Look who’s here!
There has been very little variation when it comes to Arashi’s PV. The most common concept is dancing in the box intercutting with close-up individual shots. I’ve been expecting another storylined video for every upcoming release half a decade now since the last of its kind was My Girl — that single was released in late 2009 and the group drops at least two singles a year. I thus didn’t get my hopes high… so imagine how thrilled i was when Fukkatsu LOVE‘s not only has some kind of plot (regardless of the length and clarity) but also opens with Ikuta Toma.
Arashi’s promotional videos are by and large about them; there’s hardly any other person in the footage, let alone guest stars. Well, Hotei Tomoyasu was featured in Kokoro no sora, which was his brainchild, so following that pattern, it should be Yamashita Tatsuro and Takeuchi Mariya — this Docomo d-hits’ commercial background song is composed and arranged by the former and wrote by the latter anyway.
Now, i have nothing against Toma (i am a big fan of the guy, in case you aren’t aware) but his cameo does feel random. He wasn’t even in Sakura despite it being the theme song for his drama, and his passing scenes seem gratuitous at best though highly appreciated. In fact, it was such a pleasant surprise that i was more stoked seeing him in the previews than the members themselves. Each of his appearances on Arashi’s variety shows is delightful to watch, i even blogged about him challenging This is MJ, but this is his first official collaboration with the fivesome — they even shared the same green room! — and i couldn’t be happier with the result.
Those familiar with the composer’s music style said that Fukkatsu LOVE is so Yamashita Tatsuro. While agreeing with the claim that it has a distinct retro feel, which is also present in all B-sides, i don’t think the title track offers an entirely new sound to the group’s repertoire. Arashi has been producing music with mature and vintage tunes as of late, so i see Fukkatsu LOVE as a nice follow up in line with that direction. Tight guitar riff replete with strings and brass sections opens the track, and everything glides on from that. The vocals are velvety, the harmonies are euphonious. Lyrically it is a forlorn song if not for the last chorus where the broken-up couple gets back together, which is reflected in the way the lines are delivered: half longingly, half ruefully. Dramatic yet classy, sappy yet calm, it’s the tune to listen to on a rainy day.
The accompanying video has a lot of movements, divided into three long takes, two dance sequences, and several short clips. I especially enjoyed the one shots — the blocking and clean transitions — and was immersed in the behind-the-scenes production. Looks simple although the Making of shows us how much planning, careful positioning, and rehearsals were poured into filming a flawless scene. Watch how far and fast Aiba has to run to make it for his next spot while avoiding the moving camera. He is still given the longest ground to cover even when they’re not dancing, huh? Or how the rest scramble into position and manage to act all poised and cool a few moments later for the camera. Hee.
The choreo is swift and smooth as well, putting more emphasis on footwork. My favorite part gotta be those hands-in-pockets glides and sways. I love how fluid and effortless the routine looks that i wonder if they will ever perform this version since the ‘live’ version uses stand mic (a throwback to Wild at heart and One Love). Some of the moves are overlapping, but the PV’s is freer and less stiff while the live’s somehow feels like a cabaret (the non-raunchy kind, okay?).
Regardless, both choreographies are rhythmic in nature and not too rigorous that the execution is really balanced. Ohno remains the most graceful dancer tho that quality doesn’t stand out here. The level of synchronization is really high as well. I know military precision dance a la K-pop groups isn’t Arashi’s forte or selling point, yet it’s always nice to see them dance with little varying timing and style.
Despite the maudlin subtext, the arrangement of Fukkatsu LOVE is pretty buoyant that affection (coupling track of the LE) becomes the mellower ballad. Naturally, it gives us the trifecta of mellifluous harmonies, stirring vocals, and beatiful melody. The music in the chorus and bridge however gives a different flavor to the song, making it a good fit for a period drama/movie soundtrack, albeit not as grand and sweeping as Ohno’s solo in Japonism, Akatsuki.
As usual, the single’s RE houses more coupling tracks than the LE, which comes with the PV, Making of, and Special Talk. The genre is diverse too. There are elements of electronic R&B in Ai no collection, swing jazz in Bang Bang, and dance music in Are you ready now?. For some reason, the drum beats in Ai no collection aren’t in line with the swirling synths. The breezy verses also seem to clash with the deep/dark choruses; i rarely to come across a song whose choruses are sung in such a low pitch while the verses are set at least an octave higher.
Bang Bang has such a quick tempo, frisky notes, and lively instruments that it’s quite to shocker to learn its sexy content. But it’s a fun tune to listen to, albeit a bit rowdy for my liking. Closing the regular edition is Are you ready now?, the only non-love song yet the most Arashi-poi earworm of the bunch. Naturally bursting with assurance and driving messages, it is an easy ear-pleaser. Tell me you aren’t already singing along with them and bopping your head along the catchy rhythm by the end of the song:
Are you ready now?
It’s a brand new world
Ready, steady, go!
Oh yeah yeah~
All in all, i still find all of the tracks familiar-sounding and easy to warm up to even though i can see why many point to them — Fukkatsu LOVE in particular — as ‘different’. I may dig the B-sides better, but the A-side is good in and of itself, even if i find the chorus too repetitive. If anything, the vocals are on point.
I usually swoon over Ohno’s and/or Nino’s solo parts in any given song, but here (also in Ai no collection) i am drawn to Aiba’s and Sho’s a lot more. Probably Aiba’s airy and Sho’s slightly gravelly voices are more suitable for these laid-back songs — even Jun sounds so soulful! Or perhaps that’s the great thing about having them record everything and saving who-sings-what for later since that allows the best vocal to be selected for certain parts. E.g. they all applaud Aiba for his winning “okaeri” (while in turn tease Jun’s “i miss you”) because it is really soothing, although i wish the volume were louder so the greeting wouldn’t be as easily missable.