with too-long video and unnecessary goop. Don’t let them talk you into this next time, alright Nishino?
Hey! Say! Jump! Special Medley
No thank you. Listen to Miii’s Bassrabbit EP instead.
On the one hand, this sounds nifty because of how Yusuke incorporates traditional Japanese sounds and touches into this single – the shouting in particular grabs ears. On the flip side, though, it only uses them as badges to spice up an otherwise bland bit of pop. But then again…when he busts out the Auto-tune AGAINST all the traditional noises, this song turns into a strange “old vs. new” stare down, one much more interesting than anything else this week.
Yuzu “With You”
Dramatic violins will only take you so far, especially if you decide to sully them with some very-Yuzu-sounding music.
Winner Of The Week – Yusuke