How many times have you repeated I’ll be there performance from Wednesday’s FNS? I myself have lost count. Although i’m the type who loops songs i like for hours or days on end until i get sick of ’em, in case of Arashi’s new music release, i do so to familiarize myself with the tune, and to see if i’ll end up liking it. Oftentimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.
As for the upcoming single, it took only an hour or two to grow on me. Pretty fast, i think, given how previous singles could take weeks to reach my ‘like’ status. Usually, we get the first taste of the track through the members’ radio shows, so watching them perform the song live first and foremost probably helps a lot. That’s the stage that seals the deal for me the most anyway.
My first impression was that it sounded like the group’s B-side or album track material. An uptempo tune backed by dynamic instrumentation led by rich brass section. The dramatic, haunting piano intro gives the feel of a dark mysterious piece (which would suit the mystery undercurrent of Aiba’s upcoming Getsu9 detective drama, Kizoku Tantei), which lasts for 10 seconds before it screeches in and out and exuberant circus-y brass line barges in and kick-starts the swing jazz mood, followed by the hook:
“I’ll be with you, you, you, you, with you, you!
I’ll be there for you, you, you, you, for you!”
The instruments quiet down during the verse to give room for the solo lines to shine. Each member’s vocal is on point, though Jun’s is again overshadowed as he duets his part with Aiba while taking the lower notes. The tempo slows down for the pre-chorus and bridge, but everything is back on track during the 4-part chorus.
They sang one-half version of the song, so it isn’t all-encompassing yet, but i love the neat arrangement. The transitions from part to part, from quieter to boisterous moment and vice versa, are super seamless. Nothing sounds out of place. If anything, i feel like the chorus lacks the extra oomph to make it the highlight — the tempo, pitch, and energy aren’t recognizably higher than the rest. Cuz in the end, what stands out the most is the earworm hook (with five yous at that).
[I totally saw you checking where your hand was going, Sho-chan 😂]
I therefore wasn’t sure how much i’d like it as a single. It may be Arashi’s first single in the jazz territory, but it also runs a bit flat. It is the choreo, however, that makes me keep hitting the replay button. There are many interesting dance points to be enjoyed over and over again:
- First off, the air-guitar-turned-finger-snap moves on the intro. After the mighty-cool opening stance, i find these hand motions utterly adorable.
- Second, the two-finger sign during the hook, which is very much taken straight from Fleming’s right-hand rule. Gosh, i thought i’d never see that again after high school.
- Third, the fingers-sliding-into-inner-breast-pocket gesture right on Nino’s “secret sign” solo, which is oh so slinky.
- Fourth, the casual hand-in-pants-pocket sway throughout the first chorus. That seems an overly simple dance for the song’s main part, but then they throw in a body pump replete with a pelvic thrust. Out of nowhere.
The steps are light and easy on the first half, because they started to get in the groove during the foot-tapping dance break and we got a different sequence for the closing refrain. Still beat by beat, yet with bigger movements and more variation. Most notably, the hip shakes. And lastly, the head-holding ending pose which suggests they should probably wear fedoras for the performance, like what they did for P.A.R.A.D.O.X. They should have.
All in all, i think the choreo is just right. I’d probably expect more had i sampled the song by itself before watching the live rendition, but since i was drawn to the moves even before the song, everything ended up looking balanced. The man-boys looked snazzy in grey tuxs; the dos were on fleek. (Good job, stylist-sans!) I also loved the camera work and the lighting, especially the flashing motions. Totally made me wish it were the full song.
Production-wise, the lively music is a mixture of Bang bang, Jun’s Dance in the dark, and Starlight kiss. So, while not entirely fresh (some of the steps and beats are recycled), I’ll be there delivers mature sound with playful undertone amidst the solid vocals, which i like. There is still a month to go till the record’s official release, and though i still look forward to the final product (jacket cover, full version, accompanying PV+Making of), at least i’m not waiting as impatiently anymore 🙂
[Which finger were you flashing, though, dear Aiba-chan? 😏]