“5 and you by twenty.”
It’s here! Arashi’s complete best album: 5×20 All the BEST!! 1999-2019.
A release i’ve looked forward to since last year, if only for that one unreleased song: 5×20.
It’s the quintet’s third quinquennial commemorative song after Sketch and 5×10 (there was no new song for their 15th year), which has been performed on their year-long 20th Anniversary Tour kicking-off in November 2018.
Since i didn’t completely avoid concert reports, i was aware of this song’s existence and its similarities to 5×10 but decided against listening to a single tune or reading a single line from the song until i get to hear it myself. Thankfully, i don’t have to wait till the concert DVD release (sometime next year, i guess) for that; and while it’s hard to completely steer clear of any spoilers, i managed to watch the PV and listen to the song with fresh eyes and ears.
To say that it’s overwhelming is an understatement.
From the opening tune to the closing line (or conversation in the PV), i was swamped with tons of emotions. I wasn’t prepared to cry, but of course i did, toward the end. And to say that 5×20 is ‘similar’ to 5×10 is an oversimplification. It’s essentially a sequel to the 10th anniversary song, sharing the same nuance, message, mood, base melody as well as core lyrics. Only with double the profound level and melancholic effect.
Like a true sequel, 5×20 opens where 5×10 left off — the “lala~lala” part — and begins with an updated first line speak-sung in the exact same tune. What follows is familiar rhythm and familiar lyrics that evoke a bunch of new, mixed feelings. The overall tone of Ten is more sentimental while Twenty is more buoyant, but the latter ends up sounding more poignant… especially after the fact.
Actually, some of the lyrics fell into place in hindsight: about them wanting to tell us before anyone else, so that their feelings can be properly conveyed; about us needing not worry about what they’re gonna do next, since they’ll tell us everything; about number ‘5’ as something they treasure and protect… that i’m truly curious as to what the fans attending the first leg of the concerts were feeling when they first heard those words, like if they raised any questions or speculations at all? Because, if Ten talks a lot about the future, Twenty is all about reminiscence — capped by declaring how the past twenty years walked with everyone were the best, and thanking everyone once again, as if it were a farewell.
(Also, i don’t remember anyone pointing out that the words on their February page of Yomiuri Shimbun were from 5×20. All these months, i thought 今日も未来も smile again (read: kyou mo ashita mo smile again) was a reference to Kansha’s “smile again, i’m smiling again”.)
In the end, 5×10 feels like a song Arashi sing toward/for the fans whereas 5×20 is mainly about/for the members. The love is truly palpable, especially in these parts:
- “It’s fate that we’re still next to one another even now”
- “Of all the times gone by, none of them was pointless.”
- “Even if we were to go back to that day, you’d still stay by my side, right?”
- “Just by seeing your face and hearing your voice, i can tell what’s on your mind.”
- “Warm friends with that way of laughing, that way of talking, and all of that surely don’t exist elsewhere. I mean, there are no guys like them anywhere else.”
Ugh. Sho and Nino surely make a killer songwriting duo, especially in anniversary songs like this. The words they string together may be simple (okay, not so much with Sho’s raps, sometimes) but they carry such deep and stirring meanings evident to those who’ve been with them long enough. So, while these two were again in charge of the rap and melody lyrics, they were consolidated from the thoughts and feelings of all five of them. The song was also composed and arranged by the same ‘team’, as if to preserve and reproduce the ‘original’ magic. It’s a tall order, but they truly delivered.
The accompanying PV and Making in LE1 are the super basic kind. There’s just one scene of the five standing, singing facing the sea and lots of alternating close-ups of each member throughout the PV, and we get individual interviews on the song or their two decades as a group in the Making, which is only 17 minutes long. These points would surely make me groan in any other music release, but here, they provide a nice ambiance and a fitting composition for the occasion. I don’t mind the plain-unpressed-white shirts and not-too-done-up hair either. Because those things don’t matter; these five, their expressions, and their twenty-year bond do.
Moreover, i was too absorbed in everything this music video had in store that i didn’t realize 7 minutes and 40 seconds had gone by. The song itself runs for 6 minutes and 15 seconds, nearly one whole minute longer than 5×10, yet goes by in a flash. It’s probably due to the heartening melody, gentle vocals, heartfelt singing, swelling orchestral instrumental, and nostalgic vibe. In addition to the various off-stage footage of the group, which reminds me of Suppin Digitalian or Ayuhapi.
I’ve said it before but i’ll say it again: these five have the warmest and softest expressions when they look at one another as well as the sincerest and genuinest faces when they’re facing or addressing the fans, especially in concerts. If their singing 5×10 was already able to move a then-new fan like me, without even knowing its weight, you could guess how i felt when i saw brief shots of the five visibly holding back tears while waiting below the stage of their current tour.
The PV may not include snippets older than last year(?) but we can experience Arashi’s growth and history through all 63 A-side singles they have released since 1999 and 26 selected live clips from the group’s first concert in 2000 to their most recent one in 2017-18.
Divided into 4 discs, the complete single discography provides clear vocal development/progression of each member, gradual improvement of harmonizing quality, the different styles of Sakurap, and the group’s musical direction/experiments throughout the years. I’m still not a fan of their early hip-hop pieces, so Disc 1 is the only one with skippable tracks. The rest are more or less up my alley.
Arashi Live Clips housed in LE2, on the other hand, show the tangible aspects of the group performance. The selection pretty much chronicles their journey and rise in popularity; the five lanky awkward boys blossomed into five respectable fine men as their concert venue slowly got bigger and bigger until they were able to perform on Domes in 2007 and eventually at the National Stadium in 2008. We can also see the evolution of their concert outfits, stage presence, and ultimately concert production. It’s amusing to notice the intensity and energy put into their dancing in their early years; the perks of youth, lol.
The chosen ones are quite iconic that i can tell which performance it is just by checking the title. I haven’t fully watched any concert earlier than 2007’s TIME but i have watched the cut clips as early as Lucky Man from 2003’s How’s It Going?. I forgot that they danced to Oh Yeah! in TIME, though. I don’t know who decided which performances to be included in the record, but if it were me, i’d put Movin’ on from Kokuritsu instead of Tokyo Dome — and burn these clips in Blu-ray quality.
Because why not? When it could make getting LE2 extra worth it?
Because for me, LE1 is worth getting for 5×20 and the PV+Making alone. I mean, the physical copy is 2.5 times as wide as regular album, but it is certainly glorious. Not to mention the 20 gorgeous special portraits.
Regardless, i’m happy to finally know where “5 is my treasure number” is coming from, and to be able to say that 5 is my treasure[d] number too.
lyrics translation: twosen, tamagoess