Posted in Music, Review

Sakura dake, sans sake

I was in dire need of new music to listen to and Sakura came along. Talk about good timing. Arashi’s new release has never failed to excite me because the wait is always worth it — there surely is something to be added to the playlist, and an indelible number may linger for months, if not years. I don’t remember how long Truth remained in my good ol’ mp3 player before i had to delete it due to limited space, whereas Still and Niji (among others) are still there since forever.

Besides, aren’t we all agog to experience what kind of sound they are producing for us this time around? Even if there is no novelty in it, that won’t come off as a disappointment. I’m fine with them experimenting with new sound, branching out to new genre, expanding their range if that would jazz up their musicality (Beautiful World and The Digitalian albums proved that the different styles are not unenjoyable) although it is their typical songs i’m gravitating towards. I mean, the group has released 45 singles and 13 studio albums to date, it will be a challenge to come up with something entirely fresh, unless they venture into a completely foreign territory. Even then, with hundreds of songs under their belt, they might have tried all already.

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This single consists of tracks that sound so Arashi AND so good. Sakura is their dark polished number, Rise and shine and Onaji sora no shita de are their empowering mid-tempo tracks, while More and more is their stylish autotuned dance number. Nothing new yet i’m enraptured all the same.

By now, Sakura doesn’t sound new anymore. There is plenty of time to get familiarized with it: Ouroboros, the non-member drama it’s a theme song for, has reached episode 6; the abridged version of the song has been circulating for more than a month now; Arashi has even performed it live on Music Station last week. Even if you missed the above offerings, you can still catch them on this week’s Music Station, wherein they shall dance to the full version, i believe?

Usually, it is the chorus that makes or breaks a song, whether or not it is catchy enough to call for another listen, but in Arashi’s songs case, it is the instrumentation. Their record producer surely has a knack of composing or selecting songs with compelling arrangement that will hold listeners’ attention. It hasn’t failed me thus far. Sakura is no different. It may take several loops to dig the song, but i keep coming back for the charged intro and outro. The allure matches the tone of the drama and makes for a great closing soundtrack but as a single… it lacks something. It’s probably the chorus which isn’t intense enough and feels rather anticlimactic after the nice buildup from the verses to the pre-chorus. The first half of the chorus is fine, but the momentum seeps out on the second half.

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Then the PV. That kind of stationary footage shouldn’t be surprising anymore. To its credit, it is totally pretty to look at — petals slowly drizzle on them with background set that looks far from tacky –, arguably a much better music video than what they’ve filmed in the past 2~3 years. Some of the shots could even be used as jacket covers, but would it kill you to do more than just sit, stand, and pose in a non-ballad song like this?

I know, we get to see them dance in the live performance, but what to do when the choreo is a letdown? The routine is quite intricate and rigorous but there isn’t any memorable moves. The camera work has been sub par too. I still remember how shaky and unfocused Zero-G’s was. That said, i love the slides and tons of petals swirling around them. Arashi engulfed in sakura storm was quite a scene.

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Onto the B-sides. LE gives you Rise and shine while RE Onaji sora no shita de and More and more. Aforementioned, the first two are typical Arashi’s swelling tracks, but can we ever get enough of propelling songs, especially the ones from the guys who have been through thick and thin? They may not pen the lyrics themselves, but the message is conveyed: to continue moving forward, not lose hope, and keep chasing after the dreams which shall come true someday.

Judging from the orchestra-esque intro alone, Rise and shine sounds like the bigger of the two and ends up the cheerier. Tempo ups, mood lightens with each line until it’s bursting with positivity in the chorus all the way to the coda:

“Twenty four hours Doko made datte nobori tsudzukeyou
Images for the future
Twenty four hours 
Itsumade datte kagayaite iyou
Images for the future”

“Images for the future” line is repeated over and over throughout the song i would’ve assumed it’s the song title had i not glanced at it. Won’t it make a more easily remembered title than “Rise and shine”? Which is a good title, despite the English words not appearing anywhere in the lyrics. Well, it is their penchant i think? Backtracking, I love the flow and how tuneful the melody is. This one’s gonna stick around for a long while.

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Next, Onaji sora no shita de, which immediately catches my attention due to the semblance the first few notes of its chorus have to MKTO’s God only knows. But even before that, i already took to it ever since the tracklist was out. There’s something about ‘sora’ that gets me every time: looking up to the same sky, being under the same sky… The most sentimental is probably 5×10’s “Hitori bocchi de nozoita sora wo anata mo mite iru no kana / nara utau yo sora ni mukatte / sou chikara no kagiri” (I wonder if you’re also looking at the sky i’m peeking alone at / if you are, then i’ll sing to the sky / yeah, with all my might) after which i found myself drawn to anything ‘sora’ like Sora takaku, Hatenai sora, Yozora e no tegami… Maybe that’s why, i only need one listen to like this song, even when i didn’t listen to it intently (i was busy racking by brain trying to identify what song it reminds me of). That it has clear progression helps too.

Lastly, More and more. Why do i get retro vibes from their synthesized dance number like this one? Is it the brass, the bass, the tunes? Nevertheless, this genre isn’t my cup of tea. Not a miss, but nothing special either. The chorus is getting catchier the more i loop it although it’s the flirtatious and inviting lyrics that amuse me. What an apt single closer, as i feel More and more is a shout-out to us fans. Asking all ladies in the world to give them more love and to follow them as they’ll give us more… Wishful thinking much?

“Baby, it’s magic
We’re connected by something you can’t see
So no matter how far apart we are, I can come flying to you anywhere

Woo, my baby
These feelings are all because of you, all because I met you
A tiny bit of love wouldn’t be near enough, I’ll give you more
All the ladies around the world! Give me more of your love
Give me more of your love, just follow me…
I’ll fill that empty space in your heart
All the ladies around the world! Give me more of your love”
(translation: yarukizero)

Hook, line, and sinker. Tell me, how can we resist and say no? How much more of our love do you want, Arashi-san? 全部あげるから XD

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p.s. Sakura is Arashi’s first single of the year, and with Aiba securing that upcoming Getsu9 drama already, will it be safe to say we’ll be hearing about their second single in the next few months?

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I blog sometimes, gush ofttimes, snark all the time.

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