Confession time: i’m never too fond of A.Ra.Shi as a song, despite it being the group’s debut song and whatnot, but i’m liking A-RA-SHI: Reborn. Quite a lot. Even if they’re inherently the same song.
Despite the ‘Reborn’ subtitle, i kinda expected it to be similar to Hip Pop Boogie Chapter II where the lyrics are updated yet everything else stays the same. Because they can’t possibly modify it too much, right? It’s Arashi’s debut song not to mention a ‘legendary’ one (with that see-through costume and all) after all. But yeah, it’s actually closer to 5×20 is to 5×10 — or rather, the ‘2019 Remix’ version of A.Ra.Shi.
The main melody remains intact, and so do some of the iconic lines. The rock element is also still there. The brass, however, is traded for the strings… as well as synth, which is applied quite heavily that it comes off more techno than hip-hop-y. So much so that the piano-driven sections feels like a breath of fresh air.
And this time, the verses and choruses are divided into solos i don’t think there’s a part sung together by all five of them? It’s hard to tell no thanks to the thick layer of effects put over the vocals. I was a bit meh at the slight autotune in Turning Up, but here, it straight-up bothers me. Arashi members have great vocal quality, especially now, no amount of pitch correction is ever necessary. They also have one of the most easily distinguishable tones in all groups i’ve listened to, but here, the heavy autotune makes it easy to confuse Nino, Ohno, and Jun’s. (Aiba’s is still distinctly Aiba even with the effects.)
Interestingly, Sho’s is left untouched, even his singing part on the second chorus. That it easily becomes my favorite solo of the song. Of course there’s his rapping, which is delivered in the same style as the original. His voice has matured since 1999, but it’s interesting to hear that he still retains/can still bring out the timbre of his 17-year-old self.
Rap remains a dominant element here (this time, Sho is credited as one of the lyricists), but Ohno’s solo is the main highlight of A.Ra.Shi for me. However, thanks to the overpowering autotune, Sakurap ends up the standout point in A-RA-SHI: Reborn. Alongside the piano in the second chorus and outro; it’s calming yet giddying at the same time.
But the thing that truly hits me right in the feels is the lyrics. Like the first, this second digital single are partially written in English, which makes comprehension much easier. (Thank you, Arashi!) BUT! It’s penned in a way that fits the melody WHILE including fans in them: e.g. calling us the “wind” in their storm formation *cries*. That it seems like Reborn is a piece that turns their introductory anthem into a song about them and the fans. And i can’t be more touched and grateful for that.
“You are my soul! soul! shaker
You’ve taken me on a ride
Oh you, you, only you have always been here by my side
Crazy, crazy, you’re filling me with energy
You are the wind
A-RA-SHI A-RA-SHI My dream…”
At the end of the day, it’s still an updated version of the 1999 debut song, which reflects the group’s current stance. After 20 years of journeying together, ARASHI has developed from something that’s “for dream” into a brand that’s unabashedly “my [their] dream”. It is a dream team. It is a dream come true. It is a dream they don’t want to wake up from.
And it doesn’t stop there. Reborn is the theme/project for the quintet’s 21st year and A-RA-SHI is apparently the first release of the series. *gasp!*
You better get ready!