Not something to take lying down.
Tamaki Nami‘s a pop princess.
Or rather, was. She debuted in the industry and became known for the techno/dance-pop that she performed with, between active dance steps and strong, if a bit unpolished, vocals. This was how she worked, and what we came to expect, whether you were a raving fan or hated what she stood for.
Then we were treated to a scarred, bruised, dirty Nami on the cover of CROSS SEASON, her last single prior to her graduation from high school (and, ironically enough, into a stage role for High School Musical). Adding more damage was the fact that both B-sides on the single were undeniably attempts at shelving Nami into a rock genre, though rather shoddy ones.
Looks like they’ve finally nailed her rock sound with Brightdown. But is the fight to shed the pop image over yet, though?
Regardless of how you may feel about the change of genres, the answer is a no. The promotional video for this single has Nami looking both sexy and rocker chic, but the B-sides of the single pull a reversal on CROSS SEASON, being pop against the titular rock-ish track.
The titular track, Brightdown, brings out the guitars and attitude in full force, though it’s somewhat obvious Tamaki isn’t completely used to singing rock yet. While she has no problems hitting the perfect tone for the stanzas and bridge, she still sings with a vocal melody and higher pitch in the chorus that softens the impact and makes the song more pop than the music would have you believe. It also makes the song hell to sing for karaoke purposes. Props to her if she can manage it live, but since there has been none, one can only wonder.
The first of the B-sides, あなた色の涙 [Anata-iro no Namida], attacks one of Nami’s standby genres – the pop ballad. It’s an unfortunate truth that while pop ballads are there for any singer in the Japanese pop industry, they don’t always fit. Nami’s ballads, other than having the classic generic tendency, don’t always fit her voice, which is strong and rough and can jump pitches when she’s audibly straining to reach notes. This one, though, works well with her – the music is has some nice strings that would make this an interesting song at a concert, and Nami keeps a soft tone in her voice throughout the song.
The second B-side, Endless Dream, is in the classic techno/dance style that Nami’s become known for. I especially like the upbeat music, though parts of it could get repetitive without Nami’s singing in there. She does sound a bit vocally strained in the chorus, but it doesn’t grate on the ears, and while she does sound lacking in her usual energy, the music rather makes up for it to me.
Nami’s still got a ways to go before she can completely drop that teen pop songstress gimmick, and SONY’s not completely willing to let it all go, either. But she’s still putting out good listening material, and I’m going to wish her luck on that transition. At least her image is definitely growing up. No longer the 14-year-old girl in a black jumpsuit, at last.