Posted in Music, Review

Subarashii mirai e, ai wo sakebe!

A CM’s single, this 47th single of Arashi.

The title track is currently used as the background song for bridal magazine Zexy’s commercials, while one of the coupling songs, Yume ni kakeru, is used for JAL’s “FLY to 2020” campaign. Not only that, Arashi’s faces once again emblazon the aircraft’s hull, the design of which is done by our artistic leader. My heart keeps bursting at the seams with pride at the milestones they’ve hit and the accomplishments they’ve managed to achieve as multi-talented individuals and as a group over time. It’s been approximately six years since they’ve been at the top of the game; not only are they not slowing down but are still going strong — no, they’re actually going stronger.

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But i digress. Hasn’t it been a while since the fivesome releases a single for a CM? The last one was To be free in 2010, if my memory serves me right. While their music releases invariably excite me, i was thrilled upon learning that they’re recording a wedding song this time. For a group who’s been crooning a slew of love songs and even dedicated a studio album for that “LOVE”, it’s about time they work on an ‘official’ song that shall make it to innumerable wedding playlists. Better still, it is an upbeat uptempo one! They already have One Love for the balladish track, which shall be a nice complement to Ai wo sakebe since both are beautiful in their own ways (and can be played on different parts of the reception 😊)

If One Love is sung from the viewpoint of the guy/groom, Ai wo sakebe is from that of the bride’s male friends, which is rather strange when you think about it, yet isn’t so when you listen to it and then watch the PV. Simply put, it is a congratulatory song/message performed/conveyed by the bride’s friends. Naturally, the lyrics are rife with nostalgic tinge and praises, with her being the prettiest of all, everyone’s beloved madonna, and dazzling that anybody would fall for her… up to approving her man-of-choice and wishing nothing but for her happiness. It is such a chirpy song (with repeated “ai” in the chorus) that it’s easy to get swept along in its celebratory mood.

“Kono I-I-I-I-I love you wo shinai-ai-ai naru hito ni
Omae wa ima demo idol sa minna daisuki daze
Dakara towa ni ai-ai-ai-ai-aishiatte congratulation
Shiawase ni nattekurenakya komaruze baby
Subarashii mirai e, ai wo sakebe

Darling darling darling nakinagara warae
Darling darling darling omedetou, kore koso ga true love
Omedetou, oretachi no true love”

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However, it isn’t until the full performance on Music Station last week that i’m completely hooked on it. Which is no surprise given it’s almost always where the magic sparks if i’m still not drawn to their song even after looping the radio cuts and checking the preview/short version of the PV. Despite the rather low tension (Ohno was practically in his off mode), oversimplistic choreo, and straightforward ABABB structure, the song and performance are arranged in a way that allows rooms for the members to flash lots of smiles and work their camera appeals. There’s something about watching an artist clearly having fun onstage that reels me in, probably because merriment is more contagious that way. Who can say no to bride-Nino, Aimiya’s peace, and Yama’s heart?

Furthermore, the choreography might be made uncomplicated so that anybody can easily remember and reenact the dance steps at weddings or similar occasions (even though you may still bungle the moves *cough*Sho*cough* which in Arashi’s world is never a mistake but an originality, lol). In hindsight, the lucky bride whose wedding was featured in the PV, crashed by these five national idols, and shall be watched by millions of pairs of eyes for who knows how many times was probably amused and touched by how her groom coordinated with his groomsmen to come up with those adorable moves and danced for her, when it is actually the official choreography. One thing i do wonder is if she’s an Arashi’s fan because she managed to stay composed during the surprise performance/appearance. (If she isn’t, however, won’t that nullify the surprise factor?)

I mean, it’s not about watching them perform, but to have them perform for you, in one of your most important moments in life at that, what more can a fan ask for?

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The PV itself features the customary box set wherein Arashi-in-white dances on a white background, close-up individual shots on a black background, rare rehearsals cuts, and snippets from the actual wedding. It would have been another ordinary sequence if not for the last two parts; they really kick the quality up a notch or two it becomes one of my all-time favorites from the group.

(Okay, Maroon 5 did something like this for their Sugar music video, which i loved. The creative team is likely inspired by that, then tweaks the concept to make it more personal i daresay? Because here it’s more like gig collaboration between Arashi and the groom/groomsmen. Let’s just say Ai wo sakebe is Sugar a la Arashi? 😉)

In addition to the PV, the single’s LE also comes with Making of, which frankly looks and feels more like behind-the-scenes footage (i in particular like Sho’s take on marriage: a beginning rather than a goal), “Ai wo Sakebitakunaru” Choreography Video like the one included in The Digitalian album although i gotta admit Zero-G’s version was funner, and the press conference of JAL’s special design unveiling ceremony.

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As for the B-sides, LE has Mr. Lonely, RE has It’s good to be bad and I say, while Yume ni kakeru is included in both editions. Some are more familiar-sounding than others, although for me the highlight is the solo parts. I rarely dislike any solo parts anyway, but here the vocals are definitely in top form — they’re full-bodied, rich, refined, and intense. Theirs are like fine wine, the quality does get better with age. Too bad Ai wo sakebe and I say don’t have any, although the former opens my eyes, well ears to be precise, to the nice blend of voices that is Aimiya’s duet. I like yama-kaze or sho/nino-ohno/aiba/jun division best (Sho sounds good duetting with any member imo) that i’m pleasantly surprised upon noticing how smooth Aimiya-combi vocals are, possibly because both have reedy singing voice.

Another thing that struck me as i was putting the tracks on indefinite repeat was how mature sounding the B-sides are. From time to time Arashi puts out flippant numbers such as Troublemaker, Wild at heart, and GUTS! that it’s easy to forget that these dudes are in their 30s already — the youngest has just turned 32! While those blithe songs are instant pick-me-ups, the likes of Kono te no hira ni do things to me. The one i’m quickly drawn to is Yume ni kakeru, the safest offering yet the fixture in the group’s repertoire which works like a charm every single time. The piano-driven piece starts off strong and doesn’t let up until the last note. Charging forward with hopes and dreams toward the future, Yume ni kakeru is as soaring as it can get.

“When the time comes to wake, the world is surely full of countless dreams
The first step is the courage hidden inside of you to walk towards the future

In this precious time given, we’ll aim for a place higher than anyone else
I told you to not lose hope and keep believing in me

Where the light shines, there is a bridge of dreams
Run over it to someplace faraway
Send your dreams for the future into the sky
Pass under a goal made by a rainbow
There are things you should hold tight in your hands
Your pounding heartbeat marks the passing time
The future we promised to make, we won’t give up on it”

Aforementioned, the solos are powerful, especially Ohno’s part in the final chorus belted with that impressive pipe of his. Boy, is that eargasmic!

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News of the upcoming studio album titled “Japonism” seems to mark the end of The Digitalian era, but the group isn’t over digital sounds yet, which can be heard 30 seconds into It’s good to be bad despite the power-ballad-esque piano intro. The mixture of elements is confusing as i couldn’t discern the song’s structure and genre — it’s synthesized pop-rock turned EDM at chorus’ end — even though the end result is totally trippy. The alluring mood continues in Mr. Lonely. Less raucous, more familiar-sounding, equally synth-heavy. Its grinding guitar riff shall satisfy rock fans more though.

“Are you ready to get my love?
Are you ready? Are you ready? Tsuite oide!

Mou hitori janai, come with me
Doko e mukau? Mada wakaranai kedo
Dokomademo ikou — Oh!
Mou hitori janai, come with me
Kotoba koete kimi to zutto
Boku no namae wa Mr. Lonely”

The single closes with a retro disco number I say. If you dig the likes of FUNKY or Starlight kiss, then you’ll enjoy this song. It is essentially a forlorn breakup song despite the upbeat rhythm and danceable tune. I find the “I say bye! bye!” part really catchy nonetheless.

Overall, i’m satisfied with what Ai wo Sakebe offers as a single. I thoroughly enjoy and genuinely like each and every song in it, when usually there’s at least a track i tend to skip. Last but not least, the jacket cover. It is easily their best by a long shot since…forever perhaps. Looove it!

Keep it up!

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lyrics translation: yarukizero

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