Six Flags up – wait, that was cheesy on so many levels.
I actually meant to get to this earlier, but when you consider the following release was put out on the same day as AAA’s Natsumono and the week I left for Otakon… can you blame me? (Also. More gratuitous references to AAA!)
Much like m.o.v.e, Miura Daichi took an unfortunate year-and-a-half break between the release of his last (and first) album and Flag, his latest single.
(Really, avex. What is it with you? My favorite artist under you, AAA, averages a release every month. And then every artist I like that’s managed by you, with the exception of Shimatani Hitomi, is on some completely whacked-out release schedule. Kayou Aiko and her 9-singles-before-her-first-album stint, DRM (formerly dream) and their musical hiatus with serial mini-albums (I want an album release with Soyokaze/STORY, dammit!), and we’ve already covered m.o.v.e and Daichi.)
Daichi was once a member and the lead vocalist of dance group Folder (the precursor to Folder5, and also AAA in a way) and also once dubbed “Japan’s Smallest Soulman” along with being likened to Michael Jackson. Well, he’s not so small anymore (in fact, he’s about my age), and let’s hope he doesn’t follow in Jackson’s footsteps, but his talent is still there and displaying itself in his new musical genre of choice – R&B.
Flag is another song in that vein, and with an underlying piano melody under the dance beat, it’s a smooth comeback. Daichi’s vocals are as powerful as ever, his English pronounciation has gotten better during his hiatus, the layered vocals backing him up blend seamlessly with the music, and while some people may not be too fond of his jump to that higher note in the middle of the chorus, it does grow. Though it also sounds a lot like a squawk at first. But he manages the high notes during the stanzas well enough.
The music video is a typical Daichi video – dance shots set in basic backgrounds (a warehouse and what looks like an airstrip) in a set palette (mostly whites, grays, and the general darker-bluish end of the spectrum) with camera-shifting. Lots of camera-shifting. (Your head may spin at some of them.) And a couple of shots of Daichi singing for good measure. It’s nothing special, but it’s directed in a decent manner, and it does emphasize Daichi’s good points – puberty hasn’t been too kind to Daichi (and his face is kept mostly in the shadows between the stylists’ choice of a baseball cap and the general lighting scheme), but he sure can dance.
Everyone I know seems to prefer Daichi’s B-sides to his A-sides. In general, I really prefer the dance-beat catchiness of his A-sides to his B-sides, but Super Star almost became the exception. Almost. With a heavier beat than Flag and rap-style refrains, it’s more hip-hop than R&B. It still shows off Daichi’s vocals to a good extent – and pulls it off better than Flag did, as Daichi varies between fast-paced stanzas, the refrains, and the punctuated chorus. I just happen to like Flag‘s melody better than Super Star‘s near-lack of one.
The cover’s also a nice change for Daichi – it’s not the same style as his previous singles (which had a closeup of him, and then the title and his name in slanted pink lettering put somewhere on the cover), but it’s also… classier? It’s a lot less youthful in nature, and doesn’t seem to be trying as hard as the gothic lettering of his album D-ROCK with U. As you can see, his name and the title is written in thin but large letters across the cover, identifying the single and the artist but without detracting from the image – which I think is gorgeous. Daichi spread mid-jump against a sky? Sure. Doesn’t have anything to do with the PV or the songs, but it’s nice-looking.
Daichi’s return to the music scene lacks the same impact his second single had on me – but you know, first impressions last. And as far as overall production goes, it’s a pretty damn good job. Worth waiting that year-and-a-half for, in fact.
(…I confess I’d really like to see a AAA x Daichi x m.o.v.e collaboration where t-kimura provides the music, Hidaka and motsu do rapping, Misako/Chiaki and yuri sing, and the males of AAA and Daichi dance and provide other vocals. Unfortunately Daichi is on the SONIC GROOVE sublabel managed by VISION FACTORY, AAA is under avex trax directly, and m.o.v.e is on their own little thing courtesy of t-kimura; and then there’s the crazy release schedules, so it’s not likely. But if it did, and if the video included a “Making of” thing where all of them hang out, I’d snatch that little baby up in the blink of an eye.)