Posted in Music, Review

“Let’s go party, party, party, party~” VS “Let’s go crazy, crazy, crazy~”

Okay, let me just finish the pending project of reviews that is long overdue. Been wanting to review Margy’s Undergraduate Boss, Noah’s Seperti Seharusnya, Taylor’s Red, Arashi’s Popcorn, and now 1D’s Take Me Home for weeks and months now and none is getting penned down. The list is heaping up and if I didn’t start taking them off the shelves, I’d give up altogether.

“Let’s go party, party, party, party~” versus “Let’s go crazy, crazy, crazy~”

Lemme practice FILO (first in last out): I’ll start from the last two titles, each a great follow up to their (rather) disappointing 2011 release. Well, I guess this is what happens when you expect low; it’s easy to surpass the bar. However, I do believe that those are great, solid albums on their own. You must have noticed by now that I rate something based on how much I like it – in this case, how much I subjectively like the songs. I would occasionally visit the technical things like vocal quality, sound quality, instruments, lyrics etc, but the final call’s usually determined by how much it appeals to me.

So, both recent albums were delightful surprises as I barely click the fast-forward or next button but turn them on loop instead. I enjoyed almost each and every song – that’s good. Both albums share a common trait despite sung in totally different languages – the comprised songs are energizing and instant pick-me-ups. Fun tracks with catchy tunes that stuck in your head and leave you singing/humming along and breaking into crazy silly head-body moves to match the rhythm. Don’t squirm and give me that look, listen first and I bet you’ll do exactly the same xp.

I
Popcorn. I wasn’t too excited about the album since it’s titled after a pretty cheesy term, but that unexpectedly depicts what the album has to offer: a popping, happy, danceable release. Nothing too serious – except Akashi perhaps? – that I bet they enjoyed the whole recording process.

Popcorn opens and closes with mischievous, happy-go-lucky tracks: Welcome to our party and Up to you. Great songs to be performed live which let the members to goof around, let loose, and entertain us at the same time. They’ve done this type previously (check: Summer splash, Oh yeah) but these are two of their catchiest. Kakenukero, a BGM for one of Arashi’s many CMs, is a tad more composed but the refrain remains lightweight.

Wild at heart represents the album’s theme best, ‘nuf said. Face Down’s dark, mysterious aura is a mismatch to the album’s overall liveliness. It’s a great song nevertheless. Waiting for you is one of the okay tracks in the album besides Tabi wa tsudzuku yo, which somehow reminds me of Circus. I like both tracks the least.

Meikyuu love song and Your eyes are good mid-tempo ballads. Akashi, theme song for the Olympics, is no difference. However, it’s too mellow to be the sound of a sports event. Thus the second Cosmos plays, I automatically exclaimed, “THIS should be the one chosen for the Olympics!” Its rhythmic hand-clap, booming chants, and even the echoing rap would fit a World Cup better but would still be a much better option than Akashi.

Onto the solos.

We wanna funk, we need a funk: Jun always gets the most peculiar song of them all. I like none of his solos except his 2011 solo, Shake it! He’s treading a dangerous line here since ‘funk’ can be easily mispronounced or misheard and it sounds ero to me. Skip.

Two: on the other end, Ohno always gets the plainest, most boring ballad. He has the finest vocal quality and range, but his solos lack luster. Moreover, his long high note toward the end is a bit shaky in my opinion he should’ve retaken that part – because Nino did a better job at similar belting in his solo. Next.

Rakuen: on the third end, Aiba always gets the most upbeat, somehow sophisticated song. Rakuen is okay, it fits his airy personality and breezy voice well. I neither like it nor dislike it.

Sore wa yappari kimi deshita: So we’re down to Nino’s and Sho’s solos. Nino usually croons simple songs with bare-minimum instruments – piano, strings, limited drum lines – on the background but is alluring enough to make me fall head over heels. Niji has stayed in my playlist for years now and is one of my favorites due to its simplicity and sincerity. I have mixed opinions about Doko ni demo aru uta, but Nino wins me again with this solo, allegedly a continuation of Niji. No wonder it reminds me so much of it – melody-, lyrics-, and feel-wise. Love it.

Fly on Friday: I have a love-hate relationship with Sho’s solos. Still don’t get it why he picks pop songs like Kono mama motto and now this song. They don’t suit his image, or his husky sexy manly voice, or even the rap parts of the songs. It feels forced and… yeah. I will always stay behind the conviction that the rapper should rap more. By more raps I mean NOT a brief, 5-to-10-second, autotuned rap. Do more songs like T.A.B.O.O or Hip pop boogie please~

Popcorn would score a hair-shy away from perfect if I weighted it without the solos. Too bad the solos are part and parcel of the whole package, and I’m not too satisfied with the oeuvre. This is the first time I listen to a whole album without skipping the pre-released singles. And to note that I disfavor only two songs (excluding the solos). It’s a treat 😀

*now I can’t wait to watch their live tour*

Rating: 4.5/5

II
Take One Direction home. Frankly, I listen only to their music and know almost nothing about the band (besides the fact that they’re a group unit once competing in The X-Factor and I get to know Harry Styles by name thanks to his recent hookup with Taylor Swift). Of course I’m aware of how insanely popular they are now. Over-hyped? Debatable. Teen heartthrobs? Definitely. Let’s just say I’m a fan of the group’s songs but not the boys.

The thing is I don’t get the craze over the likes of 1D, Justin Bieber, and The Jonas Brothers. My uncle once said that I’d understand if I were still a teenager. He’s most likely true… Mmm, let me rephrase that. I do get the craze, but I’m over the period of going – if I was ever in one – frenzied/hysterical over a group of good looking boys. And that doesn’t mean that I don’t like this particular group. I do. Although I still can’t tell which voice is whose just by ear, all I know is that they sound good individually, and sound great together. And they release top-chart songs. More than enough reasons to like them.

Okay, let’s get down to business. Take Me Home adds another reason to go crazy, crazy, crazy over One Direction. The songs are popular for being stubbornly earworm music pieces. Tracks like Live while we’re young, Kiss you and Heart attack are euphoric, effervescent, and full of youthful energy regardless of the composition – be it courting or heartbreak.

They go a layer more serious with heavier, arousing drumbeat and strumming electric guitar in ‘We will rock you’ handclap anthem Rock me and the sing-along inducing chorus of Back for you. Or savor their delicious harmony in the swingy, delirious-sounding Last first kiss (its guitar’s thrumming intro reminds me of Swift’s Come back…be here, which in turn reminds me of Avril’s Wish you were here. I tried singing Avril’s using the first two background songs and they seem to match well) and in They don’t know about us where they ‘mock’ those who judge without fully knowing them first.

Wait, how many titles have I mentioned in the last three sentences? Well, they are my current favorites without depreciating the rest. C’mon c’mon and I would are good as well, but they aren’t as addictive. So are the bonus tracks The bonus tracks are actually better than these two. Not a fan of any of the unplugged, so… More of the good stuff, please? *grin*

I can picture them release half a dozen songs as singles and reap good ol’ money as a result; Take Me Home homes radio-friendly tracks that could be easily be a hit. To sum up, 1D dissected Up All Night, reused and remade the good formulas, redid and improved on the not-so-good ones. Take Me Home is thus the perfected version of Up All Night. Not that I complained, since I had so much fun listening to 1D’s sophomore album. A keep!

Rating: 4.5/5

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