Power of the Paradise: the 50th single, right before Arashi’s 17th anniversary.
As a fan, i think they hit another milestone with the release; it’s no easy feat to bring out that many singles (around 3 per year, excluding yearly studio albums) in one’s music career, particularly for an idol group. Fifty may be a number to celebrate, and while i can understand those carping about the seemingly lack of special mention/attention toward it, or B-side in the record, i didn’t expect the label to come up with something really big for it, so…
It’s been a while since we’re having only one B-side in a single — the last one was 2010’s Dear snow, cmiiw — but it’s better than, say, To be free, which covered only that very song in the record. To be fair, there’s something else included in this edition that wasn’t mentioned in pre-release news: the Secret Talk, making its return after AoKimi. I was downright astounded hearing my favorite dorks’ greetings after Hana‘s original karaoke, discussing the single, PV, this year’s summer memories, upcoming album and tour, among others. A hidden surprise, huh?
Okay, i did expect more to Pawapara, but maybe the tie-in to NTV as the station’s theme song for Rio Olympics didn’t give them much room to do so? I’ll therefore be grateful for what they put out, given i’m so very much loving both tracks.
The title track isn’t the group’s first sports theme song for the TV network; they sang Hero for Athens 2004, Kaze no mukou e for Beijing 2008, Yurase ima wo for Vancouver 2010, and Akashi for London 2012. Of all six, Power of the Paradise is my top favorite. I also think it’s closest to the spirit of the Olympics in terms of melody: upbeat, inspiriting, pumped up, hopeful.
I’m especially fond of the foot-tapping percussion, which gives off a slight Brazilian Samba feel yet a strong Arashi-like vibe. Nice crescendo, clean transitions, bouncy beats, powerful vocals — it’s an exhilarating summer tune. It’s just that the waiting period for this single feels unusually long. They first performed the song at The Music Day in early July (getting us all excited at the bridge’s hip swivels), and with the Summer Olympics wrapping up its event last month, i can’t help wondering if the release date was pushed too far back.
Jacket cover-wise, i prefer the regular edition (above) to the limited edition, albeit the obviously overboard Photoshop applied to the shots resulting in unnatural-looking faces. I’m quite unenthused about the PV too. It looks like a green-screen-y landscape to me although they did shoot outdoor, on a real bridge. I don’t know, i expected something brighter, i guess, thus the PV falling short.
The coupling song naturally is a stark contrast to Pawapara’s exuberance. Hana is a ballad. Arashi’s typical semi-melancholy ballad, for good measure. The soaring piano/guitar-driven intro is 42-second long, enough to make me like the track even before the first voice is heard. After listening to it in full, that i’m head over heels is no brainer. First off, did my ears discern it correctly, that we’re having Aiba/Nino – Ohno/Sho/Jun vocal division here? The opening verses sound great. The chorus is mellifluous. The solo lines are to die for.
Seriously, i wonder if these five are still doing regular vocal training since their voices are truly like wine — they do get better with age. Jun’s glides on uncharacteristically unnasally, reminiscent of his delivery in Sirius, that Sho’s coming after him sounds extra raspy. Aiba’s is soothingly breezy as usual and Nino’s soulful delivery is as good as it gets. However, Ohno easily takes the cake with his velvety croon in the bridge. An otherworldly quality right there you can’t help swooning! And their harmonization — gosh — is getting tighter and more heavenly in recent years… i’m blissfully speechless.
Keep it up, Arashi-san! ^^