I don’t remember ever been as keen on and impatient for Arashi’s upcoming album or PV as i currently am for Are You Happy? and Don’t you get it. Don’t get me wrong; i always look forward to their next projects and releases, but my excitement for the dorks’ 15th studio album is on a whole different level thanks to the record’s concept/theme and cover(s) as well as the lead track’s previews and live performance on Music Station last night.
First off, the concept. Through this album, Arashi aims to present rich, happy-themed music that not only showcases their progress musically but also is enjoyable by every single listener. Although Ohno later clarified that ‘happy’ doesn’t necessarily equal ‘upbeat’, or Nino claimed to not follow the theme at all for his solo, Are You Happy? promises to bring joy to listeners’ hearts and smiles to their faces. Not to mention five new songs personally picked and supervised by each member which shall “define the group they have become”.
Next, cover art. I seldom dig those of Arashi (or even other artists), since they mostly feature similar-with-slight-variations standing positions of the five who look either serious or pensive. That’s why i truly favored and approved a different take like they did for Ai wo sakebe* or this record. Say goodbye to stiff poses and somber faces, say hello to the dorks huddled together and grinning from ear to ear in what appeared to be a group selfie. The Limited Edition’s shot is even better — they’re on top of each other. (Shout-out to Sakumoto shippers out there: Sho is on top of Jun, his hands around his shoulder. No gap or awkwardness whatsoever!) Well, this was what propelled me to secure a copy. I’m easy like that 😉
I’m also liking the font style albeit wishing it were set in five colors instead. Yellow is too pale on its own, especially against the grey background. Nevertheless, i am thoroughly satisfied with the cover i don’t really mind the plain graphic.
As for the promotional song, i wasn’t that impressed, to be completely honest. Don’t you get it is upbeat and all, but it sounds like the group’s typical album track, though i gotta wait till i hear it (and the record) in its entirety before i could make a call whether or not it’s exceptional enough to be appointed as the representative of the happy theme they’re after. Another thing is, though it’s on an arguably irrelevant note, i have reservations about the English title. It just doesn’t sit well with me. It may depend on how it’s said, but to me it sounds pretty offensive, since it’s like a reproof for not getting it. I still feel uncomfortable every time i type the title, but i guess i’ll get used to it sooner or later.
But then i read Ohno’s spoiler of the PV: that it’s basically about five men fooling around — the most abstract yet exciting concept — followed by previews and eventually short version of it, which delivers on all front. Again, i need to see the full PV to be able to comment more but let me say the one-half minutes version already lives up to expectation — frisky, hilarious, replay-worthy — that i wonder if the live performance could match the PV’s epicness. Oh boy, did it not disappoint.
What did you eat beforehand to be able to perform that high, Arashi-san? Haha. Seriously, tell me when else you see Ohno dancing that exaggeratedly (and happily) and making absurd faces during the song, Jun enjoying himself so much that his jaw is ajar most of the time, or Sho being that jolly, lol. From the moment they turn with sunnies on till their closing pose with blinding backlights, it’s a riot, i kid you not! Everything about it is on point — the stage set with giant disco ball, lighting, camera work, outfits, energy, dance break and overall choreo which i swear consists of 50% pelvic thrusts.
While this obviously isn’t the first time Arashi’s routine involves hip movements, it is probably the first time all members do not hold back in the execution and give the shakes/swivels their all, as if their life depended on it. Gosh, i honestly don’t think it can get any better than this. It’s easily their best music show gig in a long while. They’re clearly having a blast singing/dancing to the song and i’ve had a blast rewatching it. That said, i certainly hope they’ll keep this level of showmanship and commitment for subsequent performances.
I suppose it goes without saying that i’m totally into Don’t you get it now. Nothing like a fun music video and live stage to warm me up to the song. And if that’s of any indication, i can imagine the upcoming tour to be a fun, feel-good, happy party time.
[They shine so brightly you can barely see Sho 😂]
*) They sang this wedding song prior to Don’t you get it. Fortunately, they changed up the game by incorporating chair dance, which reminds me of their Valentine’s Day rendition of Bittersweet in 2014, replete by little mishap moments to keep it fresh.