So, Arashi mentioned that ‘reborn’ is their theme or project for 2020, and upon the release of A-RA-SHI: Reborn, i knew that song was the first of (possibly) many to come. And based on the trend since last November, they seem to aim for monthly digital releases. Which, if true, is certainly good news, because new music is something i’ve been missing from them for a while now, especially since they haven’t released an original album for two years now. To our delight, they bundled three of their classic singles and released the old-but-new tracks under a digital EP called Reborn Vol.1.
The first track is their debut song, A-RA-SHI: Reborn, which was released late last year. I already shared my thoughts on this refreshed number so i won’t repeat myself here, but since then, the official MV in collaboration with One Piece was out. I’m barely familiar with that manga/anime so i don’t have many opinions on that. It is pretty chaotic but somehow fits the song’s energy. I wish the animation matched the beat more, though.
As per why it is with that particular franchise, it’s revealed that it was Jun’s idea since both Arashi and One Piece (the anime) were celebrating their 20th year last year, which turns the collab into a reasonable and timely one.
The second track is a Day in Our Life: Reborn. This may be considered an Arashi’s classic not because its release year (in 2002) but because it is one of the concert staples as well as crowd favorites. The quintet has plenty of songs with mimicable hand choreo fans can dance along to in concerts, but there aren’t many for call-and-response, which A day is perfect for. It also has a sentimental history, as discussed in SONGS program (read the summary here).
Personally, however, it is one of my least favorite singles. I don’t dislike it, but i never listen to it outside the DVDs. Hence me not having strong opinions about it, unlike Ohno who had a tough time recording the reborn version he barely has any recollections of it. LOL. I bet it was due to either the rapping or the English. Speaking of the rap, Sho couldn’t decide whether he modified or rewrote it, but he did something to it. Pfftt.
And maybe because i’m more used to the live rendition, i don’t find A day: Reborn‘s arrangement that different, besides the obvious like the English lyrics. (Yes, it is definitely the English that killed our Riida, because his parts are fully in that foreign language.) To be fair, i did listen to the original audio for comparison purposes yet still think the 2020 version is pretty close to the 2002 archetype. Ninoai’s voices still escape my ears. The rap lyrics sound unchanged (cmiiw), except the beginning; the rapping is a lot clearer — and cuter? — albeit delivered in the same style.
The major differences i can spot are how Juntoshi’s melody line is in the foreground here while the rapping recedes to the background during the overlaps, the harmonies in some words, and the way Ohno does his runs this time. And i do like the mixing in this one, that for the first time in their remixes series, i don’t mind the autotune and sound effects. The short synth break doesn’t feel out of place while the trumpets bring the number closer to the group’s signature sound. The end result actually sounds groovier and more upbeat.
The last one is One Love: Reborn.
Now, this is the song that got me the most curious yet the least excited about. I mean, it’s One Love! The epitome love song, the perfect wedding song, the group’s primest medium ballad, one of my all-time faves! I couldn’t imagine them doing justice to it with the retouch and couldn’t help wondering what they did to it for Ohno to call it “oshare”. Because One Love and oshare certainly don’t belong together.
That said, it was the first song i hit ‘play’ on the moment it went online. In all fairness, it’s not bad. Which doesn’t sound too positive, but for me who expected worse, its not sucking is actually a good thing. Heh. But i shouldn’t have worried knowing how this Reborn project works: reproducing old tunes with new EDM arrangement, rerecording the vocals with updated half-English lyrics, then applying varying degrees of aututone over ’em, without straying too far from the original. ‘Cuz that’s what we got here as well.
First off: the lyrics. The 2008 piece houses dreamy if cheesy poetry, which are encapsulated well in the 2020 version. The punchier phrases are kept in Japanese, though the switch can be abrupt and unnatural. The rhythm also stays the same, but the emotions are different. It’s probably the language barrier, the pitch that sounds a notch lower, or the tempo that feels a beat slower, but i aren’t feeling giddy listening to their love declarations and promises even if i can fully grasp and understand the meaning. Which proves how much i love the original and how high it ranks in my sentimental heart.
My attachment to the melody, however, prevails over my distaste for the electronic beats and autotuned voices. Because even if everything else feels and sounds the same, the instruments arguably create heavier mood and less solemn atmosphere. The composition also makes it sound rather repetitive and climax-less. Like, i wish they turned the last chorus up a notch by changing the lyrics or something. It’s still beautiful though — especially when it comes to the little sketches in the official lyric video depicting two souls’ journey of growing old together since childhood, the imagery i have a super soft spot for — not to mention making it to my wedding-songs playlist.
All in all, Reborn Vol.1 is a mixed bag when compared to the original versions (one i like better, one is no difference, and one i like less). Because it’s impossible not to. The music style is also a hit or miss, although my sentiment toward the autotune is a firm no. Not only is it an absolute redundancy, the effects also make discerning their vocals harder, especially when the members sing in duet or trio, but unfortunately it’s most likely here to stay. Nevertheless, i totally appreciate the inclusion of English lyrics in the songs, that comprehending ’em becomes a walk in the park for me, for a change. Which also makes me think the entire Reborn series is created with international fans in mind, if not geared toward that community.
And despite my mixed opinions regarding their remixes so far, i still welcome Vol.2 (and more…?) with open arms, whenever they’re ready. Because there’s certainly a 2nd volume to the 1st one, right?
If i could chip in a song to be reborn, i’d recommend Subarashiki Sekai in a heartbeat. That almost-single is wholesome in terms of melody and lyrical content, and the vocals are already great as is, though i prefer the concert renditions (from AAA’08 or Arafes’13) if only for the fact that Sho sings his ‘rap’ part. I bet the song would be a killer masterpiece if crooned with the members’ current vocal qualities… though considering the EDM and autotune tendencies of the reborn tracks, i guess i’d rather not. 😅